Montevideo, founded by the Spanish in 1726 as a military stronghold, soon took advantage of its natural harbor to become an important commercial center. Claimed by Argentina but annexed by Brazil in 1821, Uruguay declared its independence four years later and secured its freedom in 1828 after a three-year struggle. The administrations of President Jose BATLLE in the early 20th century launched widespread political, social, and economic reforms that established a statist tradition. A violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement named the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to cede control of the government to the military in 1973. By yearend, the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold over the government. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. In 2004, the left-of-center Frente Amplio Coalition won national elections that effectively ended 170 years of political control previously held by the Colorado and Blanco parties. Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent.



Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil

Geographic coordinates

33 00 S, 56 00 W

Map references

South America


total: 176,215 sq km
land: 175,015 sq km
water: 1,200 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than the state of Washington

Land boundaries

total: 1,591 km
border countries (2): Argentina 541 km, Brazil 1,050 km


660 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or the edge of continental margin


warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown


mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland


mean elevation: 109 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Catedral 514 m

Natural resources

arable land, hydropower, minor minerals, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 87.2%
arable land 10.1%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 76.9%
forest: 10.2%
other: 2.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

2,380 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

seasonally high winds (the pampero is a chilly and occasional violent wind that blows north from the Argentine pampas), droughts, floods; because of the absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts

Environment - current issues

water pollution from meat packing/tannery industry; inadequate solid/hazardous waste disposal

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note

second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising

People and Society

Ethnic groups

white 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian (practically nonexistent)


3,351,016 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Uruguayan(s)
adjective: Uruguayan


Spanish (official), Portunol, Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)


Roman Catholic 47.1%, non-Catholic Christians 11.1%, nondenominational 23.2%, Jewish 0.3%, atheist or agnostic 17.2%, other 1.1% (2006)

Demographic profile

Uruguay rates high for most development indicators and is known for its secularism, liberal social laws, and well-developed social security, health, and educational systems. It is one of the few countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where the entire population has access to clean water. Uruguay's provision of free primary through university education has contributed to the country's high levels of literacy and educational attainment. However, the emigration of human capital has diminished the state's return on its investment in education. Remittances from the roughly 18% of Uruguayans abroad amount to less than 1 percent of national GDP. The emigration of young adults and a low birth rate are causing Uruguay's population to age rapidly.
In the 1960s, Uruguayans for the first time emigrated en masse - primarily to Argentina and Brazil - because of economic decline and the onset of more than a decade of military dictatorship. Economic crises in the early 1980s and 2002 also triggered waves of emigration, but since 2002 more than 70% of Uruguayan emigrants have selected the US and Spain as destinations because of better job prospects. Uruguay had a tiny population upon its independence in 1828 and welcomed thousands of predominantly Italian and Spanish immigrants, but the country has not experienced large influxes of new arrivals since the aftermath of World War II. More recent immigrants include Peruvians and Arabs.

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.44% (male 348,547/female 336,435)
15-24 years: 15.78% (male 267,848/female 260,990)
25-54 years: 39.23% (male 649,702/female 664,933)
55-64 years: 10.41% (male 164,201/female 184,784)
65 years and over: 14.13% (male 189,197/female 284,379) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.9%
youth dependency ratio: 33.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 22.5%
potential support ratio: 4.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 34.7 years
male: 33 years
female: 36.4 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.27% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

13 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

9.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

most of the country's population resides in the southern half of the country; approximately 80% of the populace is urban, living in towns or cities; nearly half of the population lives in and around the capital of Montevideo


urban population: 95.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.53% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MONTEVIDEO (capital) 1.707 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 51,879
percentage: 7% (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

15 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 8.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.2 years
male: 74.1 years
female: 80.5 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.81 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

8.6% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

3.74 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

2.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 93.9% of population
total: 99.7% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 6.1% of population
total: 0.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 96.6% of population
rural: 92.6% of population
total: 96.4% of population
urban: 3.4% of population
rural: 7.4% of population
total: 3.6% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.48% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

10,100 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

300 (2015 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

27.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

4.5% (2011)

Education expenditures

4.4% of GDP (2011)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.5%
male: 98.2%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years
male: 14 years
female: 17 years (2010)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 19.2%
male: 15.8%
female: 24% (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
conventional short form: Uruguay
local long form: Republica Oriental del Uruguay
local short form: Uruguay
former: Banda Oriental, Cisplatine Province
etymology: the Guarani Indians named the Uruguay River, which makes up the western border of the country and whose name later came to be applied to the entire country

Government type

presidential republic


name: Montevideo
geographic coordinates: 34 51 S, 56 10 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

19 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Artigas, Canelones, Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Montevideo, Paysandu, Rio Negro, Rivera, Rocha, Salto, San Jose, Soriano, Tacuarembo, Treinta y Tres


