Uruguay






Culture Name

Uruguayan

Orientation

Identification. The name Oriental Republic of Uruguay República Oriental del Uruguay, derives from the fact that the country lies east of the Uruguay River, a major tributary of the Rio de la Plata estuary. Before independence, it was known as Banda Oriental del Uruguay . The name "Uruguay" is a Guaraní word meaning "river of shellfish," or "river the uru birds come from."

Uruguayans have a strong sense of national identity and patriotism. There are no alternative traditions or nationalities within the country.

Location and Geography. Uruguay is on the southeastern Atlantic coast of the Southern Cone of South America, bordering Argentina to the west and south and Brazil to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is on the east and the estuary of the Río de la Plata is on the south. The land area is about 68,020 square miles (176,220 kilometers).

Most of the country consists of gently rolling plains interrupted by two ridges of low hills. The remainder consists of fertile coastal and riverine lowlands, including a narrow sandy and marshy coastal plain. The many beaches are an important tourist attraction.

The climate is generally mild, and freezing temperatures are almost unknown. Because of the absence of mountains, all the regions are vulnerable to rapid changes in weather.

Grasslands and agricultural lands cover the majority of the country. There are also some limited extensions of gallery forests and palm tree savannas. The main cultural differences are related to rural (9 percent) versus urban populations (91 percent), and whether people live in the capital or the interior towns. The country is divided into nineteen administrative departamentos, each with a capital town. About half of the population lives in the capital, Montevideo, and its metropolitan area.

Demography. The total population is approximately 3.3 million. About half of the population lives in the capital, Montevideo, and its metropolitan area. The second largest city, Salto, has ninety thousand inhabitants. Much of the hinterland is very sparsely populated. As a result of emigration, there could be as many people of Uruguayan descent living outside as inside the country.

Most of the indigenous population was exterminated by the nineteenth century, and those who survived were assimilated. The ethnic composition of the population is 90 percent European (predominantly Spanish and Italian), and 6 percent of the people are partly of Native American descent. Africans, 4 percent of the population, mainly in Montevideo, were imported as slaves to work in the ports, in the processing of meat and hides, and as servants.

Linguistic Affiliation. The prevalent language is a variety of Spanish known as Rioplatense or Platellano . In rural areas, gauchesco/criollo, the creole dialect spoken by the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century gauchos, is still influential. Gauchesco has been preserved in literature, music, and jokes, and is part of the national identity. Along the Brazilian border, a local dialect called portuñol or brasilero is spoken. It is a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. English has influenced the language of technology and the slang used by young people.

Symbolism. The color sky-blue ( celeste ) is a powerful symbol that represents freedom and independence. It is present in the four horizontal stripes of the flag that alternate with five white ones (a sun with a face in the upper corner also symbolizes independence). It is also the color worn by the national soccer team.

Soccer is the national sport and occupies a central place in the life of the nation. The entire population

Uruguay
Uruguay
is united behind the national combined team, but fans' allegiance is divided among the rival local teams (Peñarol and nacional are the most popular ones). Many figures of speech and cultural metaphors revolve around soccer.

Another central symbolic element is the figure of the gaucho. The original gauchos were an equestrian ethnic group similar to North American cowboys and Ukrainian Cossacks. Cattle and horses introduced by the Spanish in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries multiplied in the grasslands and roamed freely over the land. Some Spaniards became seminomadic exploiters of this resource, and local native residents also learned to ride horses and live off wild cattle.

Gauchos originated as mestizos in these prairies (pampas) of southern South America. Originally, they were equestrian hunters of cattle for hides, beef or salting, and horses for riding. Later they traded in contraband, worked on the cattle and sheep ranches, and served as militia during the struggle for independence and as mercenaries for post-independence caudillos . The gaucho image has become the embodiment of the national character. The idealized gaucho is strong, brave, loyal, proud but humble, honorable, generous, straightforward, clever, patient, wise but melancholic from hardship, and free and independent. The Charrúa, a dominant fierce and independent regional First Nation, although annihilated by the Europeans, is imagined to still live in the spirit of the gaucho mestizo and the Uruguayans (who sometimes called themselves "charruas").

The national flower is the ceibo and the most symbolically significant tree is the ombu . The terotero bird is a common literary symbol for the audacious, bold, attentive, and vivacious nature of the gaucho.

Another important symbol is the historical figure of José Gervasio Artigas, who is considered the father of independence and political nationalism. All political parties refer to Artigas in their platforms. Artigas' flag is still used as a patriotic symbol and was adopted by the Tupamaros. The number 33 has nationalistic connotations, being related to the 33 Patriots ( Los 33 Orientales ), a group that fought for independence.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The colonial period from 1516 to 1810 was characterized by a struggle for control of the area by Spain and Portugal, with minor incursions by the British and French. It was during this time that Montevideo was founded (1726). Between 1811 and 1827, during the wars of independence, the formation of the national identity materialized around the epics of Artigas and the 33 Orientales. In 1828, Uruguay gained independence as a buffer state between Argentina and Brazil. Until the early twentieth century, the country engaged in an internal contest for political power through civil wars, dictatorships, and caudillismo . Polarization of the contending factions resulted in the formation of two opposing parties: the Blancos and Colorados.

