Uruguay: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Uruguay.



Location--Situated on the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern South America. Neighbors are: Brazil on the northeast; Argentina on the west.

How Created--The original inhabitants, the warlike and cannibalistic Charrua Indians, successfully fended off any attempts at settlement of the area. The Spanish viceregal Government at Buenos Aires at last managed to establish a settlement at Montevideo in 1723, and for the following century, Uruguay was essentially an Argentine colony. In 1828 the English, fearing Brazilian penetration southward would threaten their interests in Argentina, created the independent republic of Uruguay to act as a buffer zone.

Size--68,536 sq. mi. (177,508 sq. km.).

Population--Over 3 million: European origin and native born, 87.5%; Italian, 2.6%; mulatto, 1.7%; Jewish, 1.4%; Galician, 1.2%; Brazilian, 0.9%; Spanish, 0.9%; black, 0.3%; other, 3.5%. About 90% Roman Catholic with some Jews and Protestants.

Who Rules--In 1973 Juan Maria Bordaberry, elected President of Uruguay the preceding year, was obliged by the armed forces to accept a co-dictatorship with the military leaders.

Who REALLY Rules--Although Uruguay's military has traditionally stayed out of politics, the generals are now in control of the country. Most observers believe the change is due to Bordaberry's use of the Army rather than the national police to suppress the Tupamaros, Uruguay's urban guerrilla movement. Members of the armed forces made thus aware of the Tupamaros' political aims, and also convinced of their own political importance in crushing the guerrillas, demanded a role in the Government. For a brief time it seemed that the military might go the way of Peru's leftist junta, but Uruguay's generals closed Congress, muzzled the press, outlawed the Communist and Socialist parties, and disbanded the large national labor union.

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