The Most Westernized Country in Latin America

While Latin American countries may not be considered part of the “core” Western world, the regions has many similarities with the West due to centuries of colonization. Determining the “most westernized” country in Latin America requires considering various social, cultural, economic, and political factors.

One way to answer this complex question is by analyzing the data from the Country Similarity Index. The index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries, using a variety of statistics from five broad categories: demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The data suggests that among Latin American countries, Uruguay is the most similar to Western nations. On the other end of the spectrum, Honduras, Guatemala, and Bolivia are among the least similar.

(Western countries defined as Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Latin America countries are defined as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela)

graph of how westernized Latin American countries are

Let’s analyze Uruguay with respect to these five categories: demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography to show why it is the “most westernized” country in Latin America.


Uruguay has a high proportion of people with European ancestry, primarily of Spanish and Italian descent. It is much higher than some other Latin American countries where indigenous or African heritage is more prevalent. With a median age of 35 years old, Uruguay’s population is one of the oldest in the region, so it is closer to most Western countries.

Uruguay has a well-developed education system and a high literacy rate. These characteristics are often associated with Western countries, which tend to have high levels of education. Furthermore, it is one of the wealthiest nations in the entire Latin American region, with a GDP per capita at over $17,000.


Although most people in Uruguay are Catholic, the country has the highest percentage of atheists in Latin America. Western nations also tend to have higher than average rates of atheism. Also, since many of its people are from Spain and Italy, they kept many of the same customs as these nations. European-influenced architecture, music, and cuisine are extremely common in Uruguay’s cities.


Uruguay is often considered more similar to Europe in terms of its political and governmental institutions compared to many other Latin American countries. It is known for its political stability, democratic governance, and respect for the rule of law. The country also has a well-developed social welfare system, like many Western countries.

Uruguay is known for its progressive policies. The country allows same sex marriages and also abortion, unlike many Latin American countries. Uruguay has implemented policies aimed at promoting gender equality as well. These values are shared with European countries that prioritize social progress and human rights.


Uruguay has invested significantly in its infrastructure, which is seen as advanced within Latin America, although it is not on par with Europe. The country has well-maintained roads, major port infrastructure, airports, and modern healthcare facilities.

Interestingly enough, its technology standards are similar to continental Europe as well. Uruguay drives on the right and uses standard rail gauge. Furthermore, the country uses Type C electrical outlets.


Uruguay is located on the Southern portion of South America, so its climate is not as hot as some other Latin American countries closer to the equator. Its climate is generally temperate and humid, with four distinct seasons, like most European countries.

The Most Similar Western Country to Uruguay

It is no surprise that Country Similarity Index suggests that Spain is the most similar western country to Uruguay. Spain colonized Uruguay and as a result, there are many historical and cultural ties between the two nations.

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting! Curiously, Uruguay also tends to be the number one country in Latin America when it comes to average European genetic ancestry, so it may not be a coincidence. It’s also no shocker that the rest of the Southern Cone are the next to follow, that being Chile, Argentina, and (Southern) Brazil. I image Mexico scores very high due to their close ties to the US.

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