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Preface Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:37 AM

Tucked between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America. Rolling grasslands of black, potash-rich soil make raising cattle and sheep the lifeblood of the nation’s economy. It has a 120-mile Atlantic shoreline, a 235-mile frontage on the Rio de la Plata, and 270 miles on the Uruguay River, its western boundary.

Montevideo, home of 45% of Uruguay’s population, gears much of its industry to processing wool, meat, and hides, and until the financial crisis of 2002 boasted a thriving international banking sector. Excellent beaches and luxurious resorts stretch along the Atlantic shoreline, bringing Uruguay renown as a vacation destination, particularly for Argentines. Uruguay has one of the highest living standards in South America and a broad program of social welfare.

Prior to European settlement, Uruguay was inhabited by groups of indigenous peoples known as the Charrúa. The Spanish visited Uruguay in 1516, but the Portuguese were first to settle it. After a long struggle, Spain wrested the country from Portugal in 1778. Uruguay revolted against Spain in 1811, only to be conquered in 1817 by the Portuguese. Independence was declared with Argentine help in 1825, and the republic was set up in 1828.

After a turbulent 19th century, democracy was firmly established in the early 20th century. However, the military ousted the civilian government in 1973 and cruelly suppressed all dissent. After ruling for 12 years, the regime relinquished rule to a civilian government, and full political and civil rights were restored.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:38 AM

The República Oriental del Uruguay (the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, or roughly translated, the Republic East of the River Uruguay) covers an area of 72,200 square miles, about as large as Greece or the state of Montana. Uruguay’s topography is divided into three parts: the southern area, a belt of gently undulating plains; the western part, an extension of Argentina’s flat pampas; and the northern area, an extension of southern Brazil’s low regions and broad valleys. Maximum elevation above sea level is about 2,000 feet; the average being about 490 feet. Few natural forests exist, but extensive forestation with pine and eucalyptus trees has been undertaken.

Except for a small subtropical area in the northwest, the climate is even throughout Uruguay. Temperatures are generally mild, but seasons are distinct: summer daytime temperatures average 70 degrees Fahrenheit and rarely exceed the mid-90s; autumn (March–May) is mild; and spring (September–November) is often damp, cool and windy. In winter, monthly temperatures range from 44– 60 degrees Fahrenheit with rare frost. However, humidity, averaging 75% year round, intensifies the cold. Average annual rainfall is 39.5 inches.

Population Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:39 AM

Uruguay’s population of about 3.3 million is composed primarily of people of Spanish and northern Italian descent. The native Indians were killed or forced to migrate during colonization in the last century. About 8% of the population, including many Brazilian immigrants, has some African ancestry. Small colonies of people of direct German, East European, Armenian, and British descent also live here. The languages of their countries of origin are still spoken by a minority, and they retain some of their customs. Most of the elderly “Anglos,” who speak English as their primary language, are second- and third-generation dual-nationals whose ancestors came in the last century to work in British companies. A small colony of Swiss and Germans live in an area called Colonia Suiza located about 100 miles west of Montevideo.

About 45% of Uruguay’s total population lives in the greater Montevideo. Three or four other cities have over 100,000 inhabitants and several have more than 25,000. Uruguay does not share Latin America’s concern with the “population explosion”. A low birth rate and emigration result in an annual growth rate of less than 1%. Families are small and close.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:40 AM

Traditionally one of the strongest democracies in Latin America, in the early 1970s Uruguay experienced a gradual take-over of power by the military because of the government’s inability to cope with a violent, leftist, urban guerrilla group known as the Tupamaros. The military dissolved Parliament in 1973 and ousted the President in 1976. Civilian, democratic rule returned to Uruguay on March 1, 1985, after the military agreed to hold elections in November 1984. National elections were held without incident in 1989, 1994 and 1999.

Uruguay’s constitution, adopted in 1967 and amended in 1996, provides for a republic with three autonomous branches of government. The President elected by popular vote, serves a single 5-year term but can be reelected after a 5-year interval. The President appoints a cabinet made up of 12 ministers, and the heads of various state entities.

The legislative branch consists of two houses, a Senate (30 members) elected at large and a Chamber of Deputies (99 members) elected proportionally from the 19 provinces (“departamentos”). Each department has at least two deputies.

The judicial branch consists of a five-person Supreme Court appointed by the President, which interprets the constitution and deals with claims against the government, and various appeals courts, criminal courts, and justices of the peace. Special courts oversee the election process, audit government departments, and arbitrate appeals against administrative acts.

Uruguay’s 19 departments are organized similarly to the national government. An “intendente,” or departmental governor, is elected by popular vote and is assisted by a departmental council chosen on a proportional basis. Montevideo, the capital city, is treated as one of the 19 departments and has a similar governmental structure.

The two traditional political parties, the National (“Blanco”) and Colorado parties, which were founded in the early 19th century, in the past garnered about 90% of the vote. However, they have seen their share of the vote decline to approximately 52%, with the “Broad Front,” a coalition of various left-of-center factions, now becoming a major political force. Uruguayan politics values consensus and compromise over confrontation. The Colorado and Blanco parties share the administration of the independent state enterprises and Cabinet posts. Most politicians pride themselves on their refusal to let ideological differences result in personal animosity.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:41 AM

Montevideo is the cultural center of the country, and activities are varied and continuous. Most, however, occur during the school year, March–November. Cultural mainstays are the Intendencia Municipal; the Centro Cultural de Musica, a local non-profit organization that organizes classical music events; and the Servicio Oficial de Difusion Radiotelevision y Espectaculos (SODRE), the official government radio, TV, and public events service.

Intendencia Municipal sponsors the Comedia Nacional, the national repertory company, which plays at various locations in Montevideo. In addition to this company, the municipal government has a popular and varied program of cultural activities. For instance, the municipal symphony (Orquesta Filarmonica de Montevideo) repeats its weekly concerts in different neighborhoods, free of charge. The Centro Cultural de Musica offers 8–10 cultural events during the year. Ticket prices for season and individual performances are less expensive than in the U.S. The Alianza Uruguay/Estados Unidos also offers a full-time theater program and frequently features works by U.S. authors.

Both theater buildings in Montevideo, the Teatro Solis and the SODRE, are under renovations. This does limit the capacity to host large, quality performances in the capital city. However, the interior of Uruguay is filled with wonderful, old theaters.

Public education in Uruguay is free through the university level, and many people receive advanced degrees in numerous disciplines. Since 1985, a number of private, fee-charging universities have also begun operating in Uruguay and are doing quite well.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 7/9/2003 9:35 AM

Uruguay’s economy has traditionally been based on agricultural products such as beef, leather and wool. In the last two decades, services such as banking and tourism, and non-traditional exports such as textiles, shoes and rice have started playing a more important role. Although Uruguay has no known hydrocarbon deposits, it is generously endowed with hydroelectric resources, now mostly developed.

During the 1950s, with rising exports of agricultural products, Uruguayans’ incomes were among the highest in Latin America. However, in the early 1960s Uruguay followed an import-substitution model that protected local industry through high tariffs. While at first successful, the long-term results were high inflation, lagging productivity and low GDP growth. At the same time, creation of the European Economic Community reduced market access to Europe for agricultural products, contributing to economic decline and political instability during the early 1970s.

In the mid-1970s, the government liberalized the trade regime and the financial sector, and began reducing public sector employment. This led to solid export and GDP growth. However, the economy suffered from an increasingly overvalued exchange rate and high public-sector deficits, which were financed by heavy borrowing from overseas. Global recession compounded Uruguay’s problems as exports and investment declined and capital flight accelerated. In November 1982, with the economy in recession, the fixed-exchange rate was abandoned and the peso was devalued. GDP declined 16% from 1982 through 1984 and unemployment soared to 14%.

The economy started recovering in 1985 and grew steadily until the late nineties. However, in 1999 regional instability and devaluation of Brazil’s currency started a new recession. It was aggravated by low commodity prices, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and an economic and financial crisis in Argentina, which led to massive withdrawals from Uruguayan banks of Argentine deposits. With declining central bank reserves the government was forced to abandon its exchange rate band, and the dollar’s value rose by almost 100% within weeks. Inflation, which was lowered from 130% in 1990 to 3.6% in 2001, rose significantly in 2002.

