Uruguay (official full name in Spanish: La República Oriental del Uruguay; The Republic East of the Uruguay) is a country located in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to 3.5 million people, of which 1.7 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area.
It is bordered by Brazil to the north, by Argentina across the bank of both the Uruguay River to the west and the estuary of Río de la Plata to the southwest, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. It is the second smallest independent country in South America, larger only than Suriname and the French overseas department of French Guiana.
Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold. Uruguay won its independence in 1828 following a three-way struggle between Spain, Argentina and Brazil. It is a constitutional democracy, where the president fulfills the roles of both head of state and head of government.
The climate in Uruguay is temperate: it has warm summers and cold winters. The coolest month is June, while the warmest is January. The rainfall is equally distributed throughout the year, but tends to be a bit more frequent in the autumn months. There can be frequent thunderstorms in the summer. Although snow is not very common, it snowed in 1913, 1918, 1963, 1989, 1992, and 2007.
Church and state are officially separated since approximately 1916. According to the 2006 National Survey of Homes by the Uruguayan National Institute of Statistics: 47.1% of Uruguayans define themselves as Roman Catholic, 23.2% as “believing in God but without religion”, 17.2% as Atheist or Agnostic, 11.1% “Non-Catholic Christian” (Protestant), 0.6% as followers of Umbanda or other “afro” religions, 0.3% as Jewish, and 0.4% chose “Other”. The majority of Uruguayans do not actively practice religion. It is widely considered the most secular nation in Latin America.