Uruguay - education
The country's education system is French - oriented. At 2.7%, illiteracy is
the lowest in South America (1995). The public, free school system includes a
voluntary preschool for 3-5-year-olds, which is followed by approximately 36%
(1996). The nine-year compulsory schooling is fulfilled in the six-year primary
school and by the first three years in the Ciclo Básico, which
includes a general and a vocational line. Another three years of schooling on
the general line leads to the matriculation examination, Bachillerato
Diversificado, which provides access to university studies, while an up to
four-year continuation on the vocational line leads to various
TopSchoolsintheUSA: Do you plan to take the TOEFL exam in Uruguay? Visit
the website to find TOEFL preparation and scoring information as well as iBT
test dates and locations around this country.
Higher education takes place at the public Universidad de la República as
well as at four smaller, private universities (1999).
ETYMOLOGY: The word Uruguay comes from the South American language guaraní, but its
origin is uncertain. The word is perhaps formed by Uruguái 'snail river', by
uruguá 'snail' and î 'river, water', egl. about the river of the same name,
perhaps of uru 'bird' + guay 'tail'.
OFFICIAL NAME: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
CAPITAL CITY: Montevideo
POPULATION: 3,316,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 176,220 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Spanish, strongly influenced by Portuguese at the border with Brazil
RELIGION: Catholics 79%, Protestants 5%, other Christians 4%, Jews 1%, others el. no
CURRENCY CODE: UYU
ENGLISH NAME: Uruguay
POPULATION COMPOSITION: white 88%, mestizer 8%, black 4%
GDP PER residents: $ 6269 (2007)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 72 years, women 79 years (2007)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.851
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 43
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .uy
Uruguay, (from guaraní Uruguái 'snail river', from uruguá 'snail'
and î 'river, water', egl. About the river of the same name), republic
of southeastern South America on the river La Plata; the second smallest
country in South America, only Suriname is smaller.
Until the 1950's, Uruguay was characterized by social stability and economic
prosperity and went by the nickname "Switzerland of South America". However, the
favorable trend reversed and the military took power in 1973.
The transition to democratic rule began with the inauguration of President
Julio María Sanguinetti (b. 6.1.1936) in 1985. Despite economic problems, the
country is one of the more prosperous and politically stable in South America.
Uruguay - language
The official language is Spanish, which is the mother tongue of the entire
population; Uruguay is thus the only South American country where Native
American languages are no longer spoken. In the border areas with Brazil,
there is a clear Portuguese influence.
Uruguay - religion
Franciscans and Jesuits spread Christianity in the country from 1616. In 1830
the Roman Catholic Church became the state church, but in 1917 the state and
church separated. The vast majority of the population are Catholics, approximately 2%
are Protestants, and approximately 2% are Jews.
Uruguay - Constitution
The Constitution of the Republic of Uruguay is from 1966 with subsequent
amendments. Legislative power lies with the National Assembly, which consists of
the Senate with 30 and the Chamber of Deputies with 99 members, all elected by
ordinary election for five years. The executive power is vested in the
president, who, together with a vice-president, is elected by universal suffrage
at the same time as the National Assembly for five years. The 19 local units, departamentos,
each with its own elected assembly, are headed by a combined governor/mayor, municipal
curator, who organizes and implements local politics.
Uruguay - Economy
Ever since President José Batlle y Ordóñez in the early 1900's. created South
America's first welfare state, the state has played a major role in Uruguay's
economy. Income inequality is moderate under Latin American conditions, and
there is great public skepticism about privatizations and market management.
Thus, after World War II, a protectionist policy supported the country's
industrialization, resulting in significant economic progress until the late
This was followed by a long period of low growth and political unrest,
culminating in the military coup in 1973. In the 1980's, Uruguay experienced
severe economic crises with high inflation and large deficits in public budgets
and the balance of payments, even after the restoration of democracy in 1985.
request financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
The counterclaim was an economic stabilization program introduced in 1990,
which entailed a significant tightening of economic policy. As part of the
program, the currency, the peso, has since been continuously
depreciated against the dollar.
Since 1985, changing governments have sought to gradually liberalize and
modernize the economy as well as reduce the role of the public sector in the
economy. In the 1990's, economic growth was quite high and Uruguay had no
difficulty in financing the trade and payments balance deficit through foreign,
direct investment and borrowing in the international capital markets.
Under the South American common market MERCOSUR, Uruguay's dependence on the
country's main trading partners, the two major neighbors Brazil and Argentina,
grew. More than half of exports went to the two countries, and Uruguay was
therefore hit by their economic crises in the period 1999-2002, worst in 2002,
when exports to Argentina collapsed, GDP shrank by over 10% and unemployment
rose to over 20%.
The peso was made free-floating and fell sharply against the dollar,
triggering inflation, but was also followed by the first trade surplus in a long
time. However, Uruguay retained the confidence of the International Monetary
Fund even after 2002, and when the banks had to close for a few days in August
2002, the United States provided a billion as emergency loans.
In the following years, rising meat prices high GDP growth, in 2004 as
much as 11%. Unemployment and especially inflation have been reduced somewhat,
but the external debt amounted to one year's GDP in 2005, and government debt
reached 82% of GDP. That same year, a left-wing coalition won government power
on promises to fight poverty that became a widespread consequence of the 2002
In 2005, Uruguay's most important trading partners were Brazil, the United
States and Argentina, which together accounted for approximately 40% of foreign
trade. Exports continue to be characterized by meat, wool and skins, a large
part in processed form. The state oil company ANCAP has invited foreign
investors to participate in exploration concessions, but no significant oil or
natural gas has been found. Denmark's exports to Uruguay in 2005 amounted to DKK
55 million. kr.; imports from there were 34 million. kr.
Uruguay - social conditions
In Uruguay was introduced already in the early 1900-t. a comprehensive social
security system that benefited, first and foremost, the urban middle class and
workers. Since the mid-1900's. social and economic disparities have grown as the
regulatory role of the state has diminished. Declining export revenues and
rising expenses for e.g. pensions for a growing population over the age of 50
undermined the system in the 1960's; in 1999, 24% of the population was under 14
years of age, 63% between 15 and 64 years of age, and 13% over 65 years of age.
Since the late 1990's, the public pension system has shrunk and a new system
based on private insurance has been built. With approximately 6% of the population
lives below the poverty line, halving since 1990. Income distribution is among
the most equal in Latin America. The poorest 20% have 5% of their income, while
the richest 20% account for 50%.
Health care is being rebuilt after the crisis years and military rule, and
95% of the population now has access to medical care and hospital; it is
possible to get medicine reimbursement. Under President Tabaré Vázquez (2004-),
social and health policy has become a very high priority.