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The first known inhabitants of Uruguay were the Charrua indigenous tribe that was driven out by the Guarami tribe of Paraguay. The first explorers to arrive were the Portuguese, who came to the region between 1512 - 1513. Spanish Juan Diaz de Solis was the first to attempt at colonization, but he was met with fierce resistance.
It was in the 1700's that Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold, opening the city to commercial trade.
In the 1800's, Uruguay was fought over by the British, Portuguese, and Spanish, due to the La Plata basin. The British eventually stopped fighting over Spanish territory when they became allies with Spain against Napoleon during the Peninsular War.
The fight for independence began in 1811 through the leadership of Jose Gervasio Artigas, who eventually became Uruguay's national hero. He led a revolt against Spain, which resulted to the latter's defeat in 1814 during the Battle of Las Piedras. The Federal League was established, of which Artigas was head Protector of Uruguay. Over the years of fighting, wherein the country was annexed to Brazil and joined a regional federation with Argentina, Uruguay finally became an independent country in 1825, with the establishment of the republic in 1828.
Geography Uruguay is located in the southeastern region of South America. The country is bordered to the west by Argentina, Brazil to the northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south and southeast.
Uruguay is geographically the 2nd smallest country in South America, with 660 km of coastline and a landscape that's filled with rolling plains and low hill ranges. Montevideo, the capital city, is the southernmost capital in the region, as well as the 3rd southernmost in the world.
Uruguay is a representative democratic republic with a presidential system, with members of the government elected for a 5-year term. The country is a unitary state, wherein the justice, education, health, security, defense, and foreign policy are nationally administered. Executive power is exercised by the president and the Cabinet Ministers of 13 members, whereas the Legislative is exercised by the General Assembly and 2 Chambers: the Chamber of Deputies, and the Chamber of Senators.
Uruguay is home to numerous scenic beaches and small towns with rich colonial and architectural heritage. National parks and bodies of waters are popular tourist attractions, as well as major cities such as the Laguna del Sauce, the Punta del Diablo, and the cities of Montevideo and Colonia de Sacramento.
Laguna del Sauce means Lagoon of the Willow. Located 15 km west of Punta del Este, it is a popular destination with its large number of accommodation, and a popular place for water activities like kitesurfing and sailing.
Punta del Diablo is a village located 298 km east of the capital city of Montevideo. There are only about 300 residents in this seaside locality, but population rises to over 25,000 during the peak season from December to February. There are plenty of beaches in this village, as well as other notable attractions like the St. Teresa National Park, the Fortress of Sta. Teresa, the Laguna Negra, and the Ombu Forest.
Montevideo is the capital, and boasts of European and colonial architecture. Its top landmarks that are a must-visit are the Teatro Solis, the old city quarter, and the Rambla promenade of 13km of white sandy beaches.
Colonia de Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a top destination. The town is filled with churches, museums, ancient homes, river promenades, cobble-stone streets, and its famous bullring - the Antique Plaza de Toros.
Education is free and compulsory in Uruguay, for ages 4 to 14. There are 6 levels of education: early childhood, primary, basic secondary, upper secondary, and higher education. Uruguay is part of the One Laptop per Child project, and in 2009, became the first ever country in the world to provide a laptop to every child in the primary level.
- Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in terms of democracy, lack of corruption, peace, and quality of living.
- Same-sex marriage and abortion are legal - regarding the country as one of the most liberal countries in the world, as well as one of the most socially developed.
- Uruguay contributes more troops to the UN peacekeeping missions versus any other country in the world.
Last Updated On : September 23, 2014
Facts about Uruguay