Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (sometimes rendered as the Eastern Republic of Uruguay in the English language; Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay), although the name of the country could be translated into simple English as "The Republic East of the Uruguay (River)," is a country located in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area. An estimated 88% of the population are of European descent,
Uruguay's only land border is with Brazil, to the north. To the west lies the Uruguay River, to the southwest lies the estuary of Río de la Plata, with Argentina only a short commute across the banks of either of these bodies of water, while to the southeast lies the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Uruguay, with an area of approximately 176,000 km2, is the second smallest nation of South America in area after Suriname.
Colonia del Sacramento, one of Uruguay's oldest European settlements, was founded by the Portuguese in 1680. Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold. Uruguay won its independence in 1811–1828 following a three-way struggle among Spain, Argentina and Brazil. It is a constitutional democracy, where the president fulfills the roles of both head of state and head of government.
Uruguay is one of the most economically developed countries in South America, with a high GDP per capita and the 52nd highest quality of life in the world as of 2010, and first highest quality of life/human development in Latin America, when inequality is factored in. The economy is largely based on agriculture, the most substantial export, and the state sector. According to Transparency International, Uruguay is rated as the 2nd least corrupt country in Latin America (behind Chile), although Uruguay scores considerably better than Chile on domestic polls of corruption perception. Its political and labour conditions are among the freest on the continent. It was the second-highest rated country in Latin America on Legatum's 2010 Prosperity Index. Reader's Digest ranked Uruguay as ninth "Most livable and greenest" country in the world, and first in all the Americas.
In 2007, it became the first South American country to legalize same-sex and different-sex civil unions at a national level.In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in the world to provide every child a free laptop and wireless internet. In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in South America to allow gay adoption. In 2010, Uruguay became the first nation in South America to test hemp cultivation.Uruguay has the lowest Income Inequality in South America, and second only to Canada in all the Americas. Uruguay is reimbursed by the UN for the majority of its military spending, because the majority of its military is deployed as UN Peacekeepers.