Uruguay (Spanish: Uruguay) is a state in the southeastern part of South America, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It borders Brazil in the north, Argentina in the west, and the Atlantic Ocean in the east and south. The land borders are 1,564 km long, and the coastline is 660 km long.

As of 2022, according to the CIA World Fact Book, Uruguay is the 132nd state in the world in terms of population (3,407,213 people). The composition of the population of Uruguay by religion as of 2021: Catholics - 44.8%, irreligious - 44.5%, adherents of other Christian denominations - 9.5%, adherents of other religions or denominations - 1.2%.

Member of the UN, MERCOSUR, WTO. Unitary state, presidential republic.

The capital is the city of Montevideo. Uruguay, along with Chile, Costa Rica and Panama (with the exception of some island states of the Caribbean region), is considered one of the most democratic, not corrupt, safe and wealthy countries in Latin America. Uruguay is also among the countries in which there are individual freedoms such as same-sex marriage, legalized cannabis, prostitution and abortion. The country is in 13th place (between Canada and Luxembourg) in the ranking of world democracy.




Colonia del Sacramento: city founded by the Portuguese in 1680, located on the Uruguay River facing Buenos Aires, which maintains much of its architecture and bucolic appearance unchanged.
Punta del Este: place where the international jet set meets every summer for more than 50 years. A privileged coast on the Atlantic Ocean and a lot of nature in its natural state, together with 5-star hotels.
Piriápolis: is a city and resort in the department of Maldonado, located one hour and forty minutes from Montevideo and twenty minutes from Punta del Este. It was the first spa in the country, founded by Francisco Piria.
Punta del Diablo: a fishing village near the border with Brazil, which welcomes tourism that seeks the most rugged coast and the roughest sea.
La Paloma: is one of the main spas on the Atlantic coast of Uruguay, located 240 km from Montevideo. Its beaches, with an extension of approximately 20 km, constitute one of the main tourist attractions in the country.
La Pedrera: 230 km from Montevideo. It has beautiful beaches and a spectacular panoramic view. It is characterized by preserving a rugged landscape and where its beaches are known for their beauty and the strength of the sea, typical of the Rochense coasts.
Barra de Valizas: a town that fills you with infinite stars, cold bonfire nights and exotic music from places of wonder. Amazement that does not stop appearing every day and of course every night. Sun, endless ocean. Limited Valizas for some since many of the houses do not have electricity.
Hot springs: natural hot springs in the north of the country offer an alternative for tourism and health throughout the year.
Almirón Hot Springs: in the department of Paysandú.
Termas del Arapey: in the department of Salto.
Termas del Daymán: in the department of Salto.
Guaviyú Hot Springs: in the department of Paysandú.
Salto Grande Hot Springs: in the department of Salto.
San Nicanor Hot Springs: in the department of Salto.

Estancias: cattle ranches where in addition to enjoying a "asado con cuero" you can see the descendants of the true "gauchos" doing farm chores.
Boca del Cufré: a small resort located in the department of San José (100 km from Montevideo). The beaches correspond to the Río de la Plata, and it is characterized as an ideal place to rest since the rugged and little-urbanized landscape makes it "Cufré" a heavenly place to make the most of your desire to rest.
The spa has a stream suitable for navigation and water sports, it also has camping and numerous farms for rent.
To get to Boca del Cufré, you have to go to kilometer 100 of route 1 (one) where the city of Ecilda Paullier is located, and from there turn 17 km along a road that leads through a picturesque landscape of pine trees. , eucalyptus trees and dunes directly on the banks of the river.
Atlántida: a seaside resort in the department of Canelones, located on the Atlantic coast, only 45 km from Montevideo, the country's capital.


Mostly descendants of Europeans (especially Italians and Spaniards), Uruguayans are a cultured and tolerant people. With a literacy rate of almost 99%, they export scientists, researchers and professionals who have no place in the local market.

Its inhabitants have a long secular tradition, mixed with deep-rooted Christian values. The unrestricted access of the population to university education denotes the deep interest in intellectual training, only obscured by the period of the military dictatorship of the 70s/80s and the economic crisis of 2002 that they went through together with other countries of the region.



