Uruguay is known for its early developed and advanced
social infrastructure. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of URU and acronym for Uruguay. The social insurance system, whose
promoter José Batlle y Ordóñez was president in 1903–07 and
1911–15, today includes, among other things, insurance for
occupational injuries, illness, unemployment and parental
leave. The system is co-financed by workers, employers and
the state. There is also legislation on job security and
child labor. The crisis packages during the 1990s included
major changes to the system, which were met with fierce
political opposition. Despite public cuts, the social
standard remains high for Latin America. Infant mortality is
one of the lowest in Latin America. The most common causes
of death overall are cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Almost all Uruguayans (99.5 percent) have access to clean
Montevideo, Uruguay's capital and sole metropolis; 1.4 million (2011), almost
half of the country's population. When Uruguay in the early 1900's. developed one
of the world's first welfare states, attracted Montevideo refugees from all over
the country; they left the agricultural community dominated by large estates to
look for the growing administrative and industrial state sector.
The town lies in the wide mouth of the Rio de la Plata, but so far out that
the muddy river water does not reach it; the city's long line of sandy beaches
has seawater. Argentine tourists, including from Buenos Aires 200 km to the
west, participates in the almost religious worship of Montevideo as a seaside
resort with a rich cultural life. The city has clean streets, many middle-class
homes and marble-clad public buildings, but many testimonies of the former
prosperity years are now marked by some decay.
At the entrance to the large harbor lies the century-old El Mercado del
Puerto, now a restaurant complex and meeting place for people with a craving for
meat and wine and discussions about football and politics. In the past, the port
was completely dominant in the country's foreign trade, but under the impression
of increased cooperation with neighboring countries in MERCOSUR, its importance
In 1680, the Portuguese established Colonia as a rival to Spanish Buenos
Aires' leading position in the Río de la Plata area. To discourage continued
Portuguese expansion, the Spaniards founded in 1726 the fort of San Felipe y
Santiago de Montevideo, which over the century developed into an actual city.
From 1807 until Uruguay's independence in 1830, the city was subject to repeated
occupations and sieges by Britain, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil. In the
mid-1800's. city growth began, and Montevideo became the area's main port city.