In the early 1900s, under the leadership of President José Batlle y Ordóñez, the nation achieved political stability and implemented social reforms. A period of prosperity that lasted until about 1950 transformed the country into "the Switzerland of South America." Change in the international markets and an oversized government created economic hardship in the 1960s. Political instability ensued and, compounded by civil unrest and the appearance of the Tupamaro guerrilla movement, culminated in a coup and a military dictatorship in 1973. The new democratic period started with the 1984 presidential election. Since that time, the Blancos and Colorados have alternated in controlling the presidency.

National Identity. The national identity is a historical blend resulting from the struggle to maintain freedom from Spain and later from Argentina and Brazil, the gaucho culture, African slave roots, political caudillismo; and a European cultural and intellectual model.

Ethnic Relations. Uruguayans maintain harmonious ethnic relations internally and externally. They are well received in neighboring Argentina and Brazil as tourists and immigrants, and there are no ethnic tensions within the country.

Urbanism, Architecture and the Use of Space

Montevideo is a modern city with a European flavor. The character of the old part of the city, which was originally within a defensive stone wall, has been preserved to some extent. There are many parks, some very large. Public spaces follow the Spanish model and are open to everyone. Brick and mortar and concrete and stone are the dominant construction materials.

The urban centers in the interior are much less imposing and lively. Of note are the historic quarters of Colonia del Sacramento (founded in 1680 by the Portuguese), which UNESCO has declared a World Heritage City. The beach resort towns and cities are modern and active in the summer; Punta del Este has become a center for international meetings, golf tournaments, and film festivals. In remote rural areas, some gauchos still live in the traditional rancho, a simple adobe construction with a thatched roof.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Meat, particularly beef, is the mainstay of the diet. The national dish is the asado (barbecued meat). The parrillada (beef and entrails) is the most typical dish. It contains a varied assortment of parts, the most common being beef ribs, kidneys, salivary glands or sweetbreads ( mollejas ), small intestine ( chinchulines ) or large intestine ( tripa gorda ), and sweet blood pudding sausage ( morcilla dulce ). Pork sausage usually is served as an appetizer. Barbecued lamb is consumed in large quantities, particularly in rural areas. At rural banquets, entire cows are barbecued slowly with their hides.

As a result of Italian immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s, pasta is a national food. Sunday is the preferred day for eating pasta. Most home cooking has a Spanish influence, and meals almost invariably include soup.

A standard fast food is chivito, a substantial steak sandwich. Another unique snack is wedges of fainá a chickpea flour pancake.

People eat a lot of bread and ship biscuits ( galleta marina ), mostly made of white flour, and many consume dairy products, including the national dessert, dulce de leche. Other popular desserts are pastries, milk and egg pudding, and rice pudding.

Mate which is a strong tea-like beverage made by infusing coarsely ground leaves of Yerba Mate with hot water in a gourd and sipped through a metal straw with a terminal filter ( bombilla ), is drunk at home, at work, at the beach, at soccer games and in public places. Coffee is drunk as espresso or with milk. Tea usually is drunk with milk.

Breakfast is a light meal. Traditionally, lunch and dinner are the main meals. Wine and beer commonly accompany the main meals.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. More elaborate meals are eaten at anniversaries, birthdays, promotions, and other special occasions. People take advantage of any event or occasion to eat their favorite dishes or have an outdoor barbecue. The most important special meal of the year is the Christmas Eve dinner.

Basic Economy. Services and export-oriented herding and agricultural production and industry, a relatively even distribution of income, and high levels of social spending characterize the economy. The main natural resources are pastures (more than 75 percent of the land), agriculture (10 percent of the land), hydro power, and fisheries. Mineral resources are scanty, and the country does not produce petroleum.

From the earliest period of settlement, the economy offered few employment opportunities, for it was dominated by the exploitation of grazing livestock. Large ranches (estancias), were overseen by a small number of herdsmen under the supervision of a steward. In many cases the landlord was absent most of the time, living in an urban center. Raw

Spanish-style plazas are a common meeting place for Uruguayans.
Spanish-style plazas are a common meeting place for Uruguayans.
wool and beef still represent about a third of exports by value, but sheep and cattle products account for more than 90 percent of exports.

Three-fifths of the economic output is produced by a well-educated workforce in the service sector, mainly in public services and tourism. As a result of welfare state social policies and political favors in the past, there is a disproportionate number of public servants and retired citizens, and only around 32 percent of the population is economically active.

The government owns and operates the railroads, the national airline, a shipping fleet, the telephone and telegraph system, petroleum and alcohol refining and processing, and the cement industry. However, privatization has become more prevalent. The currency is the peso. The exchange rate fluctuates, sometimes markedly.

Land Tenure and Property. Most land is privately owned, and more than half the territory is divided into large landed ranches that belong to a few families. These properties began to be fenced after the introduction of wool-producing sheep. Historically, land was obtained through titles given by Spanish and Portuguese representatives, distributed by caudillos, or informally occupied. Legal land titles now are registered.

Commercial Activities. The major agricultural products are wheat, rice, barley, corn, sorghum, sugarcane, potatoes, and fruits. The bulk of livestock are cattle, sheep, and horses. Pigs, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits are also significant. Fishery is a major economic activity, and there is some mussel aquaculture and seal harvesting. The major exports are meat, leather products, wool, rice, dairy products, and hydroelectric power. The main imports are vehicles, electrical machinery, metals, heavy industrial machinery, and crude petroleum.

There is a good highway system and some railroads and waterways. There are ports and harbors at Montevideo, Colonia, Punta del Este, Fray Bentos, Nueva Palmira, Paysandu, and Piriapolis.

