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, country, South America

Uruguay (yo͝oˈrəgwā, gwī, Span. o͞oro͞ogwiˈ, o͞oro͞owīˈ), officially Oriental Republic of Uruguay, republic (2015 est. pop. 3,432,000), 68,536 sq mi (177,508 sq km), SE South America. The second smallest country (after Suriname) in South America, Uruguay extends from a short Atlantic coastline along the north bank of the Río de la Plata to the Uruguay River, which separates it on the west from Argentina. To the north is Brazil. The capital and largest city is Montevideo.

Land and People

The land is an area of topographical transition from the humid Argentine Pampa to the uplands of S Brazil. North of the alluvial plain, known as the Banda Oriental [Span.,=east bank, i.e., of the Uruguay and the Río de la Plata], Uruguay generally has long, sweeping slopes and grasslands, wooded valleys with slow-moving rivers, and long ranges of low hills, with some huge granite blocks that stand out against the horizon. Although Uruguay is within the temperate zone, climatic variations are moderate; generally the climate is warm, with rainfall evenly distributed through the seasons, but in some years there are severe droughts.

Most of the population is concentrated in the south; over 40% live in Montevideo. Almost 90% of Uruguay's people are of European descent, Spanish and Italian predominating; there are few pure indigenous Uruguayans. The original inhabitants, the Charrúa, were absorbed into the Spanish and Portuguese populations after long resistance; today the mestizo element (less than 10% of the total population) is found principally in N Uruguay. Spanish is the official language, but a dialect containing elements of Spanish and Portuguese is spoken along the Brazilian frontier. The majority of the population is nominally Roman Catholic. The nation has long been remarkable for its contributions to literature and the arts (see Spanish-American literature). The Univ. of the Republic is in Montevideo.


Uruguay's greatest natural resource is its rich agricultural land, almost 90% of which is devoted to livestock raising. Cattle, sheep, horses, and pigs are the major livestock animals. Grains for cattle fattening and human consumption make up the bulk of the harvested crops. Rice is the major food crop, followed by wheat and sugarcane. Corn is the principal feed concentrate. Barley, oats, and grain sorghums are also grown, and oil crops (flaxseed and sunflower seed) and sugar beets are important. In the vicinity of Salto there are many orchards and vineyards.

Despite Uruguay's basically agricultural-pastoral economy, its dependence upon imports for most raw materials, and its lack of fuel resources, there is considerable industrialization. The processing of agricultural and animal products accounts for about half of the manufacturing activity; Fray Bentos and Paysandú are noted for their meatpacking plants. Other industries manufacture electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, and chemicals. A large refinery near Montevideo processes imported crude oil. Mineral resources include marble, stone, granite, and bauxite. There are important hydroelectric plants on the Uruguay and Negro rivers. Fishing and forestry add to the country's economy.

Uruguay's magnificent beaches, such as those at Punta del Este, are great economic assets; tourists, chiefly from Argentina, contribute much to the national income. The country's transportation facilities are extensively developed. Meat, wool, and hides and skins constitute the majority of Uruguay's exports; rice, fish, and dairy products are also exported. Machinery, chemicals, and vehicles are imported. Brazil, the United States, Argentina, and Russia are the main trading partners. Uruguay is a member of Mercosur.


Uruguay is governed under the constitution of 1967 as amended. Executive power is held by the president, who is both head of state and head of government. The president is popularly elected for a five-year term and may not serve consecutive terms. The bicameral legislature, the General Assembly, consists of a 30-seat Chamber of Senators and a 99-seat Chamber of Representatives. The members of the General Assembly are also elected for five-year terms. Administratively, Uruguay is divided into 19 departments.


European Involvement and the Struggle for Independence

Although the Río de la Plata was explored as early as 1515, it was not until 1624 that the Spanish established the first permanent settlement, at Soriano in SW Uruguay. The Portuguese founded (1680) a short-lived settlement at Colonia, and in 1717 they fortified a hill on the site of Montevideo. Fearing encroachment and competition, the Spanish drove them out (1724) and from then until the wars of independence controlled the Banda Oriental. Uruguay's position between Spanish and Portuguese settlements, and later between Argentina and Brazil, helped determine the emergence of Uruguay as an independent state. On the pampas stock raising spread; gradually the unbounded range gave way to huge estancias (cattle ranches) and small settlements concentrated about the ranch buildings.

It was the rough and hardy gaucho who fought for independence, and the traditions, personal loyalties, and rivalries of the gauchos helped to keep the nation in almost continual strife for three quarters of a century after independence was won. When the revolutionary banner was raised in the Argentine in 1810, the leaders of the Banda Oriental, notably Artigas, accepted the cause, but in 1814 Artigas broke with the military junta of Buenos Aires and began a struggle for Uruguayan independence that lasted until the Brazilian occupation of Montevideo in 1820. Five years later a small group, known as the Thirty-three Immortals, under the guidance of Lavalleja, declared Uruguay independent.

Independence and War

In 1827 at Ituzaingó Brazil was defeated. Great Britain, opposing Brazilian expansion south to the Río de la Plata, helped ultimately to create an independent Uruguay as a buffer state between Argentina and Brazil. The peace (1828) stipulated that the new Uruguayan constitution should be acceptable to both the larger nations. When it was adopted in 1830, Fructuoso Rivera was chosen as president. He was promptly faced with revolts led by his old rival, Lavalleja, and when he was succeeded in office by Manuel Oribe, he himself revolted against Oribe, who was in sympathy with Juan Manuel de Rosas of Argentina. In the long fratricidal struggle that ensued, the two dominant political parties of Uruguay emerged, Rivera's Colorados [reds] and Oribe's Blancos [whites].

Oribe was driven out in 1838, but later with the aid of Rosas returned to begin the long siege of Montevideo. The Italian patriot Garibaldi fought in the Uruguayan wars from 1842 to 1846. In 1851 the Argentine general Urquiza drove out Rosas and brought an end to the Uruguayan civil war. When in 1864 Brazil presented a claim for damages to property and nationals during the civil wars, Uruguay refused to accept it. Brazil invaded and, aided by the Uruguayan general Vanancio Flores (a Colorado), overthrew the Blanco president. Paraguay, under Francisco Solano López, came to the assistance of the Blancos, whereupon Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay formed a tripartite alliance against Paraguay (see Triple Alliance, War of the). During the 19th and 20th cent. waves of immigration, chiefly from Europe, augmented the Uruguayan population.

Government Reforms

Until the rise of José Batlle y Ordóñez early in the 20th cent., Uruguay experienced many revolutions and counterrevolutions. In Batlle's second term as president (1911–15), however, began the social and material progress that made Uruguay one of the more stable and prosperous nations of Latin America. By a coup in 1933, Gabriel Terra suspended the constitution of 1919, and his rule was strongly personalistic. Yet, under Terra's rule, which ended in 1938, the socialistic measures for public welfare were not reversed but forwarded; the labor code was broadened, social benefits increased, and industry further nationalized.

Batlle's influence on Uruguayan political practice did not end with his death; concerned lest the country again fall prey to dictatorial caudillos, he had advocated the creation of an executive governing council. This reform, inspired by the Swiss multiple-executive system of government, was adopted in 1951; the office of president was abolished and replaced by a nine-man council with a president, chosen from the majority party, to act as titular head of state. The plural executive, however, proved ineffectual; factionalism and apathy within the council hindered action on social and economic problems, which became pressing in the mid-1950s and acute during the 60s.

Civil Strife in Modern Uruguay

The increasing use of synthetics and the steadily declining price of wool cut deeply into Uruguay's exports of wool and leather. Inflation and unemployment grew, and the vast, inefficient bureaucracy became a burden to the economy. In 1958 the Colorados, who had been in power for over 93 years, were overwhelmingly defeated by the conservative Blancos, who won again in 1962 by a narrower margin. Throughout the 1960s and early 70s the economic decline continued, intensified by droughts and floods and accompanied by massive social unrest—riots, paralyzing strikes, and the emergence of a terrorist Marxist guerrilla group, the well-organized Tupamaro National Liberation Front (see Tupamaros).