In 2013, Montevideo was for the second time the Ibero-American Capital of Culture. Various cultural shows were held throughout the year.

the matte
Although the infusion known as "mate" is taken in different ways in Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil, it is in Uruguay where its presence can be seen at all times and in all places. It is very common to see a Uruguayan family walking through the city with their mate, and it cannot be missing in any gathering of people of any age.

The "yerba mate", that is, the leaves with which the infusion is prepared, is considered a staple item. This yerba is placed in the mate (this is the name of the drink and the container where it is drunk). The gourd used to make the container is dried, deseeded, and cut appropriately. To sip the mate, a bombilla is used, a silver or other noble metal artifact, built as a straw or straw, with a filter of the same material in the part that remains submerged in the yerba. The last element is the thermos, a container where hot water is transported to serve the mate.

Unlike Argentina, where mate is usually drunk with milk or sugar, or Paraguay, where it is served cold as a refreshment, in Uruguay it is drunk bitter and very hot.


Getting in

Virtually all Europeans can enter without a visa for 90 days.

Electronic entry gates have also been available at more popular border crossings since 2019. You don't get a stamp in your passport there, but only at the counters that are also available.

By plane
The capital's airport in Montevideo has been expanded and has a state-of-the-art terminal. Direct flights from Europe are currently only available from Madrid or via Miami with a connecting flight. There are good connections to other South American cities and above all to Buenos Aires (partly departures every half hour).

A cheap alternative is to fly to Buenos Aires and from there by ship or overland to Uruguay.

By train
Unfortunately, it is not possible to travel to Uruguay by train, as there are only a few dilapidated inner-Uruguayan train connections that are mainly used to transport goods.

By bus
Buses serve Uruguay and especially the capital Montevideo and Punta del Este from Argentina and Brazil.

In the street
From Brazil there are numerous border crossings from the state of Río Grande do Sul to Uruguay. There are three bridges over the Río Uruguay from Argentina. Attention: Because of a diplomatic conflict between the two countries around a paper factory, the bridges are often blocked by demonstrators! Either arrive via Buenos Aires or Brazil or ask about the current situation in Argentina on site!

By boat
Montevideo and Colonia can be reached by ferry Buquebus from Buenos Aires. This is particularly advantageous if you have only booked a flight to Buenos Aires and want to continue to Uruguay. If you don't have a car with you, you can also take a passenger boat from the Argentinian city of Tigre to Carmelo, which is highly recommended because of the charming islands. The company Colonia Express offers combined tickets from Buenos Aires via Colonia (ship) to Montevideo. The journey takes a good five hours in total, and there is no time to take another look at Colonia. Faster (a good two hours), but also a bit more expensive, is the direct ferry connection from Buquebus.


Getting around

By taxi
In Montevideo you can find black and yellow taxis, as well as white and yellow models that were introduced in 2011 and will gradually replace the former. The price of the fare is approximately 1 dollar to start the trip, plus 3 cents for every 100 meters traveled.

By bus
Buses from neighboring countries arrive at the Tres Cruces terminal in Montevideo . A bus service from Colonia del Sacramento complements the ferry crossing the Río de La Plata from Buenos Aires.

By car
The road network has been modernizing for about 10 years, making land transport faster and safer.

By train
Since 1993, regular passenger trains have been running between Montevideo and 25 de Agosto (Florida department). In 2002 the services were increased by adding trains to Progreso (halfway between Montevideo and 25 de Agosto).

Since March 1, 2003 passenger trains depart and arrive from a new terminal station 500 meters north of Montevideo Central Station , which has been closed ever since. This meant a loss of more than 100,000 passengers for train services. For more information visit this website: Group of Passengers in defense of the Central Station .

In December 2005, passenger service to Empalme Olmos via Pando was restored.

In January 2007, a daily train was extended from 25 de Agosto to San José (two on Saturdays) and from January 2008 another train continues to Florida, 109 km from Montevideo.

The schedules can be consulted at http://www.afe.com.uy .

Passenger trains run on Sundays in summer, but not in winter except for special services.

The State Railroad Administration also runs special trains for certain events to or from San José, Florida, Durazno, Cerro Colorado, Minas and between Treinta y Tres and Rio Branco.

