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Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; is a country located in the south eastern 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.

Map of Uruguay

Uruguay's only land border is with Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to the north. To the west lie the Uruguay River and to the southwest lies the estuary of Rio 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 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), 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 1811-28 following a three-way struggle between the claims of Spain, Argentina and Brazil. It is a constitutional democracy, the president fulfilling 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 index in the world as of 2010, and first in quality of life/human development of Latin America, when inequality is factored in. 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 the highest level of freedom on the continent. It was the 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.

Uruguay was the first South American country to legalize same-sex and different-sex civil unions at a national level, and to allow gay adoption. Uruguay was the only country in the Americas which did not go into recession (2 consecutive quarters of retraction) as a result of the Late-2000s financial crisis. Uruguay is reimbursed by the UN for the majority of its military spending, because the majority of its military is deployed as UN Peacekeepers. In 2009, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to provide every school child with a free laptop and wireless internet. Uruguay was the first nation in the Americas to test hemp cultivation.