In spite of resistance from unions and the left, since 1985 the government has tried to gradually liberalize the economy. Since the mid-eighties Uruguay has privatized and de-monopolized a number of economic activities and implemented some structural reforms. However, the government still owns, outright or partially, companies in insurance, water, electricity, telecommunications, petroleum refining, air and rail travel, postal service, and banking.

The investment climate is positive, with foreign and national investments treated alike. There are no price or exchange controls. Judiciary integrity is high and the overall level of corruption is relatively low. The U.S. is the largest foreign investor, and about one hundred American firms operate in Uruguay.

The U.S. is Uruguay’s fourth largest trading partner after Brazil, Argentina, and the European Union. The U.S. exports mostly high-technology goods to Uruguay (machinery and computers) and imports commodities (meat, leather, wool). The Uruguayan government strongly favors liberalizing and expanding international trade, especially with the U.S.

Uruguay is a founding member of MERCOSUR (the Southern Cone Common Market composed of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, with Chile and Bolivia as associate members) and is the seat of MERCOSUR’s administration. MERCOSUR successfully fostered regional trade in the mid-nineties. However, the growing regional economic crisis starting in the late nineties reduced MERCOSUR’s effectiveness.

Uruguayan social indicators are outstanding by Latin American standards, comparable to those of the United States. It enjoys one of the lowest poverty rates and most equitable income distributions in Latin America.


Automobiles Last Updated: 7/9/2003 12:39 AM

The Government of Uruguay generally does not impose import limitations on personal vehicles. Under bilateral agreement between the U.S. Government and the Government of Uruguay, Embassy employees may import two vehicles duty free during their tour of duty; one of the two vehicles should be bought in Uruguay through an importer. Vehicles that may be shipped at U.S. Government expense should be mainly used for personal use and include passenger automobiles, station wagons, SUVs, motorcycles, motor scooters, or motorbikes. If motorcycles, motor scooters, or motorbikes are larger than 50cc in displacement, they will be considered as a second vehicle. Do not ship two-wheeled vehicles with household effects (HHE). Personnel may dispose of vehicles when departing Uruguay or at any time during their tour, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs approval.

Insurance: The Government of Uruguay requires that cars be covered by locally purchased third-party liability insurance. All American employees must maintain a minimum of US$40,000 of civil-responsibility insurance on each vehicle. This rate is based on the vehicle’s local-market assumed value. The Embassy has an agreement with Spanish company MAPFRE to provide third party liability to coverage to personal and official embassy vehicles. The annual cost is 217 dollars and it covers for up to US$150,000, is valid in all Mercosur countries, and provides other services explain in the policy. This insurance is contracted upon clearance of your car from Uruguayan Customs. Because of the high valuation placed on late model cars or the model’s rarity in Uruguay, insurance for these types of cars is increasingly expensive; however, premiums may be paid quarterly. U.S. citizen personnel have found it advantageous to carry an American collision policy. Post has information about American companies that cover diplomatic cars abroad.

Gasoline: The better grade of gasoline sold here is of lower octane than that used in the U.S., but American cars operate adequately with it. Moderate detergent oil is used. Gasoline is expensive in Uruguay (as of November 2002, around $4.00 a gallon with discount coupons purchased at the embassy). Diesel fuel is widely available and less expensive ($1.67 a gallon, as of Nov. 2002). Employees buy gasoline from ANCAP, a government company, because eligible employees are able to buy discount gasoline coupons at the Embassy (approximately 50% of the market price). These discount coupons are only accepted at the ANCAP stations. ESSO, Texaco, Shell, and other international oil companies also sell gasoline but do not accept discount gasoline coupons.

Although unleaded gasoline is available throughout Montevideo, it is difficult to find at all gas stations in the countryside; thus, you may consider removing the catalytic converter from your car, since leaded gas will damage it.

Type of Car: In addition to smaller American cars, Peugeots, VW’s, BMW’s, Renaults, Citroens, Fiats and most Japanese cars (Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu, Hyundai, Toyota, etc.) are popular here. Montevideo has Chrysler and Ford dealerships. Service and repair facilities are good and readily available for more popular models. Bring a selection of filters and smaller spare parts. If possible, purchase a removable radio/tape deck to lessen the chance of theft. Anti-theft devices are also strongly recommended.

Since gas is so expensive, many people prefer a subcompact or compact car for its better mileage performance. Also, please consider that residential garages, especially in apartments, are small. It is also recommended to import manual transmission cars. Automatic cars consume more gasoline and are not commonly sold/used in Uruguay.

Uruguayan Drivers License: American driver's licenses are valid for 180 days after arrival. Employees and their family members are granted Uruguayan drivers licenses upon presentation of a diplomatic note from the Embassy and a valid American license. The issuance of licenses takes 10 days. Drivers must be 18 years old to obtain a Uruguayan license, and the license is recognized in any of the MERCOSUR countries (Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) and in Chile.

Shipping Your Vehicle: To avoid shipboard theft and pilferage, remove anything that can be easily taken from your car. Pack the radio, hubcaps, cigarette lighter, rear-view mirror, windshield wipers, and ashtray, and ship them with your HHE. Maritime insurance for all of your shipments is recommended. Please make sure the battery is disconnected before shipping and the alarm is off.

To speed clearance of your shipment, post needs a description of the car (i.e., make, year, model, type, serial number, motor number if available, and weight. Because port storage fees are very expensive, shipments should not arrive more than 10 days before your arrival.

Traffic: Traffic in Montevideo is relatively light compared to most cities. Though delightful for old car lovers, the combination of older models (“cachilas”) chugging alongside newer models can make driving in Montevideo nerve-wracking. Accidents, most minor, occur frequently. A rule of thumb is to be prepared to yield the right-of-way. Automobile maintenance and bodywork are good; labor is relatively cheap; but parts are expensive. If you can wait, parts can be ordered from the U.S. via APO.

Roads in and around the capital are fair-to-poor with many potholes. Many streets are poorly identified and not well illuminated. Inter-city highways are well maintained and generally excellent, but the all-weather aspect of some of these roads requires caution. More traveled routes, such as the highway between Punta del Este and Montevideo, have service stations, tow trucks, and other facilities.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:44 AM

Bus service is cheap and extensive within Montevideo. Taxis are readily available at reasonable fares. Inter-city bus service, the most popular transportation method, is frequent to most parts of the interior. Modern buses, including sleepers, connect Montevideo with Brazil and Argentina. Bus tickets are cheaper than in the U.S.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:44 AM

Several international airlines fly from Uruguay to other parts of Latin America, North America, and Europe. Many international flights board in Buenos Aires, only 25 minutes by air from Montevideo, but some flights require a wait of several hours and an expensive and time-consuming change of airports. Pluna, the government-operated airline, and others offer flights to Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:46 AM

The telephone network works reasonably well. Telephone connections outside Uruguay, especially to the U.S., are good but traditionally have been expensive. Recently, in October 2002 ANTEL’s monthly rates to USA for direct dial calling were discounted as follows: Pesos 9.35 per minute includes taxes, no matter at what time call is done. At pesos 26 per dollar, this equals 36 U.S. cents per minute. It is hopeful they will keep the discount in place. English-speaking, long-distance operators are usually on duty.

USA Direct service through MCI, ATT and Sprint is available and much less expensive than regular international operator-assisted calls to the U.S. Applications for USA Direct cards may be obtained at post. Telegraph and fax facilities connecting Montevideo with North America and Europe are good but expensive. A facsimile machine (fax) located in the General Services Section may be used for official and/or personal purposes.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:47 AM Cellular phones are available in Montevideo and Punta del Este.

Internet Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:47 AM

Internet service includes three options:

1) Wireless, cost for a 256 k bandwidth: $150 US per month;

2) ASDL (a telephone line that does not occupy your normal telephone line), cost $80 US for a 256 k bandwidth per month;

3) Dialup, average cost $10 per month; however, when using a dialup service, you also pay for telephone use (min $0.30 per hour, max. $2.00 per hour)

Note: The cost is less for 64 k and 128 k service.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:48 AM

The Army Post Office (APO) is governed by a bilateral agreement with Uruguay. APO privileges are only extended to U.S. military personnel and U.S. personnel of STATE and other U.S. government agencies working in the Embassy and their dependents. Anything shipped via APO is for the express use of those having APO privileges. Such items cannot be used for resale. Violation of the bilateral agreement would jeopardize the continuation of the agreement and therefore our ability to send and receive APO mail.

