Bordering Countries:
      Argentina and Brazil

      176,220 sq km About 9x the size of New Jersey

      3,477,778 or about half that of New Jersey

      Warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown

      Mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland

Natural hazards:
      Seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind that blows north from the Argentine pampas), droughts, floods; because of the absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from
weather fronts

Environment - current issues:
      Water pollution from meat packing/tannery industry; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal

Geography - note:
      Second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising

Ethnic groups:
      White 88%
      Mestizo 8%
      Black 4%
      Amerindian (practically nonexistent)

      Roman Catholic 47.1%
      Non-Catholic Christians 11.1%
      Nondenominational 23.2%
      Jewish 0.3%
      Atheist or Agnostic 17.2%
      Other 1.1% (2006)

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

Literacy: (definition: age 15 and over can read and write)
      Total Population: 98%

Government type:
      Constitutional Republic

National holiday:
      Independence Day, 25 August (1825)

      Montevideo, founded by the Spanish in 1726 as a military stronghold, soon took advantage of its natural harbor to become an important commercial center. Claimed by Argentina but annexed by Brazil in 1821, Uruguay declared its independence four years later and secured its freedom in 1828 after a three-year struggle. The administrations of President Jose BATLLE in the early 20th century established widespread political, social, and economic reforms that established a statist tradition. A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement named the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to cede control of the government to the military in 1973. By yearend, the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold over the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. In 2004, the left-of-center Frente Amplio Coalition won national elections that effectively ended 170 years of political control previously held by the Colorado and Blanco parties. Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent.