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Uruguay travel guide - Travel S helper


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Uruguay, formally the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, is a South American nation located in the southeastern area. It is bounded on the west by Argentina and on the north and east by Brazil, on the south by the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver), and on the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean. Uruguay has a population of about 3.42 million people, of which 1.8 million reside in the metropolitan region of Montevideo, the country’s capital and biggest city. Uruguay, with an area of about 176,000 square kilometers (68,000 square miles), is South America’s second-smallest country geographically, just slightly bigger than Suriname.

Uruguay was inhabited for about 4000 years by the Charra people until the Portuguese founded Colonia del Sacramento, one of the region’s earliest European towns, in 1680. Montevideo was established by the Spanish as a military bastion in the early 18th century, indicating the region’s conflicting claims. Uruguay gained independence from Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Brazil between 1811 and 1828, after a four-way war. Throughout the nineteenth century, it remained vulnerable to foreign influence and interference, with the military having a recurrent role in internal politics until the late twentieth century. Uruguay is a constitutional democracy in the modern era, with a president who acts as both head of state and head of government.

Uruguay is the leader in Latin America in terms of democracy, peace, absence of corruption, and e-government, and is the leader in South America in terms of press freedom, middle class size, and wealth. Uruguay provides more soldiers to United Nations peacekeeping operations than any other nation on a per-capita basis. It is ranked second in the area in terms of economic freedom, income equality, per capita income, and foreign direct investment inflows. Uruguay is the continent’s third-best performer in terms of human development index, GDP growth, innovation, and infrastructure. The United Nations classifies it as a high-income nation (top category). Uruguay is also rated third in the world in terms of e-Participation. Uruguay is a significant exporter of combed wool, rice, soybeans, frozen meat, malt, and milk on a worldwide scale.

Uruguay was awarded “country of the year” by The Economist in 2013, recognizing the nation’s pioneering policy of legalizing the production, sale, and use of cannabis. Same-sex marriage and abortion are also legal in Uruguay, which has earned the country a reputation for being one of the most liberal nations in the world, as well as one of the most socially developed, a regional leader, and a high performer on global measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion.

Uruguay | Introduction

Uruguay’s name means “river of the beautiful birds.” It has something to do with Guyana’s name: Arawak Guayana, which means “country of many waterways.”

The country is often referred to as the Switzerland of South America, not because of its physical characteristics, but because of its stable democracy and social advantages such as free education. Uruguay had one of its worst economic crises in 2002, which had a significant negative impact on safety owing to an increase in crime, and although activity levels in 2008 were back to pre-crisis levels, crime remains quite high, albeit low for the area. Uruguay, which has long been a popular destination for immigrants, has seen significant levels of emigration for almost four decades, mostly from highly skilled employees and individuals with advanced degrees (brain drain) seeking better prospects elsewhere.

Uruguay’s indigenous people have a long agricultural and civic history. In certain places, the dominating pre-20th century live stock drive methods are still used, although they are less popular tourist attractions than beautiful beaches and city centers. The country’s terrain is mostly low-lying. The country’s highest peak, Cerro Catedral, stands at 514 meters.


Uruguay’s tourist sector is a solid part of the country’s economy. Tourism is a factor they have decided to prioritize, whether it adds to the economy’s total production or offers stability in the form of employment. The tourist sector employed 10% of the country’s workforce in 2008. In 2007, approximately 1.8 million visitors visited Uruguay. The majority of visitors in Uruguay are drawn to the country’s rich culture as well as its beautiful natural features. Interacting with indigenous peoples to colonial history, as shown at Colonia del Sacrementa, are all cultural experiences available in Uruguay. Montevideo, the country’s capital, offers the widest range of cultural opportunities. Tores Garcia Museum and Estadio Sentenario, which hosted the first world cup in history, are only two examples of the cultural richness that visitors seek. However, just strolling the streets enables one to experience the city’s diverse mix of culture.

Punta del Este is a popular tourist destination in Uruguay. Punta del Este is a popular tourist resort located on a tiny peninsula along Uruguay’s southeast coast. Its beaches are classified into two categories: Mansa (meek) and Brava (brave) (ocean side). The Mansa beach is better for sunbathing, snorkeling, and other low-key recreational activities, while the Brava beach is better for daring water sport aficionados. Punta del Este is practically linked to Maldonado and stretches eastward to include La Barra and José Ignacio. It has 122 hotels, 80 restaurants, an international airport, and a 500-boat yacht harbor.


Uruguay is the second smallest sovereign country in South America (after Suriname) and the third smallest territory in the world, with 176,214 km2 (68,037 sq mi) of continental land and 142,199 km2 (54,903 sq mi) of jurisdictional water and tiny river islands (French Guiana is the smallest). With a rich coastal lowland, the scenery consists mostly of undulating plains and modest hill ranges (cuchillas). Uruguay has a coastline of 660 kilometers (410 miles).

The nation is covered by a complex fluvial network made up of four river basins or deltas: the Ro de la Plata Basin, the Uruguay River, the Laguna Mern, and the Ro Negro. The Ro Negro (‘Black River’) is the main internal river. Along the Atlantic coast, there are many lagoons.

