The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is a country in South America, and a member of the Unasur and Mercosur. It is located in the eastern part of the American Southern Cone, and shares borders to the northeast with Brazil, to the west with Argentina, has a coast on the Atlantic ocean to its southeast and to the south with La Plata river (River Plate). It has an area of 176,215 sq. km, which makes it the second smallest country of South America in territory, after Suriname. Uruguay is a Spanish-speaking country, inhabited by about 3.2 million people, half of which live in its capital, Montevideo. Its official legal tender currency is the Uruguayan Peso (UYU).
Uruguay is considered to be one of the most developed countries in Latin America. It has the fourth highest per capita income of the region and is eighth in purchasing power parity terms. It also has one of the highest Human Development Index scores, the most equitable income distribution, highest life expectancy and most peaceful and democratic political systems and societies. It is also considered to be one of the safest and greenest countries worldwide.
Its economy is relatively dependent of its neighbor Argentina, due to the volume of Argentinean capital that it receives and the commerce between the two. Uruguay is an agro-exporting country, with rice, wheat, maize, sunflower, sorghum, barley, soy, sugar cane and livestock (cattle, sheep) constituting its main export products. Its main industries are refrigerators, dairy and derivatives, textiles, paper and paperboard, fertilizers, alcohol, cement and hydrocarbon refining. Although mineral and energy resources are scarce, there are deposits of agates, amethysts, granite, marble deposits, and gold.
The services sector is also a key driver of Uruguay’s economy. Tourism, financial services, logistics, transport and communications, as well as the IT industry – especially with regards to software development and related services – are all relatively active and dynamic in the country. Tourism is one of its main revenue sources, in 2017 more than four million people visited the country in a record-breaking year for tourist arrival numbers. Punta del Este is its major tourism hub, full of beaches and entertainment avenues and renowned as one of South America’s most attractive destinations.
Uruguay has traditionally served as an offshore financial hub, especially for wealthy Argentinians. After the banking crisis of 2002, the sector took a downward turn, but it has been recovering, and currently, the country has one of the most stable financial sectors of the region. Uruguay is also an interesting jurisdiction for the incorporation of companies conducting international business, as the country operates under a territorial tax system, where foreign-source income is tax-exempt. On the personal level, foreign-source income is usually not taxed, with some exceptions such as foreign income from dividends or interests, although a 5-year tax exemption applies for new tax residents.
The country has a considerably open immigration policy, where residency can be obtained by proving a monthly income, and after five years (three for couples), a resident is qualified to apply for citizenship.
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