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Geography of Uruguay


The second-smallest South American country, Uruguay is situated in the southeastern part of the continent. It has an area of 176,220 km² (68,039 mi²), extending 555 km (345 mi) north-northwest to south-southeast and 504 km (313 mi) east-northeast to west-southwest. Comparatively, the area occupied by Uruguay is 2 ½ times bigger than Ireland or slightly smaller than the state of Washington, USA. Bounded on the north and northeast by Brazil, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Argentina, Uruguay has a total land boundary length of 1,564 km (972 mi) and a coastline of 660 km (410 mi). The Uruguay River and the Río de la Plata separate Uruguay from Argentina. The Cuareim and Yaguarón rivers and the Laguna Merín separate it from Brazil. Uruguay's capital city, Montevideo, is located in the southern part of the country on the Atlantic coast.

The general character of the land is undulating hills, with a few forest areas along the banks of the numerous streams. Southern Uruguay consists mostly of rolling plains and is an eastward extension of the Argentine pampas. The Atlantic coastline is fringed with tidal lakes and sand dunes. Low, unbroken stretches of level land line the banks of the two border rivers, the Uruguay and the Plata. The northern section is broken by occasional ridges and low ranges (cuchillas), alternating with broad valleys, and is a southern extension of Brazil. The highest point in the country, Catedral, is 514 m (1,686 ft) above sea level. The most noteworthy feature of the northwest landscape is the Cuchilla de Haedo. The Cuchilla Grande runs northeastward from the southern region to the Brazilian border. The Negro, which rises in Brazil, crosses Uruguayan territory and flows into the Uruguay River, which separates Uruguay from Argentina.

The climate is temperate; the average temperature in June, the coolest month, is about 15°C (59°F), and the average for January, the warmest month, is 25°C (77°F). The weather is transitional between the weather of the humid Argentine pampas and that of southern Brazil. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year; it averages about 105 cm (41 in), varying from 97 cm (38 in) in Montevideo to nearly 127 cm (50 in) farther north. There are from 120 to 180 sunny days a year. Frost is virtually unknown.


Location : Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
Geographic coordinates : 33 00 S, 56 00 W
Map references : South America
Area : total: 176,215 sq km

land: 175,015 sq km

water: 1,200 sq km
Area - comparative : 2 ½ times bigger than Ireland or slightly smaller than the state of Washington, USA
Land boundaries : total: 1,648 km

border countries: Argentina 580 km, Brazil 1,068 km
Coastline : 660 km
Maritime claims : territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
Climate : warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown
Terrain : mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland
Elevation extremes : lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Cerro Catedral 514 m
Natural resources : arable land, hydro power, minor minerals, fish
Land use : arable land: 10.25%

permanent crops: 0.22%

other: 89.52% (2011)
Irrigated land : 1,810 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources : 139 cu km (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) : total: 3.66 cu km/yr (11%/2%/87%)

per capita: 1,101 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards : seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind that blows north from the Argentine pampas), droughts, floods; because of the absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts
Environment - current issues : water pollution from meat packing/tannery industry; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal
Environment - international agreements : party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note : second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising






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