There are more interesting facts about Uruguay than most people realise! In fact, this country is absolutely fascinating! But why? Read on to find out…
- Interesting Facts About Uruguay
- 1. Uruguay Gives a Laptop to Every Primary School Student
- 2. Uruguay Hosted the First Ever FIFA World Cup
- 3. Uruguay Won the FIFA World Cup Twice
- 4. Uruguay’s Flag Holds a Lot of Meanings
- 5. Uruguay Means the River of the Painted Birds
- 6. Uruguay Is the Second Smallest Country in South America
- 7. Uruguay Has Almost 3 Times More Sheep Than Humans
- 8. Uruguay Has a Very Large Coastline
- 9. Chivito Is the National Dish of Uruguay
- 10. Uruguayans Love Mate!
- 11. Uruguay Is the Least Corrupt Country in South America
- 12. Uruguay Has the Lowest Poverty in South America
- 13. Uruguay Competes With Greece for the Longest National Anthem
- 14. Marijuana Is Legal in Uruguay
- 15. Uruguay Is Home to Unique Birds and Animals
- 16. Agriculture Is the Main Industry of Uruguay
- 17. Uruguay Receives Lots of Rainfall
- 18. You Shouldn’t Miss Visiting “La Mano” in Uruguay
- 19. More Than Half of Uruguay’s Population Lives in the Capital
- 20. Every House in Uruguay Has a Name
- 21. Uruguay Is the Safest Country in South America
- 22. Spanish Is the Official Language of Uruguay
- 23. Don’t Confuse Uruguay With Paraguay
- 24. Uruguay Has a 98.77% Literacy Rate
- 25. Uruguay is Popular for its Beef Exports
- 26. Most of Uruguay’s Energy Is Renewable
- 27. Uruguay Is Completely Outside the Tropics
- 28. Cerro Catedral Is the Highest Point in Uruguay
- 29. Uruguay Is the Most Non-Religious Country in the Americas
- 30. Uruguay Restaurants Don’t Have Salt Shakers
Interesting Facts About Uruguay
Uruguay is one of those countries that is often underrated when it comes to its achievements.
Believe me, I was surprised after learning about Uruguay’s progressive laws, impressive statistics, and culture. There’s just so much to know which isn’t covered by the mainstream media!
So, let’s talk about some of the worth-discussing and interesting facts about Uruguay in this article…
1. Uruguay Gives a Laptop to Every Primary School Student
One of the most impressive and interesting facts about Uruguay is that the country provides almost every primary school student with a laptop since 2009.
Forget about laptops, it was also one of the few countries to provide students with free WiFi as well!
The country is a part of the One Laptop Per Child non-profit organisation started by Nicholas Negroponte.
2. Uruguay Hosted the First Ever FIFA World Cup
If you’re a football lover, here are some interesting facts about Uruguay for you!
The first FIFA World Cup was organized and hosted by Uruguay in 1930. It took place in the country’s capital and the largest city, Montevideo.
The iconic thing about the whole event is that Uruguay went on to win the world cup against Argentina by scoring 4–2.
3. Uruguay Won the FIFA World Cup Twice
While we’re talking about the FIFA World Cup, here’s one of the other football-related interesting facts about Uruguay.
After winning the FIFA World Cup in 1930, Uruguay won another World Cup in 1950 held in Brazil. The Uruguay team won against Brazil (2 – 1) after an extremely intense match!
Uruguay’s football team is called “La Celeste” which translates to “The Sky Blue”.
4. Uruguay’s Flag Holds a Lot of Meanings
To you and me, Uruguay’s flag will just look like a flag. Yet, it has a deeper meaning as I’ve talked about in these flag-related interesting facts about Uruguay.
The flag consists of nine horizontal stripes, alternating between five white and four blue stripes. It also has a sun symbol on the top-left corner.
The stripes are known to represent the nine original regions of Uruguay. Initially, the flag had nine light blue bands. However, due to visibility issues, the government changed the colours.
On the other hand, the sun or the “Sun of May” represents Inti, the Sun God of the Incan Empire. It symbolizes the fight for freedom.
5. Uruguay Means the River of the Painted Birds
The name “Uruguay” also has a beautiful meaning as discussed in these interesting facts about Uruguay.
The country’s name originates from the Uruguay River, which translates to “the River of the Painted Birds” in the Guarani language.
Keep in mind that there are other variations as some believe that the name translates to “the River of Uru”. Uru stands for a type of wild quail.
6. Uruguay Is the Second Smallest Country in South America
South America has 12 countries. Out of these, the largest countries include Brazil and Argentina with an area of 8.51 million square kilometres and 2.78 million square kilometres.
