45 Interesting Facts About Uruguay

Last updated on December 13th, 2022

Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It has a total area of 176,215 square km. Montevideo is its capital and largest city. Spanish is its official language. Uruguayan peso (UYU) is its official currency. Its two land bordering countries are Argentina and Brazil.

With these 45 interesting facts about Uruguay, let’s learn about its culture, economy, history, people, education, trade, industries, sports, religion; and some funny and weird facts about Uruguay.

Uruguay facts about the country’s economy, trade, major industries and more…

Baby sheeps, Uruguay.
Baby sheeps and mother at traditional rural exhibition at prado neighborhood in Montevideo city, Uruguay. Facts about Uruguay.

1. There are more sheep in Uruguay than humans! In 2005, Uruguay, which is well suited for raising sheep and cattle, had 9,712,000 sheep, which was second highest in South America after Brazil. The production costs for raising livestock are low, but the quality of production is high in Uruguay.

2. Exports of meat and wool made Uruguay prosperous during the early 20th century.

3. Uruguay exported $1 billion worth of livestock in 2000.

Cows at traditional rural exhibition at prado neighborhood in Montevideo city, Uruguay.
Cows at traditional rural exhibition at prado neighborhood in Montevideo city, Uruguay. Facts about Uruguay.

4. Uruguay is the only country to keep track of 100% of their cattle. There are three cows for every person in the country. This system helps consumers at home and abroad know exactly where their beef comes from and how it was raised.

5. Uruguay’s industrial economy is mainly dependent on petroleum products, transportation equipment, electrical machinery and food processing.

6. Brazil and Argentina are major trade partners of Uruguay.

Interesting facts about Uruguay’s sports, size and more…

7. Until 1985, Uruguay was under a military dictatorship.

8. It is one of the few countries in South America to have access to clean water for its entire population.

9. Uruguayan countrymen played test cricket in the mid-nineteenth century. Between 1868 and the Second World War, they played Argentina – 29 times.

10. Uruguay won its only Olympic gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. They won these medals in football (soccer).

11. The first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. Uruguay defeated Argentina 4–2 and won the FIFA World Cup in the same year.

12. Uruguay is comparable in size to Oklahoma.

Uruguay on the map

Facts about Uruguay’s corruption, legalization of abortions, same-sex marriages, disease outbreak and more…

13. Uruguay’s military ruler Gregorio Alvarez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of 37 people and numerous human rights violations.

14. Uruguay has ranked as one of the least corrupt nations at 18 out of 179 by Transparency International. Brazil and Argentina rank at the 96th spot. (2021 stats.)

15. Uruguay is the least corrupt country in South America.

16. In 2010, Uruguay’s president Juan Maria Bordaberry was also sentenced to 30 years for murder and his role in the 1973 military coup.

17. In 2012, a bill was approved by its Senate to legalize abortions during first-trimester pregnancies. This bill attracted a lot of attention among other countries in Latin America. The other countries in Latin America where abortion (on request) is legal is Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, Guyana, and French Guiana. 

18. Uruguay became the 16th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2013. This was even before the U.K. did so. There are currently 32 countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

19. Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Uruguay in 1999 caused several nations to stop the import of beef and lamb from the country. Efforts were then made to eradicate the disease successfully.

20. In 1998, Uruguay exceeded its quota under international fishing regulations by catching more than 930 tons of Swordfish.

Interesting and important facts about Uruguay’s education, urbanization, life quality and more…

21. Uruguay is among Latin America’s most highly electrified countries with more than 95% of its region covered with access to a consistent supply of power.

22. The country has the lowest poverty and population-growth rates in South America. Interestingly, they also have the highest urbanization and literacy rates in the region.

23. Uruguayans have free access to education, which is why their literacy rate is highest in South America. Education is compulsory in Uruguay.

24. The country is the first in the world to provide a free laptop and Wi-Fi connection to its school children.

25. Uruguay has scenic, beautiful beaches along its coastline, which covers 500 kilometers in total length.

26. Grassland covers almost three-quarters of Uruguay.

27. The highest point in Uruguay is Cerro Catedral, at 1684 feet (514 meters) above sea level.

Related: Interesting facts about Colombia

Some interesting and weird facts about Uruguay, its people, religion, smoking ban and more…

28. Marijuana trade has been legal in the country since December 2013. The cost is approximately one dollar per gram.

29. Uruguayans are very fond of naming their houses, which is why every single house in the country has its own name. Their houses are not marked with numbers as in other countries. They also name their cities from a collection of names that they use for many other cities. For this reason, you may get confused if you are traveling from one city to the other!

30. Did you read the name carefully – ‘Uruguay’? It is the only country whose name in English has the same letter repeated three times in its first five letters. The repeated letter is ‘U’.

31. Uruguay is the second-smallest country in South America, after Suriname.

32. Uruguay is the most non-religious country in the Americas. So much so that they have renamed many of their traditional holidays. Now, Christmas is called Family Day and Holy Week is called Tourism Week.

33. Uruguayans go to bars not just to become intoxicated, but to socialize.

34. Uruguay has the longest national anthem in the world in terms of duration of music (105 bars; almost six minutes.)

35. Smoking is banned in Uruguay in enclosed public places. Almost one-third of its population smokes, which is why strict measures were adopted to curb this deadly habit. A campaign called “A Million Thanks” was launched by the president to reference the number of smokers. Interestingly, the legislation was supported by close to 70% of its smoking population.

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