The only documented inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were the Charrúa, a small tribe driven south by the Guaraní of Paraguay.
Spanish arrival (1516)
The Spanish arrived in the territory of present-day Uruguay in 1516. The Indians' fierce resistance to conquest, combined with the absence of gold and silver, limited their settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Uruguay then became a zone of contention between the Spanish and the Portuguese empires. In 1603 the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region. The first permanent settlement on the territory of present-day Uruguay was founded by the Spanish in 1624 at Soriano on the Río Negro. In 1669–71 the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento. Spanish colonization increased as Spain sought to limit Portugal's expansion of Brazil's frontiers.
Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold. Its natural harbor soon developed into a commercial area competing with Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. Uruguay's early 19th century history was shaped by ongoing fights between the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and other colonial forces for dominance in the Platine region. In 1806 and 1807, the British army attempted to seize Buenos Aires and Montevideo as part of the Napoleonic Wars. As a result Montevideo was occupied by a British force from February to September 1807.
Independence struggle (1811-30)
Further information: Banda Oriental, Liga Federal, and Cisplatina
In 1811, José Gervasio Artigas, who became Uruguay's national hero, launched a successful revolution against the Spanish authorities, defeating them on 18 May at the Battle of Las Piedras.
In 1813 the new government in Buenos Aires convened a constituent assembly where Artigas emerged as a champion of federalism, demanding political and economic autonomy for