Major Industries. Industry became a significant factor in the economy in the second half of the twentieth century. This sector manufactures primarily food products, petroleum products, alcoholic (mainly beer and wine) and nonalcoholic beverages, chemicals and chemical products, textiles, clothing, hydraulic cement, gypsum, tobacco products, electrical appliances, and transportation equipment.

Trade. Uruguay is part of the Mercado Común del Sur (Mercosur) free-trade area. Almost half the country's exports go to Argentina and Brazil. Other significant export recipients are the European Union countries (20 percent) and the United States (7 percent). Imports come mainly from the Mercosur partners (43 percent), the European Union (20 percent) and the United States (11 percent).

Division of Labor. Among people 14 to 55 years old, 61 percent are economically active. Among those working, 12 percent are in the primary sector, 25 percent in the secondary sector, and 63 percent in the tertiary sector. Schooling is obligatory, and children are not in the workforce.

Jobs in rural areas often are obtained though historical connections among families or through the system of compadrazgo, in which the children of rural workers are given a godfather or godmother from the local elite when they are baptized. The father and the godfather become compadres, and the mother and godmother become comadres. This symbolic kinship system is intended to assure help later if the child becomes an orphan and for preferential treatment in employment. The obligations of the godchild include loyalty in disputes with neighbors and voting.

Industrial jobs are supposedly granted on the basis of qualifications, but since major industries are government-owned, many openings are filled through partisan connections with the political party in power. This practice is particularly important in appointments for public positions. This has resulted in an oversized government workforce.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Uruguay has long had a high standard of living, and its social, religious, political, and labor conditions are among the freest in South America. The state has provided universal free education since the late 1870s. However, there is social polarization; 13 percent of people in Montevideo and 16 percent in the interior live below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate is high. The relatively small upper class includes the ranching, business, professional, and political elites.

The two major minorities—the mestizos and the African-Uruguayans—are overwhelmingly in the low and lower-middle classes. During the wars for independence and later struggles for power, those ethnic groups were recruited into the militias, and they still often join the armed forces. Many African-Uruguayans are employed in domestic service or work as musicians and entertainers. There is no overt bigotry against minorities.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Montevideans stress their closeness to Europeans in appearance and life styles. Upper-class and middle-class people are very conscious of grooming and dress. In rural areas, many people still wear gaucho-influenced clothing. There is an inverse correlation between social class and the use of slang and gauchesco words. Car ownership is still seen as a social class symbol, and being a fan of certain soccer clubs also is said to be related to social class. Belonging to exclusive clubs is a symbol of social status. Where people spend their summer vacations and the beaches they go to are also related to social status.

Political Life

Government. Uruguay is a republic characterized by the presence of representative democracy at all levels of government; elections are held every five years. People are generally well informed about politics, and voting is compulsory after the age of eighteen. The election for president is unique in that the primaries and the voting occur simultaneously. People vote for candidates on open lists from each party; those who receive the most votes are the official candidates, and the presidency goes to the party with an absolute majority of votes.

The executive branch consists of a president and twelve appointed ministers. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral general assembly with ninety-nine representatives and thirty senators and the vice president. The Supreme Court is the highest body in a judicial branch based on Spanish civil law.

Leadership and Political Officials. The major political forces are the mostly centrist Colorado Party (currently in power), the center to right Blanco or Nacional Party (strong in rural areas), and a coalition of leftist parties, the "Broad Front," which dominates the municipal government of the capital.

Social Problems and Control. Before the 1970s, Uruguay was known as the freest and safest South American country, with an exemplary judiciary system. During the military dictatorship (1973–1985), personal and human rights were suspended, and formal social control was directed at suppressing "subversive" activities. As a result, many thousands of people left the country as political refugees, and many who stayed were imprisoned, tortured, or killed by the police and the military. After democracy was reestablished, the country returned to the previous system of social control.

Military Activity. Military expenditures were high during the dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s. At the present time, those expenditures are much lower (less than 1 percent of the GDP). The Navy and Air Force are very small and military service is not compulsory.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Because of its achievements in social security, public education, and health care in the first half of the twentieth century, Uruguay is known as Latin America's "first welfare nation." After the economy entered a period of decline, the growth of the government and public bureaucracy continued. The retirement of these public servants has created a disproportionate number of pensioners, and the country has gained the nickname El País de los Jubilados ("The Country of Pensioners").

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. There is a very high proportion of women in the labor force. Legally, men and women have equal rights to power, authority, and privileges. However, an overwhelming majority of the higher economic, professional, political,

A house on Paseo de San Gabriel. Novo Colonia do Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage City.
A house on Paseo de San Gabriel. Novo Colonia do Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage City.
social, and religious positions are held by men.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Official marriages have been civil since 1837; marriages are not arranged and are monogamous. About 48 percent of persons older than 15 years old are married, 10 percent live together, 28 percent are single, 4 percent are divorced, 2 percent are separated, and 8 percent are widows and widowers. Serial polygamy is accepted but is not common.

Domestic Unit. Although the typical domestic unit is a nuclear family with one of two children plus the grandparents, extended family networks usually are preserved. Large family reunions are held at least once a year. Authority in the household is divided between the husband and the wife. Many couples live with the parents of the husband or wife, and it is not uncommon for a widowed grandmother to assume the role of a matriarch. Children stay at home until late in life, but older widows and widowers increasingly live alone, to the point where the government has identified old age isolation as a major social and health problem.

Inheritance. Inheritance follows the European ambilinear tradition.

Kin Groups. There are no other kin groups besides the nuclear and informal extended family, except for the symbolic kin system of compadrazgo.

