Uruguay Facts

Official Name of Uruguay: República Oriental del Uruguay

Size of Uruguay: 109,498 sq. mi. (176,220 sq. km.). Almost the exact same size as the state of Washington, but with half of Washington’s population.

Population of Uruguay: 3,477,778

Capital of Uruguay: Montevideo (1,700,000 residents) was founded in 1726. Half of the entire country’s population lives in this city, while most of the remaining inhabitants live in about 25 towns mainly along the coast. Residents are far and few between in the interior of Uruguay.

Currency in Uruguay: Uruguayan Peso

Exchange Rate: Uruguayan Peso averages 18-24:1 against the US Dollar.

Units of Measure: Uruguay uses the metric system.

Uruguay’s Official Language: Spanish.

Flag of Uruguay: The flag of Uruguay has nine horizontal stripes – four blue and five white. The white canton features the Sun of May (See top left hand corner of this page), which has 16 rays (half triangular; half wavy) and a face. Joaquín Suárez, Uruguay’s first President, designed the flag.

Brief History of Uruguay:
The Charrua Indians were the original inhabitants of Uruguay. The Spanish discovered Uruguay in 1516 and laid claim to the land, but there were no natural resourses to exploit, so they didn’t have much of a vested interest in the country. That is until 1603, when the Spanish introduced cattle to Uruguay. Still to that point, Spain had not established a town.

Cattle started to thrive, and in 1680, the Portuguese invaded and founded the first town of Uruguay, Colonia del Sacramento. Spain and Portugal fought back and forth for control of Uruguay. By the 18th century, the Charrua Indians were but a tiny fraction of what they once were. Today, they represent only 0.4% of the country’s population.

Montevideo was founded in 1726 as a military stronghold for Spain. By 1778, Spain had won control over Uruguay and kicked the Portuguese out. Due to the ideal location of the city (at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata) and the thriving cattle industry, Montevideo became a port city after that. This also led to an influx of immigrants from Europe, mostly Spanish and Italian.

By the time the 1800s rolled around, the people of Uruguay were tired of Spain’s ruling. In 1811, Jose Artigas led a successful revolt against Spain (you’ll see Artigas’ name plastered around the city; he’s considered Uruguay’s “National Hero,” the US equivalent to George Washington). Then, the Portuguese conquered Uruguay “again” in 1817. The 3 Year War started in 1825 and in 1828, after defeating the Portuguese, Uruguay was free (with the help of Argentina and England). Its first constitution was adopted in 1830.

From the time Uruguay became a sovereign nation until 1965, there was a lot of political turmoil. Things really got bad in 1966 when the majority of people in Uruguay voted to create a new constitution. In 1968 the president declared a “State of Emergency”. In 1973 the Uruguayan Military regime took over the government.

The regime allowed for free voting and still kept the core of the previous constitution in play, but ruled with a vicious hand until it decided to give the country back to the people (after an election in 1980 when the Uruguayan people said they wanted a new government). The first elections were held in 1984 and the first president (after the military regime), Julio Sanguinetti, took office in 1985, relieving the military regime of its tenure. Since 1985, there has been economic fluctuation, but the government has remained stable.

Uruguay’s Government: Constitutional Republic. The newest constitution was published on Jan. 2, 1997. Uruguay’s Constitution is very similar to the US Constitution. There have been a total of seven constitutions in Uruguay.

Freedom in Uruguay: Women’s right to vote was enacted in 1932. In 1946, a statute was passed that repealed all laws that established legal differences in women’s rights. There aren’t a ton of petty laws in Uruguay like in the US… Uruguay is much freer than the United States in many ways.

Political Parties of Uruguay:

  1. Partido Nacional – “Blancos” National Party: Right Wing Liberal Conservative (Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal)
  2. Frente Amplio – Broad Front: Combination of a bunch of smaller parties… Left Wing (Egalitarian Socialism)
  3. Pardido Colorado – Colorado Party: Liberal and Social Democrats (Fiscally Liberal, Socially Liberal)
  4. Partido Independiente – Independent Party: Social Democrats and Christian Socialist (Christian Socialism)

Current Political Situation of Uruguay:
As of March 2010:
The Current President is Jose “Pepe” Mujica, Frente Amplio
Vice President – Danilo Astori, Frente Amplio

Time Zone in Uruguay:
Uruguay Standard Time (UYT) = GMT -3 hours
Uruguay Summer Time (UYST) = GMT -2 hours
Daylight savings time begins in October and ends in March.

Climate in Uruguay: Uruguay’s climate is very mild. The temperature during the summer ranges from the low 70s to high 90s (Fahrenheit), and during winter, the range is from about 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest month is June and the warmest month is January.

Uruguay receives about 40 inches of rain per year, and because the rainfall is consistent throughout the year, there isn’t a “rainy” or “dry” season.

Since the terrain is predominately flat, weather systems tend to move in quickly, causing frequent weather changes. Uruguay does experience regular thunderstorms, but major weather conditions like hurricanes are not a concern.

Uruguay Geography: Uruguay is located in South America, South of Brazil North and East of Argentina.

Latitude: 34° 53′ South
Longitude: 56° 11′ West

Los Angeles California USA
Latitude: 34° 3′ North
Longitude: 118° 14′ West

Uruguay on the globe (circled in red):