Daily incoming and outgoing service is available. Transit time between the U.S. and Montevideo is slightly longer than normal mail. Letters normally take about 4 days and packages sent priority take about the same. Packages send “Space Available Mail” (SAM) take 2 to 4 weeks. Normal postal regulations apply to size and weight of packages.

The APO can insure mail. However, the APO does not have a registered mail capability nor can it issue money orders.

The preferred method of sending mail is through the APO. The mailing address is:

Name U.S. Embassy Montevideo Unit 45XX (last two digits are based on specific agency within the Embassy) APO AA 34035

(Note: Do not put “Uruguay” in the address. It may cause the automated mail sorting machines to route the letter or package through international mail.)

Oversized items can be sent via the pouch. The pouch address is:

American Embassy Montevideo 5982-418-7777 c/o Dept. of State 101 International Drive Sterling, VA 20166

Radio and TV Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:49 AM

Montevideo has some 35-radio stations including 12 FM. Radio programming consists of music, news programs, and soap operas. The tango, the music of the Rio de la Plata area, is heard on many stations, but modern rock from the U.S., Brazil, and Europe is more popular.

Short-wave reception is quite good in Montevideo, outside the downtown area. Listeners can pick up VOA, BBC, and the Armed Forces Radio Service. The best reception is from 8 p.m. to midnight. Uruguay has four TV stations and five cable channels provide additional programming.

American TV’s can be used here but will receive only black-and-white images unless they are converted to the PAL–N color system. Several U.S. firms sell conversion kits, or you can have your sets converted locally for about US$100. For more information concerning color TV sets suited for Uruguay, contact:

PAL–N TV Inc. 9808 NW 80th Avenue Hialeah Gardens, FL 33016


General Electronics Inc. 4513 Wisconsin Avenue NW. Washington, D.C. 20016

A small color TV set in Uruguay costs from $200–$400. The commissary rents VHS videos that operate on NTSC TV’s. Many other clubs offer VHS tape rental (PAL–N).

DirecTV has recently arrived in Montevideo and is popular because you can use your American TV with no conversion. Cost for a basic package of 126 channels is approximately $100 for installation for the first TV and $50 for each additional TV. Monthly service charges are $42 for the first TV and $6.00 for each additional set. The cost for extra packages (i.e. Family Pack (15 channels), Movie Pack (4 channels) and HBO Pack (3 channels)) is $7 dollars for each package.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:50 AM

Newspapers, as well as several weekly papers, are published in Montevideo. The Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language daily, is expensive. Time and Newsweek are regularly available. To ensure receipt of your magazines, use your APO address.

Some technical journals from the U.S. and Europe are sold in two or three bookshops specializing in foreign literature. Many bookstores sell paperbacks in English. The Artigas-Washington Library at the Uruguayan-American Alianza has recent magazines and a good collection of books and reference materials. In addition to a selection of about 12,000 books in both English and Spanish, it provides members with an extensive audiovisual section, which includes audiocassettes, tapes, videotapes, and films. American Embassy employees are welcome to use the facilities.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:51 AM

A Registered Nurse staffs the Health Unit at the American Embassy Montevideo with a Uruguayan doctor as Post Medical Advisor. It is open Monday through Friday with variable hours. The Regional Medical Officer is based in Santiago and visits Montevideo regularly.

The Health Unit is located on the first floor of the Embassy and has an office / examination room and a waiting room. Its supplies include first aid equipment, common medications and some antibiotics.

Although most vaccinations and immunizations are available in the Health Unit, employees and dependents are encouraged to obtain required shots before traveling to post.

The health unit is available to:

Provide health information and guidance and assist with securing appropriate health care providers. Provide treatment where necessary. Provide health care as outlined by MED and under the guidelines of the RMO. Administer vaccinations when required.

Community Health Last Updated: 7/9/2003 12:42 AM

In general, Montevideo is a healthy place to live in. There are no indigenous medical problems specific to the city, such as malaria or schistosomiasis, which are present in parts of Brazil. In the rural areas of Uruguay where cattle and sheep are raised, hydatid disease (echinococcosis) is present. This is a disease contracted by humans via food contaminated with dog feces. Avoid contact with strange dogs anywhere in South America. Other intestinal parasites and worms are uncommon in Uruguay. Dengue, yellow fever, rabies, malaria, cholera and mad cow disease have either not yet been reported in Uruguay or have been nonexistent for decades. Although Hepatitis A occurs occasionally in Montevideo, US Embassy employees and dependents very rarely contract it. However, Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all that consider traveling within South America. Hepatitis A vaccine is available in the Health Unit.

Weather-related Illnesses: Montevideo has four seasons. Spring and summer are very pleasant. Winter is cold, wet, and windy. Hence, frequent colds and sore throats occur, especially during the change of season. Pollens and molds in the air may aggravate upper respiratory tract allergies and lower tract allergies.

Water: Tap water is safe to drink in Montevideo and in most urban areas; it does not have to be filtered or boiled. When traveling in rural areas it is best to drink bottled water. Since the water is low in fluoride, children under age 12 should take fluoride supplements. Supplements are available in the Health Unit and at local pharmacies. Some Embassy families purchase bottled mineral water for drinking.

Milk and other foodstuffs: Fresh milk in plastic sacks and ‘Long life’ milk in cartons is safe to drink. The fresh milk and dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream and cheese are one of the advantages of living here.

There is an abundance of meat and fish in many varieties and the quality is excellent. Pork, as in every other place in the world, must be well cooked.

Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and it is recommended that green leafy vegetables and fruits that are not peeled before eating should be thoroughly washed with tap water before consumption.

Beaches/Pools: Montevideo is located on the River Plate, and there are beaches along the river from the city to the Atlantic Ocean, about 70 miles east. The beaches within the city limits are somewhat polluted. The further from the city one goes towards the ocean, the cleaner the water. Main problems associated with swimming in these polluted waters are hepatitis, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, skin and external ear infections. Most sports clubs have swimming pools that are usually well cared for and safe.

Insects: Except for seasonal mosquitoes, few insects are of concern in Montevideo. Parents should caution children against touching the “bicho peludo” (green or black hairy caterpillar) which in-habits gardens, trees, and plants. This caterpillar may be poisonous, causing an allergic skin reaction when touched.

Dentists: Good dental care is available in the city of Montevideo. Before going to a dentist, check with the list provided in the Welcome Kit. Regular dental care may be cheaper than in the USA. Orthodontics may be as expensive.

Doctors: Most Uruguayan doctors are graduates of the local medical school, although many have received further training in the U.S. and in countries in Europe. It is not difficult to find one who speaks English.

Nurses and Paramedical Personnel: Well-trained, qualified nurses usually have attended at least 3 years of nursing school. Nurses’ aides, who have on-the-job training, handle most of the floor duty. English speaking nurses are, unfortunately, scarce.

Hospitals: The British Hospital, one of many hospitals in Montevideo, is the one most commonly used by the American Embassy. Most of the doctors that are on the suggested list for the embassy personnel are members of the British hospital staff. The hospital provides in patient care in private rooms, 24/7/365 emergency room care, with resident general physicians, pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists. On-call specialists are available at all times. The hospital has an outpatient facility with nearly all specialties. Complex or rare procedures and elective surgery are usually evacuated (MedEvac’d) to the USA.

Pharmacies: Most drugs, except tranquilizers and stimulants, certain antibiotics, hormones, and cardiac drugs are available without a prescription over the counter. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know what is available and what is not. Although there is a pharmacopoeia listing the drugs in Uruguay, sometimes one may have to shop around a bit to find the drug that one is looking for. As a general rule, one can usually find American drugs or good-quality equivalents. There has been no difficulty with the quality of drugs purchased on the local market, as long as the manufacturer is the local branch of an U.S. or European company. However, because of some uncertainty, it is again emphasized that Americans coming here bring a 90 to 180 day supply of whatever medication they are taking.

Medical Evacuations: Patients requiring elective major surgery are given the option of medical evacuation. Medical evacuation is also offered to those persons requiring care not offered here, needing sophisticated laboratory examinations or procedures that are either not available locally, or if expertise is superior in the USA.