Socialization

Infant Care. Customary practices of infant care and child rearing are essentially identical to those of Europe. It is common for the mother to leave the work force in order to do dedicate more time to child rearing, frequently with the help of grandmothers. Day care centers ( guarderias ) are not as widespread as in the United States.

Child Rearing and Education. Since the 1870s, primary education and secondary education have been based on the French model. Religion was banned from public schools in 1909. All public primary school children wear a white coat and a blue ribbon as a tie. Private school children wear uniforms, that are similar to those in British schools.

Public education is free at all levels, including the university level. This has resulted in an extremely high literacy rate; under 4 percent of males and 3 percent of females older than age ten are illiterate. The average number of years of study per adult is nine to ten.

Higher Education. A university education is highly valued. There are three universities. The Universidad de La República is public and free and specializes in the natural, physical, and medical sciences. The Universidad Católica, which is run privately by the Catholic Church, specializes in the social sciences. The Universidad ORT, associated with the Jewish ORT constructivist educational movement, specializes in technical studies. There are active links with Argentinean and Brazilian universities.

Etiquette

Uruguayans are quite traditional and do not welcome criticism from foreigners. They also do not appreciate being confused with Paraguayans or Argentineans. Otherwise, people are friendly and easygoing. Although tactful, people are frank and direct and maintain a close distance when speaking. Close acquaintances of the opposite sex greet each other with one kiss on the cheek.

A national behavioral particularity is the conspicuous "following gaze" that males direct to females to indicate that they are attractive. In many cases this is accompanied by verbal expressions called piropos, which are sometimes abusive and usually are ignored.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The church and state have been officially separated since 1917. The constitution protects religious freedom, but people are not devout and daily life is highly secular. More than one-third of the people profess no religion. Approximately 60 percent of the population is nominally Catholic, but only a minority attend church regularly (mostly those in the upper classes). Recently, the Padre Pio revitalization movement has been a source of converts for the Catholic Church.

The Jewish community, which once constituted about 2 percent of the population, is dwindling because of emigration to Israel. There is also a small proportion of people who practice Africanderived religions. Protestants represent less than 4 percent of the population.

Medicine and Health Care

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, and hypertension is among the primary causes for medical visits. Dietary factors are implicated in this pattern: fat consumption is very high, and fiber intake is low. A high prevalence of obesity is associated with a high incidence of diabetes. Cancer accounts for 23 percent of all deaths. The high rate of lung cancer is related to the prevalence of smoking, particularly among men. Alcoholism is a problem among men age twenty to forty-nine years, which is associated with a high prevalence of cirrhosis of the liver.

Approximately 60 percent of the population is covered by private nonprofit collective health care associations known as mutualistas. Free coverage through the Ministry of Public Health covers approximately 20 percent of the population, and military and/or police or private company insurance covers approximately 10 percent. The rest of the population has no formal coverage.

Complementary and alternative medicine has not been practiced traditionally. However, in recent years this pattern has been changing (e.g., acupuncture, homeopathy, and herbal medicine).

Secular Celebrations

Traditional Catholic holidays have been secularized and renamed. For example, Christmas is called Family Day and Holy Week is called Tourism Week.

Holidays also celebrated in other Latin American countries include New Year's Day, Carnaval, Worker's Day (1 May), the Day of the Americas (12 October), and the Day of the Deceased (2 November). Holidays related to the nation's history are the 33 Patriots Day (19 April), Battle of Las Piedras (18 May), José Artigas's Birthday (19 June), Constitution Day (18 July), and Independence Day (25 August).

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Artists are self-supporting, but receive some funding from the government and private institutions. The Ateneo de Montevideo is a meeting place for those involved in artistic and humanistic activities.

Literature. Among the most important writers are José Enrique Rodó, a philosophical essayist; Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, the author of Tabaré, an epic poem about a heroic Charrúa mestizo; Horacio Quiroga, a modernist short story writer; and José Alonso y Trelles, who wrote about the gauchos. Female poets include Delmira Agustini and Juana de Ibarbourou. More recent writers include Mario Benedetti,

The gaucho is symbolic of the Uruguayan nationality. Rural gauchos still wear the traditional garb as seen above.
The gaucho is symbolic of the Uruguayan nationality. Rural gauchos still wear the traditional garb as seen above.
Eduardo Galeano, and Juan Carlos Onetti and Tessa Bridal (who wrote the novel The Tree of Red Stars, a depiction of the national culture in the 1960 and 1970s).

Graphic Arts. There are many museums and galleries. Some of the best known painters are Juan Manuel Blanes, a realist known for historical paintings and gaucho motifs; Pedro Figari, a postimpressionist who specialized in bucolic colonial and early twentieth-century scenes (including aspects of black Uruguayans' life); and Joaquín Torres Garcia, a constructivist. Renowned sculptors include José Belloni, José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín, and Edmundo Prati.

Performance Arts. The Teatro Solis and the El Galpón theater are important sites for theatrical and musical presentations. Among classical composers, Eduardo Fabini is the best known internationally. Many musical and dance traditions derive from Europe, with local variations. Others are native to Uruguay and Argentina, particularly the tango. Uruguay was the birthplace of Carlos Gardel, the most famous interpreter of the tango.