Between 1993 and 2000 a regular passenger service circulated between Tacuarembó and Rivera.



From the Beer Festival in the city of Paysandú, to the Rural Exhibition of El Prado, passing through the Carnival, where you can listen and dance to Candombe, a rhythm that was born in Uruguay with African roots.

On the other hand, there is the National Spring Festival that takes place on the second weekend of October in the city of Dolores, Department of Soriano, and that every year brings together a massive presence of visitors from different parts of the country and the region. .



Spanish (español) is the de facto official language and is spoken by all residents of Uruguay. Even in tourist centers it is advisable to have a basic vocabulary of Spanish words, as even English is not widely spoken.

Latin American Spanish sometimes differs significantly from Castilian Spanish and can take some getting used to if you are only familiar with European school Spanish. The Spanish variant of Uruguay shows many similarities with that of Argentina and, due to the history of settlement and immigration, has certain influences from Italian, Portuguese and Galician in terms of vocabulary, pronunciation and intonation. It sounds softer, gentler, and more melodic, which is also true of Latin American Spanish in general. Furthermore, not a few Uruguayans know Portuguese (estimates speak of up to around a quarter of the population, a good 800,000 people), especially in the north, be it simply because of the proximity to Brazil (tourist, cultural, economic relations between the two countries), because they have learned at school or are of Portuguese-Brazilian descent or even have it as their mother tongue. Furthermore, there are mixed variants of español and português, which are called portuñol, in northern Uruguay and southern Brazil, especially in the border area. Uruguayan Portuguese, on the other hand, is closer to Brazilian than to European.

However, anyone who speaks one of these two major Ibero-Romance languages will hardly have any major communication difficulties during their trip.



In November 2021, one euro was worth almost 50 pesos.

The best place to shop is in one of the five malls, such as B. Montevideo Shopping, Shopping Tres Cruzes or Shopping Punta Carretas, where it is also safe. The city center, on the other hand, is still a bit run down after the last crisis and many shops are empty.

Although marijuana has been legalized, it is not freely available. Locals have to be entered in a "pothead file" in order to be able to purchase their smoking substance in pharmacies.



The kitchen is very influenced by the agrarian structure. Beef in any form is very common. Vegetarians will sometimes have a hard time getting meatless diets. The preparation is often on the grill. Otherwise, the kitchen is characterized by Spanish and Italian influences.

A cutlery charge is often required, which is reflected in the bill as "cubiertos". That's why there are also some bars that write at the entrance ("No se cobran cubiertos!") to advertise themselves. It's best to just ask: "Se cobran cubiertos?".

Chivito is the national dish. Similar to a hamburger, a bun is topped with a slice of fried meat, mozzarella, sliced tomato, mayonnaise, olives, cooked ham, and hard-boiled eggs or a fried egg. It can also be served "al plato", without a bun, on a plate. French fries are eaten as a side dish.
Chajá is a typical dessert of Uruguayan gastronomy. It was invented on April 27, 1927 by Orlando Castellano, owner of the Las Familias pastry shop in the city of Paysandú. It owes its name to the chajá, a bird that lives in the central and southern areas of South America and that is found mainly in the department of Paysandú. The ingredients of the dessert are merengue (meringue), bizcochuelo (sponge cake), double cream and characteristic fruits such as peach and strawberry. There are also variants with dulce de leche (a cream made from milk, sugar and vanilla) or chocolate.



Going out is one of the favorite pastimes of young people at the weekend. The motto is: "See and be seen". A lot of value is placed on appearance and a certain machismo is widespread. As in southern Europe, nightlife starts relatively late. The nightlife takes place mainly in the old town, the "Ciudad vieja" and in the discotheques and bars distributed throughout the city. You don't need to show up in the dance halls before one o'clock in the morning, because that's when they're still closed, even during the week.



The Uruguayans are very fond of tents. Everywhere in the country you will find campsites with the associated infrastructure (showers, toilets...). Because of the hot summers, the pitches are planted with trees, so you can pitch your tent in the shade. You pay between four and ten euros per night and person, depending on how popular the place you are visiting is. Earplugs should be part of the basic equipment along with the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, as there are cicadas that make noise like circular saws and can make it hard to fall asleep.