Thousands of babies are born each year in Montevideo without incident. Because of adequate hospital care and facilities, Uruguay has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the Hemisphere. State Department policy, however, now recommends medical evacuation with covered expenses to any point in the continental USA (CONUS).

Emergency Service/Ambulances: In an emergency, Embassy personnel and their families can call the Servicio de Emergencia Medico Movil (SEMM). This service dispatches an ambulance and physician to anywhere within the limits of Montevideo. Outside of Montevideo, arrangements exist between SEMM and local similar emergency services. Their care extends to accident victims as well as to people with chronic illnesses.

If the person in need of care is a child, a pediatrician will attend to him. SEMM will come to the home if the child has a high fever, respiratory distress, convulsions, etc. If hospitalization is deemed necessary, they will transport the patient to the medical facility of his/her choice. There they will try to get in touch with the patient’s personal physician. If that is not possible, the duty doctor will take over the care. Embassy families who have used the service have been very satisfied with the treatment received. They found the doctors to be able, concerned and sympathetic to the patient and family.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 7/9/2003 12:42 AM

Immunizations: For children, the vaccines that are standard in the U.S. are recommended in Uruguay. If not done before arrival, most are available in the Health Unit or at the British hospital (free of charge).

For adults, the only recommended immunization is tetanus-diphtheria (every 10 years) and Hepatitis “B”. Adults without a history of Hepatitis “A” may be vaccinated against this disease (see above). Adults born after 1956 may need a measles vaccination. Yellow fever, typhoid, and cholera vaccines are neither required nor recommended, but may be necessary when traveling within South America.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 7/9/2003 11:54 AM

Uruguayan laws neither prohibits spouse employment nor requires special work permits, but you do need a cedula (Uruguayan ID card). Local opportunities are few. Salaries are very low by U.S. standards, the result of a highly qualified labor force, small labor market, and relatively high rate of unemployment. U.S. and third-country firms, as well as local companies, offer few employment opportunities. International organizations maintain small staffs. ESL teaching jobs are available for native speakers.

Embassy employment opportunities include temporary secretarial jobs, purchase order positions (short term), a DOD government contract secretarial position, 2 APO positions, 4 Security Escort positions, a Political Assistant and a CLO job-share position. When funding is available there is a summer-hire program for dependent teens. Most positions require Spanish-speaking ability.

Prospective teachers should write directly to the Directors of either the Uruguayan-American School or the British School at:

Director, Uruguayan-American School c/o American Embassy, Uruguay APO AA 34035


Director, British School Maximo Tajes 6400 Montevideo, Uruguay

A de facto work arrangement is an informal, reciprocal dealing whereby a country allows Foreign Service family members to work in the host country, and the U.S. reciprocates by allowing dependents of foreign officials working in the U.S. to work in the U.S. Since nothing is written, such arrangements are subject to unpredictable changes, such as economic or political pressures, or even foreign ministry personnel changes. De facto arrangements can be established or withdrawn at any time. In the U.S., these arrangements are subject to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) restrictions, and permission for employment will not be granted for jobs that have an oversupply of U.S. workers.

To process a request for a work permit under a reciprocal arrangement is more complex and lengthy than to do so under the bilateral work agreement. The dependent must first locate employment and then submit to the host government a letter from the prospective employer, giving the details of the potential position. A diplomatic note from the Embassy may also be required. On arrival, each spouse desiring to work should apply at the Personnel Office and stop at the CLO office. Both offices can provide job availability information and help with the forms.

American Embassy - Montevideo

Post City Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:17 PM

The southernmost capital in the Hemisphere, Montevideo is Uruguay’s industrial, commercial, educational, and cultural center. It is situated on the northern shore of the estuary formed by the Uruguay and Parana rivers, known as Rio de la Plata, 120 miles east-southeast of Buenos Aires.

Like some Latin American cities, Montevideo has the “Ciudad Vieja” (Old Quarter), characterized by narrow streets and colonial buildings. There stands the city’s oldest church (“Basilica Metropolitana”), the first city hall (“Cabildo”), and remnants of the original walled settlement (“Ciudadela”). Across the harbor rises a 435-foot hill, El Cerro, with an old fortress at its peak commanding a view of the greater part of Montevideo. It is believed the city was named after the hill—Monte Video—from “I see a hill”—uttered by a Portuguese sailor aboard a ship of one of the earliest explorers. The old city contains much of Montevideo’s commerce and banking. In the newer section are “galerias,” housing many small shops under one roof, often connecting two streets in mid-block. Many wide, tree-lined avenues, along with numerous plazas and monuments, give the city a park-like atmosphere, although poor maintenance of streets and buildings detract from the city’s overall beauty. Among the more attractive areas to the east are the residential suburbs of Pocitos, Punta Gorda, and Carrasco. The architectural diversity, terra cotta roofs and ironwork balconies and beaches make Montevideo’s suburbs pleasant. In its time, Montevideo was the pearl of Latin American cities, well planned and designed to take advantage of the riverside. The city took pride in its architecture, boulevards and boardwalk. However, the architectural tradition has been diluted with multistoried buildings and is tarnished by poor maintenance and inadequate rubbish collection.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:18 PM

The U.S. Mission in Montevideo consists of the Political/Economic Section, Administrative Section, Public Diplomacy Section and Consular Section of the Department of State; Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC); Defense Attaché's Office (DAO), Customs Attaché, and Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Each element is responsible to the Ambassador who, assisted by the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), establishes policies, objectives, and priorities.

Separated from the Rio de la Plata by a seawall and the shore-hugging boulevard called the Rambla, the Chancery was formally dedicated on December 3, 1969. Designed by architect I.M. Pei, the building contains 8,000 square meters of space on five floors. Its design blends American architectural concepts with Uruguayan motifs, and its atrium vaults from the entrance lobby to the roof of the building. The Alianza Bi-national Center and host government ministries are located about 10 minutes by car from the Chancery.

Almost all administrative/logistic support for the U.S. Government agencies at post is provided through the International Cooperative Administrative Support Service (ICASS). There are 55 direct-hire Americans, 127 host-country nationals and 16 Family Member Appointment and PSA Plus positions at post. All agencies are located in the Chancery. Office hours are 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with 45 minutes for lunch.

An Embassy newsletter, the Tero Tero Talk, is published weekly. (The Tero Tero is the very vocal national bird of Uruguay.) The publication contains scheduled Embassy activities, local cultural events, travel articles on places to go within Uruguay and to neighboring Argentina and Brazil, as well as birthdays, congratulations, items for sale and availability of servants.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:20 PM

Montevideo has many moderately priced hotels. The Embassy receives a special rate for most rooms. Prices are within per diem and include breakfast. The Embassy owns four apartments in a building across the street from the Chancery for use by arriving and departing Embassy personnel. If space is available, temporary duty personnel are also housed there. The four apartments each have a living room, kitchen, two or three bedrooms, and two baths; two of the apartments have riverfront balconies. They are completely furnished, including washers and dryers, TV’s, and VCR’s. Families receive priority in the assignment of apartments.

Pets are not permitted in transient quarters. Kennels are available but expensive. Please inform post well in advance if arrangements need to be made for your animal(s).

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:22 PM

The Ambassador’s two-story residence is located in a pleasant neighborhood about a 10-minute drive from the Chancery. A large reception hall, library, living room, music room, dining room, and two bathrooms are on the first floor. Five bedrooms, five baths, and a kitchenette are upstairs. The upper hall is equipped for the DVD & Video Projector. The kitchen, pantry, laundry, servant’s quarters, and recreation room are in the basement. A swimming pool and sauna are located on the grounds. The residence is fully furnished, including a baby grand piano, cable TV, and combination radio/phonograph/tape recorder. The house has ample space for personal decorative items. Bed and bath linens are furnished for representational use only.

The U.S. Government-owned DCM’s home is located in the residential suburb of Carrasco, a 25-minute drive from the Chancery. The two-story brick house is surrounded by a garden complete with barbecue. The ground floor consists of a large foyer, living room, powder room, guest bedroom and bath, double kitchen, and servant’s quarters. Three bedrooms and three bathrooms are on the second floor. The house is fully furnished and equipped with ranges, refrigerators, freezers, washer, dryer, vacuum cleaner, various small kitchen appliances, and cooking utensils. Official Embassy china, glassware, silverware, and table linens are furnished. Garden furniture is also provided.