25 August 1825 (from Brazil)

National holiday

Independence Day, 25 August (1825)


several previous; latest approved by plebiscite 27 November 1966, effective 15 February 1967; amended several times, last in 2004 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on the Spanish civil code

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 3-5 years


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: President Tabare VAZQUEZ (since 1 March 2015); Vice President Raul Fernando SENDIC Rodriguez (since 1 March 2015); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Tabare VAZQUEZ (since 1 March 2015); Vice President Raul Fernando SENDIC Rodriguez (since 1 March 2015)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president with approval of the General Assembly
elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for nonconsecutive terms); election last held on 26 October 2014, with a runoff election on 30 November 2014 (next to be held on 27 October 2019, and a runoff if needed on 24 November 2019)
election results: Tabare VAZQUEZ elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote - Tabare VAZQUEZ (Socialist Party) 56.5%, Luis Alberto LACALLE Pou (Blanco) 43.4%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral General Assembly or Asamblea General consists of the Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (31 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; the vice-president serves as the presiding ex-officio member; elected members serve 5-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (99 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held on 26 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2019); Chamber of Representatives - last held on 26 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2019)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Frente Amplio 15, Blanco 10, Colorado Party 4, Independent Party 1; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Frente Amplio 50, Blanco 32, Colorado Party 13, Independent Party 3, Popular Assembly 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice (consists of 5 judges)
judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the president and appointed in joint conference of the General Assembly; judges appointed for 10-year terms, with reelection after a lapse of 5 years following the previous term
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; District Courts (Juzagados Letrados); Peace Courts (Juzagados de Paz); Rural Courts (Juzgados Rurales)

Political parties and leaders

Broad Front (Frente Amplio) or EP-FA [Monica XAVIER] (a broad governing coalition that includes Liber Seregni Front (FLS) [Danilo ASTORI], Socialist Party [Monica XAVIER], Vertiente Artiguiste [Enrique RUBIO], Christian Democratic Party [Juan Andres ROBALLO], Popular Participation Movement (MPP) [Jose MUJICA], Broad Front Commitment [Raul SENDIC], Action and Thought Current-Freedom (CAP-L) [Eleuterio FERNADEZ HUIDOBRO], Big House [Constanza MOREIRA], Communist Party [Marcos CARAMBULA], The Federal League
Colorado Party (including Vamos Uruguay [Pedro Bordaberry] and Propuesta Batllista [Jorge AMORIN BATLLE])
Independent Party [Pablo MIERES]
National Party or Blanco (including All Forward [Luis LACALLE POU] and National Alliance [Jorge LARRANAGA])
Popular Assembly [Gonzalo ABELLA]

Political pressure groups and leaders

B'nai Brith
Catholic Church
Chamber of Commerce and Export of Agriproducts
Chamber of Industries (manufacturer's association)
Exporters Union of Uruguay
National Chamber of Commerce and Services
PIT/CNT (powerful federation of Uruguayan Unions - umbrella labor organization)
Rural Association of Uruguay (rancher's association)
Uruguayan Network of Political Women
other: students

International organization participation

CAN (associate), CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur, MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), OAS, OIF (observer), OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA (observer), UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMOGIP, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Carlos Alberto GIANELLI Derois (since 23 July 2015)
chancery: 1913 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 331-1313
FAX: [1] (202) 331-8142
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Brad FREDEN (since 10 December 2014)
embassy: Lauro Muller 1776, Montevideo 11200
mailing address: APO AA 34035
telephone: [598] (2) 1770-2000
FAX: [598] (2) 1770-2128

Flag description

nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May with 16 rays that alternate between triangular and wavy; the stripes represent the nine original departments of Uruguay; the sun symbol evokes the legend of the sun breaking through the clouds on 25 May 1810 as independence was first declared from Spain (Uruguay subsequently won its independence from Brazil); the sun features are said to represent those of Inti, the Inca god of the sun
note: the banner was inspired by the national colors of Argentina and by the design of the US flag

National symbol(s)

Sun of May (a sun-with-face symbol); national colors: blue, white, yellow

National anthem

name: "Himno Nacional" (National Anthem of Uruguay)
lyrics/music: Francisco Esteban ACUNA de Figueroa/Francisco Jose DEBALI
note: adopted 1848; the anthem is also known as "Orientales, la Patria o la tumba!" ("Uruguayans, the Fatherland or Death!"); it is the world's longest national anthem in terms of music (105 bars; almost five minutes); generally only the first verse and chorus are sung


Economy - overview

Uruguay has a free market economy characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated workforce, and high levels of social spending. Uruguay has sought to expand trade within the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and with non-Merc

Following financial difficulties in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Uruguay's economic growth averaged 8% annually during the period 2004-08. The 2008-09 global financial crisis put a brake on Uruguay's vigorous growth, which decelerated to 2.6% in 2009.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$73.93 billion (2016 est.)
$73.86 billion (2015 est.)
$73.14 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$54.37 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

0.1% (2016 est.)
1% (2015 est.)
3.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$21,600 (2016 est.)
$21,600 (2015 est.)
$21,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

17.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
16.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
16.7% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 67.2%
government consumption: 14.2%
investment in fixed capital: 19.3%
investment in inventories: -0.2%
exports of goods and services: 22%
imports of goods and services: -22.5% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.3%
industry: 26.1%
services: 67.6% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

soybeans, rice, wheat; beef, dairy products; fish; lumber, cellulose


food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages

Industrial production growth rate

3.5% (2016 est.)

