Hello everyone, have you ever heard any news on television about the country Uruguay? It’s probably very rare, which is why, in the vast region of South America, The Wise Goat chose the small country of Uruguay to write its first article. The first impression is about the appearance of this country. In this article, you will see some beautiful photos.
Uruguay is the homeland of green plains and impressive football performances. It is a wealthy country based on agriculture and services. They are highly ranked internationally in many aspects, and they play big to the extent of giving a laptop to a student in their country. How did they do that? Let’s find a quiet place to read the article about them. The more we go towards the end, the more interesting information about Uruguay we will have.
Uruguay – Progressive Society In Latin America
Located between the 8th and 5th largest countries in the world, this diamond-shaped land is Uruguay. Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, only slightly larger than Suriname. It borders the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil to the north and east, the provinces of Argentina to the west, and at the northern tip is the tri-border area of Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. At this location, there is a small island that both Brazil and Uruguay claim sovereignty over. To the south of the country is the area adjacent to a large river mouth called the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Uruguay River flows into this river mouth. This is an important river system for South American countries, flowing along the entire western border of Uruguay. The name Uruguay in the local language means “river where the birds live”.
The official name of Uruguay is República Oriental del Uruguay, meaning the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, as the country is located to the east of the Uruguay River. There is a country that is often confused with Uruguay, which is Paraguay. These are two different countries, and they do not share a border. Paraguay is a landlocked country located in the northwest direction compared to Uruguay, closer to the center of the continent. Meanwhile, Uruguay is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
Why Does Uruguay Exist As An Independent Country Between Two South American “Powerhouses”?
We know that above us is Brazil, a former colony of Portugal and the most populous Portuguese-speaking country. Across the border is Argentina, a former colony of Spain and the largest Spanish-speaking country. But what about Uruguay? It was actually founded to prevent colonial powers from going to war.
Going back to the colonial era, due to a lack of mineral resources in the land that is now Uruguay, both Spain and Portugal had little interest in it for a long time. Despite colonial regimes being established in neighboring countries in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was not until one day that these major powers woke up to the strategic location of Uruguay. It was both a land in between two colonies and a blockage to trade routes for inland regions, creating a tug-of-war between Britain, Portugal, and Spain.
Within the territory, there were cities founded by the Portuguese and cities founded by the Spanish. As a result, they experienced many sieges by the colonial powers. Eventually, a treaty was signed in 1828, making Uruguay a separate country and a buffer zone to dominate the interests of colonial powers in the region. Uruguay passed its constitution in 1830, making it one of the earliest countries to step out of colonial rule despite being occupied later.
Geography – Landscape And Climate
Uruguay has a total area of 176,215 km2. The landscape of Uruguay mainly consists of plains and low hills, intersected by numerous major rivers. In addition to the Rio Uruguay, another important river that flows across the country from northeast to southwest is the Rio Negro, meaning “black river”. In fact, if only the role of rivers in this country is considered, the Rio Negro is even more important than the Rio Uruguay.
The flat plains of the country are located on the eastern, southern, and western edges. Among them, the coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean is narrower and has many sand dunes and swamps, sometimes interrupted by dry lagoons. The coastal plains of the Rio de la Plata and Rio Uruguay estuaries are wider and gradually rise inland, merging with the mountainous region in the interior.
The remaining inland area is a plateau formed by low hills, gradually rising northward. Here, it merges with the southern plateau of Brazil. However, these hilly areas are also very special because of their small slope and rare high terrain that exceeds 200m above sea level. The highest point is Cerro Catedral, which is only 513m high, located in the southeast of the country in a hill range called Sierra Carapé, forming a part of a larger range called Cuchilla Grande.
Therefore, overall, the terrain of this country is not highly differentiated and the difference in altitude is not significant. Generally speaking, this is very favorable for economic activities and transportation development.
