20 Interesting And Fun Facts About Uruguay

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Uruguay is one of the most gifted countries in the world. The South American country is well known for its beautiful landscapes, amazing cultures, and rich history. There are many fun facts about Uruguay that makes it an attractive destination.

Common Facts About Uruguay

Uruguay is officially known as “the Oriental Republic of Uruguay” and is situated on the southeastern coast of South  America. Bordered by Brazil and Argentina, it has an approximate population of about 3.5 million people.

Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America and is predominately flat. While it is not huge, it is certainly a beautiful travel destination.

Uruguay is famous for its beaches and good cultivatable lands. It is known as one of the most progressive nations on the continent. Much like most South American countries, it has a Spanish heritage. There are several interesting facts about Uruguay that makes it a unique destination.

Historical Facts on Uruguay

Uruguay Is Over 1000 Years

The region called Uruguay today has been inhabited for over 13,000 years. It was inhabited by hunter-gatherers, though at the time when the Europeans first arrived, it was dominated by the Charrua tribe.

Uruguay was colonized by Europeans later relative to neighboring countries. First, the Spanish established a military stronghold in Montevideo (the country’s capital). Subsequently, there was a four-way struggle between Argentine, Brazil, Portugal, and Spain.

Throughout its dramatic past, you can imagine there are many deep stories and facts about Uruguay’s history. The country finally won its independence between 1811 and 1828.

Named After A River

Uruguay is named in the Guarani Language. It is named after the Uruguay River, which translates to ‘river of the painted birds.

This iconic river starts in Brazil and ends in the Rio de la Plata Basin, creating the water border between Uruguay and Argentina.

Hosted The First World Cup Ever

An unsurprising fact about Uruguay is that they are soccer lovers. As is with most South American countries, the most popular sport in Uruguay is soccer. In 1992 the first international soccer match was hosted in Uruguay.

In 1930 Uruguay hosted the first-ever world cup tournament. It was shortly after the Olympics dropped soccer from its program. Prior to that, Uruguay won back-to-back gold medals in Paris and Amsterdam in 1924 and 1928 respectively.

In 1930 Uruguay won its first world cup trophy followed by a second in 1950. it was a memorable one as they defeated then-favorites Brazil.

Weird Population Growth

The population growth in Uruguay is unseen. While there is an approximate population of over 3 million today, Uruguay only had approximately 75,000 inhabitants when it gained independence.

Crazy enough that the population decreased further down the line due to military conflicts and civil wars. It was in the late 90s that the population truly began to grow.

Facts About Uruguay For Tourists

Large Coastlines

One exciting fact about Uruguay for beach lovers is that, although it is one of the smallest countries in South America, it has one of the largest coastlines in the world.

Its coastline stretches for over 660 kilometers, and many travelers go beach hopping and surfing in Uruguay. The country follows Chile closely as one of the countries with large coastlines.

Stable Temperatures

Very few countries have uniform temperatures and Uruguay is one of them. Many countries experience drastic temperature fluctuations depending on the season, but that’s different in Uruguay.

This amazing country has relatively uniform climatic conditions, with no severe winter. It can be a good place to escape the harsh cold during winter. However, note that Uruguay still has an off-season, particularly for beach towns.

The Beautiful “La Mano”

One of Uruguay’s most attractive tourist attractions is the Punta del Este. It’s a nice city and resort on a peninsula. Amazing beaches surround it, often called “the Monaco of the south .”

In Punta del Este lies a famous and photogenic hand sculpture “La Mano”, which literally means “The Hand”, sprouting out of the sand.

Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal designed it. The sculpture has a beautiful story attached during the first annual international meeting of modern sculpture in the open air in 1982.

Other sculptors were fighting for the best space in the public square to create a landmark. Mario, though had other ideas. He created he’s on the beach—a kind of warning to swimmers that the waters could be dangerous.

La Mano remains one of the few standing sculptures from the first convention. Interestingly it has become a symbol of the city.

Palacio Salvo

There are many colonial buildings in Montevideo’s old town. Most of these buildings surround the Plaza Independencia, once home to a Spanish citadel. There are many landmarks in this area, one of which is the Artigas Mausoleum, the Tomb of Artigas (who is adored as a national hero of Uruguay).

Palacio Salvo is another iconic building sitting on Plaza Independencia. At the time of completion in 1928, it was the tallest building in South America. It stood at about 213ft high. However, today Torre Angel is the highest building in Uruguay.

Rambla Waterfront

Here’s a fun fact about Uruguay’s capital city to know. The Rambla is a waterfront promenade in Montevideo that stretches over 22km along the river. It is great for a scenic stroll and soaking in the sun.

Along the coast are 18 beaches with lifeguards always on standby. So kids can also have fun at the beach with no worries. The lifeguards sometimes also host activities like volleyball matches and beach soccer.

Cultural Facts About Uruguay

Mate, Uruguay’s National Drink

Mate (“ma-te”) is the traditional drink for the Guarani indigenous people of South America. Its stimulant contains caffeine, so it is often perceived as an energy drink. The Guarani people come from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which is why the drink continues to be popular in these regions, including Chile.

Mate is an infused tea from the leaves of the yerba mate plant. An interesting Uruguay fact is that they are not one of the main producers of mate, but they sure are the most consumers. Uruguayans love mate.

One fact about Uruguay culture to know is drinking “mate” with your mates. In Uruguay, drinking mate is seen as a social activity. Friends often share the same mate cup and straw (also known as bombilla), passing it around in circles.

