The name Uruguay means river of the colorful birds. It is related to the name Guyana: Arawak Guayana, land of many waters.
Often called the Switzerland of South America not for geographical features but for a stable democracy and social benefits such as free education. In 2002 Uruguay faced one of its biggest economic crises which had very negative effects on crime, and although the activity levels in 2008 were at pre crisis levels, crime is sill relatively high, but still low for the region. Long a desired country for immigration, Uruguay has been suffering from high levels of emigration for almost four decades, mainly of highly trained workers and people with high level studies brain drain seeking better opportunities abroad.
Uruguay has a rich agricultural and civic history among its indigenous people. The dominant pre-20th century live stock driving techniques are still utilized in some areas, and are less visited tourist attractions than the pleasant beaches and city centers. The country has a mostly low-lying landscape. Cerro Catedral, the country's highest point, is 514 m high.