The general services officer, using A–171 standards, negotiates U.S. Government-leased quarters. For agencies participating in the Inter-agency Housing Pool, houses should be ready for occupancy by your arrival. The Embassy Housing Board must approve all residential leases and housing arrangements.

Most families with children prefer to live in Carrasco, which is close to the American school. All housing is provided with security alarm systems.

The most desirable apartments have central heating and fireplaces. Closets are not as spacious as in U.S. apartments. Few apartments have air-conditioning. A small indoor parking space for one car is usually provided for each apartment unit. For security reasons, the Embassy only leases apartments with 24-hour daily concierge service.

A consortium of owners, seeking to keep expenses down often governs central heat in apartment buildings. Heat is supplied to residents several hours a day. The heating season usually starts late and ends early. Heating bills are higher than in the U.S.

Furnishings Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:25 PM

State Department personnel are provided with government furniture and appliances. Furniture sets issued to State Department employees include a sofa, end and coffee tables, armchairs, lamps, and carpet for the living room, a dining table with six or eight chairs, buffet, china cabinet, and carpet for the dining room, and queen sized or twin beds, dresser and mirror, chest of drawers, night tables and lamps, chair, desk and chair, and one other carpet.

Appliances and other furnishings available to State Department employees include refrigerator, gas range, washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, fire extinguisher, stepladder, and three step down transformers (750w, 1,000w, and 1,500w). Vacuum cleaners are available. The U.S. Government provides a $600 allowance per employee to purchase draperies. In lieu of this allowance, the Embassy will supply sheer curtains. Curtains made or bought here are expensive; you may wish to bring mail-order catalogs that offer custom-made draperies.

American-made lamps will work with 220v bulbs and plug adapters, which can be bought locally. Bring kitchenware and small appliances from the U.S.; irons, blenders, toasters, food processors, etc., are expensive here.

Furniture sold here is usually custom built and expensive. Embassy personnel may be able to purchase antique or used furniture in local auction houses (“remates”). You may wish to bring books on antique furniture to help you identify bargains.

For summer, bring beach umbrellas and chairs, and a cooler or ice chest. Reusable freezer blocks are also useful. The Embassy issues lawn furniture on a first-come-first-served basis.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:34 PM

Electrical current is 220v, 50 cycles, single phase throughout Uruguay. Voltage fluctuations often occur during peak periods, with occasional power failures. Battery operated radios and clocks, several flashlights, candles, and a camping lantern are useful. The municipal-manufactured, piped-gas system does not extend to newer residential areas where bottled gas is used.

The telephone system functions well. All homes and apartments rented to foreigners are equipped with a telephone.

U.S.-made, 110v, 60-cycle appliances, except for clock radios or timers, can be used with step down transformers. Within the Chancery, the electric current is 110v, 50 cycles, single phase.

Large fans are useful; good 220v fans are available locally. Dishwashers are provided, however kitchen size in some apartments may precludes space for dishwasher.

Most apartments have central steam heaters. In newer apartments, heating is built into the floors. Houses usually have central steam heaters.

Food Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:36 PM

Uruguayan supermarkets have less variety and fewer items than in the U.S. Most stores stock some imported foods, mostly from Argentina and Brazil. Occasionally, you will find U.S. products on the shelves but they are usually overstocked items that were bought at discount. There are some U.S. brands available, but they are produced locally or in Argentina.

Beef, the staple of the Uruguayan diet, is abundant, of good quality, and inexpensive. Pork and poultry are more expensive than in the U.S. Veal is difficult to find, and lamb (mutton) is only available at certain times of the year (August–January). Local cold cuts are tasty and of good quality. A good selection of fish from the Rio de la Plata is often sold at reasonable prices along the riverfront and in local outdoor markets. Shellfish is expensive and available occasionally.

There is no shortage of bakeries providing fresh bread daily, as well as a wide variety of pastries and cookies. Fresh milk, cream, and milk products such as yogurt, ice cream, and every type of white cheese imaginable are readily available. The cheese department of the supermarket provides a wide selection, as long as you aren't looking for orange cheeses popular in the U.S. such as cheddar, American, colby, etc. Low fat milk and long-life milk in cartons is also obtainable. Many companies deliver their products, including meats, milk, cheese, eggs, fresh bread, pastries and dry cleaning to your house.

Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and reasonably priced, especially if you shop at the popular neighborhood outdoor markets (“ferias”) that are set up daily from early morning to early afternoon in different parts of the city. Most neighborhoods are served by a "feria" at least twice a week. Also, some permanent vegetable and fruit stands are available, some of which sell select produce and hard-to-find items.

Montevideo’s typical restaurant is the “parilla.” A parilla has a huge grill where meat is slowly barbecued over coals of a wood fire. (In fact, parillas are so popular that most homes have large ones in the backyard, often enclosed.) There are also restaurants offering Italian, German, Chinese, French, Swiss and seafood cuisine in Montevideo. More seafood restaurants are located in Punta del Este and other coastal towns.

When dining out, the food is very good and prices are generally reasonable.

Restaurants rarely open before 8 p.m. as traditionally dinner is eaten between 9 and 10 p.m. Because of the late dinner hour, tea is fashionable in Uruguay. Several teashops offer a variety of sandwiches and pastries. Many snack shops and sidewalk cafes are open throughout the day and into the night. These serve pizza, “chivitos” (the delicious Uruguayan variation of a steak sandwich), and other foods from snacks to full meals. McDonald’s and Burger King have restaurants in Montevideo, Atlantida, and Punta del Este. There are a few Subway restaurants also present in Montevideo. While working, most employees eat at a reasonably priced cafeteria located in the Embassy that serves breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

A commissary is located in the Chancery basement. It meets many of the community’s needs, but shipping and customs clearance delays cause limited variety and some stock depletion occurs. Commissary prices are considerably higher than in the U.S. due to shipping costs. It is best to bring specialty items with you. The Commissary does not stock baby products or refrigerated goods. Commissary membership is open to all U.S. Direct Hire employees of the Embassy. Membership fees for families are $200, $100 for singles, and $50 for Marines. These sums may be paid over a 3-month period and are refunded on departure from post. Official visitors receive temporary commissary privileges.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Clothing needed in Uruguay is similar to clothing worn during equivalent U.S. seasons.

Men Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:44 PM

Local tastes in men’s wear are like those in the U.S. and Western Europe. Office and commercial workers wear suits and ties year round. For informal occasions, Uruguayans follow the latest fashions in sportswear. Shirts are available in common neck and sleeve lengths. Topcoats, heavy sweaters, scarves, and hats are worn in winter. Most foreign residents limit their purchases of local men’s wear to wool sweaters, leather jackets, and high quality fabrics that they have made into custom-tailored suits (at reasonable prices).

Although quality varies considerably, shoes are available in most sizes. Those with narrow and wide feet will have difficulty finding shoes. Uruguay’s export lines are not available locally.

If you own formal attire, bring it to post. Senior officers need black tie occasionally for diplomatic and other social functions.

Women Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:45 PM

Clothing for women in Montevideo is fashionable and similar to that worn in the U.S. and Western Europe. Currently, short or cocktail length dresses are being worn for dinners, parties, and receptions. A ball gown may be called for occasionally. Suits, skirts and blouses, dresses, and nice slacks are appropriate office wear as well as for luncheons or teas. Hats are rarely worn. Casual outfits are needed for “asado’s” (the popular Uruguayan- style cookout). Pants or shorts are acceptable casual wear.

Warm clothes are needed in winter. Include some wool garments against the penetrating damp cold of Montevideo (indoors and out). As Montevideo’s social life is much more active in fall, winter, and

Spring (March-November) than in summer, you will need some dressy, but warm outfits. Summer days can be humid and air-conditioning is rare, so cotton, cotton blends, and rayon fabrics are suitable.

A variety of readymade women’s clothing is available locally. Some export-quality wool clothing is available locally. Quality knitwear is available; prices on wool and orlon products are reasonable. Some factories sell leather items quite reasonably. Quality hosiery and undergarments are expensive and selection is limited. Leather, suede, otter, fox, and nutria coats are available in many styles at popular prices.

