AuthorSandra González Vila
Sandra González Vila
Formerly a Spanish colony, Uruguay acquired an early independenc e in 1825 and
quickly established a constit utional republic in 1830, being one of the first Latin
American countr ies to adopt a democratic regime, which h as remained one of the
strongholds of the Uruguayan politic al system to this day.
With an area of approximately 68,00 0 square miles, Uruguay is a small coasta l
country located in S outh America, lying on t he Atlantic coast bet ween Brazil and
Argentina, its only two neighboring countries . The population of Uruguay is cur-
rently estimated at 3.3 mi llion, of which some 1.3 mil lion live in Montevideo (the
capital and only large city) and neighbor ing areas, while t he rest is distributed
between the smal ler cities and rural a reas. Uruguay’s population growth is 0. 6 per-
cent per year, one of the lowest in Latin A merica, simila r to that of the majority of
developed countries. The economically active population totals 1.6 m illion people.
The average life expecta ncy is 76 years.
Being a former Spanish colony, and having received a strong influx of European
immigrants , Uruguay’s population is largely of European de scent (93 percent), with
other ethnic groups of Af rican descent (5.9 percent) and indigenous descent. Uruguay
340 Chapter 9
received a strong influx of Eu ropean immig ration between 1860 and 1920, mostly
from Spain and Italy, and again af ter World War II from central and eastern E urope,
which accounts for the countr y’s current population composition.
Uruguay’s official langu age is Spanish; however, English is widely spoken when
conducting business, a nd other languages —such as French, Portuguese, German ,
and Italian— are also taught at primary, secondary, and university levels.
Traditionally, Uruguay has sustained a strong economy based m ainly on agri-
culture and the pri mary sector exports but with a rapidly growing predomi nance
of the services sec tor, as shown by a thriving tourism industry and development of
offshore banking and ot her services. Le ading economic sectors include meat pro-
cessing, agribusiness, wood, wool, leather production and apparel, textiles, and
chemicals, together w ith a swiftly developing sof tware industry.
Strategically located b etween the major consumer centers in Latin America,
Uruguay is a member of MERCOS UR, an inter national trade zone. In 2013 the
country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was USD 55.7 billion, wit h a per capita
GDP of over USD 16.6 billion. The GDP an nual growth rate was 4.40 percent in
2013. The annual inf lation rate is currently 7.43 percent, and the unemployment
level is currently 6.5 percent. E xports for 2013 totaled USD 9.178 million (if goods
exported from free-trade zones are taken into consideration, t his amount rises to
USD 10.056 million), mainly direc ted to the major markets of Brazil, A rgentina,
China, Russia, Venezuela, t he European Union, and t he United States.1
The country is als o well known for its advanced education standa rds. The lit-
eracy rate is 98 percent, and the seconda ry school attendance rate is 85 percent, the
highest in Lati n America.
Uruguay has a long-standing reputation for political stabil ity, low corruption,
and reliable institutions th at create an environment of stability a nd overall confi-
dence for investors. According to the World Bank, Uru guay leads in safety, trans -
parency, government effectiveness, and control of corruption in Latin America.2
Table 9.1 presents the governance ind icators of different countries i ncluding
Uruguay. The index goes from 0 to 100, 100 being the be st score and 0 the worst.3
Since its inception, the country has been polit ically organiz ed as a democratic
republic under a presidential system of government with t hree traditional branche s
of power: executive, legislative, and judiciar y. The duties of the executive branch
are carried out by a president and a cabinet of 13 mi nisters, while the le gislative
power is represented by a General Assembly composed of t he Chamber of Senators
and the Lower Chamber of Represent atives. Both the president and Parliam ent are
elected for a fixed term dur ing the national elections , which take place every five
years in October. The judiciary power is vested in the Supreme Cour t of Justice,
lower courts, and judges on a nationwide basis. T he decisions rendered by such
courts do not constitute judicia l precedent, although they may provide guidance for
future cases , being the main source of law that courts will apply.
Uruguay’s strategic location in Lat in America as one of the ma in regional
ports, its politica l stability and democratic t radition, its high educationa l and living
Uruguay 3 41
Country Voice and
Stability, No
Rule of Law Control of
New Zealand 98 .1 98.6 96. 2 98 .1 9 8 .1 99.5
Chile 84.4 60.2 8 6 .1 91.9 8 7. 7 90.4
Uruguay 83.4 71.1 66 .0 68.4 66.4 88.5
Brazil 58.8 3 7.0 51. 2 54.5 5 2 .1 55.0
Mexico 53.6 22.7 63.2 6 7. 0 3 5.1 3 9.2
Argentina 56.4 48.8 44.5 1 7.7 28.4 4 0.7
Belgium 92.9 75.4 93.3 87.6 89.1 9 1.9
Australia 94.3 83.4 94 .7 97.1 9 5.7 93.8
Table 9.1

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT