Interesting facts about Uruguay

uruguay flag

Uruguay is a country located in the southeastern part of South America.

The official name of Uruguay is the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

Uruguay is bordered by Argentina in the west, by Brazil in the north and northeast and by the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast.

The official language is Spanish.

As of 1 January 2016, the population of Uruguay was estimated to be 3,437,046 people.

With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometers (68,000 square miles), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.

Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated in the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata.


The country consists of a low, rolling plain in the south and a low plateau in the north.

Cerro Catedral, also known as Cerro Cordillera, is a peak and the highest point of Uruguay, with an altitude of 513.66 meters (1,685.2 feet).

cerro catedral uruguay

Uruguay is the only country in Latin America which is entirely outside the tropics.

Uruguay has 660 kilometers (410 miles) of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and its estuary, the Río de la Plata.

Uruguay’s coast is one of the main attractions of the country. Some of Uruguay’s beaches are considered among the most beautiful in South America, such as, for example, Punta del Este.

punta del este beach

There are nine national parks in Uruguay: five in the wetland areas of the east, three in the central hill country, and one in the west along the Rio Uruguay.

Santa Teresa national park is one of the most beautiful and popular in all of Uruguay. It includes several beautiful sandy beaches, a large forested area impressive, camping areas, a nature reserve for animals, a greenhouse with a wide variety of plants, and the historic fort of Santa Teresa built in Spanish colonial times.

santa teresa national park

Uruguay has 2 UNESCO world heritage site.

Colonia del Sacramento was founded by the Portuguese in 1680. It is renowned for its historic quarter (Barrio Histórico), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic quarter is full of gorgeous old stone houses, cobbled streets and antique cars.

colonia del sacramento

Palacio Salvo is the most spectacular building in Montevideo. It was designed by the architect Mario Palanti, an Italian immigrant living in Buenos Aires, who used a similar design for his Palacio Barolo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Finished in 1928, Palacio Salvo stands 100 meters (330 feet) high with the antenna included.

palacio salvo

Casapueblo is a hotel located in Punta Ballena. It was built by the Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró originally as a summer house and workshop, but now includes a museum, an art gallery, a café and a hotel in its facilities. It became permanent residence of its creator, where he worked and where he spent his last days.


The country is named after the Rio Uruguay (Uruguay River), rather than other way around. The name, derived from the Guaraní language, means roughly ‘river of birds‘ – still very apt description. The poet Juan Zorrilla de San Martin came up with more colorful but less accurate translation ‘the river of painted birds‘.

Uruguay is the only country whose name in English has the same letter three times in its first five.

Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America. It is ranked first in the region for democracy, peace, lack of corruption, quality of living, e-Government, freedom of press, size of the middle class, prosperity and security…

Uruguay has one of the highest literacy rates in the world with 98.1% for adults. This is largely thanks to Uruguayans’ access to free and compulsory education.


In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in the world to provide every schoolchild with a free laptop and wifi access.

In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalise the production, sale and use of marijuana.

In Uruguay, cows outnumber people four to one and farming is the most important part of the economy.

uruguay cows

The Uruguayans have won the football World Cup twice. They were the first hosts and winners of the tournament in 1930 and won it again in 1950.

Uruguay won gold for football at both the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. They are the only Olympic gold medals the country has ever won.

Uruguay has renamed many of its traditional Catholic holidays. Christmas, for example, is called Family Day and Holy Week is called Tourism Week.

Uruguay’s national anthem, which lasts more than five minutes, is the world’s longest in performance duration.

The country was ruled by a military dictatorship until 1985. In 2009, General Gregorio Conrado Álvarez, the country’s final dictator, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for 37 counts of murder and human rights violations.

When José Mujica was detained he spent 10 years in solitary confinement, 2 years of which were at the bottom of a empty well. After this he went on to became president of Uruguay.

José Mujica was President of Uruguay between 2010 – 2015, and has been described as “the world’s poorest president” with his only declared asset, a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle that is worth about $1,900. He also donated almost 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly charities to benefit the poor people and small entrepreneurs.

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