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This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Uruguay. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Uruguay. Citizens of Uruguay can change their government democratically. In 1999, for the first time, Uruguayan parties selected a single presidential candidate in open primary elections. In 2001, the government of President Jorge Batlle wrestled with the effects of economic turmoil caused largely by neighboring Brazil's 1999 currency devaluation and an ongoing financial crisis in Argentina. The two countries account for some 45 percent of Uruguay's exports. Uruguayans of all political tendencies pride themselves on their refusal to make a public issue of the private lives of public officials.