Welcome to Uruguay
Uruguay is a country in South America. It has a South Atlantic Ocean coastline and lies between Argentina to the west and Brazil to the north. It is the second-smallest country in South America (after Suriname). The name Uruguay means river of the colorful birds. It is a word in Guarani that was spoken by the natives of the area. Often called the Switzerland of South America not for geographical features but for a stable democracy and social benefits such as free education, but mostly due to a developed financial sector based on bank secrecy. In 2002 Uruguay faced one of its biggest economic crises which had very negative effects on crime. Although economic activity by 2008 had returned to pre-crisis levels, crime remains relatively high compared to historical levels, but is still low by South American standards. Long a desired country for immigration, Uruguay has been suffering from high levels of emigration for almost four decades, mainly of highly trained workers and people with high-level studies ("brain drain") seeking better opportunities abroad. Uruguay has a rich agricultural and civic history among its indigenous people. The dominant pre-20th century live stock driving techniques are still utilized in the country, and are less visited tourist attractions than the pleasant beaches and city centres. The country has a mostly low-lying landscape. Cerro Catedral, the country's highest point, is 514m high.
Uruguay was discovered by Spanish Adelantados in the ends of the XVI century, and was part of the United Provinces of the De la Plata river until 1811. (Although plata literally means "silver" in Spanish, "plate" is the traditional and correct translation as it was used as a synonym for precious metals up until the 19th century.) Originally, Uruguay was simply known as the Banda Oriental, or Eastern Band, of colonies along the eastern edge of the Uruguay and De la Plata river. When finally Montevideo was freed from Spain, Uruguay intended to secede from Buenos Aires, only to be invaded by the Brazilian Empire, which started the Argentine-Brazilian war in 1813. After a variety of confusing twists, the war ultimately ended in a stalemate. With the assistance of mediation by the British government, both warring countries agreed to end their territorial claims on the Banda Oriental in 1828, thus giving birth to the new Eastern Republic of Uruguay. A constitution was subsequently drafted and adopted in 1830. British assistance in the creation of Uruguay led to a long history of British influence (including the habit of driving on the left), which ended only with World War II. Today, Uruguay's political and labour conditions are among the most free on the continent. In 2004, a leftist coalition (the Frente Amplio or Broad Front) which included the Tupamaros won elections which left them in control of both houses of congress, the presidency, and most city and regional governments. In 2009, former guerrilla leader Mujica was elected president, although he continued to lead a modest lifestyle of growing flowers on his farm outside Montevideo, driving an old Volkswagen Beetle, and donating 90% of his salary to charity.
Temperate and wet but due to the absence of nearby mountains, which act as weather barriers, all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts. Tourism in Uruguay is an important facet of the nation's economy. Uruguay has different tourist destinations among those that stand Punta del Este, Piriápolis, Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, Salto, Lavalleja, Rocha, Artigas, Rivera, among others. Nearly 1.8 million tourists arrived in 2007, and their estimated expenditures in 2007 were of around US$800 million - an increase over 2006 levels of about a third. Domestic expenditures, however, remained around 60% of the nation's tourist activity.