A limited selection of apparel fabrics is available but very expensive. Many American women hire seamstresses. You may want to bring a good supply of all sewing necessities including patterns, fabric, thread, and notions. The Embassy has a seamstress that comes to the Chancery once a week. The commissary has more information on the seamstress. Good jewelry, especially amethyst is available at reasonable prices.

Children Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:45 PM

Readymade clothing is attractive, but except for knitwear, it is expensive, wears out quickly, and is difficult to clean. Most items purchased locally will shrink in the dryer, as Uruguayans don't commonly have dryers and are not affected by this. Bring a good supply of clothes to post or plan to order as needed through the APO from mail-order catalogs.

All Uruguayan school children wear locally purchased uniforms. The Uruguayan American School is the exception and does not require uniforms other than the P.E. uniform that they also wear on field trips (cost of this uniform is approximately 500 pesos or US$20 as of October 2002). The British, Scottish, and Italian schools, which are open to Americans, do require uniforms.

Jackets and coats for children are available but are of lesser quality. Buy such essential items before arrival. Children’s shoes, including tennis shoes, are attractive and expensive but not durable. Corrective shoes may be satisfactorily custom made here. Shoestrings are of poor quality; buy them in the U.S. Over-the-shoe rain boots are also best purchased in the U.S. They are needed for use during frequent rainstorms.

Infant wear in local stores is almost entirely wool or orlon knit; few terrycloth suits are available. Undershirts, polo shirts, and overalls are found. Purchase one-piece snowsuits or carriage suits before arrival, or order from catalogs. Infant shoes are readily available.

Office Attire Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:48 PM

Military Officers: Civilian clothing (i.e., coat and tie) is worn about half the time during duty hours and to most social functions. Uniforms are worn the other half of the time and for official visits to military and/or government agencies and to some official and social functions.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:53 PM

Prescription drugs are generally available at local pharmacies. If necessary, prescriptions for special medicines from an American doctor can be filled in the U.S. through the APO. It may be helpful to bring a supply of nonprescription medicines with you, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, antacids, and your preferred cold medicines.

Most women opt to bring cosmetics, home perms, nail polish, and hair coloring from the U.S. or order them via APO. Personal items, hardware and household articles, etc., are available, but not of the same quality as U.S. products. Paper products such as cocktail napkins, toilet paper, tissues, sanitary products and paper towels are sold locally, but are of poor quality and expensive. Most paper products are also available in the commissary.

Due to the high cost, safety factor, and suitability of layettes purchased locally, families with infants or toddlers should bring items to post. A 6-month supply of baby food, formula, and diapers is highly recommended. Disposable diapers are available locally but expensive and again, lesser quality. You can re-stock through a bulk-order at the commissary or through the Internet via APO.

Supplies for cameras and computers are very expensive here. Most types of film can be purchased and developed locally at high prices. Families find film ordered and developed through U.S. mail-order film companies satisfactory. With the trend to digital cameras, many are utilizing Internet photo companies by uploading photos directly to them.

Bring stationery, envelopes, greeting cards, wrapping paper, and ribbon with you, as such products are expensive and scarce.

The Community Liaison Office maintains up-to-date catalogs from the Armed Forces Exchange and major U.S. mail-order houses. Personnel can obtain incidental items, clothes, and toys at reasonable prices through the Internet via APO. Please remember APO package-size limitations when placing orders. Children’s toys are very expensive when purchased locally. Those items that are not imported from the U.S. seldom meet American safety standards. It is a good idea to bring toys for your children and for gifts. Elementary children tend to invite the entire class to birthday celebrations so there are frequent invitations. You might also bring lunchboxes, book bags, and school supplies for schoolchildren to have higher quality items.

Basic Services Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:54 PM

Most household appliances can be repaired locally but not always quickly or cheaply, especially if new parts are needed. Local Embassy personnel are often available after work hours to make such repairs. TV service, watch repair, and shoe repairs are of good quality. Auto maintenance is adequate and reasonable, but spare parts are very expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain. Bodywork is done well at reasonable prices. Upon arrival, ask for recommendations regarding beauty shops and barbershops. The Embassy has a combination barbershop/beauty salon on the premises. Dry-cleaning service is also available through the commissary. Local dry-cleaning is available and adequate and they deliver to your home. Diaper services are nonexistent. Laundry is normally done at home. Laundry service is laundromat style: clothing is washed and pressed.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:54 PM

It is easier to find daily or part-time, rather than live-in, domestic help. Day-maids run US$4.00 per hour as of October 2002. Several families with small children have found a live-in servant. Other families and single people hire a daily housekeeper, part-time cleaning woman, or housekeeper/cook. It is easy to find someone to prepare party food on an as-needed basis and good waiters are reasonable. Employer obligations regarding time off, vacation, year-end bonus, severance pay, social benefits, etc. increase the costs for domestic help.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:55 PM

Montevideo has four churches that have English-language services: Christian Brothers (Roman Catholic), Christ Church (interdenominational Protestant), the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity (Episcopal), and the Church of Christ Science. Many other Christian denomination are represented, holding services in Spanish, including The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints which has a large presence here with several ward buildings and a temple.

With a fairly large Jewish population, Montevideo also has several synagogues, including conservative congregations and orthodox.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:56 PM

Uruguay has free public education from kindergarten through university. Many private and parochial schools also exist. Instruction is in Spanish. Private schools that do not provide instruction in Spanish must offer it as a second language. The local school year runs from March to mid-December, with a midterm vacation in June/July and a spring vacation in September. Montevideo's public schools, some of which offer good education and excellent facilities, are generally overcrowded and work on two or three shifts, 5-6 days a week. Almost all children of U.S. personnel attend Uruguayan American School in Carrasco. It is supported by the State Department. The private British and St. Andrew's Schools also offer instruction in English.

The educational allowance covers matriculation fees, tuition costs, and local transportation at all local schools.

The Uruguayan American School (UAS), founded in 1958, moved to its Carrasco location in 1978. It fulfills the requirements of an American school abroad. UAS will open the 2003 school year in a brand new, spacious facility. The school offers food service (optional), and bus transportation can be arranged through a subcontracted service. UAS provides classes in English from nursery school through grade 12. The school uses a curriculum that is modeled from U.S. school districts. This includes teaching methodology, textbooks, and American or bilingual teachers. All classes are coeducational. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school capitalizes on its overseas location to provide instruction in Spanish as well as other regional studies for U.S. and international students.

The student enrollment in nursery through grade 12 is approximately 200 students of which 60% are international (20% of these students are from the U.S. and the remaining 40% represented about 20 different countries) and 40% Uruguayan. The small high-school student population (50-65 students) limits the extracurricular offerings. Classes in art, music, computer science, and physical education are included in the curriculum. However, because of its size, the school offers limited electives/materials and sports facilities. The school has a 12,000-volume library and offers complete counseling services. The post administrative officer or AYOS, the State Department's Office of Overseas Schools, has further details.

The school's first semester runs from early August through December, followed by a 10-week summer vacation. The second semester starts in late February and ends late June. UAS is the official testing center in Uruguay for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT).

The British School is coeducational for kindergarten through grade 12. Located in a large attractive complex in Carrasco, the student population is primarily Uruguayan, with some British and a few Americans. It uses a British curriculum, but American history and government are also taught. American children accustomed to the American system may have difficulty adjusting to the British system, particularly in adjusting to the different way of teaching mathematics. However, the school offers excellent sports.

Coeducational St. Andrew's (Scottish) School has students from kindergarten through grade 8. Located in Pocitos, with adequate play facilities, it uses an U.K. curriculum.

The British School and St. Andrew's School have first semester from March to June and second semester from late July to early December.

At Post Last Updated: 8/22/2003 10:27 AM The Embassy sponsor the Uruguayan American School, located in Carrasco. The school was established in 1958 by a public affairs officer and other who wanted a qualityUS-style education in Montevideo.

In August 2003, the UAS was moved to a new state-of-the art facility with adequate space for athletic fields and play areas. The new building boasts an auditorium, multi-purpose room, large classrooms and science labs.

UAS is US-accredited, with grades nursery-12. Average enrollment hovers around 200 students (total in all grades). It is the only school that operates on the northern hemisphere school calendar.

