Montevideo, Uruguay, is a European-style city on the coast of South America between Brazil and Argentina. Visitors find the city charming and easy going.
Montevideo is located on the north bank of the Rio de la Plata or River Plate. The Rio de la Plata is more than 70 miles wide at Montevideo's location. The city has 14 miles of public coastline, including nine beaches.
Montevideo has a population of 1.3 million out of a total Uruguay population of 3.5 million. Approximately 90 per cent of the population is of European descent and the primary language is Spanish.
Montevideo was founded in 1726 as a Spanish fort. The original gate to the fort still stands at Independence Plaza. Uruguay declared independence from Brazil in 1825. The sinking of the German battleship, Graf Spee, by the British navy outside the Montevideo harbour in 1937 was one of the opening shots of WWII.
The currency of Uruguay is the Uruguayan peso. In 2009, the exchange rate averaged 23 pesos per U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is also considered acceptable currency; many products are priced in U.S. dollars. ATM machines issue both pesos and dollars.
Montevideo is famous for the wood-fired barbecue called "parrillada." Local cooks use slow-grill techniques for different beef cuts, lamb, sausage, blood sausage and even provolone cheese. Lomo is tender beef fillet, and asado is a tasty rib cut.
The summer tourist season runs from December through March. Christmas Eve and New Year's celebrations are highlighted by city-wide fireworks firings.