In 1967 a new constitution abolished the plural executive and reinstated a powerful president. That same year the Colorado party returned to power, with Oscar Gestido as president. Gestido died after several months in office and was succeeded by his vice president, Jorge Pacheco. Pacheco and his hand-picked successor, Juan María Bordaberry (who was elected in 1972), ruled with increasingly dictatorial powers. As the Tupamaros increased their terrorist activities, kidnapping foreign diplomats and assassinating high officials, the army assumed tremendous power, even successfully pressuring President Bordaberry (June, 1973) to dissolve the congress and suspend the constitution. The military, which made Aparicio Méndez president in 1976, ruled Uruguay with brutal force, regularly disregarding human rights by kidnapping, imprisoning, torturing, or murdering citizens.

The government's repressive tactics caused a massive emigration of Uruguayans, mostly to Argentina. After a 1980 plebiscite to continue de facto military rule was voted down by the populace, the military government steadily lost power. General Gregorio Álvarez became president in 1981. In 1985, Julio María Sanguinetti of the centrist Colorado party became president, restoring civilian government but also granting amnesty (1986) to former leaders accused of human-rights violations (for crimes committed in Uruguay). Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera of the conservative National (Blanco) party became president in 1990. He was forced to form a coalition government in order to secure a parliamentary majority, and his attempts to introduce free-market reforms were obstructed.

Sanguinetti was returned to the presidency by a slim margin in the 1994 elections, and also had to form a coalition; he sought cutbacks in Uruguay's bankrupt social security program and modest amounts of privatization. In 1999, Jorge Batlle Ibáñez, also of the Colorado party, was elected president; during the election, he faced a strong challenge on the left from the Broad Front's Tabaré Vázquez, the former mayor of Montevideo. Since the late 1990s the country's economy has been hurt by crises in the economies of Brazil and Argentina, its principal trade partners, resulting in several years of recession that became particularly severe in 2002. In 2003, Batlle Ibáñez announced that the government would compensate families of victims of the 1976–85 military dictatorship and of the guerrilla groups that opposed it.

Uruguay's economic difficulties enabled Tabaré Vázquez to win the presidency without a runoff in 2004; his Broad Front coalition also won majorities in both legislative houses. Vázquez became the first leftist to be elected president in Uruguay. The planned construction in Uruguay of two pulp mills on the Uruguay River along the Argentina border led to tensions between the two nations throughout 2006; fearful of possible pollution from the mills, Argentinians blockaded several bridges between the nations. The International Court of Justice agreed to hear Argentina's contention that the mills violated a treaty on the use of the river but allowed construction to proceed (Uruguay built just one mill) while the court considered the case; it also refused to order Argentina to stop the protests, which continued until June, 2010. In 2010 the court ruled that although Uruguay had failed to adhere to its procedural obligations under the treaty, it had not violated its environmental obligations and the mill could continue to operate. An accord establishing a joint environmental monitoring committee for the river was signed in Nov., 2010.

Also in 2006, former president Bordaberry was charged and arrested in connection with the political murders of dissidents and others in 1976; he was convicted in 2010 of having violated the constitution during his presidency. In 2007 former president Álvarez was arrested on similar charges and was convicted in 2009. The supreme court in 2009 declared the 1986 amnesty law unconstitutional. In the Oct., 2009, elections the Broad Front won a narrow legislative majority, and after a runoff in November its presidential candidate, José “Pepe” Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla, also won. Legislation to overturn the amnesty law failed to pass in May, 2011. Although Mujica had not backed the legislation, he signed a decree in June that allowed as many as 80 human-rights cases to proceed, and in October a law revoking the amnesty was enacted. In 2013, however, the supreme ruled aspects of the law unconstitutional, effectively restoring the amnesty.

The Broad Front's Vázquez won a second term as president in Nov., 2014, after a runoff; the coalition also narrowly retained control of the legislature. Vázquez dismissed several defense officials and generals in 2019 after a newspaper revealed the they had failed to pass on information obtained in 2018 about the 1973 disappearance of a left-wing rebel. In the Nov., 2019, presidential runoff, Luis Lacalle Pou, the National party candidate and the son of President Lacalle Herrera, narrowly won the election. Although the Broad Front lost its legislative majority, it remained the largest party in terms of seats.


See G. Pendle, Uruguay (3d ed. 1965); R. H. Brannon, The Agricultural Development of Uruguay (1968); J. H. Ferguson, The River Plata Republics (1968); T. E. Weil et al., Area Handbook for Uruguay (1971); M. E. Gilio, The Tupamaro Guerrillas (tr. 1973); M. H. Finch, A Political Economy of Uruguay Since 1890 (1981); M. Weinstein, Uruguay: Democracy at the Crossroads (1988).


, river, South America
Uruguay (yo͝oˈrəgwā, gwī, Span. o͞oro͞ogwiˈ, o͞oro͞owīˈ), river, c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) long, rising in S Brazil and flowing in an arc W, SW, and S to the Río de la Plata, an estuary; it forms part of the Brazil-Argentina border and most of the Argentina-Uruguay line. Its chief headstream is the Pelotas of S Brazil; the Río Negro of S Brazil and Uruguay is an important tributary. The lower river is navigable for oceangoing vessels for 130 mi (209 km) upstream. Its upper course is broken by waterfalls. Salto Grande Falls is the site of a joint hydroelectric project of Argentina and Uruguay. Argentinian environmental concerns over Uruguay's construction of a pulp mill on the river led to a prolonged dispute that finally led in 2010 to an agreement to create a joint environmental monitoring program for the river. Concordia, Argentina, and Salto and Paysandú, Uruguay, are on the river.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(República Oriental del Uruguay).

Uruguay is a country in the southeastern part of South America. Situated in the depressed part of the Brazilian Highlands, it borders on Argentina in the west, Brazil in the northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south and southeast. It has an area of 177,500 sq km (according to UN data) and a population of 2.76 million (1975). The capital is Montevideo. For administrative purposes, the country is divided into 19 departments (see Table 1).

Table 1. Administrative divisions of Uruguay
DepartmentArea (sq km)Population (1975)Capital
Artigas ...............12,10057,500Artigas
Durazno ...............12,20055,000Durazno
Canelones ...............4,500318,800Canelones
Cerro Largo ...............13,90073,200Melo
Colonia ...............6,100110,800Colonia del Sacramento
Flores ...............5,10024,700Trinidad
Florida ...............10,40066,100Florida
Lavalleja ...............10,20065,200Minas
Maldonado ...............4,70075,600Maldonado
Montevideo ...............5001,229,700Montevideo
Paysandú ...............14,10098,700Paysandú
Rivera ...............9,10079,300Rivera
Rio Negro ...............9,60049,800Fray Bentos
Rocha ...............11,00059,900Rocha
Salto ...............14,400100,400Salto
San José ...............5,00088,300San José de Mayo
Soriano ...............8,90080,100Mercedes
Tacuarembó ...............16,00084,800Tacuarembó
Treinta y Tres ...............9,70045,700Treinta y Tres

Uruguay is a republic. The head of state and government is the president, who is elected for a term of five years. The highest legislative body, the General Assembly, was dissolved after the coup d’etat of June 1973. Since December 1973 the Council of State, which comprises 25 members, exercises legislative functions. The Council of National Security includes the commanders of the three services of the armed forces and the ministers of the interior, foreign affairs, defense, and finance and the directors of the Board of Planning and Budget.

Coasts. The coasts of Uruguay are low-lying and flat. Small lagoons abound. The largest lagoon is Lago Mirim, which is completely separated from the ocean by sandbars.

Terrain. The relief consists primarily of plains and ridges. The northwestern part of the country is occupied by the Haedo Plateau, the southern extension of the Paraná Plateau. A lava formation, the Haedo Plateau gently slopes down in the west to the valley of the Uruguay River and in the south to the lowland of the lower Uruguay River and its left tributary the Río Negro. In the east the steep Cuchilla de Hedo scarp (elevations to 473 m) separates the plateau from the central hilly plain of the Río Negro basin. Stretching farther to the east and south is a plain, where Precambrian crystalline rocks form the ridges Cuchilla Grande (elevations to 304 m) and Cuchilla Grande Inferior, which delimit the Río Negro basin in the east and south, respectively. Most of the extreme eastern part of the country, along the Atlantic Ocean, is occupied by a swampy lowland with dunes and sandbars, which separate a number of lagoons from the ocean. In the south, along the Río de la Plata, stretch narrow lowland strips, which end east of Montevideo, where the isolated mountain Pan de Azúcar rises to an elevation of 501 m, the highest point in Uruguay.