Wild camping is not allowed, but will not be prosecuted. If you are actually caught by the police, the officers will at most politely ask you to take down the tent. It is more problematic to find suitable places to camp on the way, as there are fences on both sides of practically all roads, behind which the cow pastures begin. But there are fearless people who set up their tent right next to the road (if only two or three cars pass by all night - no problem) or seek to be close to the cattle, which is usually not a problem. By the way: Bulls (meaning male cattle) are generally not dangerous in South America. The question "why not?" answer Latin Americans with the surprised question why they are in Europe.



There are two main universities in Uruguay: the Universidad de la Republica and the Universidad Catolica. Attending school and attending secondary schools and universities is free of charge in public institutions. However, there are a large number of private educational institutions that are subject to a fee. However, Uruguay's education system is good overall and means that only about four percent of the population is illiterate, i.e. less than in many industrialized countries.



The international dialing code for Uruguay is +598. Country internet domain .uy



Uruguay is generally considered a safe travel destination. Nevertheless, you should watch out for your belongings, especially in tourist areas and larger cities, where there are also some pickpockets. As a European, you should avoid some parts of Montevideo, as you can be mugged there even in daylight. Uruguayans are permitted to purchase firearms up to a certain caliber.

The districts with a large number of corrugated iron shacks, such as B. Cerro Norte, La Paloma or Casabo, one should, if at all, only be accompanied by locals. The center of the city and the old town are quite safe by South American standards. Handbags or valuables should not be left in the passenger seat.

Uruguayans always say there are no dangerous animals in the country. Then, when it comes to snakes, it's, "yes, there are some really poisonous snakes, but otherwise there aren't any other dangerous animals in the country." When it comes to spiders, it's, "yes, a there are a few really venomous snakes and spiders, but otherwise there are no other dangerous animals in the country.” And then, when it comes to the cougars and maned wolves… In fact, cars in Montevideo are far more dangerous than the wildlife. You simply shouldn't do gymnastics in sandals and shorts through high grass and bushes, then you won't be bitten.



There are no particular health risks in Uruguay. Medical care is good, especially in the cities.

The emergency numbers are 911 and 999.



In the past few decades, the first-name form has become commonplace - even with strangers.



The official name of the country is the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. Initially, the territory of modern Uruguay was part of the Spanish governorship of La Plata, being a separate province called "East Coast" until 1815 and "Eastern Province" after. In 1828, this province declared independence, and two years later adopted the name "Oriental Republic of Uruguay". The last word in the name of the country is a hydronym, derived from the name of the river of the same name, which is of Indian (Tupi languages) origin. In it, the "guay" part means "river", and "Uru" in the Guarani language is the common name for several species of birds. A number of authors interpret it as "capercaillie rooster".



Before the conquest of the territory of modern Uruguay by the Spaniards, the tribes of the Charrua Indians lived on its territory. In the 16th century (since 1515), the penetration of the Spaniards began.

In 1776-1810, the territory of the country, then called the Eastern Strip, was part of the viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata.

After the start of the national liberation struggle, the inhabitants of Uruguay, especially the gauchos, supported the revolutionary struggle of José Hervasio Artigas for independence from both Spain and Buenos Aires, as well as from the Portuguese troops invading Brazil.

In 1810, a popular uprising against Spanish colonial rule began in Uruguay, led by José Artigas. In 1811, the independence of Uruguay from Spain was proclaimed. In 1814, Uruguay was liberated from Spanish troops. In 1821, Uruguay was incorporated into Brazil.

The country's independence was proclaimed in 1825, when a group of former Eastern Province partisans (known as the Thirty-three Orientales), led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja, fought against the Brazilian Empire with the help of the United Provinces of South America.

In 1830, the country's first constitution was adopted.

1830s - the emergence of the main parties of the country - "Colorado" (that is, "Colored" - pro-Brazilian orientation) and "Blanco" ("White" - pro-Argentine orientation).
1896 The State Bank of the Republic of Uruguay was established.
Constitution 1919
1933 - Dissolution of Parliament by President Gabriel Terra.
1938 - Restoration of democracy.
1965-1972 - the aggravation of the political struggle, the urban guerrilla of Tupamaros, the terror of the Nationalist armed defense.
1973-1984 - coup d'état, period of military dictatorship.
1985 - after the parliamentary and presidential elections in 1984, power was transferred to civilians.




Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America after Suriname. With an area of 176,215 square kilometers (of which around 2,600 square kilometers is water), it is about half the size of Germany. Uruguay shares a 985 km border with Brazil to the north and a 579 km border with Argentina to the west. The coast is 660 km long.

landscape picture
Almost the entire area of Uruguay belongs to the ecoregion of the pampas. In Uruguay it is also called Campo and in contrast to the completely treeless steppe landscape of neighboring Argentina to the south, it is sometimes compared to a wet savannah due to a mosaic of "forest islands" in the subtropical grassland. The Campo is hilly and continues northward to southeastern Brazil where it rises to a plateau. The south of the country, on the other hand, is almost flat. Along the Río Uruguay there are extensive swampy plains that are frequently flooded.

The center is a low tableland rising in ridges to just over 500m. Layer steps and hardlings give the country an overall hilly character. The coast is strongly divided in the southeast by shallow beach lakes and lowlands. In the north the land is covered with hill ranges, e.g. B. the Cuchilla de Haedo or the Cuchilla Grande in the northeast, but only slightly exceed the height of 500 m. The highest elevation in Uruguay is the Cerro Catedral at 514 m, other elevations are the Cerro de las Ánimas (501 m), the Cerro Ventana (420 m) and the Cerro Colorado (299 m). The lowest point is at sea level. Overall, the country is very flat, only ten percent of the land area is higher than 200 m. The soil is generally fertile and is therefore used almost everywhere for agriculture. At around five percent, forests only make up a small part of the country's area.



The climate is subtropical in the north and temperate in the south. In the coastal regions, temperatures are similar to the climatic conditions of the coastal regions of southern France, northern Italy and northern Spain, with clearly defined thermal seasons. The average annual temperature there is 16.5 °C. The warmest month is January with around 22°C, while the coolest month is June with an average of 10°C. Inland, the annual mean temperature is slightly higher, mainly due to higher summer temperatures.

The absolute temperature extremes in Montevideo are 43 °C and -5 °C, frost can occur there - albeit rarely - from May to October.

Throughout the country - in contrast to the Mediterranean region - precipitation falls all year round (east side climate), averaging 1,000 mm/year, and up to 1,400 mm/year in the wettest areas in the north. Only the region around Punta del Este has slightly less precipitation at just under 1,000 mm/year.

The winter half-year is generally somewhat drier than the summer half-year, with an overall great seasonal balance; the wettest month is March. Measurable precipitation falls in Montevideo on about 100 days a year.

The mean annual total of sunshine hours in Montevideo is 2,800 hours.

Relative humidity varies between 70 and 75 percent nationwide, with peaks of 80 percent in July and 65 percent in January. It is quite common for humidity to drop from 90 percent at sunrise to 45 percent in the afternoon.

In winter, the country is often hit by very strong, cold south-west winds known as pamperos, which ravage the country's coastal regions. Cold air rushes are usually accompanied by south-east winds, the so-called sudestadas, which can cause widespread flooding in the La Plata region. Overall, easterly to north-easterly winds predominate.

Although the precipitation is distributed relatively evenly over the year, extreme irregularities can be observed again and again. There were long dry periods like 1891-1894, 1916-1917, 1942-1943, 1964-1965 and 1988-1989, on the other hand the years 1914, 1959, 1983 or 1992 were extremely rainy. With no mountains as natural barriers, the country is very vulnerable to rapid weather changes, especially when heavy rains follow a prolonged dry spell.


Rivers and bodies of water

The country is very rich in water. The water network can be divided into two large basins: the inner and the Atlantic basin. The Atlantic Basin is fed by relatively short rivers that flow into the sea. It can be divided into two basins: that of the Río de la Plata (to the west) and that of the Lagoon of Merin (to the east). The inner basin consists of watercourses that flow into the Uruguay. Its most water-rich tributary, the Río Negro, flows through the country from east to west and in turn forms a large basin.

