Uruguay, Or Banda Oriental Del Uruguay, a republic of South America, lying between lat. 30° and 35° S., and lon. 53° and 58° 30' W., bounded N., N. E., and E. by Brazil, S. E. and S. by the Atlantic, and S. W. and W. by the Rio de la Plata and the Uruguay, which separate it from the Argentine Republic. Uruguay has a shore line of 200 m. on the Atlantic, 155 m. on the Plata, and 270 m. (in a direct line) on the Uruguay, making 625 m. accessible to shipping; while the land frontier is only 450 m. The sea coast is low, sandy, and devoid of safe harbors; the coast on the Plata is high and rocky, indented by several open bays; and the banks of the Uruguay are generally low, with intervals of moderately high table land. The interior is traversed by chains of wooded hills, from which descend innumerable streams uniting in small rivers, navigable for considerable distances by small craft. Extensive undulating grassy plains (pampas) form the chief feature of the country. The Cuchilla Grande is the principal mountain ridge; others are the Carapy, Castellos, and Yerbal. The highest land is the Cerro Pelado in the department of Minas, nowhere exceeding 2,500 ft. above sea level.
The Rio Negro rises in the sierra Santa Anna, crosses the republic from N. E. to S. W., dividing it into two nearly equal parts, and after a course of about 350 m. flows into the Uruguay about 80 m. above its junction with the Parana. Among other rivers are the Dayman, 100 m. long, navigable 18 m.; the Queguay, 150 m. long, navigable 30 m.; the San Jose and Santa Lucia, respectively 100 and 120 m. long, which unite 12 m. from the estuary of the Plata and are navigable about 25 m.; and the Cebollati, which flows N. E. into Lake Merim in Brazil, receiving numerous tributaries. The climate is mild and healthful. The thermometer ranges from 32° to 88° F.; but on the table lands heavy frosts occur in July and August, and in the low lands the temperature occasionally rises in February above 100° F. An abundance of rain falls in all seasons, but the greatest amount in May and October; snow seldom falls, and rapidly disappears. The temperature occasionally rises 25° in two or three hours, and frequently falls 40° in four hours. The soil is very rich, yielding abundant crops of grain, a great variety of fruits and vegetables, sugar cane, and cotton.
Among the trees are the walnut, willow, cedar, myrtle, mulberry, laurel, orange, lemon, olive, fig, pomegranate, apple, pear, almond, peach, plum, cherry, and guava; lignum-vitas, taruman, and other hard woods; and the quebracho and scarlet willow, which furnish excellent dyes. Among the medicinal plants are the poppy, wormwood, gentian, balsam, coriander, chamomile, liquorice, and sarsaparilla, the last growing in great abundance along the banks of the Rio Negro and its tributaries. Gold, silver, lead, iron, copper, marble, agates, alabaster, and amethysts are found; but the mineral resources are hardly developed, though several mines have lately been opened. Jaguars are sometimes seen along the banks of the Uruguay, and pumas on those of the Rio Negro. The carpincho, deer, ostrich, partridge, duck, parrot, plover, swan, and goose abound. The rivers furnish a variety of excellent fish, and the Plata contains a great many sea wolves. - The republic is divided into 13 departments, which, with their areas, chief towns, and population in 1872, are as follows:
Area, sq. m.
Villa de Melo
Colonia del Sacramento
Montevideo is the capital of the republic. Of the population 254,000 are foreigners, including 60,000 Italians, 30,000 each of Basques, Spaniards, and French, 20,000 Brazilians, 10,000 Argentines, 10,000 English and Germans, 2,000 Portuguese, and 12,000 Africans. The aborigines have entirely disappeared. The bulk of the native population is a mixture of Indian, European, and African blood. The characteristics of the lower classes are ignorance, treachery, and cruelty; their occupation as herdsmen, the frequency of civil wars, and the general prejudice against education have prevented the progress of civilization. (See Gaucho.) The language of the country is Spanish. - The number of persons engaged in agricultural pursuits is rapidly increasing. The annual value of wheat and maize alone is more than $3,000,000. In 1874 the mills of Montevideo turned out 62,000,000 lbs. of flour. But the main wealth of the country is in its pasturage. In 1874 the country had 7,254,000 cattle, 1,463,000 horses, and 18,476,000 sheep. The wool, which is of superior quality, is almost wholly exported. The manufactures are confined to a few coarse articles for home use.
In 1874 the exports were officially given at $15,240,000, and the imports at $16,320,000. With the addition of contraband shipments to avoid the oppressive export duties, it is computed that the total value of the exports would be not less than $25,000,000. The chief articles exported are hides, wool, skins, tallow, and jerked beef. The imports comprise all kinds of manufactured articles, provisions, and coal. Most of the trade is with Great Britain and France, which together take half the exports; Brazil comes next, and the United States next, taking in 1874 articles to the value of $3,254,000. While the trade with other countries is decreasing, with the United States it is gradually increasing. The arrivals in 1874 were 1,888 vessels, of 986,827 tons; cleared, 1,821 vessels, of 954,712 tons. The mercantile tonnage of the country is almost entirely in small coasters and river steamers. European steamers arrive and depart almost daily. There are 176 m. of railway in operation, about 200 m. in course of construction, and 500 m. in contemplation. The telegraph lines in operation aggregate 1,300 m.
