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Uruguay is a small state with Brazil and Argentina as mighty neighbors. Half of the country's 3 million citizens live in the greater Montevideo area.

Little is known about early history. Hunter-gatherers known as Charrua had lived in the area for thousands of years, but were all slaughtered in 1831 under the first president Fructuoso Rivera.
The Portuguese discovered Uruguay in 1512, a few years later Juan Diaz de Solis made landfall here but was killed and eaten by Guarani Indians.
Lack of gold and fierce resistance from the locals delayed European settlements till 1680.
Spain and Portugal fought for dominance, the Spanish won and in 1724 built a stronghold at Montevideo to keep the pesky Portuguese at bay.
Uruguay's struggle for independence lasted from 1811 till 1828, first fighting Spaniards, then Portuguese and finally themselves.
At the end of the 19th century many immigrants arrived, mostly from Italy and Spain, giving the country a distinct European feeling.
Presently Uruguay is South America's prime example of democracy, press freedom, tolerance and quality of living. The economy is heavily based on exports of agricultural products.
Uruguay is the first country to legalize growing (up to 6 plants) and possession of a few grams of cannabis for personal use. Since 2017 you can buy pot in pharmacies, but only after registration and limited to 40 grams per month.