Uruguay is located in the temperate climate region and the typical climate type is humid subtropical or moist temperate climate. There is a clear division of four seasons here, but the temperature difference between seasons is relatively small. Due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere, the timing of the seasons is reversed compared to countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
Spring in Uruguay usually starts around September in the Gregorian calendar and the weather is slightly humid, cool and often drizzly. Summer in Uruguay falls in the first months of the Gregorian calendar year, with average summer temperatures in January ranging from 17 to 28 degrees Celsius, and average winter temperatures in July ranging from 6 to 16 degrees Celsius. The northern regions of the country have slightly higher temperatures.
Due to the relatively high amount of surface water in the country, humidity and fog are very common in all seasons. The amount of rainfall is high, but a special feature is that despite the high rainfall, there are no tropical rainforests in this country like in neighboring Brazil.
Nearly 100% Of The Electricity Comes From Renewable Energy
One of the greatest things about Uruguay is its eco-friendliness, particularly in terms of energy production. As of the end of last year, an estimated 99% to 100% of the country’s electricity was generated from renewable sources. It is also one of the countries with the highest percentage of households using electricity in the southern hemisphere, with 99.9% of households having access to electricity. Wind and hydroelectric power are the most commonly used sources of energy, along with solar, biomass, and bioelectricity.
Wind power is particularly favorable in Uruguay due to its relatively flat terrain, with no mountain ranges to obstruct wind flow. The Colonia wind farm in southwestern Uruguay is one of the key wind power areas that many domestic and foreign companies invest in.
Hydroelectric power is also abundant thanks to the dense river system and numerous wide rivers in the country. Currently, hydroelectric power is generated by four major hydroelectric plants, including three on the Rio Negro River and one on the Rio Uruguay River.
The estimated population of Uruguay this year is 3.481 million people, which is relatively small, ranking 134th in the world. Uruguay is divided into 19 first-level administrative units called “departamentos,” with fairly evenly sized areas except for Montevideo, which is the smallest and also the capital city. The western provinces include Artigas, Salto, Paysandú, Rio Negro, Soriano, Colonia, Flores, and San Jose along the Rio Uruguay. The central provinces include Tacuarembó, Durazno, Florida, and Canelones. The eastern provinces include Rivera, Cerro Largo, Treinta y tres, Lavalleja, Rocha, and Maldonado.
Below the province level are municipios, which is a unique form of self-governing municipalities. These municipalities are established in all localities with a population of at least 5,000. In departments such as Montevideo, Canelone, and Maldonado, the self-governing municipalities will occupy the entire territory of the departments. In other departments, there will only be a few municipios, which occupy only part of the department’s territory, while the remaining areas are not part of any municipality. This falls under the jurisdiction of the municipios.
The country’s population accounts for about 0.04% of the world’s population, with an average population density of about 20 people per square kilometer. Population distribution varies greatly between regions, with the Montevideo capital city and neighboring provinces accounting for about half of the country’s population. The population density in this area can reach more than 200 people per square kilometer, while in most rural areas, the population is negligible, with fewer than 10 people per square kilometer. In Uruguay, the distinction between cities and rural areas is very clear, and there is no transitional area like suburbs.
Let’s take a look at a specific municipio called Sarandí Grande, where the boundary between the city and the countryside is very blurred. One side is densely populated, while the other side has no houses, even on the national road, which is very sparse, despite being only a few kilometers from the city center. The rural population accounts for less than 4%, but this area covers about 80% to 90% of the territory. According to worldometers.info’s estimate a few months ago, the country’s urban population rate is up to 96.1%.
This country has about 8,000 to 10,000 kilometers of national highways, mostly passing through uninhabited areas. Due to low usage demand, roads outside urban areas have very narrow road widths. The total length of highways with over 4 lanes is less than 500 km. The inner-city roads are quite good, with some roads having a bike lane in the middle, which looks very nice.
According to getbybus.com, Uruguay has a total of 13 airports, with two main airports in Montevideo and Punta del Este. The busiest airport in the country is located in Montevideo and is called the Carrasco International Airport, serving the capital city of this country, receiving over 2 million passengers every year.
Almost forgot about the famous circular bridge in this South American country. The Laguna Garzón Bridge spans a swampy area, connecting the Maldonado and Rocha departments. This project was designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, who also designed the Carrasco International Airport. Everyone wonders why they didn’t make it straight. Firstly, this design helps reduce the speed of vehicles on the bridge, avoiding local traffic congestion. Secondly, it is because people like this design, it is a way to create a focal point. If the bridge had a normal shape like other bridges, we wouldn’t have mentioned it in this article, would we?
The project development unit said that the bridge would be an iconic architectural work and a catalyst for the development of the Rocha coastline. And that’s exactly what it is, it quickly impressed the world, and the areas around this $11 million bridge have become a tourist attraction for sightseeing and fishing. At the same time, it is a real bridge connecting the coastal departments of Uruguay.
In addition, Uruguay also has another quite unique bridge, but that’s another highlight that people can explore if they’re interested.
According to economic websites, Uruguay is one of the countries with the highest GDP per capita in South America and has a growing middle class. Uruguay has had strong political and social stability for many years. However, there is still room for improvement in financial transparency, and the current unemployment rate is around 10%.
With abundant water resources and a mild climate, this is an ideal condition for developing agriculture, livestock farming, and forestry. Grasslands are mainly used for livestock farming, including cattle, horses, and sheep. While the main crops in the country are rice, corn, soybeans, and sunflowers. There are also vineyards. Over 80% of the country’s land area is suitable for agriculture, with 1/10 used for crop cultivation and 9/10 for livestock farming.
Although agriculture only accounts for 5.6% of GDP, it has a relatively high growth rate and accounts for 65% of the country’s export revenue, mainly from beef, rice, dairy products, and soybeans. You may be surprised to know that Uruguay is among the top 10 rice-exporting countries in the world in terms of both volume and value.
Due to limited mineral resources, the country’s mining industry is modest. The main industrial sector is processing agricultural products and livestock feed. In addition, Uruguay has recently invested heavily in the paper industry. Its important trading partners are Brazil, Argentina, China, and the United States.
The service sector contributes 61.2% to GDP, mainly in finance and tourism. However, in the past two years, due to the general economic slowdown, the country’s growth has been weak. But according to IMF forecasts, Uruguay’s growth this year will recover at 5%. Although experiencing a slowdown, the country’s GDP last year was $54.14 billion, with a GDP per capita of $15,330, not adjusted for purchasing power parity. This is a relatively high level, significantly higher than its neighboring countries and even higher than Chile, the highest on the South American continent.
The currency of the country is the Peso (UYU), issued by the Central Bank of Uruguay, with both paper and coins. One Uruguayan Peso is equivalent to 0.023 US dollars.
Culture Of Beef & Cowboy Culture In Latin America
Like Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand, the number of cattle in Uruguay is higher than the country’s population, with about 4 cows per person. According to information from beef2live.com, Uruguay is the largest per capita consumer of beef in the world, at 124 pounds per year. That means that each person in Uruguay consumes about 56 kilograms of beef per year. This sounds pretty impressive, so if anyone could fact-check this, it would be greatly appreciated.
The Gaúcho culture has emerged here, a type of cowboy in the Latin American world and has become an important symbol of the country. The Gaucho culture still exists, even thriving in Uruguay. In recent years, they have been developing a form of agritourism with farms and stores in the style of South American cowboys. For locals and tourists alike, nothing beats a weekend barbecue in the grassy fields of rural Uruguay.
Social – Education
Marijuana is legal
Here, marijuana is a legal toy. Like some states in the US, marijuana is still legally sold in Uruguay. Pharmacies here can sell marijuana to registered individuals with authorities. And there are even clubs, such as cooperatives, for growing marijuana. Those who want to grow marijuana at home can join such cooperatives. Many companies are forming to enter the medical marijuana market. This could be Uruguay’s next big industry.
Regarding demography, it can generally be said that Uruguay is a typical immigrant country. The population of Uruguay mainly consists of descendants of Spanish and Italian immigrants. Therefore, the culture, education system, and way of life of Uruguayans have a very European style. Uruguay is a religiously free country, with about 52% of the population identifying themselves as Roman Catholic. About 16% of the population follows Protestantism or other branches of Christianity. 1% follows Judaism, while the remaining 30% are members of other religions or do not follow any religion.
Uruguay’s motto is Libertad O Muerte, meaning “freedom or death.” The society emphasizes individual freedom, yet the country has a low crime rate and is considered one of the safest countries in South America. Uruguay has a literacy rate of 98.1% for adults. This is due to the country’s provision of a free and compulsory education system.
In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in the world to provide each of its students with a laptop and free wifi access. This is a government initiative aimed at ensuring equality in the education system. They want to ensure that children in rural and disadvantaged areas are not left behind in accessing education. In addition to laptops, the program also provides online English classes for rural students, taught by teachers in the capital and major cities.
Culture – Art
This is a typical example of Latin American culture. Like in other countries, one of the biggest festivals in Uruguay is the Carnavales event, which takes place before the beginning of Lent. The main festivities in Montevideo include parades, costumes, and outdoor performances. What really sets the Uruguayan carnival apart from that of Brazil is the use of a folk music style called Candombe, originating from African slaves in the 17th century.
Additionally, both Argentina and Uruguay claim Tango dance as their own artistic product. In fact, neither country can make a singular claim to Tango, as cultural experts believe the seductive dance was invented by urban working-class populations that emerged in both Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2009, both Uruguay and Argentina successfully registered Tango on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
Before taking a stroll through the famous tourist cities, let’s talk a little about Uruguayan soccer, which cannot be ignored when talking about this country. Like many South American nations, soccer is the most popular sport in Uruguay. In 1930, the first World Cup soccer tournament was held, and the host city was the capital of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay. Uruguay was chosen to host the first World Cup because their national team had won the gold medal in soccer at two consecutive Olympic Games in 1924 and 1928. They won the World Cup championship in 1930 and again in 1950.
Uruguay has more soccer clubs per capita than any other country in the world. They have also won the Copa America tournament more times than any other nation, having claimed 15 championships to date, one more than Argentina. Soccer players such as Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, who are currently playing in Europe, are of Uruguayan origin.
3 Famous Cities In Uruguay
Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento is an ancient city in the departamento of Colonia founded by the Portuguese in 1680. This riverside city has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. It is characterized by cobblestone streets shaded by trees, reminiscent of a bygone era. An iconic landmark of the city is a lighthouse located on the ruins of a 17th-century convent. From here, one can see a panoramic view of the city, the river, and even Buenos Aires in Argentina on the opposite bank.
Montevideo – The capital of Uruguay
Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in 1726 as a military fortress. Today, its natural port advantage has been utilized to become an important commercial center of the region. Montevideo still maintains its historical architecture alongside modern urban planning with skyscrapers and modern residential structures.
The advantage of Montevideo being the largest city and capital city allows for distinct features in terms of people, culture, urban landscape, music festivals, and cuisine. If you want to explore the culture, the capital city of this country is usually the go-to destination.
Punta del Este
Punta del Este, located in the departamento of Maldonado, is the most famous beach paradise in the country. Situated on a small peninsula, the city has rapidly developed into a modern and vibrant destination often compared to the Monaco of the southern hemisphere, complete with entertainment complexes, luxury hotels, and top-tier conference venues. Prices here tend to be 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than in the capital city.
The city’s strengths lie in its beautiful coastline, iconic resort areas, modern buildings, a capable port, grocery stores, restaurants, and bars. The hand-shaped sculpture on the sand is also located in the city of Punta del Este.
There are so many things to write about, but sometimes we forget some basic points, such as the language here. Spanish is the official language. In addition, there are some minority languages used by very small ethnic groups. Among them are Portuguese, Portunol, German, and Russian. To this day, Portunol is the most widespread minority language. It is a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish and is the most characteristic reflection of the history and culture of Uruguay.
In summary, Uruguay is a progressive, peaceful society with beautiful beaches and extensive rural areas. Uruguay has a special position in South America that not many people know about. Today, we have learned about them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article!