Geological structure and mineral resources. Uruguay lies within the South American (Brazilian) Platform, composed of metamorphosed folded Precambrian rocks, with granitic intrusions; these rocks are overlain by relatively undisturbed thin Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata. Rocks of the Precambrian basement (the eastern part of the Brazilian Shield) protrude in the eastern and southern parts of Uruguay; they are represented by dislocated early and middle Proterozoic metamorphic rocks and granitoids. A number of graben-like depressions have been filled in with molasses and acidic vulcanites. The Paraná Syneclise, which forms the northern part of Uruguay, is composed of weakly folded marine and continental Paleozoic rocks, overlain by an undisturbed layer of Lower Mesozoic red sandstones and thick strata of Lower Cretaceous basalts. The most abundant mineral resources are the iron-manganese deposits in the northeast; there are also deposits of gold, silver, lead, copper, talc, semiprecious stones (agates and amethysts), granite, marble, and brown coal.

Climate. The climate is subtropical marine. The average January temperatures are 22°–24°C, and the average July temperatures, 10°–12°C; when the pampero blows from the south, the temperature can drop to as low as –5°C, with snow often occurring. Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year; the maximum occurs in the autumn, ranging from 1,000 mm in the south and the interior regions to 1,200 mm in the north and the uplands. However, there is considerable irregularity in the total precipitation from year to year.

Rivers and lakes. The river network is dense, and heavy floods occur during the autumn rains. The Uruguay River is characterized by the steadiest flow rate. Two thirds of the country is drained by its left tributaries, the largest of which is the Río Negro, along whose middle course there is a hydroelectric power plant and a large reservoir.

Soils and flora. Uruguay is covered primarily by subtropical tall grass prairie, where, as a result of intensive pasturing, coarse grasses and weeds predominate. The soils are reddish black prairie. Evergreen gallery forests grow along the rivers. There are shrub savannas in the south and palm groves in the east.

Fauna. The animal life has been largely exterminated by man. Armadillos, opossum, coypu, and many waterfowl are common. National parks include the Roosevelt and Paso del Puerto parks.

E. N. LUKASHOVA and A. V. KUZ’MENKO (geological structure and mineral resources)

The vast majority of the population are the descendants of the Spanish colonists of the 16th through 18th centuries, as well as later settlers from Spain, Italy, and France; 10 percent of the population is mestizo, Negro, and mulatto. There is a small number of recent European immigrants, who have retained their national identities; most live in Montevideo.

The official language is Spanish, and the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism. The official calendar is the Gregorian Calendar.

The average annual population growth during the period 1970–74 was 1.2 percent. Emigration is high; for example, in 1974–75, 12 percent of the population left the country. The economically active population numbers (1975) 1.3 million persons, of which 18.1 percent are employed in agriculture, 27.6 percent in industry and construction, 11.1 percent in trade, 35 percent in the service industry and transport, and 8 percent in other sectors of the economy. Seventy-four percent of the economically active population are hired industrial and office workers.

The average population density is about 16 persons per sq km. The most densely populated areas are the south and southwest, where the density reaches 45 persons per sq km in the departments of Montevideo, Canelones, and Colonia. The least densely populated area is the north (Artigas Department). The urban population numbers 84 percent. The most important cities are Montevideo (population, 1.2 million, 1975), Salto, Paysandú, Rivera, and Las Piedras.

The region that is now Uruguay was long settled by Indian tribes of the Guarani group, who engaged in agriculture, hunting, and fishing. Most numerous were the Charruas, as well as the related Guenoas, Yaros, Minuanes, and Bohanes, along with the Chanaes; all the tribes were at various stages of the primitive communal system.

Colonial period (early 16th to 19th centuries). In the course of their conquest of South America, the Spanish founded a number of fortresses in what is now Uruguay in the second half of the 16th century. However, because of the resistance of the Indians and the absence of mineral resources, the region was only nominally included within the Spanish possessions. The conquerors introduced large herds of cattle and horses in the Banda Oriental del Uruguay (East Bank of the Uruguay River), as Uruguay was called at the time; stock raising eventually became the principal branch of the country’s economy.

In 1680 the Portuguese, who had long claimed the Banda Oriental, founded the fortified city of Colonia del Sacramento on the left bank of the Río de la Plata. To forestall further penetration by the Portuguese, the Spanish founded the garrison town of Montevideo in 1726. In 1750 the territory was finally secured for Spain, and in 1776 it became part of the Spanish Viceroyalty of La Plata, with its capital at Buenos Aires. Montevideo, which was granted by Spain the right to free trade (1778), rapidly grew rich owing to the export of hides and animal fat. A latifundismo-type of land ownership was established in the country, utilizing precapitalist forms of exploitation of the rural population, such as Negro slave labor, métayage, and peonage.

Great Britain undertook two armed interventions into the La Plata region (1806–07) in the hope of transforming the Banda Oriental into its own colony. During their occupation, the British flooded Montevideo with cheap commodities in exchange for hides, wool, animal fat, and other goods. After the expulsion of the British in 1807, the ranchers and traders banded together with Portuguese, North American, and British importers against Spain’s monopoly of foreign trade, advocating the establishment of direct ties with the world market and the creation of a local government.

War for independence and the formation of an independent state (1811–30). During the war of independence of the Spanish-American colonies (1810–26) that had begun on the South American continent, the people of the Banda Oriental also rose against the colonial yoke. In May 1811 the liberation army, after winning a victory under the leadership of J. Artigas over the Spanish at Las Piedras, marched on Montevideo. However, as a result of an agreement between the besieged Spanish troops in Montevideo and a Buenos Aires junta, which was seeking to extend its power over all the La Plata provinces, Artigas was forced to end the siege; he led the withdrawal of thousands of patriots from the country in what has been called the Exodus of the Oriental People. At the end of 1812, the patriots renewed the siege of Montevideo, and by 1814 the Banda Oriental had been liberated from the Spanish. At the beginning of 1815, the National Assembly proclaimed Artigas the leader of the people of the Provincia Oriental (Eastern Province), as the Banda Oriental came to be called. That same year, Artigas promulgated an agrarian reform, according to which the lands of the counterrevolutionaries were transferred to the gauchos (cowboys), Indians, and freed Negroes. In 1816, Portuguese troops from Brazil invaded the Provincia Oriental and by January 1817 succeeded in occupying it. In 1821 the region was incorporated into Brazil as the Cisplatine Province.

In 1825, Uruguayan patriots, under the leadership of J. A. Lavalleja, staged an invasion of the Cisplatine Province from Argentina (the landing of the 33). The successful joint struggle of the Uruguayans and Argentines culminated in the proclamation of the Provincia Oriental’s independence from Portugal and Brazil on Aug. 25, 1825, and its annexation by Argentina. However, the desire for full independence led to a further growth of the liberation movement, as a result of which a peace treaty was signed in Montevideo by Brazil and Argentina, in which both countries abandoned their claims to the Provincia Oriental; the treaty also provided for the creation of the independent state of the República Oriental del Uruguay (Eastern Republic of the Uruguay). A national congress that subsequently convened in Montevideo drafted a constitution, which went into effect in 1830, thus laying the foundations for the new republic.

Uruguay after independence (to 1917). In the early 1830’s, Uruguay’s economy was based on extensive stock raising. The political situation within the country was complicated by the uncertainty of land relations. The local landlords and foreign, primarily Argentine, latifundistas seized the lands received by the peasants in accordance with Artigas’ reform. Attempts to redistribute the land led to civil wars and invasions by Argentine troops. This period saw the formation of the two major political parties of the dominant classes—the Colorado Party, supported by the bourgeoisie, and the National, or Blanco, Party, supported by the landowners. The period 1839–51 was the period of the Great War, which began with armed clashes between Uruguayan and Argentine troops. In 1845, Great Britain and France, seeking to establish their influence over Uruguay, offered military aid to Uruguay. Brazil, which had large latifundios in Uruguay, also offered aid but soon began interfering in Uruguay’s internal affairs. Brazilian troops were finally withdrawn from Uruguay in 1855.

