Uruguay is a model of professionalism, transparency and egalitarianism in South America. It is small, both in terms of geography and population, but it packs a powerful punch as it plays a vital role as a business centre and a trading port, between the two giants of Brazil and Argentina.
This guide was last updated in April 2022.
Lifestyle wise, Uruguay has it all. From the cosmopolitan, beachfront cafes and bars of Montevideo to the stunning cattle and sheep ranches of the interior and the fashionable playgrounds of the coast, the climate and quality of life make it a top choice in the region.
HSBC has had a strong presence in Uruguay since 1998. Our dedicated team of professionals is well equipped to support your trading needs in this market. We have specialists on the ground, and offer a range of services, including Treasury, Investment Banking, and Credit & Lending.
I look forward to offering my personal service as we discuss how we can support your business growth in Uruguay.
Rincon 391, 11000
for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)
1 Britannica, 2021
2 World Bank Group, 2020
3 Trading Economics, 2021
4 PwC, 2021
On a map, Uruguay appears tiny, surrounded by its much larger neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. But Uruguay has five times more land than the Netherlands with five times fewer people. Low population density combined with open space has afforded Uruguay immense economic opportunity.
With a 98.7% literacy rate, Uruguay has one of the most literate populations in Latin America, equal to that of the United States. Education is free at all levels, with the nation boasting seven universities.
Thanks to swift action by the government, innovations in testing and strict adherence to WHO recommendations, Uruguay was able to keep a lid on the Covid-19 pandemic, providing positive lessons for the region and the world.
Due to community, government and stakeholder investment, over the past decade Uruguay has been committed to the widespread rollout of mobile and internet services. The nation’s Digital Agenda has been one of the great tech success stories in Latin America.
Uruguay generates 98% of its energy from renewable sources, making it one of the leading countries globally in renewable energy generation. Uruguay may be South America’s second smallest country, but its use of sun, water and wind makes it a major player in the sustainability space.
Uruguay is dwarfed by its neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. However, having overcome a challenging past, today Uruguay is rising high in the region and on the global stage.
Before the first European stepped foot on Uruguayan soil in the 16th century, the country was inhabited by the seminomadic indigenous people, the Charrúa. Roaming the grasslands or pampas, the Charrúa were known for their ferocity in battle.
Unfortunately, the Spanish brought disease and modern warfare and, 100 years later, the Charrúa were facing destruction. In fact, for a long time Uruguayan school students were told their country had no indigenous population. It is only recently that Uruguayans have been learning about their indigenous roots. As a result, Charrúa culture is experiencing a renaissance.
One aspect of Charrúa culture to endure is horsemanship. By the mid-18th century, a group of nomadic and colourfully adorned horsemen ruled the Uruguayan grasslands. Known as ‘gauchos’, these men were typically of mixed European and Indian ancestry. They roved the territory hunting cattle for their lucrative hide and tallow.
Today gauchos are an iconic symbol of freedom, daring and adventure, much like the America cowboy. Horses are so fundamental to Uruguayan culture that one even appears on the national coat of arms.
If the horse could be considered the Uruguayan national animal, then football is the country’s national sport. The nation has won two FIFA World Cups, in 1930 and 1950, and has triumphed in more Copas America than any other nation.
For a smaller country, Uruguay is a major player on the global stage. The nation’s approach to sustainability and renewable energy has made it a world leader. What’s more, its successful management of the Covid-19 pandemic has had an indelible and positive impact in the region.
It is only recently that Uruguayans have been learning about their indigenous roots. As a result, Charrúa culture is experiencing a renaissance.
Obtaining construction permits can be frustrating. It takes more than 230 days and requires a long series of inspections and registrations.
Ranked 164th in the world (out of 185 economies) by the World Bank for ease of registering a property, it can be a bureaucratic challenge.
Uruguay’s population of around 3.5 million, with more than half residing in Montevideo, makes it a limited market on its own.
Overseas trading is bureaucratic and costly. Uruguay was ranked 150th of 190 countries for trading across borders, due to the high costs associated with international trade.