Agriculture played such an important part in Uruguayan history and
national identity until the middle of the twentieth century that the entire
country was then sometimes likened to a single huge estancia
(agricultural estate) centred around Montevideo, where the wealth
generated in the hinterland was spent, at its casco or administrative head.
As another saying went, "Uruguay es la vaca y el puerto" ("Uruguay is the
cow and the port").
Today, agriculture contributes roughly 10% to the country’s GDP and is
still the main foreign exchange earner, putting Uruguay in line with other
agricultural exporters like Brazil, Canada and New Zealand. Uruguay is a
member of the Cairns Group of exporters of agricultural products.