The war brought devastation to Uruguay. To save the country from economic ruin and bankruptcy, President B. P. Berro (1860–64) created a government of national unity, despite the differences between the Blanco and Colorado parties. He deprived the church of its privileges, promoted the construction of railroads, abolished customs duties, and adopted measures to expand exports. Docks were built, along with several foundries, meat-packing plants, and other enterprises.

In 1864, Uruguay was drawn into the War of the Triple Alliance. In the early 1870’s, the country was beset by an economic crisis. Dissatisfaction grew among the masses. Although capitalism developed rapidly at the end of the 19th century, the accumulation of national capital proceeded slowly, since substantial funds went to pay off foreign debts; large sums were also lost as a result of unfavorable exchange rates. The major stock-raising latifundios produced primarily for export, leaving very little for the domestic market. The British monopolies, which accounted for one-third of all imports, invested considerable capital in transportation and industry.

The formation of a proletariat dates to this period. In 1875 the first workers’ center was organized—the International Association of Workers (from 1885, the Federation of Uruguayan Workers), which published the newspaper El Internacional. The Socialist Party was founded in 1896 (until 1904, the Workers’ Socialist Center). The formation of the Uruguayan nation was completed in the final third of the 19th century.

In 1903 the presidency of Uruguay was assumed by the leader of the Colorado Party, J. Batlle y Ordóñez, who received the support of the national bourgeoisie, the majority of the proletariat, and the middle ranchers. In 1904 the big landowners and ranchers and the trader-importers, with the support of Brazilian landowners and the pro-British rulers of Argentina, organized an armed uprising, which quickly grew into a civil war. The national bourgeoisie emerged victorious. Batlle promulgated a number of democratic reforms, such as the introduction of an eight-hour workday, universal suffrage, pension laws, the separation of church and state, and the separation of church and school. The rapid development of industry and the creation of a state capitalist sector (development of power engineering, construction of bridges and roads, and introduction of laws favoring national industry) soon weakened Uruguay’s dependence on Great Britain. However, in carrying out his program of national industrial development, Batlle left the latifundios untouched; moreover, he did not take a decisive stand against monopolistic foreign capital, especially that of the USA, which had acquired almost complete control over the newly developed meat-packing industry.

At the beginning of World War I (1914–18), Uruguay declared its neutrality, but in 1917 it broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. In 1917 the second Uruguayan constitution was adopted; it strengthened the position of the national bourgeoisie but at the same time rejected any compromise on the part of the bourgeoisie with the latifundistas and American imperialism.

Since 1918. The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia greatly influenced the development of the workers’ and democratic movement in Uruguay, where a movement of solidarity with Soviet Russia emerged. The Communist Party of Uruguay was formed in September 1920. In 1926 diplomatic relations were established with the USSR.

As a result of the worldwide economic crisis of 1929–33, Uruguayan production and exports were sharply curtailed; the position of the masses worsened, and the class struggle intensified. In 1933, G. Terra, who had become president in 1931 and who represented reactionary circles, dissolved the parliament and established a dictatorial regime. In 1935 he broke off diplomatic relations with the USSR.

A. Baldomir (1938–42) restored the constitutional regime. During World War II (1939–45) he broke off diplomatic relations with the Axis powers (1942). The Communist Party of Uruguay organized a mass movement of aid to the USSR and its allies. In 1942 the General Union of Workers was founded. In 1943 the government, under pressure from the masses, restored diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. In February 1945, Uruguay declared war on fascist Germany and Japan. The administrations of T. Berreta (1947) and L. Batlle Berres (1947–51), supported by American imperialists, were marked by the onset of reaction. In 1947 a law was adopted limiting the activity of the trade unions and prohibiting strikes at public-service enterprises. The expansion of US monopolies increased. Great Britain lost its influence, since the railroads, municipal transport (streetcars), and water pipeline system, which it had owned, were nationalized as compensation for war debts.

In 1951, as a result of a plebiscite on the question of constitutional reform, the form of state rule was changed. The functions of the chief of state were vested in the National Council of Government. In 1952 a defense treaty was signed with the USA. American monopolies also increased their influence by means of the International Monetary Fund. The 1958 parliamentary elections brought victory to the Nationalist (Blanco) Party, which for nearly 100 years had been the opposition party. The new government subordinated the Uruguayan economy still more to the US monopolies. During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the democratic and workers’ movement intensified, while the movement in support of revolutionary Cuba broadened. In 1962 a general strike was held as a show of solidarity with the Cuban people. That same year the Leftist Liberty Front (Frente Izquierda de Liberación; FIDEL) was created, and in 1964, the National Convention of Workers.

As a result of a constitutional reform, the plural executive form of government was replaced by the presidential form in 1966. In 1967 the presidency of Uruguay was assumed by O. Gestido, Colorado leader. The strike movement grew as the socioeconomic crisis deepened; in 1966 alone, there were about 200 strikes. To avert a general strike, the government in October 1967 proclaimed martial law, which remained in effect almost continuously until 1973. Despite this, there were approximately 700 strikes in 1968. The early 1970’s saw the emergence of various left-wing extremists united in the Tupamaro National Liberation Front (founded 1965), which embarked on a campaign of terror.

The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of Uruguay (1970) proposed the creation of a front of anti-imperialist and democratic forces. The Broad Front was formed in February 1971, uniting FIDEL, the Communist Party of Uruguay, the Christian Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, and a number of smaller groups that had split off from the traditional parties; in the presidential elections of November 1971, the Broad Front won 20 percent of the votes.

J. M. Bordaberry, a major latifundista and a representative of influential circles of the financial oligarchy, assumed the presidency in March 1972. In April 1972, he declared a “state of internal war”; he proceeded to unify the military and the police, which were then used in the struggle against the Tupamaro left-wing extremist movement and subsequently against all the progressive forces in the country. As a result of the domestic economic and political crisis (February 1973), the military assumed considerable power. In June 1973, Bordaberry, supported by right-wing elements of the armed forces, dissolved the parliament and created the Council of State. In June 1973 the National Convention of Workers was outlawed, and in December 1973 the Communist Party of Uruguay, the Socialist Party, and other left-wing parties and organizations were outlawed. Fascistization was under way.

The years 1974 and 1975 were marked by numerous strikes and by opposition to the reactionary policies of the ruling classes. In 1974 the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uruguay, R. Arismendi, was arrested (he was released in January 1975 as a result of an international solidarity movement). From October 1975 to January 1976 and from January to April 1979 the authorities unleashed campaigns of repression against the Communists and all democrats. A number of leaders of the Communist Party of Uruguay, the Broad Front, and the trade unions were arrested. About 6,000 antifascists were kept in prison, where physical torture and killing are common practice. The exacerbation of the domestic political crisis led to the removal of Bordaberry in June 1976 by the military, which then assumed all power. In July the junta appointed A. Mendes president. A worldwide campaign was launched to end the terror in Uruguay, declare amnesty, and free the political prisoners. Despite the persecutions, the process of consolidating all antifascist forces in Uruguay is continuing to expand underground.


Thomas, A. B. Istoriia Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from English.)
Gonionskii, S. A. Ocherki noveishei istorii stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1964.
Romanova, Z. I. Urugvai. Moscow, 1962.
Volkov, A. Urugvai. Moscow, 1974.
Pintos, F. R. Jose Artigas. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Spanish.)
Pintos, F. R. Battle i protsess istoricheskogo razvitiia Urugvaia. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Spanish.)
Pintos, F. R. Profsoiuznoe dvizhenie v Urugvae. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Spanish.)
Arismendi, R. Problemy latinoamerikanskoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Spanish.)
Arismendi, R. Lenin, revoliutsiia i Latinskaia Amerika. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Spanish.)
Arismendi, R. La revolución Uruguaya en la hora del Frente Amplio. Montevideo, 1971.
Arismendi, R. VII Kongress Kominterna i fashizm v Latinskoi Amerike segodnia. Moscow, 1977. (Translated from Spanish.)
Sala de Touron, L., J. C. Rodriguez, and N. de la Torre. Evolución económica de la Banda Oriental. Montevideo, 1967.
Oddone, J. A. La formación del Uruguay moderno. Buenos Aires, 1966.


