Uruguay Main Facts

Famous for its small size and population it is located in the eastern region of South America. Its territory is bordered to the north by Brazil, to the west by Argentina, to the south by the Rio de la Plata and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

Its name is inherited from its most important river and of Guarani origin: Rio de Urú, River of the snails or River of the birds.

Uruguay is the 2nd smallest country in the terms of size in South America. Its total area is 176,215 km2, of which 660 km are coastline.

Several water features surround the territory namely the Uruguay River in the west, Rio de la Plata estuary in the southwest and the cold blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast.

The Uruguayan landscape is largely characterized by gentle rolling land, marked by ranges of low hills called blades.

Its highest point is Cerro Catedral 514 mts above sea level. Tidal lakes and sand dunes fringe the coastline.

Economic Activities

The main economic activities are agriculture and livestock, along with tourism. Sheep and cattle raising are two of Uruguay’s most important economic activities.

Commercial fishing has expanded since the 70s and 80s and forestry is limited but provides for most local needs.

Uruguay
Geographical Regions

Uruguay may be divided into four regions, based on social, economic, and geographical features. Each one has its particular charm

The Interior

The largest but least inhabited region, home to cattle and sheep raising “Estancias”. Sheep raising increased only in the last quarter of the nineteenth century even though Uruguayan wool is of moderate quality.

Cattle ranches concentrate in the north and east and some of these estancias have turned into Inns allowing tourists to experience the traditional “Gaucho” lifestyle.
Agriculture is not an extensive activity due to the lack of fertile soil even though rice , produced mainly in the east, has become a non-traditional export in the recent years.

El Litoral

A narrow strip of land stretching west from Montevideo along the Rio de la Plata and the Uruguayan River to the Argentinian border. The soil in this area is more fertile allowing some historical farms to produce dairy products, wheat, wines and citrus crops.

Colonia del Sacramento, best known as Colonia is one of the main touristic attractions of the region, declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

An ideal place to enjoy its cobbled streets, history, good food and amazing sunsets.

Further east in the region, ecotourism is popular along the plains of the Uruguay river and its tributaries. The Litoral is also renown for many hot spring resorts.

Greater Montevideo

The Rio de la Plata dominates all the southern area of Uruguay, a broad estuary river which opens into the South Atlantic. Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay is located in a perfectly sheltered natural harbour. This cosmopolitan city is home to nearly half of Uruguay’s population.

The Coast

Uruguay, to the east of Montevideo, has a coastal strip on the Atlantic Ocean fringed by sandy dunes and tidal pools. Many of the beaches and small towns are still unspoiled where many families choose to spend their summer holidays.

Farther east lies Punta del Este the major touristic resort with its hotel, restaurants, casinos and nightclubs.

Biodiversity

Uruguay is home to several bird species considered globally threatened, such as the Yellow cardinal (Gubernatrix cristata), the black and white monjita (Heteroxolmis/Xolmis dominicanus) and the marsh seedeater (Sporophila palustris)

Several tree species in Uruguay are at their southern and eastern natural range limits, implying genetic variability of populations important for breeding programmes.

Uruguay has

  • 3 Ramsar Sites

Bañados del Este

Esteros de Farrapos

Islas del Rio Uruguay y la Laguna de Rocha

  • 2 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

Bañados del Este

Bioma Pampa- Quebradas del Norte

  • 22 important Bird Areas (BAs)

In 2013 Uruguay adopted a law designating its territorial waters as “a Sanctuary for whales and dolphins”

Climate

Uruguay has a humid Subtropical climate with average temperatures of 17° with hot summers and regular precipitation year-round, with maximum peaks in spring and autumn. Sunny days are predominant during almost all year.

The northern region of the country is considerably warmer and rainier, and the southern region is colder and drier.

The winds blowing from the North bring humidity and heat to the area, where as the southern winds, called the “pampa gusts” are colder and drier.

Tours for Uruguay coming soon!

These tours give you a starting point for what your trip to Argentina could entail. They cover routes we’ve found work particularly well and feature some of our favourite places to stay. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.

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