There are many folkloric musical styles and dances, such as Pericón (the national dance). Another important musical style is candombe. This is a typical Afro-Uruguayan musical style played with three kinds of drums. These drums are crafted individually, and each is said to have a unique sound. Candombe can be heard throughout Montevideo during the February Carnaval, when ensembles of marching drummers cruise the streets. Llamadas are parades of competing groups of dancers who move to the rhythm of the candombe (the public is also welcome to join the dancers). These events are typical of the neighborhoods where most Afro-Montevideans live. Carnaval includes other cultural expressions, such as murgas which are musical groups that make fun of the social and political events of the year.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Most research in the sciences and humanities is done in the universities, museums, and government institutions. Research budgets are clearly insufficient.

Bibliography

Davis, William C. Warnings from the Far South, Democracy versus Dictatorship in Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile, 1995.

Ferguson, J. Halcro. The River Plate Republics, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, 1965.

Fitzgibbon, Russell H. Uruguay, Portrait of a Democracy, 1966.

Gilio, Maria E. The Tupamaro Guerrillas, 1972.

Hudson, Rex A., and Sandra W. Meditz, eds. Uruguay: A Country Study, 2nd ed., 1992.

Pan American Health Organization. Health in the Americas, 1998.

Pendle, George. Uruguay, 1965.

Sans, Mónica, et al. "Historical Genetics in Uruguay: Estimates of Biological Origins and Their Problems." Human Biology 69 (2): 161–170, 1997.

Weinstein, Martin. Uruguay, the Politics of Failure, 1975.

Zum Felde, Alberto. Evolución Histórica del Uruguay y Esquema de su Sociología, 1941.

——. Proceso Intelectual del Uruguay, Crítica de su Literatura, 1967.

Web Site

Kelly, Robert C., et al., eds. Country Review, Uruguay 2000, http://www.CountryWatch.com

—M IGUEL B OMBIN



User Contributions:

erin
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Feb 19, 2008 @ 6:18 pm
wow... thanx sooooooooo much. this rrealllllyyyy helped me for a project.
bernard
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May 24, 2009 @ 2:14 pm
This website was very helpful. I learned a lot. It's really sad that Christmas is called family day, though.
Alejandro
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Jul 17, 2009 @ 11:11 am
Hey, I'm Uruguayan and live in Montevideo. We don't call Christmas "Family Day"!! We call it "Navidad" just like in most Spanish speaking countries. What we usually say is that it's a day to share with our families; on the other hand, we prefer to spend New Year's Day with friends. It's obvious, I know...
Regards, Alejandro
patick m
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Oct 1, 2009 @ 6:18 pm
thank you very much for the wealth of information about Uruguay . like the first user this page has ensured that i got all the info i need to build a good report. plus my family is good friends with another family from Uruguay and it's interesting to learn about their culture. now i know about mate tea which i always thought they were smoking some kinda.. tobacco or somthing 8). anyhow thanks again
Tony D
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Oct 5, 2009 @ 6:18 pm
Thanks man you helped me with my project i learned alot about Uruguay too!
toad
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Nov 24, 2009 @ 4:16 pm
thank you
you helped me out on learing about Uruguay and i hooperfully i will get 110% of my proffect
john
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Jan 6, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
this is helpfull but has nothing about thier hollidays
Vanessa
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Jan 12, 2010 @ 10:22 pm
Hi,
I'm also Uruguayan, and I really like this article too. I do agree with Alejandro though, while New years is a party with friends day. Christmas is a day to spend with family, and I mean most of your family.
We celebrate the Holidays a bit different, we have traditions such as the "Judas" which is a doll, made out of grass that represents one of the apostles. Children will ask for coins for the Judas and on the 24th they will purchase fireworks plus at midnight the doll gets burn. On Christmas Eve the families will get together late afternoon and celebrate most, if not all night long. Santa arrives with the presents at midnight. At midnight the sky will turn into colors for about 20 minutes. Fireworks are legal and we all celebrate with them. New Years also has fireworks, but as I said before is a Discotheque day, with friends and so on. We also have in January 6, "3 Kings day" they come on the night time(like Christmas here) to leave presents for the kids.
I miss holidays in my country :(
I hope everyone can understand my English.
Vanessa
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Jan 13, 2010 @ 7:07 am
Hi,
I'm also Uruguayan, and I really like this article too. I do agree with Alejandro though, while New years is a party with friends day. Christmas is a day to spend with family, and I mean most of your family.
We celebrate the Holidays a bit different, we have traditions such as the "Judas" which is a doll, made out of grass that represents one of the apostles. Children will ask for coins for the Judas and on the 24th they will purchase fireworks plus at midnight the doll gets burn. On Christmas Eve the families will get together late afternoon and celebrate most, if not all night long. Santa arrives with the presents at midnight. At midnight the sky will turn into colors for about 20 minutes. Fireworks are legal and we all celebrate with them. New Years also has fireworks, but as I said before is a Discotheque day, with friends and so on. We also have in January 6, "3 Kings day" they come on the night time(like Christmas here) to leave presents for the kids.
I miss holidays in my country :(
I hope everyone can understand my English.
syropod
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Feb 1, 2010 @ 8:20 pm
this site helped somewhat on my history project thanx
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Feb 26, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
thanks for your info...i used it in a project of mine!
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May 16, 2010 @ 9:21 pm
Thanx, this site helped a load for my project. ur da best! xxD
Leticia
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Jul 10, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
This is useful information. However, I don't think your food, dining, and holidays information is suffice. There food is delicious and fresh! Everyone gathers around food and drink. I spent 2009 Christmas and New Year's there. I can't believe so many people have to do projects on Uruguay. When I tell people my family is from Uruguay they look at me "like deer in headlights".
Laura
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Aug 28, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
Hi, I also uruguayan. About some extra information I didn´t find people speaking about our most traditional aspects - the ones we have now. every one knows about "asado" but what about "torta frita" it's the one thing we have in our minds in a rainy day or the fact that mate is really everywhere. we drink mate at home but we take it everywhere - work, park, stadium - and even when we travel abroad we take our mate and some yerba so we can feel "at home".
another thing is that we drink coffee as everyone does, not only expresso.
and a tip for the ones doing project about uruguay is "noche de la nostalgia". you will not find information about it when looking for information about uruguay in general but august 24 is THE night for the uruguayan people. the number of people that go out is more that in christmas, new year and all the holidays together... if I were you I would look for that :D
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Oct 9, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
i need help on what kind of cloths they wear./? so i can dress up like them for my project... please i need help big time
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Oct 12, 2010 @ 5:05 am
THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY WAS VERY WELL EXPLAIN .
BUT WHAT I'M SEARCHING FOR IS THE TRUE PICTURE
OF THEIR COSTUMES .
Lisa W
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Nov 6, 2010 @ 12:00 am
this article is very useful for helping me doing my project, thanks a lot
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Nov 26, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
THIS HELPED ALOTON MY STATE REPORT I HAD URUGUAY ND SWITZERLAND HEHE :D THANKS AGAIN HOPE THIS FAqq HELPS
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Jan 13, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
What is the National dress of women? Do women smoke?
jimmy
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Mar 8, 2011 @ 9:09 am
Hello everyone im American. I want to visit this place it is the cooliest
Britt
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Mar 30, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
Hey! I noticed that some of you guys are from Uruguay. If anyone has an opinion about what is going on with the paper mill to be built on the Uruguay river, please share!
Alaina Shopatso
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Apr 10, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
i love this wbsite! it tells me so mush info about uruguay.
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Apr 18, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
AWSOME!!! It was really helpful information for my homework!
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May 1, 2011 @ 11:11 am
thx this helped my school project alot i got an a+ thanks to this website :)
ash
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May 7, 2011 @ 1:01 am
were are all the traditions dude cant find them for sure
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May 20, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
Wonderful to find this site.
I am asking anyone living in Urugyay to help with finding my brother.
His name is Danny Yohannes Straughn, born in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1950's to Ester Martinez and Leslie Straughn.
I would love to hear from you thank you
Camiliac2s@aol.com
Kind regards
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Jun 8, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
This is Chimia and I want to know what language people talk in Uruguay. I have an exit project so I do not know what to put as their language. If you can than Email me please.
Sean
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Jun 23, 2011 @ 11:11 am
Hi I was wondering if you could possibly send me the information of the person who wrote this?
I need to use this in my bibliography so any help would be appreciated.
Information like:
Editor's name
Web publication date.
Date written.
Authors name