The Colorado Party, founded in the first half of the 19th century, represents the interests of the big trade and financial bourgeoisie and landowners. It has a number of factions and groups and has been undergoing a profound crisis.

The Nationalist, or Blanco, Party, also founded in the first half of the 19th century, represents the interests of the big landowners, the big and petite bourgeoisie, some members of the middle strata of the population, and the intelligentsia. It, too, has a number of factions.

The Christian Democratic Party was created in 1962 as a result of the merger of the Roman Catholic parties, the Civic Union, and various groups of the Christian Democratic movement.

The Socialist Party of Uruguay, founded in 1896, organizationally formed in 1911. It has been underground since December 1973. The Communist Party of Uruguay was found in 1920. It has also been underground since December 1973.

The Leftist Liberty Front (FIDEL), founded in 1962, unites the country’s progressive forces, political parties, and organizations. The Broad Front, founded in 1971, unites the Communist Party, FIDEL, the Christian Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, and other left-wing parties and organizations.

The National Convention of Workers, founded in 1964, unites more than 90 percent of all the trade unions.


General state of the economy. Uruguay is an economically backward, agrarian-industrial country, specializing in the production of livestock products for export. The state sector plays an important role in the economy. The state owns electric power plants, the major banks, several meat-packing plants, petroleum refineries, railroad and air transport, and communications. Foreign capital exerts a considerable influence on the economy’s development. Foreign monopolies, for the most part US and British, control a large number of the country’s metallurgical, metalwork-ing, and automotive-assembly enterprises. Since 1974 the law has guaranteed foreign entrepreneurs favorable conditions for capital investments through the creation of joint stockholding companies and the free transfer of profits abroad. In 1974–75 a number of enterprises were denationalized. By 1975, the state’s share in the gross domestic product had decreased in transport to 20 percent (from 27 percent in 1970), in manufacturing to 6 percent (from 10 percent), and in fishing to 21 percent (from 37 percent).

In 1974 agriculture accounted for 15 percent of the gross domestic product, industry for 22.1 percent, construction for 3.3 percent, electric, water, and gas service for 1.5 percent, transport and communications for 7.7 percent, trade and services for 15.4 percent, and other branches for 35.0 percent. In 1975 the per capita national income amounted to $760. Wages have lagged behind the rise in the cost of living. In mid-1974 unemployment had reached 8.9 percent.

Agriculture. Large-scale landownership prevails in Uruguay. Some 60 percent of the lands suitable for farming are owned by 600 latifundisto families, while only 10 percent belong to the small-scale landowners, who account for 75 percent of all the farms. About one-half of the peasants own no land. As of 1973 there were 27,700 tractors in the country.

Agricultural lands occupy 87 percent of the country’s total land area; meadows and pastures account for approximately 77 percent of the agricultural lands. In 1970 irrigated lands total 52,000 hectares.

The principal branch of agriculture is the raising on pastures of livestock for meat and wool, primarily in the central and northern regions. Uruguay ranks second in Latin America, after Argentina, in the per capita production of meat and the export of wool. The principal livestock are cattle and sheep. In 1975 there were 11.3 million head of cattle, 16 million sheep, and 12,000 goats. Hogs (500,000) and poultry (7.4 million) are also raised. Commercial stock raising is concentrated on the large farms (with areas of more than 1,000 hectares), which account for about 60 percent of all the cattle raised and about 58 percent of all the sheep. Dairy farming, beekeeping, and fishing are poorly developed. In 1974–75 the wool clip amounted to 55,200 tons. The annual fish catch varies from 10,000 to 12,000 tons.

Land cultivation, which is concentrated primarily in the south, is oriented toward raising crops for domestic consumption. The crop yield is low. The principal crops are (1975) wheat (456,000 tons harvested), corn (157,000 tons), rice (189,000 tons), linseed (39,000 tons), sunflowers (51,000 tons of seeds), oats, barley, and sorghum. Potatoes, peanuts, and sugar beets are also grown. Viticulture has developed in the south, while citrus fruits are grown in the north.

Industry. Granite, marble, and building materials are quarried in small amounts. Hydroelectric power provides about 16 percent of all energy; petroleum, 75 percent; and coal, 9 percent.

The installed electric power capacity is 475 megawatts (1974), and electric power production amounts to 2.3 billion kilowatt-hours, of which 62 percent is produced at hydroelectric power plants. The most important hydroelectric power plants are Gabriel Terra, Rincón del Bonete (with a capacity of 128 megawatts), and Rincón del Baygorría (108 megawatts) on the Río Negro. In 1976 construction was begun, jointly with Argentina, on the Uruguay River at the Salto Grande Falls of a hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 1.8 megawatts.

The manufacturing industry is represented primarily by small-scale enterprises. Only the meat-packing and textile industries have a high concentration of production.

The principal branches of industry are food processing, which accounts for 36 percent of the total industrial output, and textile production, which accounts for 12 percent. The textile industry is primarily represented by the production of wool, and the food-processing industry by meat packing, whose output is exported. Meat enterprises, located in the cities of Montevideo, Fray Ben-tos, Canelones, Paysandú, and Salto, produce chilled and frozen meats, canned meats, meat extracts, and other products. The 1975 production amounted to 302,000 tons of beef, 43,000 tons of lamb, and 27,000 tons of pork. About 90 percent of the textile enterprises are located in Montevideo, and these employ 84 percent of the economically active population; other textile enterprises are located in the departments of Canelones and Colonia. Uruguay also has automotive-assembly plants (the largest ones produce 10,000 motor vehicles a year), petroleum refineries, and enterprises of the chemical, metallurgical (ferrous metals; 10,000 tons of steel smelted in 1974), metalworking, and rubber industries; many of these enterprises are located in Montevideo.

Transportation. The railroad system includes about 3,000 km of lines. Highways total 41,600 km, of which 7,800 km are paved (1973). The Pan-American Highway passes through Uruguay. As of 1971, there were 121,000 automobiles and 86,000 trucks in Uruguay.

The merchant fleet totals 130,000 gross registered tons (1974). The principal seaport is Montevideo, handling nine-tenths of all foreign trade. The principal river port is Fray Bentos, which is on the Uruguay River. The Carrasco International Airport is located at Montevideo.

Foreign trade. In 1974 exports earned $382 million, and imports cost $487 million. In 1974 meat and meat products accounted for 37.9 percent of all exports, other processed food products for 11.1 percent, wool, both washed and unwashed, for 17.5 percent, agricultural products for 2.7 percent, and hides and raw leather for 7 percent. That same year, industrial raw materials accounted for 42.6 percent of all imports, fuels and lubricants for 33 percent, machinery, machinery parts, and transportation equipment for 8 percent, and motor-vehicle parts for assembly for 4 percent. Uruguay’s principal trading partners are (1974) Brazil (24.1 percent of all exports and 15.1 percent of all imports), the Federal Republic of Germany (8.7 and 6.8 percent), Argentina (8.1 and 14.8 percent), Great Britain (4.2 and 3.5 percent), the USA (4.0 and 7.5 percent), and Italy (3.3 and 2.3 percent).

Tourism is developed. In 1973 Uruguay was visited by 552,000 foreign tourists, and tourism earned about $44 million.

The monetary unit is the Uruguayan peso. By the exchange rate of the Gosbank of the USSR as of March 1976, 100 pesos = 21.41 rubles.


Volkov, A. V. Urugvai. Moscow, 1974.
Romanova, Z. I. Urugvai. Ekonomika i vneshniaia torgovlia. Moscow, 1962.


As of 1975, Uruguay’s armed forces comprised an army, navy, and air force. The army totaled 22,000 men. The navy totaled 5,000 men and included eight patrol and escort vessels and several patrol airplanes and helicopters. The air force totaled 3,000 men and included one fighter squadron. The commander in chief is the president. General leadership of the troops is exercised by the Ministry of Defense. The armed forces are composed of paid volunteers.

