Jorge Luis Batlle Ibañez
(pronounced "HOR-hay loo-EES BAH-zhay ih-BAHN-yez")
"Why don't we just legalize the drugs?…If this powder was worth only ten cents, there would not be organizations dedicated to make a billion dollars to fund armies in Colombia."
Slightly more than halfway down the South Atlantic coast of South America lies the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, second smallest country in South America, and a state where sheep outnumber people eight to one. Nestled between the southern tip of Brazil and a section of Argentina's eastern border, Uruguay covers 176,215 sq km (68,037 sq mi). Its seaside capital and largest city is Montevideo, with a population of 1.4 million.
The population was estimated at 3,386,575 in 2002. Almost 90% of the country's people are of Spanish or Italian heritage. The population is 66% Roman Catholic, 2% Protestant, and 1% Jewish. Spanish is the official language. The educational system is free from kindergarten through college and the adult literacy rate is one of the continent's highest at 97.3%. Its 76-year average life expectancy sets it apart from many other Latin American countries.
The currency unit is the Uruguayan peso. Despite its 85% urban population, Uruguay's economy has traditionally been tied to the land; about 14% of the population was engaged in agriculture in 2002. Principal exports are meat, rice, leather products, wool, vehicles, and dairy products. Tourism, especially from Argentina, has been an important growth sector during the last several years. Uruguay's major trading partners are Argentina and Brazil, accounting for nearly 50% of the country's imports and 40% of its exports in recent years. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $9,300 in 2001. With US $7.7 billion of debt in 2001, the World Bank has classified Uruguay as a severely indebted country.
Officina del Presidente