The smallest country in South America is Suriname with an area of 163,820 square kilometres, followed by Uruguay with an area of 176,215 square kilometres.
7. Uruguay Has Almost 3 Times More Sheep Than Humans
Okay, this is one of the most hilarious and interesting facts about Uruguay!
Can you believe that the country actually has more sheep than humans?
Uruguay’s population is around 3.5 million whereas the sheep population of the country is 10.3 million.
Therefore, there are almost 3 sheep for every person in Uruguay.
8. Uruguay Has a Very Large Coastline
Although Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, it has an extensive coastline.
The country borders the Atlantic Ocean and countries like Argentina and Brazil. Its coastline extends for about 660 kilometres or 410 miles.
You’ll also find some of the prettiest beaches with sparkling blue waters along Uruguay’s coastline like Playa Pocitos, Punta del Este, and Playa Ramírez!
9. Chivito Is the National Dish of Uruguay
Being a foodie, this is one of my favourite facts about Uruguay.
Uruguayan cuisine is influenced by many European and Mediterranean cuisines of Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal. Most dishes also involve meat, so you’ll find very few vegetarian options in this country’s cuisine.
Chivito, a sandwich consisting of sliced beefsteak, tomatoes, cheese, mayonnaise, and olives, is Uruguay’s beloved national dish. Certain variations also include which involve adding bacon or eggs.
You’ll often get Chivito with a side of french fries in Uruguay!
10. Uruguayans Love Mate!
Mate or Yerba Mate, a traditional South American beverage, is Uruguay’s national drink.
The drink is made up of yerba leaves, which are added to hot water. Then, you have to drink the brewed mixture using a special straw, bombilla. This straw is filtered, so you’ll drink only the infused water and not the leaves.
Mate is not just a drink as it is a part of many social gatherings in Uruguay and forms an essential part of the country’s culture!
11. Uruguay Is the Least Corrupt Country in South America
Here’s yet another one of the most splendid and interesting facts about Uruguay.
It’s unfortunate but many South American countries face the threat of corruption. Yet, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in the entire South America.
As of 2022, Uruguay is also the 14th least corrupt nation out of 180 countries.
Uruguay has a score of 74 out of 100 whereas the most corrupt nation in South America, Venezuela has a score of 14.
The main reasons behind Uruguay’s low corruption are low levels of unemployment and a pension scheme.
12. Uruguay Has the Lowest Poverty in South America
This is another brilliant achievement of Uruguay!
According to official statistics, only 9% of Uruguay’s population lives in poverty in 2022.
Many factors contribute to a healthy economic society in Uruguay. The primary ones include reduced income inequality, fewer unemployment rates, and low corruption levels.
13. Uruguay Competes With Greece for the Longest National Anthem
This is literally one of the most fun facts about Uruguay!
Greece takes the lead in having the longest national anthem, “Hymn to Freedom” as it has 158 stanzas. Many Greeks believe that it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to sing the whole anthem. Therefore, the government has decided to use a shortened version.
On the other hand, Uruguay’s anthem, “Himno Nacional de Uruguay”, is also considered one of the longest anthems. Yet, the government insists on singing the full version, which takes about six minutes.
14. Marijuana Is Legal in Uruguay
These are the most controversial facts about Uruguay.
There are many countries today that are decriminalising Marijuana. The pioneer of all of them is Uruguay!
Then, Canada followed Uruguay and become the second country to legalise Marijuana in 2018.
15. Uruguay Is Home to Unique Birds and Animals
I cannot not talk about birds and animals while talking about South American countries! So, these interesting facts about Uruguay are for flora and fauna lovers.
Southern lapwing, the national animal of Uruguay, is a grey-bodied bird found extensively in the country.
You’ll also find the largest and the most adorable rodent, Capybara in Uruguay! It’s a closely-related to guinea pigs and looks like beavers. It lives in small or big groups.
Other fascinating animals and birds found in Uruguay include Chinchilla, Coypu, Wild boar, and even Jaguar.
16. Agriculture Is the Main Industry of Uruguay
The agriculture industry is the most important one in Uruguay, as 60% of the country’s exports are agriculture-based products.
The main exports include Soybeans (the main product), vegetables, wheat, rice, maize, citrus fruits, and many more.
17. Uruguay Receives Lots of Rainfall
Uruguay is one of the countries with abundant rainfall. Every year, the capital city, Montevideo receives 950 millimetres or 37.4 inches of rainfall.
