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Another central symbolic element is the figure of the gaucho.

The original gauchos were an equestrian ethnic group similar to North American cowboys and Ukrainian Cossacks.

The name "Uruguay" is a GuaranĂ­ word meaning "river of shellfish," or "river the uru birds come from." Uruguayans have a strong sense of national identity and patriotism.

Along the Brazilian border, a local dialect called portuñol or brasilero is spoken. English has influenced the language of technology and the slang used by young people. The color sky-blue ( celeste ) is a powerful symbol that represents freedom and independence.

It is present in the four horizontal stripes of the flag that alternate with five white ones (a sun with a face in the upper corner also symbolizes independence).

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.

About half of the population lives in the capital, Montevideo, and its metropolitan area. The second largest city, Salto, has ninety thousand inhabitants. As a result of emigration, there could be as many people of Uruguayan descent living outside as inside the country.

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