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Same-sex marriage and abortion are also legal, leading Uruguay to be regarded as one of the most liberal nations in the world, and one of the most socially developed, outstanding regionally, Uruguay then became a zone of contention between the Spanish and Portuguese empires.
In 1603, the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region.
With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America, years before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento in 1680, meaning that Uruguay began to be colonized by Europeans relatively late compared with neighboring countries.
In 1669–71, the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento.
Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government.
Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, low perception of corruption, acknowledging the innovative policy of legalizing the production, sale and consumption of cannabis.
Its natural harbor soon developed into a commercial area competing with Río de la Plata's capital, Buenos Aires.
between British, Spanish, Portuguese and other colonial forces.