Some Spaniards became seminomadic exploiters of this resource, and local native residents also learned to ride horses and live off wild cattle.Gauchos originated as mestizos in these prairies (pampas) of southern South America.Originally, they were equestrian hunters of cattle for hides, beef or salting, and horses for riding.Later they traded in contraband, worked on the cattle and sheep ranches, and served as militia during the struggle for independence and as mercenaries for post-independence caudillos .There are also some limited extensions of gallery forests and palm tree savannas.The main cultural differences are related to rural (9 percent) versus urban populations (91 percent), and whether people live in the capital or the interior towns.The name "Uruguay" is a Guaraní word meaning "river of shellfish," or "river the uru birds come from." Uruguayans have a strong sense of national identity and patriotism.There are no alternative traditions or nationalities within the country. Uruguay is on the southeastern Atlantic coast of the Southern Cone of South America, bordering Argentina to the west and south and Brazil to the north.
The ethnic composition of the population is 90 percent European (predominantly Spanish and Italian), and 6 percent of the people are partly of Native American descent.
The Atlantic Ocean is on the east and the estuary of the Río de la Plata is on the south.
The land area is about 68,020 square miles (176,220 kilometers).
Soccer is the national sport and occupies a central place in the life of the nation.
The entire population is united behind the national combined team, but fans' allegiance is divided among the rival local teams (Peñarol and nacional are the most popular ones).