The largest river is the Río Uruguay, which is 1790 km long in total, rises in the southern Brazilian coastal mountains and, together with the Río de la Plata, forms the western border of the country. The most important tributary is the Río Negro, which crosses Uruguay from northeast to southwest for 750 km and is dammed in the center of the country to form the 1140 square kilometer lake Rincón del Bonete. This reservoir was created by the construction of the dam on the Río Negro to generate electrical energy. It is halfway along the course of the river, behind the Dr. Gabriel Terra Dam, which was completed in 1945.

The Río de la Plata flows into the Atlantic at the world's largest estuary. The Río Uruguay is navigable along the entire western border of the country. Like the two large reservoirs on the Río Negro (Rincón del Bonete and Paso del Palmar) in the center of Uruguay, it supplies the entire country with drinking water. Other important lakes are the Laguna Merín in the east of the country, the Embalse de Salto Grande (area: 783 square kilometers) on the Río Uruguay and the Baygorria reservoir on the Río Negro. Also on the south-east coast are the Laguna del Sauce, the Laguna José Ignacio, the Laguna Garzón, the Laguna de Rocha, the Laguna de Castillos and the Laguna Negra.

Uruguay's abundance of water is not only found above ground. The Acuífero Guaraní, which extends beneath the land surfaces of Uruguay, northern Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil, contains an estimated 37,000 cubic kilometers of groundwater, making it one of the largest freshwater reservoirs anywhere.

After a referendum in October 2004, the right to water was enshrined in Uruguay's constitution. This had to be changed and henceforth contain a guarantee that access to drinking water and sanitation facilities is a fundamental human right and must be guaranteed by the state. Uruguay is the first country in the world where the right to water was given constitutional status through a plebiscite.


Natural resources

Uruguay is relatively poor in mineral resources, does not have its own oil deposits, and mineral deposits are only found sporadically. However, various bulk raw materials are mined, such as limestone for the production of cement, or (especially in the south of the country) clay and clay-rich silt for bricks. In addition to dolomite and marble, the so-called "black granite" is also mined as a natural stone, especially in the south-eastern departments. However, only the Soca anticline is true granite (with a porphyry structure and a dark, grey-green matrix). Otherwise, basic dyke rocks, such as medium to fine-grained dolerites and microgabbros, are marketed under this misleading trade name ("Black Granite").

The industrial minerals feldspar, beryl and quartz are extracted from pegmatite veins in the departments of Colonia and Florida. The latter is elementary for the production of glass. Kaolinite for porcelain can be found in Blanquillo, and montmorillonite in Bañado de Medina. In the Department of Colonia, talc is even mined underground; Gypsum is found in the Río Negro department. Placer deposits of the important titanium ore ilmenite have accumulated on the coast of the Rocha department.

In the north-east of the country there are extensive basaltic lava sheets, the bubble spaces of which are often filled with agate and amethyst. However, since 1972 they have only been extracted and processed into jewelry in the Departamento Artigas.

In the area between Minas and Pan de Azúcar (Lavalleja) there are some small, mostly insignificant deposits of lead and zinc ores (also copper). Of these, La Oriental was exploited in the years 1850-1870 and 1936-1939. The iron ores magnetite and hematite are bound to highly metamorphic banded ore intercalated in granitic gneisses, but were mined only at Valentines, Florida. Other (partially manganese-containing) ribbon ore can be found in the Isla Cristalina de Rivera in the north of the country, but has never been used before. However, the only producing gold mine in the country is located there, at Minas de Corrales.

The highest authority for geology and mining is the Dirección Nacional de Minería y Geología in the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining.



Only a few remnants remain of the once mighty, impenetrable bush forests. The wooded areas, mostly on the lower reaches of the rivers, now cover only 5 percent of the national territory. Tall prairie grasses are characteristic of the type of vegetation that prevails in Uruguay. Native hardwood trees include urunday, lapacho, carob, quebracho, jacaranda, and acacia. Other flowering plants are mimosa and kapok trees. Palm trees thrive in the southeast and valleys of the central region and northern Uruguay. Pines and eucalyptus trees have been planted in the coastal areas to protect against further encroachment of the sand. The widespread cypress, oak, cedar, mulberry and magnolia trees have also been introduced from outside.



