13 Fun Facts About Uruguay’s Culture, People and Traditions

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What if I told you that you could enjoy carnivals, the gaucho culture, grasslands, and beaches all within the same country?

Many enjoy the experience of a lifetime in Uruguay. You could enjoy the national Candombe dance and sea surf along the Atlantic ocean coast in Punta Del Este and other seaside destinations.

Officially known as the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, but simply known as Uruguay, many skip past this incredible destination. Let’s dive into these amazing Uruguay facts that will make it a destination for your next vacation.

1. The Uruguayan President Was The Poorest In The World

In our materialistic world seeking money and power, Jose Mujica differed himself during his serving as the President of Uruguay.

He lived a basic lifestyle and gave away 90% of his income to welfare, earning himself the title of “Poorest President In The World.”

2. Home To More Cows Than Humans

Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America after Suriname. They have one human to every four cows, which is one of the highest human-to-cattle ratios in the world.

Cattle herding and farming are big contributors to their economy, and they became the first country in the world to adopt electronic tracking of cattle.

3. Electricity In Uruguay Is 99% From Renewable Sources

Almost all of Uruguay’s electricity supply is generated from renewable sources such as solar energy, wind, and biomass.

While ultimately dependent on renewables, it’s still one of the most electrified countries in South America.

4. Marijuana Is Legal in Uruguay

Yes, it’s true! Uruguay has legalized cannabis in 2013, allowing for production, consumption and distribution. And yes, even for tourists! Maybe just don’t bring it back to your home country…

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5. An Assault on Salt!

To battle ongoing high blood pressure issues, Montevideo, the largest city and also its capital, banned table salt at restaurants and schools. As a substitute, low-sodium alternatives are still available.

6. Uruguayans Sing The Longest National Anthem

The national anthem of Uruguay, composed by Francisco Acuna de Figueroa in 1830, is about six minutes long.

Technically speaking, Greece has the longest lyrics of their anthem, but as only the first two stanzas of the entire composition are sung, Uruguay’s anthem is the longest.

7. Uruguay Was The First Country To Host FIFA World Cup

Uruguay hosted the first-ever FIFA World Cup in 1930. Uruguayans also brought home the first world cup, defeating Argentina. That’s a double win!

8. Many Atheists Live in Uruguay

Uruguay is mostly a non-religious country and is home to many atheists. Their traditional holidays have also been renamed over the years too. Today they call Christmas ‘Family Day’ and Holy Week ‘Tourism Week.’

9. Uruguayans Enjoy Yerba Mate With Their Mates!

Yerba mate is a beverage native to South America and the national drink of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina.

2 Uruguay women drinking Herba Mate

It is a bitter drink containing caffeine and is often enjoyed with friends and family.

10. One Laptop Per Child Project Initiated In Uruguay

Uruguay has some of the highest literacy rates in South America, based on compulsory and free education. To stop children from falling behind, the Uruguayan government introduced the ‘One laptop per child’ inititiative which later became popular in many other countries.

Almost 300,000 students have been provided with free laptops and access to WIFI, reducing the digital gap between Uruguay and many other countries.

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11. Uruguay Has More Europeans Than Americans!

Say what?! It’s true. This South American country’s population has more European ancestors due to immigration in the 19th century. Many are originally from Italy and Spain, resulting in more European roots than native Americans.

The official language of Uruguay is Spanish and is the smallest Spanish-speaking country, with plenty of European influence in its streets, culture and people.

12. A Country In Love With Peace

In the various peacekeeping missions, Uruguay has often worked with the United Nations. It has reportedly deployed the largest troops of soldiers per capita for such missions.

13. Gnocchi Day Is Celebrated Monthly

On every 29th of the month, Uruguayans celebrate Gnocchi Day.

This tradition started when gnocchi, an Italian delicacy, was made with potato and flour on the last day of the month. As many households had income coming during 1st of the month, this dish could help them survive the last few days.

What a delicious tradition!

Joshua Smith

Joshua has visited 10 countries and has another 110 to go! He plans to sail around the world over 5 years, and then spend the next 5 years driving around the world in a 4×4. He prefers to explore the more remote places without the tourists, and yet, doesn’t mind the ritzy feel of business class at 10,000 feet either.

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