Uruguay Table of Contents
Stretching east from Montevideo along the Río de la Plata are the departments of Canelones, Maldonado, and Rocha. The inland portion of Canelones is an area of small farms and truck gardens, which produce vegetables for the capital. It was relatively poor in 1990. Many inhabitants of the department's small towns also commuted to jobs in Montevideo by express bus. Along the coast lie a string of small seaside towns (balnearios), from which more prosperous employees had also begun to commute. Farther east in the highly developed department of Maldonado lies the major resort of Punta del Este. This has been developed as a fashionable playground more for Argentines than for average Uruguayans, who found it too expensive. With its hotels, restaurants, casino, and nightclubs, Punta del Este was a major export earner, and it dominated Uruguay's tourism industry (see Tourism , ch. 3).
Vacationing Uruguayans of more modest means were concentrated in smaller resorts such as Piriápolis and Atlántida, which are closer to Montevideo. Beyond Punta del Este in the still mostly undeveloped department of Rocha, a number of communities had sprouted along the unspoiled Atlantic coast with its miles of sandy beaches and huge breakers. These small vacation communities--such as Aguas Dulces and Cabo Polonio, both in Rocha Department--were entirely unplanned and lacked essential services. In many cases, simple holiday chalets had been built on public property adjoining the seashore without any legal title to the land. In 1990 the authorities in Rocha Department announced plans to regulate and improve this development in hopes of encouraging visits by higher-spending tourists.
Data as of December 1990