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Uruguay & Guarani

Uruguay is a Guarani word meaning “river the uru birds come from. ” The South American country Uruguay is officially named Oriental Republic of Uruguay (Republica Oriental del Uruguay). The republic’s name is derived from its location as the country lies east of the Uruguay River. (everywhere. com, 2007) Geography Uruguay is on the southeastern Atlantic coast of South America. Brazil is to its north, the Atlantic Ocean is on the east, and Argentina borders it to the west and south. Also bordering the country to the south is the estuary of the Rio de a Plata. It has a total land area of about 176,220 square kilometers (68,020 square miles).

Next to Suriname, it is the second smallest South American country. Comparatively, it is slightly smaller than the state of Washington in the United States. (Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2007, p. 241) The terrain mainly consists of gently rolling plains and low hills. It has a fertile coastal and riverine lowlands. The highest elevation is the Cerro Cathedral at 514 meters above sea level. Due to the absence of mountains, Uruguay is vulnerable to rapid changes in weather. Nevertheless, the climate is warm temperate and freezing temperatures are almost unknown.

Located south of the equator, Uruguay’s warmest months are in January and February with an average temperature of about 22oC (72oF). On the other hand, the coldest month is June when temperatures average about 10oC (50oF). Rainfall is equally distributed throughout the year. The annual rainfall in Uruguay is about 890 mm (35 inches). Cold storms, known as pamperos, blow from the southwest into the country during the winter. Demography Uruguay has a population of 3,431,932 as of July 2006 estimates. There are slightly more women as the sex ratio is at 0. 95 male per female.

Almost two-thirds of the population are aged 15 – 64 years. Almost two-thirds of the population are aged 15 – 64 years, 22. 9% are in the 0 – 14 years old bracket and the remaining 13. 3% are 65 years old and above. The population grows at a rate of 0. 46% and the average life expectancy at birth is 76. 33 years. Men are expected to live up to the age of 73. 12 years while women live to be 79. 65 years old on the average. Majority of the population are white (88%) while Amerindians are practically non-existent. (CIA, 2007) About half of the population live in Montevideo, the national capital, and its surrounding metropolitan area.

In fact, about ninety-one percent live in urban areas. History Three centuries of colonialism (1516 to 1810) is characterized by the struggle for control of Uruguay between the Spanish and Portuguese. This was interspersed with minor incursions by the British and French. The capital city of Montevideo was originally established in 1726 as a Spanish military stronghold and later became an important commercial center due to its natural harbor. 1811 to 1827 was a period of struggle for national independence, initially against the European colonizers and later against South American neighbors.

Uruguay was claimed as part of Argentine and annexed by Brazil in 1821. Uruguay gained its independence in 1828. Political strife, however, continued to wrack the country as factions contended for power through civil wars, dictatorship and caudillismo. (Caudillo is a Spanish word (caudilho in Portuguese) usually originally used to designate a charismatic popular leader. It has become a term used to characterize a leader bearing authoritarian power. “) The polarization of the country saw the emergence of two opposing parties — the Blancos and the Colorados.

The Partido Blanco (also known as the White Party, or the National Party) is a liberal conservative political party. The Partido Colorado (Colorado Party) is a political party that unites both liberal and social democratic groups. It was the ruling party almost without exception during the period of stabilization of the Uruguayan republic. A period of political stability and economic prosperity was achieved in the early 1900s under the leadership of President Jose Batlle y Ordonez (he belonged to the Colorado Party). During the Batlle administration, political, social and economic reforms were instituted and established a statist tradition.

The reforms were also such that, according to De Robertis (2006), Uruguay became known for its near-socialist state in the early 1900s. They had eight-hour workdays and public schools. Uruguayan women also had the right to vote even before it was recognized in the United States. Uruguay became known as the “Switzerland of South America” during this period of prosperity. It lasted until the 1950s. (Gonzales, 1991) Political instability ensued when changes in the international market, coupled by a bloated government, created economic hardships in the 1960s.

Civil unrest burst into the open and the urban guerilla movement Tupamaro was launched. (CIA, 2007) A coup in 1973 started a decade of military dictatorship. Civilian rule was re-established, and a new period of electoral democracy started, with the 1984 Presidential election. The Blancos and Colorados have alternated in the presidency since then. (everyculture. com) One hundred seventy years of Blanco and Colorado control of Uruguayan politics ended when the left-of-center Frente Amplio Coalition won the National Election in 2004. Political Infrastructure The Republic of Oriental Uruguay is a constitutional republic.