The populations of pumas, seals, tapirs, chahas and rheas have declined sharply today. Deer, wild boar, otters (including the endangered giant river otter, up to 2.20 m long), foxes, armadillos, anteaters and various rodents are among the most common mammals. Bird species include vultures, burrowing owls, turkeys, parakeets, cardinals, hummingbirds, swans (including the very rare black-necked swans) and wild ducks. Reptile fauna includes lizards, turtles and rattlesnakes. The range of caimans is limited to the upper reaches of the Uruguay River. Uruguay has the second largest colony of seals and sea lions (after Alaska) on Isla de Lobos (= Seal Island, located off Punta del Este). Whales and dolphins are also sighted; Sharks on the high seas, but never near shore.



With almost 1.5 million inhabitants, Montevideo, the capital, is the only city with a population of more than one million and the most important port city in the country. Not only is almost half of the population concentrated there, but also the country's industry and trade, which is why Uruguay is often jokingly referred to as "a city with a few farms in the hinterland". Montevideo is therefore a primate city, it is also a center of Latin American politics (headquarters of ALADI and the Secretariat of Mercosur). The city is also considered very safe by Latin American standards.

The cities of Salto (pop. 104,028) and Paysandú (pop. 76,429) on the Uruguay River, on the border with Argentina, compete for the title of second most important city, albeit by far. Both cities are characterized by the agricultural industry, Salto also has a share in the important hydroelectric power plant Salto Grande. Other cities include Las Piedras (pop. 71,268), Rivera (pop. 64,485), Maldonado (pop. 62,592), Tacuarembó (pop. 54,757) and Melo (pop. 51,830). The country's most famous seaside resort, Punta del Este, is located about 140 km east of Montevideo. In the high summer months of December to February, the city is the meeting point of the sophisticated South American world, when the population swells from 30,000 to over 200,000 people and international sailing regattas, fashion shows and marathons take place.



The inhabitants of Uruguay are called Uruguayans in German. The Uruguayan describes himself as Uruguayo or Oriental.



Uruguay had 3.5 million inhabitants in 2020. Annual population growth was +0.3%. An excess of births (birth rate: 13.6 per 1000 inhabitants vs. death rate: 9.5 per 1000 inhabitants) contributed to population growth. The number of births per woman was statistically 2.0 in 2020 and corresponds to the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The life expectancy of residents of Uruguay from birth was 78.1 years in 2020 (women: 81.6, men: 74.3). Due to a declining birth rate, increasing life expectancy and emigration (0.9 emigrants per 1000 inhabitants), the age of the population is increasing. The median age of the population in 2020 was 35 years. In 2020, 20.3 percent of the population was under the age of 15, while the proportion of those over 64 was 15.1 percent of the population.

Historical population development
While around 31,000 people lived in Uruguay in 1796 (15,245 of them in Montevideo), in 1852 there were already between 130,000 and 140,000 inhabitants in the national territory. The population continued to rise to around 400,000 (100,000 of them in Montevideo) by 1880. The population broke through the one million mark for the first time in 1905. In 1937 Uruguay had more than two million inhabitants. In 2010 the total population of the country was 3,510,386.

More recent European immigration to Uruguay began around the middle of the 19th century at the time of the civil war in North America that began in 1861. However, unlike in neighboring Argentina, Uruguay did not actively recruit immigrants. At that time, however, a law was passed that aimed to promote the "material and moral welfare of the country" through the immigration of farmers, and in 1865 an immigration office was also founded. In the population, however, indifference rather than support for such efforts prevailed. In times of the Great Depression, from 1930 onwards, even immigration was made more difficult by issuing regulations to protect jobs held by locals. After the Second World War, immigration permits were restricted to certain professional groups. Nevertheless, from the 1830s to the end of the 1950s, Uruguay had a surplus of around 800,000 people from migration movements, around 650,000 of them in the period from 1836 to 1926. The most frequented immigration period was the last decade before the outbreak of the First World War. The years 1873, 1889 and 1913 also provided statistical highs with an immigration surplus of 24,339, 27,349 and 28,504.


Population structure

Ethnically, the population is made up of descendants of European immigrants (88 percent), mestizos (8 percent) and descendants of African slaves (4 percent), who, depending on the source, mostly come from the area of modern-day Angola or the Bantu areas of East and Central Africa and Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone and today's Ghana.