The UAS receives financial support from the Office of Overseas Schools. Two Embassy representatives serve on the school board, and the CLO maintains close contact with the school administration, teachers and parent organizations.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:58 PM

There are several universities in Montevideo. Instruction at the University of the Republic is free and facilities are open to all foreign residents. However, courses seldom are transferable for credit at U.S. colleges and universities.

The Embassy has an active Spanish language-training program for employees and adult dependents; everyone is encouraged to learn the language. Classes are available for different skill levels.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 7/9/2003 1:59 PM

Uruguay’s national pastime is soccer, locally called football (“futbol”). Teams enjoy fanatical support, especially evident when the two best clubs, Nacional and Penarol, play each other. Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium holds about 70,000 people and games are frequent. Tickets are reasonably priced.

Five-a-side soccer is currently the most popular sport among Uruguayans. Embassy employees, Uruguayan and American alike, participate in informal league play.

Swimming is popular and enjoyed 3 - 4 months every year. Uruguay’s beaches extend from Montevideo to the Brazilian border. The river- and beachfront in Montevideo are polluted and unsafe for swimming. Bathing and surfing are possible beyond Atlantida (28 miles east of Montevideo). Montevideo has several private clubs with swimming pools.

Tennis is popular; several private clubs offer membership with reasonable entrance fees and monthly dues.

Golfers will find two challenging 18-hole courses in Montevideo. The Golf Club of Uruguay has a beautiful course in Punta Carretas, a residential area bordering the Rio de la Plata, less than a mile from the Embassy. Facilities include a large dining room, snackbar, swimming pool, and tennis and paddleball courts.

The Cerro Golf Club is situated across the bay from the downtown area, about 40 minutes by car. It is less crowded than Punta Carretas, although neither is crowded in the U.S. sense. The Cerro Golf Club offers light lunch and its bar/gameroom is open Wednesday afternoons, weekends, and national holidays.

Riding is also popular. The Hipico, the Polo Club (which also has two tennis courts and a large swimming pool), and N & N Fields offer all facilities needed for the care and maintenance of horses. Fees for horse rentals, including jumpers, are reasonable. N & N Fields is the only club in the country to offer therapeutic riding for people with disabilities.

Montevideo has three sailing clubs: Montevideo Yacht Club, Nautical Club, and Montevideo Rowing Club. The Montevideo Yacht Club has several Marconi-rigged fin keelboats for members. Water-skiing, surfing, and sailboarding are popular.

Uruguay offers good freshwater fishing in the interior and surfcasting along the coast. The Rio Negro is famous for its large dorado, an excellent gamefish. The best fishing is in Punta del Este where weakfish, blackdrum, and bluefish are most often caught. Boat rentals are expensive, particularly during summer. Bring your own tackle for shoreline and fresh-water angling.

Good hunting is available within a relatively short drive of the city. Partridge, plover, dove, pigeon, and duck are among the gamebirds available. A permit and permission from the property owner to hunt on private property is required. Guns and ammunition are available in Montevideo, but at very high prices. The Embassy restricts the import of private firearms. (See Firearms and Ammunition.)

Almost all sporting equipment available in Montevideo is imported and expensive. Bring golf and tennis equipment with you or order from U.S. manufacturers through the APO. Tennis balls are especially expensive. Bicycles are popular with both children and adults. Bicycles sold here with one gear are inexpensive. Others increase in price significantly. Bring a bicycle helmet.

Paddleball is a challenging local sport. Squash courts are available through several inexpensive clubs. Racquetball is newer to Montevideo, but new clubs have opened with several courts.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:02 PM

Montevideo has numerous historic sites that are well worth visiting, including the Cabildo (city hall) and El Cerro fortress. A planetarium offers scheduled shows. The city has several parks and plazas; some with play facilities, and a botanical garden. The Legislative Palace boasts 47 kinds of native marble and is interesting to visit when either house is in session, although tours have been limited during the past year. A short drive into the country will take you into cattle and sheep country, land of the Uruguayan "gaucho." Traffic in the interior is usually light.

Uruguay is unique in South America in that practically any point of the country is within a day’s drive of the capital. Popular tourist attractions are the resort towns of Atlantida, Piriapolis, and Punta del Este. Beyond Punta del Este are many worthwhile sights on the way to the Brazilian border. Punta del Este is popular with wealthy Argentines and Brazilians as well as with the Uruguayans. Many American personnel go to Punta del Este for a day trip during summer weekends.

The town of Colonia, founded by the Portuguese in 1680, lies 100 miles west of Montevideo along the coast, and has several museums and restored 17th-century colonial buildings. Colonia is 1 hour from Buenos Aires by hydrofoil.

In the interior, 78 miles north of Montevideo, is the city of Minas, known for its quarries of high-grade marble and mineral water springs. Its lakes and hills present a change from the seaside. The pleasant interior towns of Salto and Paysandu, located along the Uruguay River, can also be reached in about 6 hours. The Termas (hot springs) del Arapey, especially nice in winter, are less than 30 miles from Salto.

To the north, on the Brazilian border, are the towns of Rivera and Artigas. Located in the area between these cities are geological fields where amethyst and topaz are found. The Brazilian border town of Chuy, just 140 miles northeast of Punta del Este, offers a popular duty-free shopping area. Brazilian coffee and other consumer goods are available at advantageous prices. There are limits on the amount you may bring back across the border. Also near the border of Chuy are a restored old fort, Santa Teresa, and the lovely small beach resort of La Coronilla. Near the fort are charming government-run inns (“paradores”), which are well worth an overnight stay or even an extended vacation. Comfortable, reasonably priced hotels and several good restaurants are also located in the area.

Brazil, Argentina, and Chile offer a multitude of tourist attractions. One of the most popular is Iguazu Falls, which most travelers consider a must. You can reach this series of unharnessed falls on the Brazilian- Paraguayan-Argentine border by automobile, bus, or plane. There are packages available that include plane fare, hotel and tour, making it relatively inexpensive.

Entertainment Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:02 PM

Montevideo has many movie theaters showing recent American and European films. Movies in English have Spanish subtitles. As of October 2002, admission prices are about half of prices in the U.S.

Montevideo has two casinos, the Parque Casino and the Carrasco Casino. There is another in Atlantida, a 1/2-hour drive from Carrasco. A few restaurants with floorshows and some lively late hour discotheques are available for teenagers and older single people.

The Montevideo Players Group operates a small pub and theatre (seats 50) in the city and are one of the only venues of plays in English. They produce one big play a year, usually in October or November. There are also weekly pub nights on Fridays at which there is either a mini production, a game night, or a video of one of their past plays. The members take turns making food for the Friday Pub Nights.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:03 PM The American Women’s Club is an active community service and social group composed principally of American spouses in Montevideo. The club holds monthly meetings except during summer. They help local charities in Uruguay including orphanages, schools, poor areas and shelters for the abused.

International Contacts Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:04 PM A diplomatic association, the “Agrupacion de Funcionarios Diplomaticos, Consulares y de Organismos Internacionales” meets monthly. The 100-member association provides an opportunity for cultural interchange among the foreign missions in Uruguay. In addition to monthly meetings, the association sponsors various activities for members and their families.

Both the Lions and the Rotarians welcome Americans as guests or members of their numerous Montevideo chapters.

Membership in a tennis, golf, or yacht club can be another excellent way of meeting people.

Private entertaining, official or not, usually takes the form of luncheons, cocktail parties, coffees, teas, buffet suppers, and small dinner parties. Uruguayans are open to social contacts, and representational activities are frequent.

For the kids: As of November 2002 there are 15 Cub/Boy Scouts and 36 Girl Scouts in Brownie, Junior, and Cadette troops. The Boy Scout program is sponsored by ODC and the Uruguayan American School sponsors the Girl Scout program.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:04 PM

The schedule of representational functions attended by the Ambassador, DCM, and all country-team members is relatively heavy, particularly from May through the end of December. Embassy officers at all levels and in all agencies regularly entertain Uruguayan contacts in connection with their duties. Most entertaining is informal and carried on in homes or restaurants.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:05 PM

Social conduct follows U.S. and European patterns. Refer to the publication Diplomatic Social Usage. Officers should bring at least 100 calling cards. Verify that the diplomatic title assigned to you by the Department is in accordance with post practices. Have a supply of informals printed in the U.S. Additional cards can be printed here reasonably in English as well as Spanish. Military officers and their spouses will need an initial supply of 100 official calling cards. Bring 100 (military title) and “Mr. and Mrs.” cards and 100 informal folding cards. The style should be the same as in the U.S. with English wording. Publications such as the Officer’s Guide show the proper format.

