Located in the convergence of the great rivers that flow towards the Rio de la Plata, Uruguay 's strategic position in the
area turns it into a key path into the continent. Thus, its capital city - Montevideo - has been chosen as administrative capital of the MERCOSUR - the commercial union that brings together the most important economies of the South.
This country, historically located in the indefinite border of the Spanish and Portuguese empires in America , has always been heavily influenced by a number of sources, which have strengthened the hospitality and warmth of its people. Thus, since its origin these lands were inhabited by people coming from different places: Spanish, English, Italians, Russians, Polish, to name just a few.
Having five hectares of land per inhabitant, this is the first country in the world regarding the use of its territory for natural productions: large prairies, remarkable hydrographic network and a temperate climate all year round allow it to obtain excellent results in cattle farming, agriculture and forest activities. Thanks to its numerous ravines and mountain ranges, this is an ideal destination for trekkers and climbers, surrounded by palm trees, laurels and other local species. In its huge prairies, gazing into the horizon becomes an endless experience.
Uruguay 's main tourist attraction is its beaches. There are all kinds of them: with and without waves, with golden sands, fine or thick, crowded or solitary, with vegetation or fully deserted. Together with the Rio de la Plata coastline and the Atlantic Ocean coastline there are over 650 kilometers of enjoyable beaches, having all the facilities that tourists could want, and for all kinds of budgets. And if we add the lagoons, streams and rivers with their small beaches, the result is a varied menu of options that suits everybody's tastes.
The swamplands of the East of Uruguay have been declared "Biosphere Reserve" by the UNESCO. They are a true paradise for those seeking natural treasures. These humid and flooded lands, inhabited by diverse species: one of the largest populations of black neck swans existing in the world, south flamingos, herons, seagulls, river lions, otters, capybaras and a big number of fish, especially sole and corvine. Rowing and windsurfing are practiced here, and the mere journey in barges becomes an unforgettable experience.
From the eighteenth century, the lands of the current Uruguayan territory were divided in ranches. Nowadays, these ranches combine the oldest natural conditions of production and the most modern technology. There are about one hundred premises where rural tourism can be enjoyed, with good access and relatively short distances, with a good variety of choices, either to spend the day or to stay overnight in inns, farmhouses, ranches and country-style hotels. All these accommodations offer warm and personalized service, being the owners themselves the ones who welcome the visitors.
Native traditions were enriched first by the collaboration of the conquistadores and then by the different immigrants settling down in the area, thus giving birth to a remarkable cultural melting pot.
Remains of the aboriginal cultures, colonial fortresses and reminiscences of the gaucho lifestyle blend with a rich architectonic patrimony and the great volume of work of important writers, painters and musicians. Uruguayan drama has world recognition - there are performances, concerts, exhibitions and festivals all year round. Tango is a national passion and can be listened to or danced in many night clubs. The typical Uruguayan festivity is the Carnival - the longest in the world - blending rhythms and choreographies of great originality, such as the murga and the candombe.