Any of the nomadic and colourful horsemen of the Argentine and Uruguayan Pampas, who remain folk heroes famed for hardiness and lawlessness. Gauchos flourished from the mid 18th to the mid 19th century. At first they rounded up the herds of horses and cattle that roamed freely on the vast grasslands east of the Andes. In the early 19th century they fought in the armies that defeated the Spanish colonial regime and then for the caudillos who jockeyed for power after independence. Argentine writers have celebrated the gauchos, and gaucho literature is an important part of the Latin American cultural tradition.