Thanks so much!!
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Jun 24, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
Hi I was wondering if you could possibly send the information why is the reason or what was conflict between the Argentine and Uruguayan do not get alone.
Angee
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Aug 11, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
I was looking for the publication date and author's name to cite this better. Appreciate it!

Angee
jake
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Sep 23, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
hey im going to uruguay in 1 week im really excited and alittle worried about the kiss people on the check thing and i will tell you how it is
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Oct 21, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
I NEED A LITTLE BIT OF MORE INFORMATION FOR MY SPANISH PROJECT PLEASE
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Oct 24, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
I think uruguay is a great place even though I've never been just by doing a report over it ,it feels like I live there.
jaime
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Nov 5, 2011 @ 11:11 am
Thank you sooo much this website helped a ton, and thanks to all you Uruguay commenters! What you added about Uruguay helped a lot too! Thanks again! :D
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Nov 14, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
THIS HELPED SO MUCH ON HISTORY REPORT AT SKOOL I REALLY LIKE THIS SITE EVEN THOUGH I HAD 2 READ SOME OTHER INTERSTING SHITS THAT R NOT REALATED 2 THE QUESTIONS ON MY PROJECT
Beto
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Dec 1, 2011 @ 10:10 am
For Alejandro and Vanessa: The official name of Christmas in Uruguay is "Día de la Familia" (or Family Day), so the article is right. The origin of this name change was the secular thinking that had it's most noticed impulse during the first quarter of the XXth century, when the State and the Church were completely separated. Uruguay have a very secular culture and here Chirstmas is much more of a familiar gathering celebration than a religious one, even for Christians. However, the culture kept the traditional name so nobody, even the atheists or the juiff in Uruguay call it by the official name.
September
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Dec 7, 2011 @ 9:09 am
Thanksss alott this website really helpedd ... # :)
Hernan
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Feb 14, 2012 @ 6:06 am
Hi All,
Here, a real, elusive, Uruguayan checking in :)
I too agree that the article does compile a very large and useful amount of information about Uruguay. However, I would like to correct a few things and answer some of your questions that I found a little comical, mainly because it is amusing to see how we are viewed by the rest of the world and sometimes facts taken from a text book just sound a little off-center and not really a reflection of reality on the ground. Frankly I think that it is because being such a small country and population we are very rarely mentioned anywhere if not when we manage to get somewhere with football(soccer). I'll add some posts after this.
Hernan
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Feb 27, 2012 @ 6:06 am
For a female:
Known as a "China". Not pronounced as you read it there, but "Chii-nah"
Maybe something rather more simple - look for this text on google, images, first one that pops up should show a musical group including a lady Los_Gauchos_de_Roldan_w.JPG
Hernan
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Feb 27, 2012 @ 6:06 am
here is a very big annual rural show and rodeo(Rural del Prado) in Montevideo during September where many bring prize winning horses, cattle, machinery, dance groups, competitions etc. and all things traditional in the countryside, where they come up to the big smoke and dress up too, a lot of fun.
Hernan
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Feb 27, 2012 @ 6:06 am
On to the subject of Christmas being called "Family Day".
OK - on that subject, it may well be true what someone said here about it being called "Family Day" officially, like, in some very official, dusty old book... but let's get the facts straight, if you tell any of the 3.2million Uruguayans "Look, you call it Family Day"... you will get an instant "Huh?" look back at you. haha!

