Here are some interesting facts about Uruguay, a great, although often over looked country in South America. If you havn’t been to Uruguay, I think you should definitely put it on your radar!

Interesting facts about Uruguay

  1. Uruguay is located in the southeastern part of South America. It is bordered by, Brazil to the north, the Uruguay River to the west, the estuary of the Rio de la Plata to the southwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast and Rio Grande do Sul to the south.


  1. Officially named the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, the name “Uruguay” is derived from the river that borders it on the west. Possibly from an interpretation meaning “Bird River” or a reference to a river snail called Uruguay that was once plentiful in the river.


  1. The Charruas were the first indigenous people to inhabit the nation before the Portuguese settled it in 1680. Spain, Brazil and Portugal all controlled the country at one time or other over the years.


  1. August 25 is the National Day of Uruguay. This day in 1825 is when they obtained their final independence from Brazil.


  1. Jose Grevasio Artigas became Uruguay’s national hero, as he led many battles and revolts, beginning in 1811, that helped them break free from Spanish control.


  1. At one time the country was part of Argentina. Since becoming an independent country, it is a well known Uruguayan fact that there is plenty of competition between the two, including the Battle of the Ports between Montevideo and Buenos Aires.


  1. A fun fact about Uruguay is that the main political parties organized from the beginning and that still exist today are the Reds (Colorados) and the Whites (Blancos). Proof that this is indeed a colorful country! The National Party and Broad Front have also become important parties in the last century.


  1. The current president is Tabare Vazquez.


  1. The capital is Montevideo, which is also the largest city in the country with almost half of the entire population living here. It is the only metropolitan area in the country.


  1. It is a Uruguay fact that it is the second smallest nation in South America (Suriname is the smallest) and the third smallest territory (French Guiana is the smallest).


  1. In 2013 marijuana became legal to grow, sell and use, but only by a narrow margin.


  1. Jose Mujica spent almost 15 years in prison during the military dictatorship, but became president of the nation in 2009. It was his influence that made marijuana, abortion and same-sex marriage legal.
  2. Uruguay was named “country of the year” by some publications because they had legalized marijuana and because abortions and same-sex marriages are also legal, making it one of the most liberal nations in the world.


  1. An interesting fact about Uruguay is that there is no official religion. Although Roman Catholicism is the most predominant, less that 48% of the citizens profess to follow this religion.


  1. Juan Idiarte Borda, the 17th President of Uruguay was the only president assassinated in the nation. He was in office from 1844-1897.
  2. The national flower of Uruguay is the beautiful Ceibo.


  1. An amazing Uruguay fact is that almost 95% of their electricity comes from renewable resources, mainly from wind parks. This all occurred in less that 10 years, without any government funding. All of the nations of the world need to take note!


  1. The military is all volunteer during peace times. This makes it an even more interesting fact about Uruguay that, per capita, they rank first in the world for the number of troops they contribute to the United Nations peace-keeping missions. In May of 2009, homosexuals began being allowed to serve in the military openly.


  1. While Spanish is the most commonly spoken language, Uruguayan Spanish has many colloquialisms due to the large number of Italian immigrants. Cocoliche was the Spanish/Italian language these immigrants originally spoke which still has a big influence on the language today.


  1. Almost 88% of the population is made up of whites, mainly of European origins. The Amerindians, blacks and the Mestizos make up the other ethnic groups.


  1. Montevideo is well-known for its rich cultural and architectural heritage. While there is still a lot of gaucho influence here as in Argentina, it is best known for the tango. Folk music in Uruguay is called “canto popular”.


  1. Carlos Gardel is a famous tango singer that says he was born in Tacuarembo so claimed his Uruguayan citizenship. This is thought to have been a ruse so he could avoid being arrested in France for failing to register in the French Army for World War I. In reality he was born in France and raised in Buenos Aires, but never lived in Uruguay.  They love him here anyways, and even built a museum in his honor near Tacuarembo.


  1. Freedom of the press is extremely important in Uruguay. It was taken away from them during the years of military dictatorship, but was re-established in 1985. Sine then, they are number one in South America for not only that, but prosperity and size of the middle class.


  1. Cerro Catedral is the highest “peak” in Uruguay at only 1,686 ft. The landscape is mainly low hill ranges known as cuchillas and rolling plains once away from the coastal lowlands.


  1. Winter is the season with the most frequent rainy spells, so for the most sun and fun, June, July and August are probably not the more favorable months of the year to visit.


  1. Uruguay was the first country in South America to export software, and they are ranked third in the world in e-Participation.


  1. Education is free in Uruguay, and is required for all children starting at the age of 4 and continuing for 14 years. In 2009 it became the first nation in the world to provide a laptop computer for every primary school student.


  1. Montevideo is the third most southerly capital city in the world. Wellington and Canberra are the only two that are further south.


  1. It is an interesting fact about Uruguay that they were the first country in the Americas to have their entire telecommunications system become completely digital.


For such a small and seemingly insignificant country, Uruguayan facts prove that it is an amazingly foresighted and innovative nation.  All of the other nations in the world should learn from them!  Anyone visiting this country will thoroughly enjoy what they find here.

Justin Carmack

Justin Carmack

Wanderer and diver at Art of SCUBA Diving
I've been on the road for 5.5 years now, visiting 80 countries, 6 continents and endless adventures. Divemaster and SCUBA addict. Travel junkie. World roamer.
Justin Carmack

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