Its territory is divided into nineteen administrative departments (departamentos) namely: Artigas, Canelones, Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Montevideo, Paysandu, Rio Negro, Rivera, Rocha, Salto, San Jose, Soriano, Tacuarembo, and Treinta y Tres. Its constitution was promulgated on November 27, 1966 and took effect on the 15th of February 1967. The constitution was suspended on June 27, 1973 as a result of the military coup d’etat. A new constitution was proposed by the ruling junta (at the time) was rejected in the national referendum of November 30, 1980.

Two constitutional reforms were approved in the plebiscites of November 26, 1989 and January 7, 1997. (CIA, 2007) The executive branch of government is headed by the President who is both the Chief of State and Head of Government. The President and Vice-President are both elected for five-year terms on the same ticket by popular vote. They may not, however, serve consecutive terms. The members of Cabinet, known as the Council of Ministers, are appointed by the President. The cabinet appointments have to be approved by the legislature. (CIA, 2007)

The legislative branch is the bicameral General Assembly (Asamblea General) which is made up of the Chamber of Senators (Camara de Senadores) and the Chamber of Representatives (Camara de Representantes). The Vice President has one vote in the Chamber of Senators which has thirty-one members. The Chamber of Representatives, on the other hand, have ninety-nine members. Members of both chambers are elected by popular vote and serve five-year terms. The last election for the presidency, vice presidency and the General Assembly was held on October 30, 2004. It will be next held two years from now on October 2009.

(CIA, 2007) The judiciary is administratively controlled by the Supreme Court. The president nominates the judges and they are elected by the General Assembly to serve ten-year terms. Uruguay’s legal system is based on the Spanish civil law system. It accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction over the national government where it is made party to cases and disputes. (CIA, 2007) The Uruguayan National Flag has nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue stripes. A white square is found on the upper hoist side corner.

The square contains a sixteen-ray Sun of May which is a yellow sun bearing a human face. The sixteen rays are alternately triangular and wavy. Economy Three-fifths of Uruguay’s economic output is produced by the service sector particularly in public services and tourism. There is a disproportionately large public sector and a lot of retired citizens. This is due to past political favors given and welfare state policies instituted. Hence, only around thirty-two percent are economically-active. The public sector is big not only because of the size of the bureaucracy.

Government owns and operates the telecommunications system, the railways, the national airline as well as a shipping fleet. Refining and processing of petroleum and alcohol is government controlled. The cement industry is also under government control. Privatization of government-owned and controlled corporations, however, have become more prevalent recently. With a coastline of 660 kilometers, Uruguay has a vibrant tourism industry. The Uruguayan peninsula of Punta del Este was marketed as the South American Riviera. This jet-set playground, according to Beaumanis (2007) makes South Beach as chic as Jacksonvile.

Today, the jetsetters have taken to the nearby town of Jose Ignacio even as Punta del Este remains the toniest resort in the continent. As a result of its terrain and lack of mineral resources, Uruguay’s main natural resources are pasture lands, agriculture, hydro power and fisheries. Since the earliest period of settlement, the economy was dominated by raising of livestock. This has, however, offered few employment opportunities because large ranches were overseen by a small number of herdsmen. About a third of the value of Uruguayan exports is due to raw wool and beef.

More than ninety percent of exports is accounted for by the various sheep and cattle products of the country. (everyculture. com) The industrial sector became significant in the second half of the twentieth century. It is primarily manufacturing of food products, petroleum products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, chemicals and chemical products, textiles, cement, tobacco products, electrical appliances and transportation equipment. Agriculture produces wheat, corn, rice, sorghum, potatoes, barley, sugarcane and fruits. Fishery is also a major economic activity including mussel aquaculture and seal harvesting.

(everyculture. com) The nation’s rivers are tapped to produce energy. The three hydroelectric power plants are responsible for about seventy-five percent of Uruguay’s energy requirements. The country also imports natural gas, via a pipeline, from Argentine. The government controls the electric power industry. Uruguay is part of the Mercado Comun Sur (MERCOSUR) is a trade agreement between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay that was founded in 1991 through the signing of the Treaty of Asuncion. It is also aimed at promoting the movement of goods, people and currency between the member nations.