Secular society - Yes, very true. Church and religion plays little to no part in "most" of our lives.
I will tread carefully and must make mention that there certainly are those that practice their religion and they would of course, understandably, reject that notion. It is just that my personal experience/statistics dwarf any contrary arguments - very secular society indeed.
Anyway, I would also add that there is much religious freedom and noone will look down on you or judge you for being Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or any other.
True to say that only "relatively" recently the Muslim religion has arrived in Uruguay and the rare scene of a woman in her completely covered outfit was the talk of the town in the Capital. When I read it in the news I had a bit of a chuckle at our, at times, rather insular understanding of diversity and acceptance.
Hernan
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Feb 27, 2012 @ 6:06 am
Oh dear :) - this one I must certainly answer - Someone asked there:
"Do women smoke?"

Women in Uruguay have 100% equal rights to men, across the board, no prejudices or restrictions.
I understand that sort of question, but the fact is that in the Latin american continent, as a broad and sweeping general statement, women have complete 100% equal rights as men and access to absolutely everything and anything without carrying negative judgment from society.
It has been that way for a very very very.. veery long time. So, smoking.. yes, they can smoke, stay out and rave til dawn with their mates.
Hernan
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Feb 28, 2012 @ 11:11 am
Animosity between Uruguay and Argentina
There certainly is a level of animosity in some aspects, but I would say that if anything, Uruguayans are very comfortable with Argentinians most of the time.
The grudge we hold tends to be because we feel we have been rather bullied on many occasions over the past century by our big neighbours because of our small size, not the treatment they would be willing to dish out to ones the size of Brazil for example.
The underlying factor could also be down to the fact that Uruguay holds the deepest natural port in the region which commercially causes heavy friction, therefore has political connotations too.
Added to that, while Argentina has tremendous geographical beauty of many kinds, unfortunately it does not have quality beaches as Uruguay does, so most of the Argentinian Jetset end up spending their summers and, of course, their money... on the Uruguayan east coast.

Truth be told, the inhabitants of Buenos Aires (Capital city of Argentina) are probably the ones that carry the blame for this pinch of "animosity" because culturally they tend to be louder, less polite and rather rude/invasive with their ways, which is sort of the opposite to the stereotipical Uruguayan, quieter, a little more self-conscious and a bit more PC if you like.
The problems are not so much the case with the average Argentinian from other provinces which Uruguayans share a very fraternal relationship with in general.

Let me finish on a good note though - More than one Uruguayan probably knows someone from Buenos Aires and can vouch for some nice people from there too, myself included.
bob
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Feb 29, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
i really liked this website, it had all the facts i needed.
Rhianna
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May 20, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
Awesome website. It had all the stuff I needed for my 3rd grade project
Harris
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May 28, 2012 @ 8:20 pm
How are gay people received in Uruguay; particularly a gay family with 2 dads and 2 kids?
Hernan
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Jun 12, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
Hello Harris,
With regards to your question about gay families in Uruguay.
I would say that Uruguayan's "sort of" continue to be rather traditional, or conservative, in their views even though we deny it. There is a definite gay community, particularly in Montevideo, and they are integrated into society to "varying" degrees, some fantastically, others not so much. Sadly, even those that are integrated, I'm sure they also need to tread carefully and gauge the openness of the people they meet before acting naturally.
Having said the above, I feel certain that if you show yourself as a responsible couple, without an imperious need to show your open "gayness" to the world at every turn, throwing it in people's faces, wearing mankini's on the bus and flashy stuff (please excuse the terrible examples, just to make a strong point if you know what I mean? ), then people will accept it without too much hassle. Long story short, I would not have an issue with your family if within the parameters I pointed out above.
At a more personal level, no longer speaking for Uruguayan's in general but as myself "a" particular Uruguayan, I could tell you that I certainly do agree with gay marriage and equal rights. I would not really be convinced at this stage that children should be part of that equation, possibly I need to be confronted with the situation and obtain more understanding. Having said that - If I do find myself in front of such a family, I would certainly not feel free to make an inappropriate comment, or impose my opinion in a disrespectful manner towards you or your family. As most Uruguayan's ... they will probably just keep to themselves and talk about it with their wives, friends, neighbours the next day.
jojo
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Jun 17, 2012 @ 2:02 am
Great website helped alot with my year eight assignment awesome website thanks
Waldemar
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Jul 23, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
I found this site interesting, I was born and raised in Uruguay and at 17 I came to New York City and I lived here since. I found a lot of facts right on the money about Uruguay, but never in my house Christmas was called or described as family day!, Christmas was Christmas period and Papa Noel (Like and alter ego of Santa Claus)wasn't too relevant at all, as a matter of fact.
The three wise man was a tradition that stay with me through the years, even with my three American born children ( somewhat fruitless =( . As a child I had to leave my shoes outside on January 5 so the next day i saw the gifts that Melchior, Baltazar and Gaspar had left near my shoes.
Of course the cookies and grass camel food I had left the previous evening for them were gone...very rarely my gifts matched the letter I had sent them a couple of weeks before but I was happy as a lark! =)
I was just confirmed by EMS that Navidad ( Christmas) is still Navidad in Uruguay, of course the whole family gets together that day. I just wanted to check just in case that the term Christmas day had mutated over the years to Family Day. I am happy to announce that has not.
nóra
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Oct 12, 2012 @ 12:00 am
Hi! im a girl from finland and i would like to know what languages are you studing at school in uruguay? thanks!
Jay Ananga
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Nov 29, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
In the section of "Marriage, Family and Kinship," it was stated that "Serial polygamy is accepted but is not common," it would be nice if more details are available, from anyone, on 'polygamy' or 'serial polgamy' practiced in Uruguay. More information on Muslim population, countries of origin, their traditions, mosque, sects, marriage and polygamy would also be very highly appreciated.
Hernan
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Dec 11, 2012 @ 4:04 am
Hi Jay - I think what that sentence "Serial polygamy is accepted but is not common" means that while adultery, or a guy or girl getting it on with more than one partner would not have any socially violent consequences, it is still considered uncommon, or at least embarrassing enough to keep it very quiet.
Marriage is monogomous in Uruguay, no two ways about it.

