• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

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  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

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  • Venezuela!

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  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

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UruguayUruguay is named after the Uruguay River, which got its names from the native Guarani people. The name translates to mean "river of the painted birds."


The people who lived in much of Uruguay prior to European settlement were the Charrua, however with the arrival of the Spanish these people fought to the death, destroying nearly their entire culture and way of life. With the settlement and expansion of the Spanish the culture and lifestyle in the region became almost wholly based on Spanish and European culture and today Uruguay remains one of the most European-inspired countries in South America.

The lands of Uruguay had no real financial incentives for European powers to put much effort into their colonization, although many Spanish and Portuguese settlers arrived. Over time the settlement expanded, primarily due to ranching, creating a very rural culture and society. While Spanish culture dominated the people, the lifestyle of the region was one based almost wholly on ranching, leaving a lack of political organization and communication.

It wasn't until Spain and Portugal began fighting over this land did the culture become more Spanish-inspired as cities quickly arose and many Spanish immigrants arrived. Communication, transportation, and technology quickly improved as the region created a more unified culture, although the lifestyle of the people varied from the rural ranches to the growing urban centers.

The growing disparities between the people in Uruguay led to numerous battles, both political as well as physical. However, once tensions ended, immigration again began with huge immigration from Europe, particularly Spain and Italy. These people brought with them their cultures and foods and even today these two groups have the strongest impact on the culture. Italian foods and their language are common throughout the country, but particularly in the cities, while the later immigrating Spanish further solidified the Spanish language and other cultural aspects.

Despite the growing uniformity to the culture in Uruguay and the expanding economy, the people are still somewhat divided by lifestyle between the rural and urban settings. However, these differences in lifestyle rarely result in outright arguments or battles as they have in the past; today the country shares many cultural commonalities and in many ways is much more uniform than it has been in the past.

The sun on the flag of Uruguay is for the sun breaking through the clouds on May 25, 1810, when the country declared independence from Spain; the sun is known as the "Sun of May." The nine stripes on the flag represent the nine original departments of Uruguay.

Name: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
Independence: August 25, 1825
Capital: Montevideo
Currency: Uruguayan Peso
Population: 3,324,460 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: European & Mestizo
Language: Spanish
Religion: Catholic & None

Information for Uruguay was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks