Uruguay is a vibrant country located between Argentina and Brazil. A former colony of Spain, it has a rich culture and friendly locals. Although it’s the second smallest country in South America, this proud nation is full of interesting sights, wonderful food, and fascinating traditions. There’s so much to discover about this beautiful land, so read on to learn 11 things you may not know about Uruguay.
1. Uruguay has a National Milk Festival
On the last weekend of every October, locals and milk enthusiasts gather in the town of Cardal for live music, dancing, and lots of food. The small town of Cardal is the milk capital of the country. It accounts for a third of all dairy production in this country, a fun fact about Uruguay. The delicacies at the exciting 3-day festival start with large amounts of barbequed beef known as asado and end with a massive quantity of arroz con leche, a sweet pudding made of rice and milk flavored with vanilla. For those who prefer savory food, Uruguay also holds a giant paella celebration every year in Piriápolis.
2. Uruguayan and Argentinian football fans have an ongoing rivalry
Many countries in South America take football very seriously and Uruguay is no exception. Uruguay and Argentina’s football teams have been in a rivalry for the past few years and football fans in both countries have deep pride in their teams. It’s considered rude to compare Uruguay and Argentina when talking to the locals.
3. Its capital city has a fountain covered in love padlocks
Fuente de los Candados, located in the capital city of Montevideo, is a stone fountain surrounded by hundreds of padlocks from lovers. The padlocks are not directly on the fountain but are attached to the metal railing that surrounds it. The locks typically have the initials of two people inscribed on them and are used by couples as a symbol of unbreakable love, an interesting fact about Uruguay.
4. Uruguayans drink ceremonial tea as a form of bonding with friends
Yerba tea, known as mate in Uruguay, is a caffeine-rich tea traditionally drunk from a hollowed-out gourd through a metal straw. It’s Uruguay’s national drink and holds an important place in the lives of the locals. When sharing mate, Uruguayans sit in a circle with their friends and pass the gourd of mate around so that each person gets a sip. The gourd will be repeatedly filled with water and continually passed around until the tea loses its flavor.
5. 98% of Uruguay’s electricity comes from renewable resources
Almost all of the country’s energy comes from sustainable sources such as wind and solar power. Besides helping the environment, this change has helped the country dramatically lower energy prices and reduce the number of power outages in the country.
6. It has nearly two times more sheep than people
Sheep are commonly raised in Uruguay for wool and meat. The most recent count of livestock in the country revealed that there are 6.4 million sheep. The population of Uruguay consists of 3.4 million people. An interesting fact about Uruguay is that there are about 3 million more sheep in the country than there are humans.
7. Morcilla Dulce is a Uruguayan treat made with blood and sugar
Many countries have their own version of blood sausage. In Uruguay, animal blood is mixed with sugar and ingredients such as raisins, walnuts, or orange peel to create a sweeter version of the popular treat. Morcilla Dulce is often eaten grilled or boiled and has a very dark red, almost black color.
8. Uruguayans like to name their houses
Instead of numbers, Uruguayans use names to identify their address. This is most common in the rural areas; you can expect to see a signboard that says Mi Casa or Caviahue in place of a regular lot number. To find a house, locals will often rely on descriptions instead of an address. Homeowners may also choose to have their packages delivered to a pick-up center if their house is too difficult to find.
9. Uruguay once had the world’s poorest president
José Mujica was the president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. He was loved by the Uruguayan people for his dedication to the poor and his humble lifestyle, an interesting fact about Uruguay. As part of his commitment to the country, former president José Mujica consistently donated 90% of his income as a politician to charities and small business owners. The small amount of money left from his salary made him the world’s poorest president. Even during his presidency, he continued to live on a farm with his wife and their three-legged dog. He drove an old Volkswagen Beetle and helped his wife cultivate and sell chrysanthemums.
10. The country’s name translates to “the river where the bird lives”
The name Uruguay comes from the Guarani language, an indigenous language spoken in many parts of South America. The bird being referenced in the phrase “the river where the bird lives” is the uru bird, which is the name for a kind of quail, while gua y means “from water”. Some historians also believe the name comes from the Guarani word for shellfish, urugua.
11. Locals enjoy fried dough during rainy days
Tortas fritas is a simple fried dough snack made of flour, lard, water, and sugar. Uruguayans often enjoy this treat during the rainy days alongside their national drink, mate. The practice comes from the old days when farmers were believed to have collected rainwater to make tortas fritas. They made this snack because it was easy to cook quickly out in the open. The custom eventually became part of the Uruguayan culture.
Uruguay has a vibrant and dynamic culture full of fascinating food, events, and traditions. Its roots as a Spanish colony and its lively inhabitants make this country an exciting and fascinating destination. The Uruguayan people and government have worked hard to shape their country into the beautiful nation it is today. Their value for renewable resources and celebrating the unique characteristics of their land make Uruguay a country truly worth admiring.
I hope that this article on Uruguay facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!