10 Uruguay Facts: Interesting Trivia On Culture, History, Food & More

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Searching for Uruguay facts? If you want to learn about the food, culture, people, history, or other fun facts about Uruguay, this article is for you!

Want to learn a few fun facts about Uruguay?

Whether you’re considering traveling to Uruguay in the near future or just want to know a bit more about this South American country, this article is for you.

Colonia del Sacramento Uruguay facts
Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. Taken by Amy Rollo via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Uruguay facts:

1. Uruguay is the second-smallest country in South America. Located in the lower portion of South America, Uruguay borders Brazil and Argentina. At just 68,037 mi2 (176,215 km2), it just manages to beat out Suriname so as not to be South America’s smallest country. It also has a significant border along the South Atlantic Ocean.

2. Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, as well as its largest city. The entire country has just over 3.5 million people, and Montevideo has more than 1.4 million, which is greater than one-third of the country’s population! Montevideo is the southernmost capital city in South America, located where the Río de la Plata empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

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3. Uruguay is one of the most progressive countries in all of Latin America. Because of their policy legalizing production, selling, and consuming of cannabis, the Economist designated them as “Country of the Year” for 2013. It was also the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. According to the 2019 Social Progress Index, Uruguay is the third-most socially progressive country in Latin America, just behind Costa Rica and Chile. Much of this has to do with their legalization of both abortion and same-sex marriage.

4. Uruguay’s full name is the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (República Oriental del Uruguay). However, it doesn’t mean that oriental. “Oriental” simply means “east,” and it comes from Spanish colonial times when the area was called “Banda Oriental del Uruguay,” meaning “the Eastern Bank of the Uruguay River.” The word Uruguay is named for the river, which is a word in the regional Guarani language likely meaning “river of the birds.” Two other interpretations are “river of the painted birds” and “river of snails.”

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5. The National Anthem of Uruguay is the world’s longest one. The Himno Nacional de Uruguay has 105 bars of music and takes between 4.5-6 minutes to get through, making it the longest national anthem in the world.

6. Though many Uruguayans are Roman Catholic, it has no official religion. As such, Uruguay has renamed many of the important Christian holidays, such as Christmas being renamed as “Family Day.” It is considered by many to be the most secular country in South America.

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7. Chivito, Uruguay’s national dish, means “young goat.” However, there’s no goat in it at all. A popular sandwich, the chivito is made with beef steak slices, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, mayo, and sometimes eggs, bacon, ham, or olives, all served on a bun.

8. Uruguay was the first country in the world to give one laptop to every primary school student. More than 350,000 kids, as well as over 16,000 teachers, received free laptops through its Plan Ceibal.

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9. There are currently 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uruguay. These 2 sites, both cultural heritage designations, are the Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape and the Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento.

10. About 95% of Uruguay’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources. After shifting towards wind parks and hydroelectric power, they need not import electricity anymore, either.

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Well, that’s all our Uruguay facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Uruguay we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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