The country is also a member of the World Trade Organization. Uruguay suffered its steepest economic and financial crisis in 2002. The crisis had developed from external factors such as the devaluation of the Brazilian currency in 1999 and this made Uruguayan exports less competitive in the global market. 2001 saw the outbreak of foot and mouth disease which curtailed its beef exports to North America. The Argentinian economic crisis that ensued in late 2001 further undermined the Uruguayan economy as exports and tourism revenues from Argentina fell.

By mid-2002, Argentine withdrawals started a bank run in Uruguay that was only stemmed through massive borrowings from international financial institutions. A successful dept swap program helped restore confidence in Uruguay’s economy. (US Department of State, 2007) According to the Economist (2007), in January 2007, the United States and Uruguay signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which could lead towards a full-pledged free trade agreement. This was followed by a series of agreements between Brazil and Uruguay signed in March 2007 that is reportedly designed to keep Uruguay in the Mercosur’s fold.

Prior to the signing of the US-Uruguay Trade and Investment Agreement of 2007, the two countries had created a Joint Commission on Trade and Investment (JCTI) in 2002. The commission was for the purpose of exchanging ideas on a economic concerns. By March 2003, the identified six areas of mutual concern, namely: customs issues, intellectual property protection, investment, labor, environment and trade in goods. This led to the signing of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. In late 2004, the two countries signed the Open Skies Agreement.

This was followed by the signing of the Bilateral Investment Treaty in November 2005. (US Department of State) Culture 1. Religion Freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed. The separation of church and state is adhered to. Majority of the people nominally belong to the Roman Catholic Church. There are also sizable Protestant and Jewish congregations in Uruguay. (US Department of State, 2007) 2. Education Uruguay has a high literacy rate with 98% of those aged 15 years and above being able to read and write. (CIA, 2007) Education is compulsory for students aged 6 to 11 years old.

Education is free for primary, secondary, technical school and university level. The University of the Republic was established in 1849 and among its faculties is a distinguished medical school that attracts students from all over the region. The Uruguay Workers University provides vocational training was established in 1878. Two prominent private institutions of higher education are the Catholic University of Uruguay (1985) and the Institute of Higher Studies (1931). (Encyclopedia Britannica) 3. Food & Cuisine Meat, particularly beef, is the mainstay of Uruguayan diet and barbecued meat (asado) is the national dish.

The parillada (beef and entrails) is the most typical dish and contains an assortment of parts such as beef ribs, kidneys, salivary glands or sweetbreads (mollejas), small intestines (chinchulines) or large intestine (tripa gorda). Barbecued lamb is also consumed in large quantities particularly in the rural areas. Entire cows are slowly barbecued with their hides in rural banquets. (everyculture. com) According to De Robertis (2006), the sweet blood pudding sausage (morcilla dulce) is delicacy that is a blend of walnuts, sugar, orange peel and pig’s blood.

Testiculos (bull testicles) is another flavorful delicacy. Chivitos (steak sandwich) is also a popular dish. It is a hot steak sandwich topped with bacon, eggs, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Due to Spanish influence, Uruguayans also serve traditional Spanish food and meals invariably include soup. Puchero (meat stew) is a delicacy. Strong Italian influence yields a variety of pasta dishes, lasagna and pizza among Uruguayan favorites. (discoveruruguay. com, 2007) Breakfast is a light meal with lunch and dinner as the main meals. Lunch is the largest meal of the day.

In fact, employees are given two-hour lunch breaks so that they may have a large home-cooked meal at home. They also have a sweet tooth. The people eat a lot of bread and ship biscuits (galleta marina) is a favorite. They consume dairy products and the national dessert dulce de leche is made from sweetened milk. Pastries, milk and egg pudding and rice pudding are among the popular desserts. (everyculture. com) Herbal tea (known as mate) is consumed in vast quantities. Coarsely ground leaves of yerba mate is infused with hot water in a gourd.

