Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and sometimes called the Eastern Republic of Uruguay (Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay, pronounced: [reˈpuβlika oɾjenˈtal del uɾuˈɣwaj]), is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area. With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is the second-smallest nation in South America by area, after Suriname.
With 176,214 km2 (68,037 sq mi) of continental land and 142,199 km2 (54,903 sq mi) of jurisdictional water and small river islands, Uruguay is the second smallest sovereign nation in South America (after Suriname) and the third smallest territory (French Guiana is the smallest). The landscape features mostly rolling plains and low hill ranges (cuchillas) with a fertile coastal lowland. Uruguay has 660 km (410 mi) of coastline.
A dense fluvial network covers the country, consisting of four river basins, or deltas: the Río de la Plata, the Uruguay River, the Laguna Merín and the Río Negro. The major internal river is the Río Negro ('Black River'). Several lagoons are found along the Atlantic coast.
In November 2010, Uruguay ratified the Unasur Constitutive Treaty, becoming the ninth nation out of twelve to do so. The treaty was written in 2008 and was to come into force 30 days after the date of receipt of the ninth instrument of ratification.
Argentina and Brazil are Uruguay's most important trading partners: Argentina accounted for 20% of total imports in 2009. Since bilateral relations with Argentina are considered a priority, Uruguay denies clearance to British naval vessels bound for the Falkland Islands, and prevents them from calling in at Uruguayan territories and ports for supplies and fuel. A rivalry between the port of Montevideo and the port of Buenos Aires, dating back to the times of the Spanish Empire, has been described as a "port war." Officials of both countries emphasized the need to end this rivalry in the name of regional integration in 2010.
Uruguay experienced a major economic and financial crisis between 1999 and 2002, principally a spillover effect from the economic problems of Argentina. The economy contracted by 11%, and unemployment climbed to 21%. Despite the severity of the trade shocks, 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.
Uruguay has no official religion; church and state are officially separated, and religious freedom is guaranteed. A 2008 survey by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (Uruguay) (es) of Uruguay showed Catholicism as the main religion, with 45.7% of the population; 9.0% are non-Catholic Christians, 0.6% are Animists or Umbandists (an Afro-Brazilian religion), and 0.4% Jewish. 30.1% reported believing in a god, but not belonging to any religion, while 14% were Atheist or Agnostic. Among the sizeable Armenian community in Montevideo, the dominant religion is Christianity, specifically Armenian Apostolic.
Uruguayan Spanish has some modifications due to the considerable number of Italian immigrants. Immigrants used to speak a mixture of Italian and Spanish known as 'cocoliche' and some of the words are still commonly used by the population. As is the case with neighboring Argentina, Uruguay employs both voseo and yeismo. English is common in the business world and its study has risen significantly in recent years, especially among the young. Other languages include Portuguese and Portuñol (a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese). Both are spoken in the northern regions near the Brazilian border. As few native peoples exist in the population, no indigenous languages are thought to remain in Uruguay.
Uruguayan culture is strongly European and its influences from southern Europe are particularly important.The tradition of the gaucho has been an important element in the art and folklore of both Uruguay and Argentina.
The other tourist destinations of Uruguay are:
- Colonia Suiza
- Cerro Pan de Azucar
- Punta del Este
- River Delta
- Museo Didactico Artiguista
- SOS Rescate de Fauna Marina
- Punta del Diablo