The first permanent Spanish settlement was founded in 1624 at Soriano on the Río Negro.In 1669–71, the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento.

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It is bordered by Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Río de la Plata (River of Silver) to the south and with the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast.

Uruguay is home to an estimated 3.42 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo.

With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.

Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4000 years before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, in 1680.

Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region.

Uruguay won its independence between 18, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil.

It remained subject to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century.

Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government.

Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption, acknowledging the innovative policy of legalizing the production, sale and consumption of cannabis.

Same-sex marriage and abortion are also legal, leading Uruguay to be regarded as one of the most liberal nations in the world, and one of the most socially developed, outstanding regionally, Uruguay then became a zone of contention between the Spanish and Portuguese empires.

In 1603, the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region.