However, it’s important to note that the majority of Uruguay (95%) is a part of the temperate grassland, Pampa. You won’t find any rainforests here unlike other South American countries, like Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
18. You Shouldn’t Miss Visiting “La Mano” in Uruguay
If I’ve to name one of the most popular tourist spots in Uruguay, it’s La Mano!
“La Mano” or “The Hand” is a well-known sculpture located on the Brava Beach in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
The Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal created and finished this sculpture in the year 1982. It shows five human fingers coming out of the sand.
La Mano also won the monumental art contest in 1982!
19. More Than Half of Uruguay’s Population Lives in the Capital
Uruguay’s total population is around 3.43 million.
Presently, the population of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital is 1.38 million. As you can see almost half of the population resides in the capital city!
Some other populated cities in Uruguay include Salto, Paysandú, and Ciudad de la Costa. Yet, the only city with more than one million people living in it is Montevideo.
20. Every House in Uruguay Has a Name
Here’s one of the quirkiest and most interesting facts about Uruguay and its people!
Uruguayans don’t number their houses. Instead, each house has its own unique name and meaning behind it.
21. Uruguay Is the Safest Country in South America
People often worry if South America is safe to travel. Yet, if you’re travelling to Uruguay, you don’t need to worry much!
Uruguay is the safest country in the whole continent as it had a crime rate of 11.35 in 2019.
It’s also the 46th safest country out of 163 other countries.
22. Spanish Is the Official Language of Uruguay
Let’s check out some language-related interesting facts about Uruguay.
Spanish is the official and the most-spoken language of Uruguay! You’ll find that 90% of the population speaks Spanish fluently.
There are other languages spoken by Uruguayans like English and Uruguayan Sign Language for the deaf.
German, Italian, Catalan, and Yiddish are also spoken by a minority.
23. Don’t Confuse Uruguay With Paraguay
It is common for people to get confused between Uruguay and Paraguay! After all, they sound pretty similar. But, don’t make this mistake- Uruguay and Paraguay are two separate countries in South America.
Uruguay is situated in the southeastern part whereas Paraguay is located right in the centre of the continent.
Another major difference is Uruguay isn’t a landlocked country as it borders the Atlantic Ocean, whereas Paraguay is bordered by countries in all directions (Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil).
24. Uruguay Has a 98.77% Literacy Rate
These interesting facts about Uruguay have surprised me to no end!
According to the 2019 statistics, the country boasts an excellent literacy rate of 98.77%.
The percentage of educated women (99.04%) is also slightly more than educated men (98.48%) in Uruguay.
25. Uruguay is Popular for its Beef Exports
Just like sheep, you’ll also find abundant cows in Uruguay, as there are four cows for one person!
Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the country exports beef to more than 80 countries all over the world. It’s also the 7th largest beef exporter worldwide.
The beef production in Uruguay is around 600 thousand tons of beef a year, out of which, 450 thousand tons is used for exports whereas 150 thousand tons is consumed locally.
26. Most of Uruguay’s Energy Is Renewable
If you’re a fan of sustainable energy, you’ll love these interesting facts about Uruguay.
The Uruguay government has taken up the initiative of moving towards renewable energy sources. So, 94.5% of the country’s electricity mainly comes from wind and hydropower.
They also use solar, geothermal, wave and tidal energy for their electricity needs.
27. Uruguay Is Completely Outside the Tropics
All countries of South America lie within or near the Tropics. Yet, Uruguay is the only one that doesn’t as it’s located south to the Tropic of Capricorn.
Due to its location, the country has a mild climate with four seasons.
28. Cerro Catedral Is the Highest Point in Uruguay
Cerro Catedral or “Cathedral Hill”, located in Maldonado Department, is the highest point in Uruguay. It has a height of 513.66 metres or 1683.07 feet and is a part of the Cuchilla Grande mountain range.
29. Uruguay Is the Most Non-Religious Country in the Americas
Uruguay isn’t the most religious country in the Americas as it has 17.2% atheist or agnostic citizens. You’ll also find that 57 per cent of the population follows Christianity.
30. Uruguay Restaurants Don’t Have Salt Shakers
Yes, this is one of the most bizarre yet interesting facts about Uruguay.
Uruguay citizens eat double the amount of salt as recommended by WHO. So, in 2015, the government decided to make salt less readily available. Hence, even the restaurants in Uruguay don’t keep salt shakers.
Further Reading – Interesting Facts About Uruguay
With a low corruption rate and high education rate, Uruguay is truly one of the most impressive countries in South America that I’ve read about!
The country also has a thriving culture with energetic people and scrumptious food. So, I hope these interesting facts about Uruguay helped you know more about the country.
I also recommend reading other posts on my website to know more about South and Central America!