Uruguay Travel Information

Photo A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to agree to military control of his administration in 1973. By the end of the year the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold throughout the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent.

Uruguayans share a Spanish linguistic and cultural background, even though about one-quarter of the population is of Italian origin. Most are nominally Roman Catholic, although the majority of Uruguayans do not actively practice a religion. Church and state are officially separated. Uruguay is distinguished by its high literacy rate, large urban middle class, and relatively even income distribution. The average Uruguayan standard of living compares favorably with that of most other Latin Americans. Metropolitan Montevideo, with about 1.4 million inhabitants, is the only large city. The rest of the urban population lives in about 20 towns. During the past two decades, an estimated 500,000 Uruguayans have emigrated, principally to Argentina and Spain.


The only inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were the Charrua Indians, a small tribe driven south by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay. The Spanish discovered the territory of present-day Uruguay in 1516, but the Indians' fierce resistance to conquest, combined with the absence of gold and silver, limited settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish introduced cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region. Spanish colonization increased as Spain sought to limit Portugal's expansion of Brazil's frontiers.


Uruguay's economy remains dependent on agriculture. Although agricultural production accounts for only 9% of the gross domestic product (GDP), agricultural-related products make up more than half of the country's exports. The industrial sector, which produces 16% of GDP, is largely based on the transformation of agricultural products. Leading economic sectors include meat processing, agribusiness, wool, leather production and apparel, textiles, and chemicals.


U.S.-Uruguayan relations traditionally have been based on a common outlook and emphasis on democratic ideals. Uruguay works closely with the United States bilaterally and internationally to foster economic growth, trade, and political cooperation. Under President Batlle, Uruguay has been particularly open to increasing ties with the United States. Improved trade ties, whether through a bilateral free trade agreement, MERCOSUR or the FTAA have been the Batlle administration's priority. In 2002, Uruguay and the U.S. created a Joint Commission on Trade and Investment (JCTI) to exchange ideas on a variety of economic topics. In March 2003, the JCTI identified six areas of concentration until the eventual signing of the FTAA in 2005: customs issues, intellectual property protection, investment, labor, environment, and trade in goods. More than 100 U.S.-owned companies operate in Uruguay, and many more market U.S. goods and services.

Important: Travel to Uruguay may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Uruguay visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
Capital city: Montevideo
Area: 176,215 sq km
Population: 3,316,328
Ethnic groups: white 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian
Languages: Spanish
Religions: Roman Catholic 47.1%, non-Catholic Christians 11.1%, nondenominational 23.2%, Jewish 0.3%, atheist or agnostic 17.2%, other 1.1%
Government: constitutional republic
Chief of State: President Jose "Pepe" MUJICA Cordano
Head of Government: President Jose "Pepe" MUJICA Cordano
GDP: 50.91 billion
GDP per captia: 15,100
Annual growth rate: 5.7%
Inflation: 8.1%
Agriculture: soybeans, rice, wheat
Major industries: food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages
Natural resources: arable land, hydropower, minor minerals, fish
Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
Trade Partners - exports: Brazil 19.3%, China 14.2%, Argentina 6.8%, Germany 6%, Venezuela 4.3%
Trade Partners - imports: Brazil 16.3%, China 15%, Argentina 13.4%, US 9.4%, Paraguay 7.1%, Venezuela 6.7%