South America’s hidden gem is home to some of the world’s most glorious sights and relaxed lifestyle. Here are some interesting facts about what makes Uruguay so great.
1. 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 country’s name comes from the Uruguay river and means river of the painted birds in the Guarani language. The river starts in Brazil, ends in the Río de la Plata Basin and forms the border between Uruguay and Argentina.
2. Uruguay has the longest national anthem in the world. In 1833, the Orientales, la Patria o La Tumba(“Uruguayans, the Fatherland or the Grave”) was officially proclaimed the National Anthem of Uruguay. It is almost 6 minutes long, making it the longest national anthem music in the world.
3. Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America. It is ranked first in the region for democracy, peace, lack of corruption, quality of living, e-Government, freedom of press, size of the middle class, prosperity and security.
4. Uruguay is the only country to keep track of 100% of their cattle. There are three cows for every person in the country.
5. 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.
6. Not only that, in 2009, Uruguay became the first country in the world to provide every schoolchild with a free laptop and Wi-Fi access.
7. Over half of the country’s 3.3 million people live in the capital, Montevideo. The city has consistently been rated as having the highest quality of life of any city in Latin America.
8. Uruguay produced almost 95% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015.
9. Argentina has proudly owned the title of mother of tango since its inception, but it’s little known that it actually shares the honour with Uruguay. This sensual dance was devised by working class dwellers of the cities that straddle either side of the Río de la Plata. In fact, the most famous tango rhythm – La Cumparsita – was first played in 1917 in Montevideo café La Giralda, composed by a 17-year-old student called Gerardo Matos Rodriguez. Sexy and sultry, tango took off.
10. Uruguay is the most non-religious country in the Americas. So much so that they have renamed many of their traditional holidays. Christmas is called Family Day and Holy Week is called Tourism Week in Uruguay.
11. Uruguay sends more troops to UN than any other country.
12. 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.
13. Uruguay has the world’s poorest politician. Yes, their president lives in simplicity, donating 90% of his salary to noble causes. He owns a one-bedroom house and a three-legged dog.
How to reach?
Carrasco International Airport is the largest airport in Uruguay and is located in the capital city of Montevideo. Nearly 180 weekly connecting flights are available from New Delhi to Montevideo. The top airlines flying this route include Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, and Air France.
Punta del Este: Punta del Este is Uruguay’s most famous beach, and it deserves a mention because it has often been called “the Monaco of the South”—a resort area where models, actors, and the rich come to relax, play, and enjoy haute cuisine. With loads of bars, restaurants and clubs hugging the beautiful beachfront, it is a fun place to visit although it is quite expensive in comparison with the rest of the country.
Colonia del Sacramento: The historic quarter of Colonia del Sacramento is absolutely stunning to wander around as it is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay and wonderful colonial architecture and picturesque old cobbled streets are everywhere you look. Colonia’s Barrio Historico or old town center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the town’s main attraction.
Punta del Diablo: Punto del Diablo is a popular resort for Argentines and local citizens of Uruguay offering plenty of great views in the town. With beautiful beaches and a laid-back way of life, it is a relaxing place to simply kick back and watch the world go by.
Cabo Polonio: A world apart from Punta del Este, Cabo Polonio may well be the wildest spot in the country. Getting to Cabo Polonio is part of the adventure, as there are no roads into town. The only way to access the village is either in a 4WD vehicle or by hiking seven kilometers from the highway over slippery sand dunes. There are a few shacks and wooden houses scattered along the shoreline. However, most don’t have electricity or running water. This makes Cabo Polonio the perfect place to escape modern life and return to nature.