Monday, November 28, 2011

The Uruguay of Europe

Uruguay has been called the "Switzerland of Latin America" since the 1930's. Lately this is being used by tourist companies and the Uruguayan government to promote tourism in Uruguay. However, this is an old parallel and despite some similarities there are some huge differences.


To Start let's look at where this comparison came from:
-Uruguay has some strict banking secrecy laws just like Switzerland
-Uruguay in the 1930's was prosperous economically and culturally(the fútbol team won the Olympics in '24 '28 and they hosted the first World Cup)
-Uruguay and neighboring Argentina have a very European feel
-It is sandwiched between two large countries(Brazil & Argentina) Switzerland(France & Germany)
-Banking, Tourism, and Real Estate are important industries

Some of these are still partially relevant. For example, geographical placement between larger more powerful countries. Consequently they both are generally neutral in the power politics of the region. As such they are home to many international organizations. Another is the economic sectors of Real Estate, Banking, and Tourism being important. However, Tourism and Real Estate are important in all of Europe. Banking secrecy is still strict in comparison to others, but is being loosened up a little bit due to international pressure. However, Argentinians are still poring money into Uruguayan banks due to their unstable politics/economy. That's porteños for you.

Although Uruguay is growing now it is not at the same relative level as the 1930's when it was one of the most prosperous countries in the world. However, Switzerland still remains one of the strongest economies in the world. Although the clock is ticking right now on a few of the countries more prosperous than Uruguay...Europe that would be you(Switzerland not included). The last is the European feel, but then why not call it "Italy" or "Spain" since they are much more similar.

Now there are some things that are just plain different.

Geography:
Switzerland: Landlocked mountainous country known for beautiful mountain scenery.


Uruguay: Could possibly be flatter than Kansas with a long coastline and thus is known for its exceptional beaches.


Primary Economic Industry/Trade:
Switzerland: Health and Pharmaceutical. Overland Transport for trade.


Uruguay: Agriculture. Ports are important for trade.


Language:
Switzerland: Swiss version of French. Also French and German used widely
Uruguayan: Rioplatanese Spanish. Despite Brazil's proximity the best you'll get is Portuñol(Portuguese Spanish mix) in border regions.

As such maybe the Kansas of South America could catch on since it is just as similar to Uruguay as Switzerland. Oh wait, only Dorothy would ever want to go to Kansas.


Guess Uruguay is stuck with Switzerland. Just don't come here for the mountains. You will be disappointed. Come for the beaches and you most definitely will be happy with your choice.

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