The European immigrants came from Spain and to a large extent also from Italy, as well as from Croatia and German-speaking countries. The Indian, Guarani-speaking natives (Charrúas, Guanaes, Yaros, Chanaes), who lived as hunters and gatherers, have been exterminated within a few decades since the mid-18th century.

In the context of more recent European immigration in the mid-19th century, the percentage of immigrants in terms of origin was as follows:

After the Waldensians first came to the country at the end of the 1850s, the Swiss were represented in the years 1861 to 1863. In the period that followed, the influx of Italians, and here in particular Neapolitans from the lower classes of society, gained in importance. From 1866 to 1868, the Italian share of immigration was about 50 percent. However, to a large extent it was initially a matter of commuting. This means that the immigrants came as seasonal workers (golondrinas) to help with harvesting, and then returned to Europe to accompany cattle transports. The Italians increasingly appeared in urban trade and especially in Montevideo. The proportion of Italian colonists, on the other hand, was small. With the second strong wave of immigration from 1880 to 1913, agricultural workers and colonists willing to settle came to Uruguay. Here, too, Italians played an important role, for example in the period from 1890 to 1894 they made up 42.6% of all immigrants, followed by the Spaniards (17.7%). The influx of German speakers was comparatively low at 3.2% during this period. With regard to the composition of the population in Uruguay, for example, an estimated 65,000 Italians were assumed for the year 1930, which meant a 3.5% share of the total population. The number of ethnic Germans in the country was estimated at around 15,000 in the early 1960s.

In the second half of the 20th century, immigrants also came from the neighboring countries of Brazil and Argentina, with the main reasons for emigration being the repressive regimes and the poor economic situation of the two countries.

Socio-economically, Uruguay is one of the Latin American countries with the largest middle-class proportion of the population. A largely European-influenced welfare state ensured a relatively balanced standard of living until the early 1960s, after which the gap between rich and poor widened.

Although migrants played an important role in Uruguay's history, only 2.3% of the population was foreign-born in 2017. The largest groups of these came from Argentina (30,000 people), Spain (20,000) and Brazil (10,000).


Population distribution

The largest part of the population, namely 92 percent, lives in cities, more than 40 percent of them in the capital Montevideo (almost 1.5 million). Around 75 percent of the total population live in Montevideo and the southern half of the country.

In the last two decades, around half a million Uruguayans have left the country for Argentina (100,000-250,000), Brazil (300,000-500,000), Spain, the United States or Australia.

Article 40 of the General Education Law (Ley General de Educación) designates Uruguayan Spanish, Uruguayan Portuguese and Uruguayan Sign Language as the three “native languages existing in the country” (lenguas maternas existentes en el país). Uruguay has no de jure official language, but Spanish is the de facto official language throughout the country.

The Spanish colloquial language is called the Río-de-la-Plata dialect. It has some special grammatical properties. Furthermore, the pronunciation differs greatly from Spanish (actually: Castilian). This is due to the great influence of immigrants from Italy. For this reason, the language in Uruguay sounds much calmer and softer than Iberian Spanish. In the entire northern half of the country, especially in the border area with Brazil, the influence of the neighboring country is clearly noticeable. This is where the mixed language Portuñol (also Portuñol riverense) originated and spread. In general, Portuguese has a strong influence on Uruguayan Spanish. This is noticeable in the pronunciation, in a slightly changed grammar and vocabulary. Due to immigration, Italian and French are also spoken to a certain extent.



At the beginning of the 20th century, Uruguay was one of the first secular states in the region. Church and state have been separated since 1916, and freedom of belief is enshrined in the constitution. The Roman Catholic Church as an institution – atypical for Latin America – has relatively little influence in society. According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (as of 2006), 47.1% of the population profess the Catholic faith, 23.2% are non-denominational believers, 11.1% are non-Catholic Christians, 0.3% are of the Jewish faith, 0.6% belong to the Umbanda religion or other African American religions, 17.2% are atheists or agnostics and 0.4% belong to other religions. About half of the population does not practice the religion. The national saint of Uruguay is James, son of Alphaeus.