The capital Montevideo is arguably the jewel in its crown: an eloquent, cosmopolitan and thriving metropolis where art deco buildings, a lively business and shopping district, a breezy beachfront promenade and the world's longest carnival celebration collide to create a heady experience. Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption, quality of living. Often called the Switzerland of South America not for geographical features but for a stable democracy and social benefits such as free education.
Climate: Uruguay has an exceptionally fine temperate climate, with mild summers and winters. Summer is from December to March and is the most pleasant time, especially along the coast.
Landscape: The southeastern region of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and southeast. The landscape is made up of hilly meadows broken by streams and rivers. There are a string of beaches along the coast. Most of the country is grazing land for sheep and cattle. The major internal river is the Rio Negro ('Black River'). Several lagoons are found along the Atlantic coast. Uruguay has 660 km (410 mi) of coastline features mostly rolling plains and low hill ranges. Montevideo is the southernmost capital city in the Americas, and the third most southerly in the world. Uruguay has a rich agricultural and civic history among its indigenous people.
Nature: Uruguay is a gently rolling plain that represents a transition from the almost featureless Argentine pampas to the hilly uplands of southern Brazil. The littorals of the Río de la Plata and the Río Uruguay are somewhat broader and merge more gradually into the hilly interior. The narrow Atlantic coastal plain is sandy and marshy, occasionally broken by shallow lagoons. A dam on the Rio Negro at Paso de los Toros has created a reservoir–the Embalse del Rio Negro–that is the largest artificial lake in South America. Lakes and lagoons are numerous, and a high water table makes digging wells easy. The highest point in the country is the Cerro Catedral whose peak reaches 514 meters. There are ten national parks in Uruguay: Five in the wetland areas of the east, three in the central hill country, and one in the west along the Rio Uruguay.
Flora and Fauna: Uruguay is primarily a grass-growing land, with vegetation that is essentially a continuation of the Argentine pampas. Forest areas are relatively small. Large animals have virtually disappeared from the eastern regions. The carpincho (water hog), fox, deer, nutria, otter, and small armadillo roam the northern foothills. On the pampas are the hornero (ovenbird), quail, partridge, and crow. The avestruz (a small ostrich similar to the Argentine rhea), swan, and royal duck are found at lagoons. Most of the valleys are covered with aromatic shrubs while the rolling hills are blanketed with white and scarlet verbena. The principal reptiles are cross vipers and tortoises. Seals are found on Lobos Island, near Punta del Este.
Things to do: Attend a football match or visit the Museo del Fuitbol in the Estadio Centenario, the Montevideo stadium where Uruguay's national team won the first World Cup in 1930. Climb into the beautiful hills around Minas, visiting the source of Uruguay's popular Salus mineral water or basking in the rural tranquility of Villa Serrana; a tiny hilltop village nearby. Ride the waves and wander the endless sandy beaches at the low-key Atlantic resort of Punta del Diablo, then head south along the coast to the perfect surf breaks of La Paloma and La Pedrera. Trek over sand dunes to see the lighthouse and abundant marine life at Cabo Polonio on the Atlantic coast. Join the frenzy of dancing and drumming in the streets every February during Montevideo's exuberant Afro-Uruguayan Carnival.
Capital city: Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. It is situated on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata and is the southernmost capital city in South America. Montevideo, has been captivating visitors with its blend of Old and New World charm for centuries. The city showcase the narrow cobblestoned streets, historic buildings and atmospheric plazas of Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) cluster along the banks of the extensive estuary and sit across from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. Montevideo hosted all the matches during the first FIFA World Cup. It is classified as a Beta World City, ranking seventh in Latin America and 73rd in the world.
Cuisine: Uruguayan cuisine is traditionally based on its Indigenous Charrua and European roots, in particular, European food from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France, but also from countries such as Germany and Britain. The majority of Uruguayan restaurants are parrilladas (grill-rooms). A traditional drink is Grappamiel, an alcoholic drink which is very popular in rural areas. The national drink is the an infusion called mate. The Uruguayan barbecue, asado, is one of the most exquisite and famous in the world. The famous dishes are shortbread cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche or a fruit paste. Dulce de leche is used also in flan con dulce de leche.