01/17/2005: Obscure Country of the Week III: Uruguay
This week's Obscure Country of the Week is Uruguay. (Previous Obscure Countries have been Botswana and Bhutan.)
Uruguay is a small South American country bordered by Brazil, Argentina, and the Atlantic Ocean, with a population of 3.4 million. Its capital is Montevideo.
For much of the 20th century, Uruguay was one of the most prosperous nations in South America, but when the prices for its agricultural exports plunged after the second world war. As the economy spiraled downward, a group of Marxist rebels, the Tupamaros, responded to the crisis with violence. This led to a bloodless coup in 1973, in which the military seized control of the government. Civilian rule was restored in 1985, and Uruguay has been a stable democracy since then.
Uruguay suffered further economic troubles with the collapse of the Argentine and Brazilian economies in 1999-2001, leading to an unemployment rate of 20%. Although Uruguay's economy is recovering, having grown an estimated 10% in 2004, it is now suffering brain drain, as its highly educated young people are leaving to seek higher salaries in Europe and elsewhere. It is estimated that as many as one-fifth of Uruguayans are living abroad.
Josh Parsons gives Uruguay's flag a B- grade.
For more information on Uruguay, see the Wikipedia, the CIA World Factbook, and the BBC Country Profile.
Disclaimer: the only criterion for being an Obscure Country of the Week is that I myself don't know much about it.
Brock on 01.17.05 @ 08:15 PM CST