Medicine and public health. In 1975 the birth rate was 22.6 per 1,000 population, and the mortality rate, 9.8; the infant mortality rate was 48.6 per 1,000 live births. Considerable success has been achieved in combating infectious diseases. Although smallpox, yellow fever, and malaria have been eradicated, the number of persons suffering from infectious diseases remains relatively high, as does the death rate from such diseases. Intestinal infections are widespread, as well as tuberculosis, brucellosis, venereal diseases, trypanosomiasis, and helminthiasis. The most common noninfectious diseases are cardiovascular diseases and malnutrition.

The system of medical care is dominated by the private sector. Voluntary insurance to cover costs in the case of illness or childbirth is widespread. Only a small number of the population, primarily industrial workers, are covered by mandatory insurance.

Most of the medical institutions are located in the capital and other major cities. In 1975 there were 189 hospitals, with 18,300 beds (6.6 beds per 1,000 population), and about 3,400 physicians (one physician per 1,042 inhabitants). Medical personnel are trained at the medical faculty of the University of the Republic in Montevideo and at two medical schools. In 1975 expenditures on health care amounted to 6 percent of the state budget.


Veterinary services. Favorable climatic conditions allow livestock to be maintained on pastures throughout the year and consequently the precise diagnosis and registration of diseases are not always carried out. In 1974, 72 outbreaks of foot and mouth disease were recorded, 106 outbreaks of enterotoxemia, 26 outbreaks of emphysematous carbuncle and other anaerobic diseases, pseudotuberculosis of sheep, coccidiosis, leukosis, cattle plague (rinderpest), echinococcosis, fascioliasis, and brucellosis, 57 outbreaks of actinomycosis and tuberculosis, 16 outbreaks of salmonellosis and malignant anthrax, and 125 outbreaks of sheep mange. Also recorded were mycoplasmosis, Newcastle disease, leptospirosis, foot rot, contagious ecthyma (sore mouth), horse influenza, strangles, hog cholera, and rabies. Babesiasis, anaplas-mosis, trichomoniasis, and epizootic keratoconjuctivitis are encountered in certain regions, as well as encephalomyelitis of poultry, equine encephalomyelitis and ulcerous and epizootic lymphangitis.

Veterinary care is directed by the State Veterinary Service, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing. The board has a number of divisions, including a division for foot and mouth disease, the veterinary service of the meat industry, an antiepizootic and preventive medicine division, and a research division; the last maintains a research institute outside Montevideo.

Uruguay has 216 veterinarians (1975). Veterinary specialists are trained at the faculty of veterinary medicine of the University of the Republic in Montevideo.


Children ages three to six attend kindergarten (in 1970 more than 15,000 were attending kindergarten). Study in primary school begins at the age of six. Free compulsory nine-year education, comprising primary school and the first stage of secondary school, was introduced in 1975. Primary schools, in which the course of study is six years, had an enrollment of 289,700 in 1971. Secondary school lasts six years (three + three). Students completing the first stage of secondary school can go on to three-year vocational schools and pedagogical schools. In 1969 secondary schools had an enrollment of 123,400; vocational schools, 36,900; and pedagogical schools more than 7,000.

Montevideo is the seat of the University of the Republic (founded 1849), with an enrollment of 32,000 in the 1975–76 academic year. Attached to the university are a music school, a library school, a school of social services, an institute of technology and chemistry, and a national school of fine arts. Also in Montevideo is the University of Labor of Uruguay (founded 1942; reorganized 1973), which organizes the work of a number of specialized educational institutions, including an industrial school of mechanics and electrotechnics and schools of home economics, applied arts, graphic arts, marine engineering, and business training.

The largest libraries are the National Library (founded 1816), with 500,000 volumes, and the National Congressional Library (1888), with 123,000 volumes, both located in Montevideo. The largest museums are the National Museum of Fine Arts (founded 1911), the National Historical Museum (1900), the National Museum of Natural History (1837), and the Pedagogical Museum (1888), all located in Montevideo. The Museum of the Indian in Tacuarembó is also a major museum.


The first scientific institutions in Uruguay appeared in the 19th century, including the Historical and Geographical Institute (founded 1843) and the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Association of Uruguay (1888). With the country’s growing industrialization in the first half of the 20th century, new national institutions and services were created in the field of applied sciences, such as the National Meteorological Service (1912), the Alberto Boerger Agricultural Research Center (1914), the Astronomical Observatory (1928), the Institute of Biological Sciences (1932), and the Institute of Technology and Chemistry (1935). The reorganized University of the Republic became the center of theoretical research, primarily medical and biological research; its subdivisions also carry out applied research in the exact and natural sciences and in the humanities.

Under the conditions of the scientific and technological revolution, the government turned to the organization and stimulation of scientific and technical research. State funding of research grew, and specialized research institutions were organized, such as the National Atomic Energy Commission (1955), which has its own research base, including a nuclear reactor, the Institute of Oncology (1960), and the National Academy of Engineering (1965). More recently, the number of totally or partially state-funded research institutes has increased, directly or indirectly subordinate to the federal government, local government agencies, or various state higher educational institutions, in whose laboratories most of the Uruguayan scientists work. Private firms conduct very little research, since the entrepreneurs prefer using new technology and patents from abroad. In 1975, 142 patents and licenses were issued in Uruguay, including 18 national ones.

The National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (from 1957 to 1961, the Commission on Scientific Research) is concerned with planning and coordinating research and development and regulating the allocation of funds. It also develops the national policy in science and technology. However, financial difficulties and Uruguay’s economic dependence on such imperialist powers as the USA and Great Britain have hampered the Uruguayan government’s plans for an independent course in science. Uruguay’s scientists are primarily involved in medical and biological theoretical studies, as well as in applied research in agricultural production, manufacturing, and light industry. The country’s technical progress has been assured primarily through foreign technology and equipment.

In the early 1970’s, Uruguay had 50,300 scientists, engineers, and technicians, of whom 2,200 were employed in research and development, including 1,100 with advanced degrees. Research and development is financed mainly by the state (more than 90 percent in the early 1970’s). The state finances almost all theoretical research and most of the applied research in the key sectors of the national economy. A large part of the expenditures is covered by foreign credits and aid, given by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, UNESCO, and the Organization of American States. In 1971 total expenditures on research and development amounted to about 3.5 billion Uruguayan pesos (approximately $9.5 million at current rates), or 0.5 percent of the gross national product.

Located in Uruguay are a number of international scientific organizations and their branches, for example, the UNESCO Latin American Science Cooperation Office (LASCO; 1949) and the regional commission of the International Center for Advanced Technical and Vocational Training (1963). Uruguay is a member of about 30 international scientific organizations (1970), including the International Union of Physiological Sciences and the International Geographical Union.


World Directory of National Science Policy-making Bodies, vol. 3: Latin America. Paris [1968].
Guide to World Science, vol. 12: Latin America. London, 1970.
La politica científica en América Latina. Paris, 1969.


Strict censorship of the press was introduced after the coup d’etat in June 1973; more than 30 newspapers and journals were shut down. In 1978 the following daily newspapers were published legally in Uruguay, all completely under the government’s control: El Dīa (founded 1886; circulation, 122,000), an organ of the Colorado Party; the evening El Diario (1923; circulation, 170,000), an organ of the Colorado Party; La Mañana (1917; circulation, 18,000), an organ of the Colorado Party; and El Pat’s (1918; circulation 120,000), an organ of the Blanco Party. The Communist Party’s organ is the weekly newspaper Carta Semanal del Partido Comunista, published illegally since March 1974.

The state National Communications Board (Administración Nacional de Telecomunicaciones; ANTEL) controls the country’s radio broadcasting and television. The government-owned radio company SODRE carries transmissions on four radio stations and two television stations. There are 25 commercial radio stations in Montevideo and 51 in the departments. Television has existed since 1956, and there are four commercial television channels.


Uruguayan literature has developed in the Spanish language. The first literary works appeared during the colonial period; for example, Memorial (1779) by J. Pérez Castellano (died 1815), an example of epistolary Enlightenment prose. Other early works include the poetry of the classicists J. Prego de Oliver (1750–1814) and C. Villademoros (1777–1851) and J. P. Martinez’ patriotic play The Highest Fidelity, or Buenos Aires Revenged (1808).