It is traditionally drunk from a gourd through a metal straw with a terminal filter called bombilla. (everyculture. com) People share the tea by passing the gourd around the room. Clerico is also a favorite drink and is a mix of white wine an fruit juice. Wine and beer are commonly drank during main meals. 4. Arts For its size, Uruguay has an impressive artistic legacy and literary tradition. It has centuries-old ruins of colonial era fortresses as a testament to its past. The old section of Montevideo, which is within a defensive stonewall, has been well preserved.

The UNESCO has declared historic quarters of Colonia del Sacramenta, that was established by the Portuguese in 1680, as a World Heritage City. Some of the most important Uruguayan writer are Jose Alonso y Trelles, who wrote about the gauchos; Juan Zorilla de San Martin, who wrote the epic poem Tabare; and the philosophical essayist Jose Enrique Rodo. Eduardo Galeano, Mario Benedetti, Juan Carlos Onetti and Tessa Bridal are the more recent writers. Delmira Agustini and Juana de Ibarbourou are famous Uruguayan female writers. (everyculture. com)

Juan Manuel Blanes is a realist known for his historical paintings and gaucho motifs. Postimpressionism is the style of Pedro Figari and he specialized in painting bucolic colonial and twentieth century scenes. Joaquin Torres Garcia is a famous Uruguayan constructivist. Their paintings grace the galleries and museums in Uruguay. Joining them are the works of sculptors such as Edmundo Prati, Jose Zorrila de San Martin and Jose Belloni. (everyculture. com) The Uruguayan people love the theater. The Teatro Solis and the El Galpon theater are important sites for theatrical and musical presentations.

The most famous internationally among the classical composers is Eduardo Fabini. Uruguayans revel in many musical and dance traditions. A lot have Europeans roots but these have evolved with twists of local color. Tango is native to Uruguay and Argentina. The people of Uruguay love to tango and the most famous interpreter of the tango is the Uruguayan dancer Carlos Gardel. Pericon (the national dance) is based on folkloric dance. Candombe is an important Uruguayan musical style. It is a drum-based style that is typically played with three kinds of drum and based on African drumming as affected by European influence.It originated from the Afro-Uruguayan population of Montevideo.


Beaumanis, Viia. “Uruguay. ” Forbes Life, Vol. 180, p56-60, 3p. Neumann College Lib. EBSCO Host Academic Search Premier. Neumann College Lib. October 28, 2007 Cental Intelligence Agency. “Uruguay. ” CIA World Fact Book, 2007, p. 241-241, 1p. Neumann College Lib. EBSCO Host Academic Search Premier. Neumann College Lib. October 28, 2007 < http://ezproxy. neumann. edu:2130/ehost/detail? vid=1&hid=117&sid=87020e47-3bf2-4fde-9891-e96c4a0c68e6%40sessionmgr8> De Robertis, Carolina. “42 Poorly Kept Secrets About Montevideo.

” Indiana Review, Summer 2006, Vol. 28, Issue 1, p134-138, 5p. Neumann College Lib. EBSCO Host Humanities International Complete. Neumann College Lib. October 28, 2007 < http://ezproxy. neumann. edu:2130/ehost/detail? vid=1&hid=102&sid=cbc57fa6-6a5a-46a3-9ad2-59885e544346%40sessionmgr104> Discoveruruguay website. 2007. Culture. Accessed October 28, 2007 from http://www. discoveruruguay. com/about_uruguay_culture. htm Economist. “Spring break. ” Vol. 382, Issue 8518, 3/3/2007. EBSCO Host Academic Search Premier. Neumann College Lib. October 28, 2007 <http://ezproxy. neumann. edu:2130/ehost/detail?

vid=1&hid=112&sid=39f954bb-990b-49be-b365-d284ba7b71ef%40sessionmgr106> Everyculture website. 2007. Culture of Uruguay. Accessed October 28, 2007 from http://www. everyculture. com/To-Z/Uruguay. html Gonzalez, Luis E. 1991. “Political Structure and Democracy in Uruguay. ” University of Notre Dame Press. Indiana. Uruguay. ” Encyclop? dia Britannica. 2007. Encyclop? dia Britannica Online. 28 Oct. 2007 <http://www. britannica. com/eb/article-32692>. U. S. Department of State. 2007. Background Note: Uruguay. Accessed October 28, 2007 from http://www. state. gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2091. htm

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