Uruguay

Bienvenido / Welcome!

Uruguay is a diverse country full of a variety of cultures, foods, religions, arts, and sports that all come together to form the national identity. The people of this country are known to be warm, welcoming, and friendly. The freedom to practice any religion is protected by the Constitution of Uruguay. The majority of the population identifies as Christian, nearly half of these individuals are Catholics and an additional 11% identify as Protestant. Most of the country consists of gently rolling plains interrupted by two ridges of low hills. The remainder consists of fertile coastal and riverine lowlands, including a narrow sandy and marshy coastal plain. The many beaches are an important tourist attraction. The climate is generally mild, and freezing temperatures are almost unknown. Because of the absence of mountains, all the regions are vulnerable to rapid changes in weather. Grasslands and agricultural lands cover the majority of the country.

Culture

The music and dance of Uruguay are just as diverse as the people. Some of the popular types of music here include: milonga, tango, candombe, and murga. Murga is the music typically reserved for Carnival festivals. It includes a choir singing in a nasal tone and 3 percussion instruments: cymbals, snare drum, and bombo drum. Candombe is an Afro-Uruguayan type of music and is played by using several percussion instruments simultaneously. Musicians often gather in Montevideo to play in the streets at evening time.

Tango is often associated with Argentina, although it has roots in Montevideo, Uruguay as well. This music has been heavily influenced by the Afro-Uruguayan culture and is often played for social dancing events. Both the tango and candombe are on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Food

The cuisine of Uruguay has been influenced over the years by the wide range of immigrants who have settled in this country. Most foods are either boiled, grilled, or fried, including vegetables and carbohydrates.

Due to the long history of cattle raising and the strong cultural identification with the gaucho (or cowboy) lifestyle, beef plays a major role in the everyday diet of Uruguayans. A common get together between friends and family typically involves grilling beef. Even the national dish, the chivito steak sandwich, incorporates beef (although can also be made with baby goat meat).

The national drink is yerba mate, a tea-like infusion made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant. Traditionally, this drink is consumed from a hollowed-out gourd with a special metal straw that acts as a filter, letting only liquid come through.

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