During the period of the independence struggle, poetry was dominated by patriotic themes. The leading representative of democratic (“gaucho”) poetry, rooted in the oral tradition of the gaucho, was B. Hidalgo (1788–1822), author of six musical couplets and various verse dialogues, all directed against the Spanish colonizers and social injustice. Bookish poetry, nourished by the traditions of European classicism, was represented by rhetorical odes, hymns, elegies, and eclogues, for example, the three-volume Uruguayan Parnassus (1835–37). F. Acuña de Figueroa (1790–1862) is the author of the national anthem and the satirical epic narrative poem La Malambrunada (1837), as well as of A Historical Diary of the Siege of Montevideo (1812–14).

Romanticism developed in Uruguayan literature in the 1830’s and 1840’s under the influence of European romanticism. The romantics advocated the cultural and political unity of the Latin-American peoples and called for an end to intellectual dependence on Spain. A. Berro (1819–41), in the narrative poems Yandubayú and Liropeya (1840) and The Founding of Montevideo, glorified the Indian chiefs and the first Spanish settlers. A leading representative of Uruguayan romanticism was A. Magariños Cervantes (1825–93), author of numerous poems and the novels Cellar (1852) and Caramurú (1848; published 1865). The second generation of romantics—including M. Lafinur (died 1938), O. Moratorio (1852–98), and E. Regules (1860–1929)—gathered around the group of writers and scholars known as the Atheneum, whose works, which often vilified Roman Catholicism and dictatorial forms of government, were influenced by V. Hugo.

The members of the Atheneum were opposed by the Catholic writer J. Zorrilla de San Martin (1855–1931), author of the lyrical epic narrative poem Tabare (1888). E. Acevedo Diaz (1851–1924) wrote historical novels depicting the period of the liberation struggle, including Ismael (1888), The Native (1890), and Cry of Glory (1893), written in a romantic-patriotic vein. J. de Viana (1863–1925) in his short-story collections The Countryside (1896), Gurí (1901), and Dry Kindling (1911) presented a gloomy, naturalistic picture of gaucho life, in contrast to the usual romanticized treatment of the gaucho. The novels Beba (1894) and The Race of Cain (1900) by C. Reyles (1868–1938) also tend toward a naturalistic depiction of life.

Modernistic poetry appeared at the turn of the 20th century, a leading representative of which was J. Herrera y Reissig (1875–1910), author of the collections The Pentecosts of Time (1900), The Evening Matins (1902), and Tower of Sphinxes (1909). It contrasted with the poetry of J. Alonzo y Trelles (1857–1924) and F. Silva Valdés (born 1887), inspired by the countryside and gaucho folklore. Delmira Agustini (1886–1914), who decried bourgeois morality, and Juana de Ibarbourou (born 1895), who glorified the beauty of her homeland, advocated the emancipation of women. An outstanding role was played by the philosophical poetry of C. Sabat Ercasty (born 1887), dominated by the theme of man and his “eternal problems and quests.” The essayist J. E. Rodó (1871–1917) in the essay “Ariel” (1900) advocated the intellectual and cultural unity of all Latin-American countries, free of any US cultural influence.

Dating to the early 20th century is the work of the founder of Uruguayan drama, F. Sánchez (1875–1910), author of such realistic dramas as My Son the Doctor (1903) and La Gringa (1904). The outstanding short-story writer H. Quiroga (1878–1937), in his collections Tales of Love, Madness, and Death (1917), Jungle Tales (1918), Anaconda (1921), and The Exiles (1926), depicted man’s struggle against a hostile tropical environment.

The social role of literature gained importance in the mid-1920’s under the influence of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia and the growing revolutionary and democratic movement in Uruguay itself. Along with the writers of subjective-lyrical and religious poetry, such as F. Pereda (born 1900), E. de Cáceres (born 1903), and S. de Ibañez (born 1910), emerged poets whose democratic works criticized bourgeois society: J. Ortiz Saralegui (1907–59), I. Pereda Valdes (born 1899), P. L. Ipuche (born 1889), and L. Falco (1906–55).

The dramas and fictional chronicles of J. Zavala Muniz (born 1898) are characterized by realism. Social motifs are clearly expressed in the prose of E. Amorim (1900–60), who drew a merciless picture of Uruguay’s social contradictions in the novels Tangarupá (1925), Peasant Aguilar (1934), and The Horse and His Shadow (1941); the protagonists of Amorim’s novels Nine Moons Over Neuguén (1946) and Open Corral (1956) are conscious fighters against capitalism. The political awakening of the simple laborers forms the theme of the novels Borders Open to the Wind (1951) and From Fear to Pride (1959) by A. Gravina (born 1913). The works of J. C. Onetti (born 1909) are marked by profound psychologism. The novels of M. Benedetti (born 1920) The Truce (1960) and especially Thanks for the Fire (1965) depict acute social problems and sharply criticize bourgeois morality.

The poetry of J. Cunha (born 1910) combines national themes with lofty humanism and a philosophical quality. Social fervor characterizes the poetry of A. Berenguer (born 1922), I. Vitale (born 1924), M. Bianqui (born 1928), J. Medina Vidal (born 1930), and H. Giordano (born 1940).


Jesualdo, S. “O literature Urugvaia.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1956, no. 12.
Urugvaiskie rasskazy. Moscow, 1957.
Poeziia gaucho. Moscow, 1964.
Poety Urugvaia. Moscow, 1974.
Zum Felde, A. Proceso intellectual del Uruguay. Montevideo, 1941.
Pedemonte, H. Nueva poesía uruguaya. Madrid, 1958.
Benedetti, M. Literatura uruguaya siglo XX. Montevideo [1970].
Bollo, S. Literatura uruguaya, 1807–1965, vols. 1–2. Montevideo, 1965.
Medina Vidal, J. Visión de la poesía uruguaya en el siglo XX. [Montevideo, 1969.]
Rela, W. Historia del teatro uruguaya, 1808–1968. [Montevideo, 1969.]
Ramo, A. La generación crítica 1939–1968. Montevideo, 1972.


Ancient anthropomorphic and zoomorphic stones and pottery of the Charruas Indians have been preserved in Uruguay. The architecture of the colonial period is represented by fortifications, churches, and municipal buildings with baroque and classical elements. The leather and silver articles of the gaucho are unique. Pretentious buildings in the spirit of European eclecticism appeared in the mid-19th century among the low, uniform structures of the cities. Modernist buildings appeared in the early 20th century.

During the first half of the 19th century J. M. Besnes created landscapes and genre paintings. In the second half of the 19th century, J. M. Blanes, the founder of the national realistic school, painted poetic canvases depicting the life of the gaucho and the liberation struggle. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, realistic painting became freer and more diverse, for example the landscapes of P. Blanes Viale, the portraits of C. F. Sáez, and the genre paintings and landscapes of P. Figari. Monumental, genre, and portrait sculpture (J. M. Ferrari, J. L. Zorrilla de San Martín, J. Belloni, B. Michelana) combined the realistic depiction of the figures with a romantic feeling.

During the 1930’s the architect J. Vilamajo (Vilamayó) founded contemporary Uruguayan architecture. During the second and third quarters of the 20th century, new high-rise buildings and residential districts transformed the appearance of Montevideo. The luxuriousness of the new buildings in Montevideo’s downtown area and in the coastal resort region contrasts sharply with the growing slums.

The painters R. Pérez Barradas and J. Cúneo Perinetti introduced cubism and expressionism in Uruguay; J. Torres Garcia was an avid proponent of abstract art. At the same time, the socialist realist movement was developing, represented by the painters and graphic artists L. Massey, N. Berdía, J. Echave, and C. González and the sculptor A. Gonzales. Beginning in the mid-20th century, the Engraving Club, which included G. Rodriguez, A. Hernández, and L. González, advocated that art should truthfully reflect the life of the people and its dramatic social aspects.


