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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.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 .The original gauchos were an equestrian ethnic group similar to North American cowboys and Ukrainian Cossacks.Cattle and horses introduced by the Spanish in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries multiplied in the grasslands and roamed freely over the land.
Another important symbol is the historical figure of José Gervasio Artigas, who is considered the father of independence and political nationalism.The gaucho image has become the embodiment of the national character.The idealized gaucho is strong, brave, loyal, proud but humble, honorable, generous, straightforward, clever, patient, wise but melancholic from hardship, and free and independent.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.