Uruguay was discovered by Spanish Adelantados in the ends of the XVI century, and was part of the United Provinces of the River Plate until 1811. When Buenos Aires expelled the last Viceroy, Baltasar Cisneros, the capital moved to Montevideo.The rebel navy sailed from Buenos Aires in an attempt to overcome the Spanish troops in that city, aided by the local rebel troops.
When finally Montevideo was freed from Spain, Uruguay intended to secede from Buenos Aires, only to be invaded by the Brazilian Empire, which started the Argentine-Brazilian war in 1813.
The war eventually ended in a tie. With the assistance of the British ambassador, both warring countries agreed to end their territorial claims on the country, giving birth to the new Republic.
The coming Argentinian Civil War was not strange to Uruguay, which soon gave birth to two opposing parties, the Whites (liberals) and the Reds (traditionalists) that eventually also led to a Uruguayan Civil War that went on in various hot and cold phases until the beginnings of the twentieth century. In the early 20th century, President Jose Batlle y Ordenez oversaw Uruguay's modernization and industrialization, and was also able to squash the remnants of ''caudilloismo'' political culture from the Spanish colonial era which continue to cause trouble in countries like Argentina. This is why Uruguay since then has enjoyed much lower levels of corruption than the rest of South America. However, the tension between the left and right wings of Uruguayan politics persisted. From 1954 to 1967, Uruguay tried an unusual solution borrowed from Switzerland: a collegiate Executive Office in which a different member was designated President every year. In this way, Uruguay became the "Latin American Switzerland" for a while, acting as model of democracy and banking liberties until a military coup ended all this. A Marxist urban guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president to "agree" to military control of his administration in 1973. By the end of the year the rebels had been crushed, but the military continued to expand its hold throughout the government, with widespread torture of political opponents. Civilian rule was not restored until 1985. Today, Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the most free on the continent. In 2004, a leftist coalition (the ''Frente Amplio'' or Broad Front) which included the Tupamaros won elections which left them in control of both houses of congress, the presidency, and most city and regional governments.