Uruguay: Infrastructure


Uruguay has made significant investments in telecommunications, which place it now at the leading edge in Latin America. This is reflected in the following indexes:

  • Digital telecommunications switching and transmissions since 1996: 100%.
  • Telephone demand met since 1997: 100%.
  • Highest telephone density in Latin America: 28.
  • Number of PCs (per 100 inhabitants): 11.
  • Largest number of web hosts in Latin America (per 10,000 inhabitants: 257 (2004).
  • Percentage of internet users: 12 % (2004).

Transport system

Due to its geographic location, Uruguay is a permanent link for land and sea transportation between MERCOSUR member nations, especially Brazil an Argentina, because it is ideally situated between the richest and most developed areas of its neighbor countries. Uruguay´s transportation infrastructure connects the entire country with 80 % of the region´s GDP without limits.

Highway transport

The principal highway network is the most concentrated in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Uruguay is connected to neighboring countries by means of several border crossings: 3 bridges to Argentina on the Uruguay River in the cities of Salto, Paysandu, and Fray Bentos, and highways to Brazil in the cities of Artigas, Rivera, Río Branco and Chuy.
The following are the distances between Montevideo and the principal cities in the region (km):

City Distance (Kms.) Observations
Buenos Aires 640
Existing highway.
Future bridge.
Current fluvial-highway.
Rosario 880
Santa Fé 740
Córdoba 1050
Mendoza 1520
San Pablo 1970
Río de Janeiro 2400
Porto Alegre 870
Asunción 1550
Santiago 1900

Rail transport

  • Single, standard track (except for 11 km. of double-track in the access to Montevideo).
  • Interchange with Argentina without changing gauge.
  • Gauge change necessary in Brazil.
  • System operated by the State Railway Administration (AFE), an autonomous state-owned company open to private operator participation.

Fluvial and maritime transport

Free Port
  • Montevideo: first and only free port on the South American Atlantic coast.
  • "Free" traffic of goods which does not require "authorization or formal procedures".
  • "During their stay in the port, goods are exempt from all taxes and charges applicable at the time of import".

The Port of Montevideo is a customs exclusion zone, wherein it is possible to contract international shipping services such as container terminals and warehousing through private operators.

The Paraguay-Paraná Waterway

The Nueva Palmira Port, a full service port and bulk terminal on the Paraguay-Paraná Waterway, is currently undergoing an expansion process. Located at a strategic point, the port and bulk terminal offer a wide array of goods and services to the region.
The Paraguay-Paraná Waterway is a fluvial corridor 3,442 km long consisting of the de la Plata, Paraguay and Paraná Rivers, which connect the center of South America with the Atlantic Ocean and constitute the most important method of fluvial transport in South America.

Air transport

Montevideo: Carrasco International Airport
  • Distance from downtown Montevideo: 18 km.
  • International airlines: 10.
  • The Carrasco International Airport is currently being remodeled and expanded. Construction is being funded by private investment with the aim of improving existing infrastructure.

Punta del Este: Laguna del Sauce Airport
  • Distance from downtown Punta del Este: 15 km.
  • Runways and terminal have been recently renovated with funds from private investment under concession.


The main sources of energy in Uruguay are hydroelectricity, gas and petroleum.

Gas pipeline
The Cruz del Sur gas pipeline (Buenos Aires - Montevideo), transports between 2 and 2.5 million cubic meters of natural gas per day from Argentina to Uruguay. Most of which is used to produce electricity.
Construction of the Litoral gas pipeline, which transports gas from Entre Rios (Argentina) to Paysandú (Uruguay), has been completed. This 20 kilometer - long gas pipeline supplies tha ANCAP alcohol and cement plants, factories in Paysandú and the "city gate", where the residential distribution network is supplied.

Energy deregulation In accordance with the law that deregulated energy production, thermoelectric plants may be built by private investors in the BOT system (Build, Operate and Transfer). Energy produced at these plants may be sold to large consumers or the state electric utility (UTE).

  • Country-wide supply available on a continual basis.
  • Meets or exceeds World Health Organization standards for potable water.
  • System improvements: the state-run utility (OSE) is currently working with national and foreign companies to implement system improvements.

Source: Portal del Estado Uruguayo, Uruguay XXI: Promoción de Inversiones y Exportaciones, Marzo de 2006