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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 restored in 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 National (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

Natural Resources

arable land, hydropower, minor minerals, fish

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

Spanish (official), Portunol, Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)
MONTEVIDEO (capital) 1.707 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Oriental Republic of Uruguay
Conventional short form
Local long form
Republica Oriental del Uruguay
Local short form
presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
34 51 S, 56 10 W
Time difference
UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
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-Mercosur members, and President VAZQUEZ has maintained his predecessor’s mix of pro-market policies and a strong social safety net.
External debt stocks
US$ 14,349,584,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -1,119,275,176
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 10,575,611,356
Exports of goods and services
US$ 11,192,990,714
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 1,369,314,228
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 3,083,554,881
Cellulose, beef, soybeans, rice, wheat; dairy products; fish; lumber, tobacco, wine
food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages
beef, soybeans, cellulose, rice, wheat, wood, dairy products, wool
China 15%, Brazil 14.4%, US 6.5%, Argentina 4.8% (2015)
refined oil, crude oil, passenger and other transportation vehicles, vehicle parts, cellular phones
Brazil 18.4%, China 17.5%, Argentina 12%, US 9.2%, Germany 4.5%, Nigeria 4.1% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A somewhat shaky political and economic outlook and a relatively volatile business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is still acceptable on average.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is acceptable. Corporate financial information is sometimes neither readily available nor sufficiently reliable. Debt collection is not always efficient and the institutional framework has shortcomings. Intercompany transactions may thus run into appreciable difficulties in the acceptable but occasionally unstable environments rated A4.
  • Abundant agricultural and forestry resources
  • Social homogeneity and political stability
  • Active reform policy (business climate, public finances, social security)
  • Sizable foreign direct investment
  • Member of Mercosur, favored trading relations with the EU and the United States
  • Economy vulnerable to external shocks
  • Inadequate transport infrastructure
  • Dependence on economic cycles in Argentina, Brazil, and China
  • Public debt level
  • Competitiveness being reduced by inflation

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