Labor force

1.736 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 13%
industry: 14%
services: 73% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate

7.6% (2016 est.)
7.5% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line

18.6% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 34.4% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

45.3 (2010)
44.8 (1999)


revenues: $14.29 billion
expenditures: $15.9 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

62.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
66.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as in

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

10.2% (2016 est.)
8.7% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

9% (31 December 2012)
8.75% (31 December 2011)
note: Uruguay's central bank uses the benchmark interest rate, rather than the discount rate, to conduct monetary policy; the rates shown here are the benchmark rates

Commercial bank prime lending rate

15.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
15.84% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$4.121 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.022 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$8.568 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$8.919 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$17.87 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$17.2 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$175.4 million (31 December 2012 est.)
$174.6 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$156.9 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.586 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.864 billion (2015 est.)


$9.042 billion (2016 est.)
$9.067 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

beef, soybeans, cellulose, rice, wheat, wood, dairy products; wool

Exports - partners

China 15%, Brazil 14.4%, US 6.5%, Argentina 4.9% (2015)


$9.075 billion (2016 est.)
$9.345 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

refined oil, crude oil, passenger and other transportation vehicles, vehicle parts, cellular phones

Imports - partners

Brazil 18.2%, China 17.4%, Argentina 12.6%, US 9.1%, Germany 4.5%, Nigeria 4.1% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$14.85 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.63 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$21.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$20.07 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$23.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$21.65 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$272.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$153.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Uruguayan pesos (UYU) per US dollar -
32.03 (2016 est.)
27.52 (2015 est.)
27.52 (2014 est.)
23.246 (2013 est.)
20.31 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 20,106
electrification - total population: 99.4%
electrification - urban areas: 99.7%
electrification - rural areas: 93.8% (2012)

Electricity - production

13 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

10 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

1.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

700 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

4.4 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

44.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

53.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

42,060 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2014 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

45,860 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

59,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

537.5 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

12,820 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

60 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

60 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

7.4 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,106,431
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 5.495 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 164 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: fully digitalized
domestic: most modern facilities concentrated in Montevideo; nationwide microwave radio relay network; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity over 195 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 598; the UNISOR submarine cable system provides direct connectivity to Brazil and Argentina; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

mixture of privately owned and state-run broadcast media; more than 100 commercial radio stations and about 20 TV channels; cable TV is available; many community radio and TV stations; adopted the hybrid Japanese/Brazilian HDTV standard (ISDB-T) in Decemb (2010)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 2.159 million
percent of population: 64.6% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3 (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

CX (2016)


133 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 11
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 122
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 40
under 914 m: 79 (2013)


gas 257 km; oil 160 km (2013)


total: 1,641 km
standard gauge: 1,641 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)


total: 77,732 km
paved: 7,743 km
unpaved: 69,989 km (2010)


1,600 km (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 16
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 2, chemical tanker 3, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 8 (Argentina 1, Denmark 1, Greece 1, Spain 5)
registered in other countries: 1 (Liberia 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Montevideo


Military branches

Uruguayan Armed Forces: Uruguayan National Army (Ejercito Nacional Uruguaya, ENU), Uruguayan National Navy (Armada Nacional del Uruguay; includes naval air arm, Naval Rifle Corps (Cuerpo de Fusileros Navales, Fusna), Maritime Prefecture in wartime), Uruguayan Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya, FAU) (2012)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age (18-22 years of age for navy) for male or female voluntary military service; up to 40 years of age for specialists; enlistment is voluntary in peacetime, but the government has the authority to conscript in emergencies; minimum 6-year education (2013)

Military expenditures

1.95% of GDP (2012)
1.94% of GDP (2011)
1.95% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

in 2010, the ICJ ruled in favor of Uruguay's operation of two paper mills on the Uruguay River, which forms the border with Argentina; the two countries formed a joint pollution monitoring regime; uncontested boundary dispute between Brazil and Uruguay over Braziliera/Brasiliera Island in the Quarai/Cuareim River leaves the tripoint with Argentina in question; smuggling of firearms and narcotics continues to be an issue along the Uruguay-Brazil border

Illicit drugs

small-scale transit country for drugs mainly bound for Europe, often through sea-borne containers; law enforcement corruption; money laundering because of strict banking secrecy laws; weak border control along Brazilian frontier; increasing consumption of cocaine base and synthetic drugs