Uruguay Population and Economy

By | December 20, 2021

Uruguay, a South American state, bordered by Brazil (to the N and NE) and Argentina (to the West); to the South and SE it overlooks the Río de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean. The border with Argentina is marked by the river of the same name.

Physical characteristics

From the morphological point of view, Uruguay looks like a large plateau (the average height is 100 m) on which low hill systems, the cuchillas, which rarely exceed 500 m, rise at times. The base of the region is part of the crystalline massif of Brazil. The two main hill systems are the Cuchilla Grande, to the SE, extending almost as far as the Río de la Plata, and the Cuchilla de Haedo, to the NW, sloping down towards the Uruguay valley. From them other minor chains branch off in different directions (Cuchilla del Durazno, del Daymán, del Belén, de Santa Ana etc.). The coast has various rocky points, between which the sands have accumulated in long series of dunes, which often, forming coastal strips, have separated inlets from the sea, transforming them into lagoons. The largest, Laguna Mirim, continues beyond the Brazilian border.

The main rivers, which flow from E to West, are Uruguay and the Río Negro, its tributary, whose basin occupies about half of the state’s territory. Other tributaries of Uruguay are the Cuareim and the Queguay Grande; the Río Negro, in turn, receives the Tacuarembó and the Yi.

The climate is temperate-hot and constantly humid, with an average temperature around 17 ° C; the rains (900 mm of annual average) are distributed very regularly throughout the year, with a maximum corresponding to the austral autumn.


The population of the Uruguay, a country without mineral resources and land suitable for plantation agriculture, happened rather slowly. The first stable settlements of white settlers who practiced cattle breeding appeared only in the 17th century. along the Uruguay River. White colonization led to the progressive marginalization of the original tribes of Amerindians settled along the main rivers, rejected inland and definitively extinct as early as 1830. In the 19th century, thanks also to the arrival of substantial migratory flows from Europe (especially Spanish and Italians) and, to an extent smaller, from Argentina and Brazil, the population, than at the end of the 18th century. was estimated at only 30,000 units, began to increase in a sustained measure, rising to 520,000 residents in 1883 and 1,043,000 in 1908. The migratory current suffered a first setback with the crisis of 1929 and, after the Second World War, due to the restrictive laws imposed on immigration, it almost completely stopped. The population, however, continued to grow considerably between the 1950s and 1970s, up to a slowdown following the reversal of the trend recorded by the natural rate, which resulted in growth values ​​closer to those in Europe than in Latin America..

The current growth rate (0.4% in 2009) places the Uruguay among the countries in the world with the lowest population growth. The urbanization rate is extremely high (92%), but the distribution of the population is irregular: over a third of this, in fact, is concentrated in the capital, while the other cities (among the largest, Salto, Paysandú, Las Piedras) are not they reach 100,000 residents. Compared to the rest of the South American continent, the Uruguay it stands out for its high average life span (76 years), for its high adult literacy rate (97%) and for its low infant mortality (11.3 ‰).

The most widespread religion is Catholic (78.3%), with Protestant and Jewish minorities.

Economic conditions

The Uruguay, Possessing no local resources of oil, coal or iron, nor heavy industries, has always been heavily dependent on imports. The export of meat, skins and wool, mainly directed to the USA and Great Britain, led to a period of prosperity in the country until the end of the 1950s, interrupted only momentarily by the great economic crisis of 1929. At that time, economic prosperity and advanced civil rights legislation had made the Uruguay one of the richest and most modern countries on the South American continent. At the end of the 1950s, competition from new wool and livestock producers, the crisis of the meat preservation industry (at the time one of the few industries in the country), the now unsustainable cost of wel; fare statethey began to dent the country’s economic position. In the 1970s, a complex of internal events (terrorism, the military coup, the continuous devaluation of the currency, the failure to modernize the agricultural and livestock sector, the weakness of the industrial structure) and international events (increase in the cost of petroleum products and closure of the European market to imports from the Uruguay) exacerbated the existing problems, opening a long and deep phase of recession. In the following decade, with the support of the International Monetary Fund, the new democratic government undertook an economic recovery action whose strong points were the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the containment of public spending, the opening up to foreign capital, the launch of large public works and, above all, of projects to exploit the enormous hydroelectric potential of the country. The 1990s saw a notable development of the industry, thanks both to international aid and to the creation of free zones for products destined for export. The influx of foreign capital, attracted by the protection of banking secrecy, has paid off Montevideo a financial center of primary importance. However, in the early 21st century. the Uruguayan economy, involved in the severe recession in Argentina and Brazil, suffered the radical collapse of exports, the growth of inflation and the surge in unemployment. The efforts made by the government in the years 2003-07 to contain the recession and revive the country’s economy were partly thwarted by the effects of the world crisis of 2008-09.

Rural activities, carried out in large companies, occupy about 4/5 of the territory and absorb 9% of the active population, contributing 9.5% to GDP (2009). The main agricultural productions are represented by cereals, first of all rice, followed by wheat, maize, barley, sorghum and oats. The production of oil crops (soybean, sunflower, olive tree) and sugar cane is on the rise. Among the other crops, widespread above all in the coastal areas, we must remember those of the vine, citrus fruits, potatoes. The semi-wild breeding, impressive compared to the size of the country, in 2007 had 12 million cattle and 11 million sheep. Poultry farming is booming. Fishing (108. 750 tonnes of fish landed in 2007) and related activities are on the way to becoming a significant item of the economy. Since 1995 the MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur) to promote the free trade of agricultural products between the Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.

Only gypsum, talc, quartz, marble and granite are extracted from the subsoil. Of great importance is the production of hydroelectric energy (5310 million kWh in 2006), obtained above all from the massive dams built along the Río Negro. Industry accounts for 22.5% of the GDP and employs 15% of the population. The most important sectors are: agri-food, in particular the processing of sugar and beer, textiles (wool and cotton mills), artificial and synthetic fibers, rubber (tires), tobacco and, to a lesser extent, pasta. of wood, paper, steel.

The most important tertiary activities (the service sector occupies 76% of the active population and contributes 68% to GDP), in particular financial ones, are concentrated in the capital. A high share of employees in the tertiary sector (about 60%) find employment in the public administration. The contribution of the tourism sector in the formation of national income is noteworthy; seaside tourism is very popular (Punta del Este and Piriápolis), with a strong presence of Argentines and Brazilians. The trade balance, which has been in surplus for a long time, has been in deficit since the 1990s. Brazil and Argentina are the main trading partners, followed by China, the United States, Germany and Paraguay. Agri-food products represent the main item of exports followed by textiles. The country it mainly imports machinery, means of transport, chemicals, fuels and minerals. For Uruguay 2016, please check softwareleverage.org.

The road and rail communications network, centered on the capital, fanned out to the borders of Argentina and Brazil, connecting to the networks of the two countries. The extension of the railway network was 3003 km in 2006, that of the road network of 8730 km. Montevideo is the best equipped port in the country and manages almost all of the trade.


Few and of little artistic value are the finds found in the Uruguay The most ancient finds are lithic; the North-West is the center of maximum density and radiation of the Catalan culture, whose origin dates back to 9000-7000 years ago. In the low lands of the Uruguay A large number of mounds (Bañados de San Miguel, Rincón de los Indios, Potrerillo de Laguna Negra, sierra de los Ajos, ​​Isla Negra) were erected in the east, starting from 4000 years ago. The settlement of Cráneo Marcado (Laguna de Castillos) has returned one of the oldest dating of ceramics (11th -10th century BC).

Uruguay gypsum