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 water.
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 is declining.
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.