The Cerro Catedral, in the Sierra Carapé mountain range, is the country’s highest point, reaching 514 meters (1,686 feet) above sea level. The Ro de la Plata, the estuary of the Uruguay River (which defines the country’s western boundary), is located to the southwest.

Montevideo is the southernmost capital city in the Americas and the world’s third-southest metropolis (only Canberra and Wellington are further south).

Uruguay has ten national parks: five in the east’s wetland regions, three in the central hill country, and one along the Rio Uruguay in the west.


Uruguay is the only temperate-zone nation in South America. Because there are no high mountains to serve as a shield, the terrain is flat grassland, and all places are especially susceptible to quick shifts in weather fronts and strong winds. Summer and winter are reversed in Uruguay relative to the Northern Hemisphere due to its location south of the Equator (about the same latitude as Johannesburg and Sydney). Temperatures below freezing are uncommon in the winter, though not unheard of.


Uruguayans are mostly of European heritage, with nearly 87.7% of the population reporting European ancestry according to the 2011 census. The majority of Uruguayans of European descent are descendants of 19th and 20th century immigrants from Spain and Italy (about one-quarter of the population is Italian), and to a lesser extent France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Previously, settlers had come from Argentina. African-Americans make up an even lower percentage of the population.

Between 1963 and 1985, an estimated 320,000 Uruguayans left the country. Argentina is the most common emigration destination for Uruguayans, followed by the United States, Australia, Canada, Spain, Italy, and France. In 2009, the nation experienced an overall positive inflow when comparing immigration to emigration for the first time in 44 years. In 2009, 3,825 resident permits were issued, up to 1,216 in 2005. Argentina and Brazil account for half of the new legal residents. A 2008 immigration legislation gave immigrants the same rights and privileges as citizens, with the need that they prove a monthly income of $650.

Uruguay’s population growth rate is much lower than that of other Latin American nations. Because of its low birth rate, long life expectancy, and relatively high rate of emigration among younger people, its median age is greater than the world average. A quarter of the population is under the age of 15, while approximately a sixth is beyond the age of 60.

Montevideo is the country’s sole major city, with a population of 1.9 million people, or more than half of the country’s overall population. About 30 towns house the remainder of the urban population.


Uruguay has no official religion; the state and the church are legally separated, and religious freedom is protected. According to a 2008 INE poll, Catholicism is the most popular religion in Uruguay, with 45.7 percent of the population; non-Catholic Christians account for 9.0 percent, 0.6 percent are Animists or Umbandists (an Afro-Brazilian religion), and 0.4 percent are Jewish. 30.1 percent said they believed in a deity but were not religious, while 14 percent said they were atheists or agnostics. The main religion among Montevideo’s large Armenian population is Christianity, particularly Armenian Apostolic Christianity.

Uruguay is often regarded as the most secular nation in the Americas. In comparison to other areas of the Spanish Empire, Uruguay’s secularization started with the church’s comparatively modest involvement in the colonial period. The religious authorities’ influence was limited due to the tiny number of Indians in Uruguay and their adamant opposition to proselytism.

Anti-clerical views came to Uruguay after independence, especially from France, significantly diminishing the church’s authority. Civil marriage was legalized in 1837, and public graves were taken over by the state in 1861. Divorce was legalized in 1907, and religious teaching was outlawed in public schools in 1909. With the new constitution of 1917, under the influence of Colorado reformer José Batlle y Ordóez (1903–1911), full separation of religion and state was established.


Between 1999 and 2002, Uruguay was engulfed in a severe economic and financial crisis, mostly as a result of Argentina’s economic woes. The economy shrank by 11%, while unemployment rose to 21%. Despite the severity of trade shocks, Uruguay’s financial indicators remained more stable than those of its neighbors, owing to its strong investor reputation and investment-grade government bond rating, one of only two in South America.

The Batlle government signed a three-year $1.1 billion stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2004, committing the country to a large primary fiscal surplus, low inflation, significant reductions in external debt, and a number of structural reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and attracting foreign investment. Uruguay ended the deal in 2006 after paying off its debt early, although it kept a number of the policy promises.

Vázquez, who took office in March 2005, established the “Ministry of Social Development” and set out to reduce the country’s poverty rate by implementing a $240 million National Plan to Address the Social Emergency (PANES), which provided a monthly conditional cash transfer of $75 to over 100,000 families living in extreme poverty. In return for the benefits, recipients were expected to do community service, guarantee that their children attended school every day, and have frequent health checkups.

Uruguay was the first South American software exporter in 2005. While continuing to make payments on Uruguay’s foreign debt, the Frente Amplio administration launched an emergency plan to address the country’s severe poverty and unemployment issues. Between 2004 and 2008, the economy expanded at a 6.7 percent yearly pace. Uruguay has diversified its export markets in order to decrease its reliance on Argentina and Brazil. Poverty fell from 33% in 2002 to 21.7 percent in July 2008, with severe poverty falling from 3.3 percent to 1.7 percent.

