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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 7/9/2003
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
All new arrivals will be met and assisted through necessary
customs, health, and immigration procedures when advance notice is
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
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
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs requires that shipments clear
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
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
The metric system of weights and measures is used.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 7/9/2003 2:20
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
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
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,
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,
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.