Uruguay (i/ˈjʊərəɡwaɪ/;Spanish:[uɾuˈɣwai]), officially the Eastern Republic of Uruguay (Spanish:República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in 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. Uruguay is home to 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000sqmi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.
Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4000 years before the Portuguese invaded. Portugal established Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, in 1680. Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region. Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. It remained subject to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century. Modern Uruguay is a democraticconstitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government.
The river measures about 1,838 kilometres (1,142mi) in length and starts in the Serra do Mar in Brazil, where the Canoas River and the Pelotas River are joined, at about 200 metres (660ft)above mean sea level. In this stage the river goes through uneven, broken terrain, forming rapids and falls. Its course through Rio Grande do Sul is not navigable.
Uruguay is the fourth-largest producer of wine in South America, with a production of 67,000 tonnes and 8,023 hectares (19,830 acres) of vineyards in 2012. Its signature wines are that of red wines produced from Tannat grapes although several whites including Albariño and Cocó are beginning to receive attention internationally.
The modern wine industry in Uruguay dates back to 1870, and the wine industry was started by immigrants of mainly Basque and Italian origin. In 1870, Tannat was introduced to the country by Don Pascual Harriague, a Basque.
Albariño was introduced to Uruguay in 1954 by immigrants from La Coruña, in the Galician region of Spain.
When the Mercosur free trade association started to take shape in the late 1980s, Uruguay took steps to increase the quality of its wines and stepped up its marketing efforts, due to fear of being out-competed by Chilean wines and Argentine wines, which had lower production costs.
There are two levels of classification for Uruguay wines:
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