The gaucho image has become the embodiment of the national character.The idealized gaucho is strong, brave, loyal, proud but humble, honorable, generous, straightforward, clever, patient, wise but melancholic from hardship, and free and independent.The country is divided into nineteen administrative departamentos, each with a capital town. About half of the population lives in the capital, Montevideo, and its metropolitan area.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.
Another central symbolic element is the figure of the gaucho.
Most of the indigenous population was exterminated by the nineteenth century, and those who survived were assimilated.
The ethnic composition of the population is 90 percent European (predominantly Spanish and Italian), and 6 percent of the people are partly of Native American descent.
Some Spaniards became seminomadic exploiters of this resource, and local native residents also learned to ride horses and live off wild cattle.
Gauchos originated as mestizos in these prairies (pampas) of southern South America.