Coat of Arms
President Tabaré Vázquez
»Unitary presidential constitutional republic
»176,215 km2 (91st)
» Per capita -$21,387 (61st)
»$58.283 billion (78th)
» Per capita -$17,121 (45th)
»Uruguayan peso (UYU)
»UYT (UTC−3)UYST (UTC−2)
Uruguay is home to 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.
Uruguay remained largely uninhabited until the establishment of Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, by the Portuguese in 1680.
Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region.
Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. It remained subject to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century.
Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government.
Uruguay’s financial indicators remained more stable than those of its neighbours, a reflection of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade sovereign bond rating, one of only two in South America.
In 2004, the battle government signed a three-year $1.1 billion stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), committing the country to a substantial primary fiscal surplus, low inflation, considerable reductions in external debt, and several structural reforms designed to improve competitiveness and attract foreign investment.
Uruguay terminated the agreement in 2006 following the early repayment of its debt but maintained a number of the policy commitments.
In exchange, those receiving the benefits were required to participate in community work, ensure that their children attended school daily and had regular health check-ups.
In 2005, Uruguay was the first exporter of software in South America.
The economy grew at an annual rate of 6.7% during the 2004–2008 period. Uruguay’s exports markets have been diversified in order to reduce dependency on Argentina and Brazil. Poverty was reduced from 33% in 2002 to 21.7% in July 2008 while extreme poverty dropped from 3.3% to 1.7%.
Uruguay is ranked 55 with an Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of 0.332386
Top 5 Products exported by Uruguay
- Frozen Bovine Meat (9.9%),
- Rice (5.6%),
- Sulfate Chemical Woodpulp (4.8%),
- Wheat (4.2%)
Top 5 Export destinations of Uruguay
- Brazil (17%),
- Free Zones (14%),
- China (10%),
- Argentina (5.0%),
Top 5 Products imported by Uruguay
- Crude Petroleum (13%),
- Refined Petroleum (8.8%),
- Cars (3.4%),
- Delivery Trucks (2.1%),
- Computers (1.6%)
Top 5 Import origins of Uruguay
- Brazil (17%),
- Argentina (15%),
- China (14%),
- United States (7.2%),
- Venezuela (6.0%)
Wedged like a grape between Brazil’s gargantuan thumb and Argentina’s long forefinger, Uruguay has always been something of an underdog. Yet after two centuries living in the shadow of its neighbors, South America’s smallest country is finally getting a little well-deserved recognition.
Progressive, stable, safe and culturally sophisticated, Uruguay offers visitors opportunities to experience everyday ‘not-made-for-tourists’ moments, whether caught in a cow-and-gaucho traffic jam on a dirt road to nowhere or strolling with mate-toting locals along Montevideo’s beachfront.
Short-term visitors will find plenty to keep them busy in cosmopolitan Montevideo, picturesque Colonia and party-till-you-drop Punta del Este. But it pays to dig deeper. Go wildlife watching along the Atlantic coast, hot-spring-hopping up the Río Uruguay, or horseback riding under the big sky of Uruguay’s interior, where vast fields spread out like oceans.
- While there are interesting things to see all over Uruguay, the main sights of interest are concentrated on the coastline.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly the largest concentration of things to see is the capital, Montevideo. There the “father of Uruguayan nationhood”, general Jose Artigas rests in a mausoleum under an equestrian statue of himself in the middle of Plaza Independencia surrounded by buildings iconic to the capital such as Palacio Salvo, the old and new presidential palaces, the city gate and the Edificio Ciudadela.
- Passing through the city gate one will arrive in the old town of Montevideo hosting several museums, old buildings that once were the residences of wealthy families as well as the Puerto del Mercado.
- Other points of interest not to be missed in Montevideo include the neoclassical parliament building Palacio Legislativo, the Centenario Stadium and the adjacent football museum and the 22 km long beach promenade Rambla stretching along the Atlantic shore with several sights next to or nearby it.
- A two and a half hour bus trip west takes you to Colonia del Sacramento, a city established in 1680 by the Portuguese. While the modern part of the city isn’t much of a tourist attraction, the barrio historico can pride itself on being the only UNESCO World Heritage site of Uruguay. As it is located a mere one hour from Buenos Aires by catamaran, it is also a popular daytrip for visitors to the Argentinian capital.
- East of Montevideo there is Punta del Este, a beach resort popular among the rich and famous and the city where the Los Dedos sculpture and the Casa Pueblo resort museum are located. Not far away from Punta del Este is the city of Maldonado with the lighthouse of José Ignacio. Closer to the capital is the city of Piriapolis where you can visit the Castillo de Piria.