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gaucho herding cattle in Uruguay
Gaucho herding livestock on a ranch in main Uruguay.
Carl Frank/Photo Researchers

This mix of open an are and low populace density has actually afforded Uruguay many methods for financial development. An independent country due to the fact that 1828, with strong ties come the unified Kingdom, France, and also Italy, Uruguay arisen throughout lot of the 20th century as one of Latin America’s an ext progressive societies, significant for its political stability, advanced social legislation, and also a relatively big middle class. A duration of repressive military dominance (1973–85) has cast a lengthy shadow over national life, and, like other countries in the region, Uruguay has been troubled by economic decline and factional battles in the decades since civilian democratic rule to be restored. Such adversities have caused numerous Uruguayans come emigrate to Europe and also North America; as Galeano has actually remarked, “We export our young.”


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Almost fifty percent the people are concentrated in the metropolitan area of Montevideo, the capital; the 2nd and 3rd largest cities, Salto and also Paysandú, are little by comparison. Encountering a deep bay at the mouth the the Río de la Plata, Montevideo blends historic areas with tall office towers and well-appointed shopping centres. The old city, with its many museums, open-air markets, and restaurants, remains the heart of Montevideo and also sees thousands of worldwide visitors every year. Famous as traveler destinations, too, room beach resorts such together Piriápolis and Punta del Este, as well as the early american masterpiece Colonia del Sacramento.

Montevideo, Uruguay
Pedestrians walking in Montevideo, Uruguay.


The wedge-shaped nation is bounded through Brazil to the north and east, by the Atlantic ocean to the southeast, and by the Río de la Plata to the south, when the Uruguay flow serves together its western boundary v Argentina.

Relief and also soils

The Uruguayan see is largely characterized by tenderness rolling land, v an median elevation of around 383 feet (117 metres). Tidal lakes and also sand dunes fringe the coastline. Somewhere else there are vast valleys, plains (pampas), short plateaus and also hills, and also ridges—notably Haedo Ridge (Cuchilla de Haedo) in the north and Grande Ridge (Cuchilla Grande) in the southeast—that space a southward expansion of the Brazilian Highlands. Mount Catedral, i m sorry rises to 1,685 feet (514 metres) close to the southeastern coast, is the highest allude in the country. The valleys and coastal plains are covered through deposits of sand, clay, and also fertile alluvium.


Although the is a well-watered land, no large rivers flow completely within Uruguay. The Uruguay River and also the estuary the the Río de la Plata, follow me the western border the the nation, are navigable because that oceangoing ships till Paysandú and for smaller vessels above that point to the drops at Salto. The smaller sized Negro River, which traverses the country from northeast come southwest, is navigable just in its lower part, below Rincón del Bonete Lake (the Río negro Reservoir). Among other tiny rivers space the Santa Lucía, Cebollatí, and Queguay Grande. Merín (Mirim) Lagoon, i beg your pardon lies mainly within Brazil, is the largest herbal lake.


Uruguay has a typically pleasant, pleasant climate. The typical temperature because that the midwinter month that July different from 54 °F (12 °C) in ~ Salto in the northern internal to 50 °F (10 °C) at Montevideo in the south. The midsummer month that January varies from a warm average of 79 °F (26 °C) at Salto to 72 °F (22 °C) in ~ Montevideo. Frost is nearly unknown along the coast. Both summer and also winter weather might vary native day come day with the pass of storm fronts; a hot northerly wind may occasionally be complied with by a cold wind (pampero) from the Argentine Pampas.

Uruguay has neither a decidedly dry nor a merganser season. The heaviest precipitation occurs during the autumn months (March and April), although much more frequent rains happen in winter. The mean yearly precipitation is normally greater than 40 inches (1,000 mm), decreasing v distance native the seacoast, and also is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year. Thunderstorms occur frequently during the summer.

Plant and animal life

Tall-grass prairies as soon as covered most of Uruguay’s floor surface but now contend with enclosed, planted pastures. Just a tiny percentage of the soil is forested, many of the trees growing in narrow stretches follow me watercourses. The principal types are ombu—a scrubby, treelike plant—and alder. Others incorporate willow, eucalyptus, pine, poplar, acacia, and aloe. The algaroba (carob tree) and also quebracho (whose wood and also bark room utilized in tanning and also dyeing) room prevalent, and also indigenous palms thrive in the valleys and along the southeastern coast. Common smaller plants incorporate mimosa, myrtle, rosemary, and scarlet-flowered ceibo.

Animals aboriginal to Uruguay have largely disappeared, back pumas and jaguars room still occasionally discovered in far areas. Other aboriginal mammals incorporate foxes, deer, wildcats, armadillos (mulitas), and also several varieties of rodents, including vast capybaras. Scorpions room rare, but venomous spiders room common. Birdlife contains tiny burrowing owls, crows, lapwings, partridges, quails, hummingbirds, and cardinals. Parakeets are plentiful in the hills, and also the lagoons swarm v waterfowl, consisting of white herons, cranes, and flamingos. Rheas are currently mainly limited to semidomesticated settings. Lizards, tortoises, and venomous line are discovered in plenty of areas. Caimans inhabit the top waters of the Uruguay River, and seals are uncovered on tiny islands off the southeastern coast, specifically on Lobos Island. A network of national parks and also a wildlife reserve are dedicated to the conservation of animal and also bird populations.

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Ethnic groups and languages

Uruguayans are of mainly European origin, greatly descendants that 19th- and 20th-century immigrant from Spain and also Italy and, to a much lesser degree, from France and Britain. Earlier settlers had migrated indigenous Argentina and also Paraguay. Few direct progeny of Uruguay’s aboriginal peoples remain, and also mestizos (of blended European and also Indian ancestry) account for much less than one-tenth that the population. Blacks and persons of mixed Black and white ancestry comprise an even smaller relationship of the total.

Spanish is talked throughout Uruguay, return in Rivera and other borderland communities close to Brazil one admixture of Portuguese and Spanish deserve to be heard, regularly in a slang called portuñol, indigenous the indigenous português and español.

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Nearly fifty percent of the civilization are at least nominally roman inn Catholic. About one-third of the population adhere to various other Christian faiths or are nondenominational Christians. About one-sixth the Uruguayans space agnostics or atheists. Jews, greatly in Montevideo, comprise a small minority, which is however one the the bigger Jewish neighborhoods in southern America.