Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, is a country 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 Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to the north. To the west lies the Uruguay River and the estuary of the Río de la Plata to the southwest. To the southeast lies the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. With an area of approximately 176,000 sq km (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is the second-smallest nation in South America by area, after Suriname.
Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, 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, with a president who is both the head of state and the head of government.
Uruguay is one of the most economically developed countries in South America, with a high GDP per capita and the 48th highest Human Development Index in the world as of 2011, and the first by human development in Latin America, when inequality is factored in. Uruguay is also noted for its low levels of corruption, being ranked by Transparency International as the second least corrupt country in Latin America (behind Chile). Its political and labor conditions are among the freest on the continent.