10 Facts and Curiosities about Uruguay
Socially progressive, peaceful, and replete with beaches and open countryside. Uruguay has a special place, within South America, that not many people know about. Uruguay tends to fly under the radar. As a politically stable country, of just 3.5 million people, nothing much happens that grabs international headlines. Neither something that steals the spotlight from our more famous neighbors, Argentina and Brazil.
While it’s true that “no news is good news,” not many people know who we are! Here are 10 facts that make our country unique.
01. There’s lots of rain, but no rainforest
Our climate is humid subtropical —think about North Carolina for comparison. The average temperature is about 80°F during the summer; in winter, it stays above freezing. The summer also brings many intense lighting storms. The interior of the country has lots of rolling green hills and pasturelands, with sparse woodlands.
02. We’re not Paraguay
Ok, this is an obvious point, but it’s a common mix-up nonetheless. Paraguay is a landlocked country to the northwest, closer to the heart of the continent. Uruguay is located further south, on the Atlantic ocean.
3. Cows outnumber people 4-1, the highest per capita in the world
Important industries are tourism and, as evidenced by our abundant bovine population, agriculture. Ranches, interestingly, are primarily small scale and run in the old-fashioned way. Gaucho culture is very much alive, and beloved by Uruguayans. Agro-tourism is popular, drawing those who want to observe traditional farm life, or explore the countryside on horseback.
Uruguay’s beef industry has a sophisticated supply chain tracking system. Its products are certified as natural and grass fed, highly prized in the world market.
04. Uruguay was founded to keep colonial powers from going to war
During colonial times, our strategic position created a tug-of-war between the British, Portuguese and Spanish. Therefore, Montevideo had several rounds of sieges. In 1828, Uruguay became an independent country by a treaty, and acted as a buffer zone.
05. Marijuana is legal
Pharmacies can sell cannabis to registered Uruguayan residents, and there are cannabis clubs for those who want to home-grow. Many companies are forming to enter the medical cannabis market, which could be Uruguay’s next big industry.
06. Beaches and safety are Uruguay’s claim to fame in Latin America
Uruguay has two coastlines. One that is Atlantic facing, and another along the entry to the Rio de la Plata. Punta del Este, the famous resort, is where these two meet. This town is taken over by wealthy tourists, mostly from Argentina, during our summer season (Dec-Feb).
The windswept beaches of the east are, for many, the most scenic and best for surfing and communing with nature. Those located on the river outside of Montevideo, are favored when looking for a family's escape. Many people own vacation homes or ranches, being inheredated for generations. It’s also common in summer to hear Portuguese spoken when you’re at the beach. Uruguay has become a popular destination for Brazilians, even though Brazil has incredible beaches! This can be due to the clean open public spaces, and tranquility that Uruguay offers.
07. Uruguay is rated 15th on The Economist’s 2018 Democracy Index
Uruguay has the highest rank Latin American country on the list. We’re just after the UK, and over the US, which is in 25th place.
08. Uruguay has the largest middle class in the Americas
The middle class, in relative terms, represents 60% of Uruguay’s population, according to the World Bank. From 2006 to 2016, moderate poverty went from 32.5% to 9.4%. Also, extreme poverty went from 2.5% to 0.2%, over the same time period.
09. Every child in public school receives a laptop
Plan Ceibal is a state initiative that expands equality in the education system. This also ensures children in rural and unprivileged areas are not left behind. Besides the laptops themselves, the program provides online English classes to rural students, through teachers in Montevideo.
10. Uruguay is the largest per capita exporter of software in Latin America
The government focuses on growing our technology sector, while improving technological infrastructure. Internet connectivity is superlative, and WiFi is even offered for free in public plazas and parks. The tech industry also has some key benefits, such as tax exempt for technology exports.
We love these facts about Uruguay!
Uruguay is a special place and we are proud to be Uruguayans. Also, we are glad to be a part of its rapidly growing tech industry! If you want to know more about us, get in touch!