Title: The Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Population: 3,398,239

Population Change: 0.35

National Average Age: 36

Urban Percentage: 96

Christian Population: 1,941,000

Christian Percentage: 58.1

Introduction: Uruguay is a South American country known for its verdant interior and beach-lined coast. The capital Montevideo revolves around Plaza Independencia once home to a Spanish citadel. It leads to Ciudad Vieja (Old City) with art deco buildings colonial homes and Mercado del Puerto an old port market with many steakhouses. La Rambla a waterfront promenade passes fish stalls piers and parks.

Overview: 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 launched 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.