Special Information Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:06 PM

Post Orientation Program:

A sponsor who helps with shopping, school selection and registration, and other needs that may arise during the first weeks at post are assigned to each employee. Newcomers receive a Welcome Book, which contains information about Uruguay, the Embassy, recommended restaurants, local services and stores, and many other useful items.

The Embassy has a Community Liaison Office that provides support to all newcomers and plans activities for the American community. CLO coordinates a Newcomers Workshop with other Embassy for new employees and dependents. All newcomers must receive a briefing from the RSO.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:07 PM

Notify the Embassy as well as your agency through appropriate channels before your arrival and advise the ICASS administrative officer of travel details. It is also courteous to acknowledge assignment to post in a brief letter to the Ambassador.

Carrasco Airport is about 13 miles from downtown Montevideo. The airport building has a currency exchange booth that is open during business hours only. The port where oceangoing vessels dock is near downtown Montevideo, just a few minutes from the better hotels and the Chancery.

All new arrivals will be met and assisted through necessary customs, health, and immigration procedures when advance notice is received.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:10 PM

In addition to using your unaccompanied baggage allowance, you may want to send some insured packages through the APO. Please follow APO weight and size limitations and use the correct APO address. (See Communications—Mail and Pouch.)

Clearance of HHE and unaccompanied baggage takes 2–5 working days; please consider these delays when packing and shipping. To keep clearance times minimal and to start the free-entry procedures, please mail the following information to the general services officer as soon as possible:

Full name of all family members who will travel to post, along with type, number, issue date of passports, and estimated date of arrival; Type of shipments being made, and a copy of the packing lists and the airway or ocean bill of lading; Car make, model, year, serial number, motor number, weight, and copy of the bill of sale or any official document showing purchase price of the car, any special accessories. Address all your shipments as follows:

American Ambassador American Embassy Montevideo, Uruguay (Your initials) POC: Shipping Section, 419-0301

Passage Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:10 PM

When traveling to Brazil, a visa is necessary if you are traveling with an official or a diplomatic passport. If you are traveling to or through Argentina on business you need a visa. If you go to Argentina as a tourist, you do not need the visa.

Military Personnel: All military personnel should ship personally owned vehicles, UB and HHG to this station by commercial plane or vessel as soon as possible after they receive PCS orders. If UB and/or HHG arrive before the service member, satisfactory local storage facilities are available. Liftvan packing is recommended to reduce damage and pilferage. Consign shipments to the corresponding military agency:

USODC (U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation), USDAO (U.S. Defense Attaché Office) or USMC MSG DET (USMC Marine Security Guard Detachment). XXXXXX American Embassy, Montevideo, Uruguay

Mark outer containers as follows:

XXXXXXXXXX U.S. Embassy Montevideo, Uruguay

If unaccompanied baggage (UAB) is forwarded and desired immediately on arrival, ship it at the earliest possible date only through commercial air. Items should be adequately banded to prevent pilferage.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs requires that shipments clear customs.

Pets Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:11 PM

Pets with a certificate of good health may be imported into Uruguay. Dogs and cats require also a certificate of rabies vaccinations. These certificates should be endorsed and authenticated by a Uruguayan consul in the U.S. or other point of departure before shipment. Write the administrative officer for current information if you plan to bring a pet.

Pets may travel via United or American Airlines to Montevideo, through Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. American Airlines does not allow pets in the cabin. All pets are placed in the freight compartment; therefore American Airlines will be responsible for transporting the pet as unaccompanied baggage at any instance. No extra paperwork is required at Buenos Aires' airport.

If the pet is traveling via United Airlines, it will be allowed to travel in the cabin if it is a small pet (dogs or cats). Big animals will travel as cargo in the freight compartment. If the airplane has any problems in Buenos Aires and cannot fly, United Airlines will feed the pet until the flight coming to Montevideo can fly. It will not be put in any other plane but theirs.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:18 PM

The Foreign and Defense Ministries must approve importing firearms and ammunition. Only the following non-automatic firearms and ammunitions may be brought to Uruguay:

Item Quantity Semiautomatic Pistol or Revolver 1 Rifle 1 Shotguns 2 Ammunition for above firearms 1,000 rounds

Uruguayan Government approval of a revolver may be more easily obtained than for semiautomatic pistols, as the latter are generally reserved for police and military use. The above firearms and ammunition may be shipped (but not mailed) to post without an export license provided they are consigned to U.S. personnel for their personal use and not for resale. Prior approval of the Chief of Mission is necessary and is granted according to individual needs.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:18 PM

Since March 1, 1993, the basic currency unit in Uruguay is the Uruguayan peso. The current rate of exchange is $26.00 as of July 2003. Uruguay has many banks, some with numerous branches throughout the country. Some foreign banks, including Citibank, First National City Bank of New York, American Express Bank, and Bank of Boston, have branches in Montevideo. Traveler's checks may be purchased through banking facilities at the Chancery. Please note that they are not readily accepted at local retail facilities, which prefer cash.

Adequate banking facilities exist in Montevideo, but long lines and short banking hours make it impractical to have peso checking accounts. U.S. checks can be cashed in the Embassy for pesos or dollars.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:20 PM

All U.S. Government employees at post have duty-free entry privileges. Department of State policy as set forth in FAMC 378 and later directives govern embassy policy on the importation and sale of personal property.

No sale of personal property may be made without written notification to the administrative officer. No profit may accrue to the employee under any circumstances. All excess proceeds made on the sale of property must be donated to an authorized charity or other approved organization. The allowed total cost of a car includes purchase price, maritime insurance over $150 per year, capital improvement (not repairs), and local registration fees. Invoice and evidence of expenses are required to substantiate costs.

Motor and heating fuel is available on a tax-exempt basis. Payment for gasoline is made with pre-purchased coupons. Employees may purchase up to 500 liters of gasoline a month under this system. Uruguay has a value-added tax (VAT) of 23%, although some articles such as food products have a 14% VAT. Everyone must pay this tax.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:23 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Alinsky, Marvin. Uruguay: A Contemporary Survey. Frederick A. Praeger: New York, 1969.

American University. Area Handbook for Uruguay. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1971.

De Skerkinin, Betty. The River Plate Republics: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay. Corvard-McCann: New York, 1947.

Dobler, Lavinia G. The Land and People of Uruguay. Lippincott Philadelphia, 1965.

Ferguson, J. Halcro. The River Plate Republics—Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Time-Life Books, New York, 1965.

Greenbie, Syndey. Republics of the Pampas, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay. Tow Peterson and Company: Evanston, IL, 1943.

J. D. Holzhauer. West From Montevideo, Uruguay by Bike. Cassell Publishers: London, 1989. Available from Sterling Publishing Co., 2 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10016.

Jackson, Sir Geoffrey. People’s Prison. Faber and Faber: London, 1973.

Pan American Union. Uruguay.Washington, D.C. 1966.

Pender, George. Uruguay. Oxford University Press: London, 1965.

Street, John. Artigas and the Emancipation of Uruguay. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959.

Vangor, Milton Isadore. Jose Batalle y Ordonez of Uruguay: The Creator of His Time, 1902-1907. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1963.

Weinstein, Martin. Uruguay: The Politics of Failure. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1975.

The Public Diplomacy Information Resource Center at Post has several excellent texts in Spanish.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:31 PM

New Year's Day Jan. 1 Epiphany Jan. 6 Carnival Feb. Holy Thursday Varies Good Friday Varies Landing of the Orientals April 19* Labor Day May 1 Battle of Las Piedras May 18 Don Jose Gervasio Artigas June 19* Constitution Day July 18 Independence Day Aug. 25 Discovery of America Oct. 12* All Souls' Day Nov. 2* Christmas Day Dec. 25

* When any of these holidays falls on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, the holiday will be celebrated on the previous Monday. If it falls on a Thursday or a Friday, it will be moved to the following Monday. No change occurs if it falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a Monday.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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