Chivito Is Uruguay’s National Dish

Uruguayan food typically always has a touch of beef or meat. Chivito is Uruguay’s national dish. And as you expect, it has meat in it.

The chivito is a sumptuous sandwich having a thin slice of steak, tomatoes, mozzarella, mayonnaise, bacon, eggs, olives, and ham. It is always served in a bun with French fries as a consistent companion.

Chivito to Uruguayans is like a hamburger to Americans. It is easy to get to any part of the country. It has different variations but to enjoy the best, stick with the original.

Candombe Drumming Festival

Carnivals are common in South American countries. One cultural fact of Uruguay is that they love dancing, which is common with South Americans.

Candombe is the traditional dance in Uruguay. And they host the Candombe drumming event yearly. The carnival is celebrated for over 40 days. The opening ceremony features a huge street parade.

As you’d expect, drumming features a lot during the celebration. There’s a special event tagged ‘call of the drums.’ Over 2,000 drums can be heard during the event playing in harmony simultaneously.

Agriculture Is The Main Industry

One of the important economic facts about Uruguay is that its main industry is agriculture. They love their livestock in Uruguay. The majority of the country’s land is dedicated to livestock production. One of the country’s beauty stems from the natural green of farming.

Houses Unique Birds And Animals

Uruguay Savanna is a good ecoregion and houses about 80 unique bird species found only in the region (like ochre-breasted pit and greater Rhea). Uruguay also houses some of the world’s largest rodents (Capybaras).

These rodents are usually found in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. The government protects 0ver 3% of the ecoregion in Uruguay, Savanna.

Marijuana Is Legal

Yes, marijuana is legal in Uruguay. An interesting fact about Uruguay is that beyond making cannabis legal for registered residents, they have a club for those who want to home-grow cannabis.

You can buy marijuana from any authorized pharmacy in Uruguay. This could be the next big thing in Uruguay, as many companies are exploring avenues to break into the medical cannabis market.

Interesting Facts About Uruguay For Kids

Amazing Human-To-Sheep Ratio

One fun fact about Uruguay is that they have more sheep than humans. Due to the landscape in Uruguay, it is good for raising sheep and cattle. Back in 2005, they had about 9.7 million sheep. Second only to Brazil in South America.

The cost of raising livestock is low in Uruguay, and the quality is not compromised in any way. The population of sheep in Uruguay is around one-third of the human population.

Landscape In Uruguay

Although the country is mainly flat with rolling hills, the South has fertile coastlands, and the north has more mountains in the Sierra de Las Animas.

There are also prominent rivers that mark the regions geographically. The Uruguay River is the second longest river in the country and forms the border with Argentina. On the other hand, the Rio Negro cuts through the country, segmenting it into the North and South areas.

Free Laptops For School Children

In Uruguay, there are free computers for preschoolers.

One of the most encouraging facts about Uruguay for kids is that those in public schools get to own a laptop. This is due to (Plan Ceibal) an initiative that expands equality in the education system.

In 2013 the government in Uruguay set the pace for the world to follow when they provided every schoolchild in the country with a free laptop. This was part of the government’s plan to reform the education system.

Least Corrupt Country In Latin America

A few south American countries are known for their corruption, but Uruguay’s story is different and beautiful. It is the least corrupt nation in Latin America.

Uruguay ranks top in the region for lack of corruption, peace, democracy, quality of living, size of the middle class, security, and lots more. It has everything to capture one’s heart.

The Longest National Anthem

One of the lesser-known fun facts about Uruguay is that it holds a record that may never be broken. The country has the longest National Anthem in the world. The anthem is about 5 to 6 minutes long. It contains 105 bars; impressive, right? Sometimes, to speed up the anthem, fewer bars are played.

Other Fun Facts About Uruguay

Ethnicity And Religion In Uruguay

Uruguay’s ethnicity is almost one-dimensional. 87.7% are white, 4% are Black, 2.4% are indigenous, 0.2% are East Asian, while others are 5.1%. The religion is a bit dynamic, though. 54.3% Christianity, -44.8% Roman Catholic, -9.5% other Christian, 44.5% no religion, and 1.2% unspecified.

Largest Per Capita Exporter Of Software In Latin America

One of the impressive facts about Uruguay is that they have plenty of tech-savvy citizens. Surprisingly this small South American nation is the largest per Capita software exporter in Latin America.

The government in Uruguay focuses on the continuous growth of its technology sector while improving its technological infrastructure. Internet connectivity is first-class, and WiFi is free almost everywhere in the country.

Centralized City

Uruguay is a small county, evident with its population of a little over 3 million people. More than half of the population lives in and around Montevideo.

Lowest Poverty And Population-Growth

One fact about Uruguay is that they have one of the best economies in the world. Uruguay has the lowest poverty and population-growth rate in South America.

Another interesting fact about Uruguay is that they have the highest literacy and urbanization rate in South America.

Launarejo Valley

Uruguay has some stunning valleys and beaches, and Launarejo is one of such valleys. Situated in the northern part of the country, it is known as a narrow Valley with beautiful waterfalls.

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Discovering More Fun Facts About Uruguay

These are just some of the fascinating Uruguay facts. The country keeps producing more and more stunning things that will blow your mind. From its rich cultural heritage to its incredible cuisine, you can never get enough of Uruguay.

If you are looking for the perfect destination to explore in South America, consider Uruguay as a top choice. It has a lot to offer, from its beautiful cityscapes to its immense natural beauty. You will discover many more interesting facts about Uruguay!


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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

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