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Uruguay:
Geography

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Background
Definition
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.
Location
Definition
Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
Geographic coordinates
Definition
33 00 S, 56 00 W
Map references
Definition
South America
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 176,220 sq km
land: 173,620 sq km
water: 2,600 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than the state of Washington
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 1,648 km
border countries: Argentina 580 km, Brazil 1,068 km
Coastline
Definition
660 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
Climate
Definition
warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown
Terrain
Definition
mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Catedral 514 m
Natural resources
Definition
arable land, hydropower, minor minerals, fisheries
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 7.77%
permanent crops: 0.24%
other: 91.99% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
2,100 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
139 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 3.15 cu km/yr (2%/1%/96%)
per capita: 910 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
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
Definition
water pollution from meat packing/tannery industry; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note
Definition
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


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