Uruguay was the only nation in the Americas that did not officially suffer a recession between 2007 and 2009. (two consecutive downward quarters). In December 2010, unemployment hit a new low of 5.4 percent, before increasing to 6.1 percent in January 2011. While unemployment remains low, the IMF has seen an increase in inflationary pressures, and Uruguay’s GDP grew by 10.4% in the first half of 2010.

According to IMF projections, Uruguay’s real GDP is expected to increase between 8% and 8.5 percent in 2010, followed by 5% growth in 2011 and 4% growth in following years. After five consecutive quarters of steady growth, gross public sector debt decreased in the second quarter of 2010, reaching $21.885 billion US dollars, or 59.5 percent of GDP.

On December 11, 2013, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to completely legalize marijuana, making it the first country in the world to do so. On the same day, the legislation was approved by the Uruguayan senate, with 16 votes in favor and 13 votes against.

How To Travel To Uruguay

By planeCarrasco International Airport, situated 20 kilometers east of Montevideo, is the country's biggest and major hub. Carrasco is a tiny airport, thus most visitors from outside Latin America will need to connect at least one or twice to get there.There are flights from Carrasco to many locations in...

How To Travel Around Uruguay

By trainThere are just a few commuter rail services in and around Montevideo. There are certain tourist trains that do not run on a set timetable. You may locate them by listening for announcements at the Montevideo railway station. There is no consistent long-distance rail service. The bus is...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Uruguay

Passports (or MERCOSUR ID cards) from the following countries do not need a visa to enter: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong,...

Destinations in Uruguay

Regions in UruguayAtlantic Coast (Cabo Polonio, Chuy, La Paloma, Punta del Diablo, Piriapolis, Punta del Este)great beach resorts fronting the Atlantic and a land crossing to Brazil.Rio de la Plata (Montevideo, Colonia)the capital city, old colonial magnificence and a ferry crossing to Argentina.Northern Interior (Salto, Tacuarembo)Gaucho culture, land crossings to Argentina and...

Accommodation & Hotels in Uruguay

There are numerous "estancias" in tranquil and peaceful settings, surrounded by many kinds of native and migratory birds, that provide a unique chance to reconnect with nature for nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and those seeking a break from the fast-paced world.Along the shore, there are much more beach homes to...

Things To See in Uruguay

While there are fascinating things to visit across Uruguay, the major tourist attractions are centered around the shore. Unsurprisingly, the capital, Montevideo, has the greatest concentration of things to visit. General Jose Artigas lies in a tomb under an equestrian statue of himself in the center of Plaza Independencia,...

Things To Do in Uruguay

Watching a football game between Nacional and Pearol, the two most watched football clubs in the country, is one of the greatest experiences you can have while in Uruguay.Sunbathing, surfing, and bathing on the Atlantic coast's beaches. Punta del Este, Piriapolis, La Paloma, La Pedrera, Cabo Polonio, Punta del...

Food & Drinks in Uruguay

Food in UruguayUruguayan cuisine is characteristic of temperate nations, with a high butter, fat, and grain content and a low spice content. Because to the large Italian immigrant population, it has a significant Italian impact. If you are from the Mediterranean, you will find it bland, but if you...

Money & Shopping in Uruguay

MoneyThe Peso is Uruguay's currency. Prices are often expressed in U$, which may be mistaken with the US$ (US dollar) sign. The currency rate was about $1 to UYU 30 in January 2016.Prices for more expensive products and services (usually above USD100) are often stated in US dollars rather...

Internet & Communications in Uruguay

TelephoneAntel, the national landline telephone monopoly, is the only supplier of landline Internet service as well as all public pay phones.Although Antel pay phones only accept Antel's proprietary magnetic cards, international calling cards may be used to call home by disconnecting the phone, waiting for a dial tone, then...

Traditions & Customs in Uruguay

Uruguay is a progressive nation on social issues. Uruguay was the first country in the world to provide women the right to vote, 12 years before France. Unlike Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, Uruguay is a secular state that has not sponsored any religion since 1917. The populace is mostly...

Language & Phrasebook in Uruguay

Spanish is widely spoken across the country. The pronunciation and usage of the vos pronoun instead of t is almost identical to the Spanish variant used in Argentina, commonly known as Rioplatense Spanish. However, it differs significantly from Spanish spoken in Spain in terms of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary....

Culture Of Uruguay

Uruguayan culture is largely European, with influences from southern Europe being especially significant. The gaucho tradition has played a significant role in both Uruguayan and Argentinan art and culture.Visual artsAbstract painter and sculptor Carlos Páez Vilaró was a well-known Uruguayan artist. He took inspiration from both Timbuktu and Mykonos...

History of Uruguay

Uruguay was discovered in the late 16th century by Spanish Adelantados and was a part of the United Provinces of the River Plate until 1811. (Although plata technically means "silver" in Spanish, the conventional and proper translation is "plate," since it was formerly used as a synonym for precious...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Uruguay

Stay Safe in UruguayIn comparison to its neighbors, Uruguay has always had a relatively low rate of violent crime. As a result, Argentines and Brazilians often vacation in Uruguay because they enjoy not having to worry about getting carjacked, abducted, or killed while on vacation. Uruguay is still largely...



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