Polevoi, V. M. Iskusstvo stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1967.
Giuria, J. La arquitectura en el Uruguay, vols. 1–4. Montevideo, 1955–58.
Argul, J. P. Las artes plásticas del Uruguay. Montevideo [1966].


Uruguayan music was formed primarily under the influence of Creole music. The music of the indigenous population (the Indians) was gradually crowded out. The repositories of the national folklore were wandering singers—the payadores—who performed romantic ballads and love songs to a guitar accompaniment. Many Uruguayan folksongs are similar to the songs of the neighboring Argentine provinces; they include the Estilo (a rather brief, rondo-form ballad with alternating rapid and slow sections), Vidalita, Kifra, and Triste. Unique are the Contrappunto, a satirical improvisation in the form of a vocal dialogue, a kind of competition between two singers, and the Pericón, a satirical round dance combined with the declamation of quatrains by two soloists. Patriotic songs, born of the struggle for independence, emerged in the first half of the 19th century. Festival intermedia, namely, the candombe, of African origin, were popular among the people until the mid-19th century, when they were replaced by the more developed carnival forms. Songs and dances were performed to the accompaniment of accordions and tamboril, a cylindrical drum widely used during festivals and carnivals as late as the 20th century.

Professional music, linked to some extent with the music of Italy and Spain, developed relatively late. The House of Comedy, which opened in 1793, staged modest-sized melodramas and co-medic plays with songs and music in the vein of the Spanish tonadillas. The musical culture began developing intensively in the 19th century, but it was dominated by foreigners (Italian operatic troupes began performing in 1830). Church music occupied an important place in urban daily life, as did the performance of salon music for guitar, piano, and harp, such as minuets, gavottes, and passepieds. A national variant of the minuet developed: the men danced in the style of a zapateado, while the women played the castanets. By the end of the 19th century, the salon dances were supplanted by the tango.

Composers of the first half of the 19th century include J. J. de Sostoa, F. J. Debali (a Hungarian by nationality; composer of the national anthem), C. Luna, and J. Furriol. Many composers of piano music were trained by the Austrian pianist S. Thalberg, including D. Costa, O. Pfeiffer, and P. Faget. The first Uruguayan opera was written by T. Giribaldi (The Parisian Girl, 1878), and the first symphonies were composed by L. Sambucetti, director of the National Symphony Orchestra. By the beginning of the 20th century, a national school of composition had developed, founded by E. F. Fabini. Among its most prominent representatives were A. Brogua, L. Cluzeau Mordet, R. Socas, C. Cortinas, and V. Ascone.

Uruguay’s cultural life is concentrated in Montevideo, which by the beginning of the 20th century had 15 theaters, most of which staged musical productions, often Spanish zarzuelas, as well as several conservatories. A municipal wind orchestra was founded in 1907, and the National Association of Chamber Music in 1913. The National Association of Symphony Orchestras was organized in 1920. An important role in popularizing music was played by the State Service for Radio Broadcasting (now the State Service for Radio and Television Broadcasting; SODRE), established in the 1920’s, which included soloists, a symphony orchestra, a choral group, a dance group, and chamber ensembles.

Choral singing became popular between the 1930’s and the 1950’s, when numerous groups were formed, such as the Montevideo and Guarda y Pasa choruses. National choral festivals have been held since 1953. Musical education was improved: a system of urban musical schools was organized, and the National Conservatory was opened in Montevideo (1954), which is under the jurisdiction of the University of the Republic.

Leading contemporary musicians include the composer and conductor H. Tosar (since 1969, director of the symphony orchestra), the composer A. Mastrogiovanni, the conductor J. Protasi, the pianists H. Balzo and N. Mariño, the singer V. Castro, and the guitarist J. Martinez Oyanguren. Also noteworthy is the musicologist L. Ayestarán.


Ayestarán L. Música en el Uruguay. Montevideo, 1953.
Salgado, S. Breve historia de la música culta en el Uruguay. Montevideo, 1971.


The first theatrical productions in Montevideo were staged at the end of the 18th century. The House of Comedy, which periodically staged theatrical presentations, was opened in Montevideo in 1793. Prominent 19th century playwrights include B. Hidalgo, H. Fajardo, and F. X. de Acha. The Solis Theater was built in Montevideo in 1856. The golden age of the national theater is linked with the playwrights F. Sánchez and E. Herrera, whose realistic works combined a truthful re-creation of the national reality and a sharp critique of bourgeois society. During the 1920’s modernist elements came to dominate the theater, which became commercially oriented.

The 1930’s and 1940’s saw the emergence of the independent theater movement, which endeavored to raise the artistic level of productions, to stage the best of national and world drama, and to combat the prevailing commercialism. This movement, whose traditions were subsequently continued by such troupes as El Galpón, the Teatro Universitario, and the Theater of the the City of Montevideo, facilitated the growth of the Uruguayan theater. A high professional level distinguishes the productions of La Co-media Nacional (founded 1947). Other theater groups include Grupo 68, Teatro Uno, and Teatro del Sur. The plays of M. Benedetti, C. Maggi, and I. Cortinas are staged.

Among the most prominent theater figures are S. Corrieri, J. Zavala Muniz. A. del Cioppo, E. Schinca, J. Ortiz, J. Estruch, F. Wolff, and A. Larreta. Of great importance for training theatrical performers is the School of Dramatic Art, founded in 1949 by the actress M. Xirgú and directed by J. Estruch.


Rela, W. “Zametki ob urugvaiskom teatre.” Latinskaia Amerika, 1973, no. 2.
Teatro uruguayo contemporaneo, 2nd ed. Madrid, 1966.




a river in South America. Its upper course is in Brazil; the remainder constitutes the border between Argentina on the west and Brazil and Uruguay on the east. It originates at the confluence of the Pelotas and Canoas rivers, which rise on the western slopes of the Serra do Mar, and empties into the Río de la Plata, the estuary of the Paraná River.

The Uruguay measures 2,200 km in length from the Pelotas River and drains an area of 307,000 sq km. Its main tributaries are the Ibicuí and Negro, on the left. The river flows over a lava plateau up to the city of Santo Tomé and forms rapids and waterfalls; farther down it borders the plateau on the west and forms a waterfall near the cities of Salto and Concordia, which are accessible to river vessels. Rain causes flash flooding in the autumn and spring. The mean flow rate is 5,500 cu m per sec. The river is navigable for oceangoing vessels from the city of Paysandú. The main ports are Concordia (Argentina) and Salto, Paysandú, and Fray Bentos (Uruguay).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Capital city: Montevideo

Internet country code: .uy

Flag description: Nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; there is a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May with 16 rays that alternate between triangular and wavy

Geographical description: Southern South America, bor­dering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil

Total area: 68,000 sq. mi. (176,000 sq. km.)

Climate: Warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown

Nationality: noun: Uruguayan(s); adjective: Uruguayan

Population: 3,460,607 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: European 88%, mestizo 8%, African 4%, Amerindian (practically nonexistent)

Languages spoken: Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Por­tuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)

Religions: Roman Catholic 66% (less than half of the adult population attends church regularly), Protestant 2%, Jew­ish 1%, nonprofessing or other 31%

Legal Holidays:

Batalla de las PiedrasMay 18
Birthday of ArtigasJun 19
Christmas DayDec 25
Constitution DayJul 18
Desembarco de los 33 OrientalesApr 19
Dia de los AmericasOct 12
Dia de los DifuntosNov 2
EpiphanyJan 6
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Independence DayAug 25
Labor DayMay 1
Maundy ThursdayApr 21, 2011; Apr 5, 2012; Mar 28, 2013; Apr 17, 2014; Apr 2, 2015; Mar 24, 2016; Apr 13, 2017; Mar 29, 2018; Apr 18, 2019; Apr 9, 2020; Apr 1, 2021; Apr 14, 2022; Apr 6, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in South America, on the Atlantic: Spanish colonization began in 1624, followed by Portuguese settlement in 1680; revolted against Spanish rule in 1820 but was annexed by the Portuguese to Brazil; gained independence in 1825. It consists mainly of rolling grassy plains, low hills, and plateaus. Official language: Spanish. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: peso. Capital: Montevideo. Pop.: 3 439 000 (2004 est.). Area: 176 215 sq. km (68 037 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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