There is telegraph connection with Europe and North America by way of Rio de Janeiro, and also by way of Buenos Ayres and Chili. - The form of government is in theory republican, similar to that of the United States, but in practice it is a military despotism alternating with anarchy. The constitution provides for the equal rights of all men, prohibits slavery, guarantees freedom of the press and liberty of conscience, and to foreign residents the same rights as natives, with exemption from military service. The president is elected for four years, but may not be reelected until after a lapse of four years. He appoints four ministers, viz., of the interior, foreign affairs, finance, and war. The legislature consists of a senate of 13 senators, one from each department, elected for six years and presided over by a vice president elected for four years, and a house of deputies of 40 members elected for three years. It is in session from Feb. 1 to June 15, but a committee of two senators and five deputies sits during the year. The courts comprise a supreme tribunal of five judges, two criminal courts, two civil judges, a tribunal of commerce, and several district judges for hearing petty cases. The ecclesiastical authorities are a bishop and provisor general of the Roman Catholic church.
The municipal boards or juntas have control of the public schools, markets, and roads. The revenue for 1874 was $6,375,000; the expenditures were $8,500,000. Of the former seveneighths is derived from customs, nearly half of which is set apart to pay interest on and provide a sinking fund for the public debts. The revenue for 1875 was estimated at $7,442,000, and the expenditures at $6,775,738. There was a falling off of $813,600 in the customs receipts during 1874. On Jan. 1, 1875, the public debt was $42,357,695. In 1875 the army consisted of 573 officers and 2,797 men, the national guard numbering 20,000. The navy consists of one gunboat of four guns and three tugs of one gun each. There were 245 schools, of which 134 were private, with an average attendance of 16,786 pupils. There were 26 newspapers, with a daily aggregate circulation of 18,000 copies. The churches number 47 Eoman Catholic and 3 Protestant. There are four convents, one university, one public library containing 10,000 volumes, several charitable institutions, eight lighthouses, and three dry docks, two in Montevideo and one in.Colonia. Of the four banks formerly existing in Montevideo, one failed in 1875, and it was proposed to fuse the other three in a national bank.
The decimal and metric systems of values, weights, and measures have been in use since 1864. The peso of 100 centavos is equal to $1 05 American coin. - The first permanent settlement of the territory was by Jesuit missionaries on the Uruguay in 1622. Subsequently other Spanish colonies were established. The Portuguese, desirous of extending the southern boundary of Brazil to the Plata, also established colonies, notably that of Oolonia in 1680, and soon afterward another on the present site of Montevideo. These two nations were engaged in a continuous struggle for possession till 1724, when the Spanish were victorious, and in 1776 the territory was included in the viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres as the district of Banda Oriental. When the war for independence began in 1811 the Banda Oriental at first sided with Buenos Ayres, but in 1814, Montevideo having been rescued from the Portuguese, who had invaded the country, it fell under the power of Jose Artigas. (See Aktigas.) The Portuguese again invaded the country in 1816, and,, after the fall of Artigas, in 1821 forced the legislature to decree annexation to Brazil. When Brazil became an independent empire the Banda Oriental was included as a Brazilian province under the title of Cisplatina. In 1825 a revolution broke out, and the independence of the country was declared, which in 1828 was recognized, the N. part, known as the Seven Missions, being ceded to Brazil, and the remainder becoming an independent state entitled Republica del Uruguay Oriental. Internal dissensions began soon after the adoption of the constitution in 1830. Two parties, known as the reds and the whites, terribly distracted the republic.
In 1839 one of the unsuccessful candidates for president, Oribe, head of the whites, aided by Eosas, the dictator of Buenos Ayres, raised an army, invaded the country, and subsequently laid siege to Montevideo. This siege lasted nine years, and the war reduced the state to the verge of ruin. England and France interfered and compelled the combatants to lay down their arms. The overthrow of Rosas resulted in the restoration of peace in 1852, which lasted till 1860, when Flores, an expresident, invaded the country and provoked a civil war. He was defeated at Las Piedras, Aug. 16, 1863. In 1864 war broke out between Uruguay and Brazil. Aided by the Brazilian army, Flores entered Montevideo, Feb. 23, 1865, became provisional president, and renewed the treaties with Brazil. On May 1 the Argentine Republic, Brazil, and Uruguay made a treaty of alliance against Paraguay, and on Aug. 17 the allies under Gen. Flores defeated the Paraguayans. (See Pakagttat.) In 1866 Vidal was elected president of Uruguay. On Feb. 19, 1868, during an insurrection at Montevideo, Flores was assassinated. In March, 1868, Gen. Lorenzo Battle became president. Another revolution broke out in 1870 and continued without decisive results till 1873, when Jose Ellauri was elected president.
He was subsequently deposed by his own party, the reds, and succeeded in 1875 by Pedro Varela, who in his turn was forced to resign in March, 1876, Senor Latorre assuming the dictatorship.