Regarding Muslim population, it is very close to 0%, as in, below 1%.
Wiki says: The statistics for Islam in Uruguay estimate a total Muslim population of 300 to 400, representing 0.01 percent of the population. - I would say that is about right, in all my years I have never met a Muslim in Uruguay.
I know there is one mosque, which is a landmark building in Montevideo.

The dominant religion in Uruguay is officially Roman Catholic, but an alarmingly low number declare themselves as practicing.
Atheism in Uruguay, I would risk stating that it is probably among the highest on the planet. Hence an inmensley secular society, albeit very inclusive and tolerant of diverse religious beliefs.
Hernan
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Dec 11, 2012 @ 6:06 am
Hi Jay - I think what that sentence "Serial polygamy is accepted but is not common" means that while adultery, or a guy or girl getting it on with more than one partner would not have any socially violent consequences, it is still considered uncommon, or at least embarrassing enough to keep it very quiet.
Marriage is monogomous in Uruguay, no two ways about it.

Regarding Muslim population, it is very close to 0%, as in, below 1%.
Wiki says: The statistics for Islam in Uruguay estimate a total Muslim population of 300 to 400, representing 0.01 percent of the population. - I would say that is about right, in all my years I have never met a Muslim in Uruguay.
I know there is one mosque, which is a landmark building in Montevideo.

The dominant religion in Uruguay is officially Roman Catholic, but an alarmingly low number declare themselves as practicing.
Atheism in Uruguay, I would risk stating that it is probably among the highest on the planet. Hence an inmensley secular society, albeit very inclusive and tolerant of diverse religious beliefs.
maria
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Jan 5, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
In response to the girl from Finland who asked what languages are we, uruguayans, taught at school, i would say the main one is English.
But for example, i'm a 14 year old girl and go to a rather unusual school where i dedicate more time to german language than any other.
There are others schools were you choose, for example the British School, were English is of course an obligation, but you can also learn portuguese, french, chinese...it's up to you.
Regarding the article, i think that the main virtue or advantage of Uruguay is their people. They are all so humble and transparent, and so united. There is a strong feeling of belonging which i am proud to share myself. And you can totally see this after a football match, haha.
All in all, i am proud to be from Uruguay, such an underrated country. I've been in vacations to Brazil, the USA (which by the way you people should stop calling America, duh), Argentina... You just don't find that "thing" that makes us so special.
Jay
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Feb 1, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
Hi Hernan, Many thanks for a nice explanation on "Serial polygamy is accepted but is not common" that was really very helpful. It is very interesting to learn about the exceptional tolerance of diverse religious faiths and relationship beyond monogamy. I can now understand that being a lonely married man from Asia I cannot have a valid second wife in Uruguay, but I can live with an Uruguayan woman or any woman in Uruguay can live with me and we two could be a couple to raise a family with kids. I will live for rest of my life in Uruguay, while my wife will not join me (as I will occationally visit her); in that situation I can lead a second family life, if any woman in Uruguay kindly extends her willingness to be a partner. I am looking for that (lady fron a middle class family) with great hope, if any other problems are not there with my tourist visa and its timely renewal, using a neighbouring third country when necessary. However, I have no idea about how to get a friendship or dating help in Uruguay. Someone could help.
Hernan
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Feb 8, 2013 @ 6:06 am
Hi Jay - don't mean to burst your bubble, but I would say that it will be difficult for any Uruguayan woman you fall into a relationship with to agree to allow for you to visit your wife in another country - Unless of course the justification is to visit your children or something, but definitely NOT to visit your wife. Your ties to your wife must be finished if you have no children if you expect a new partner to accept you.

Monogamy implies being faithful to your one partner, married or not. It is not considered "acceptable" to stray. In legal marriage, adultery generally leads you to lose any civil legal battle on divorce. By this I mean, you very easily lose your house, car and any other material wealth to the agrieved party.
As mentioned in my first answer, if you are unfaithful, married or not, it is something that won't have your neighbours clamouring at your door with burning stakes, but it will have an effect on their concept of your integrity as a person if they find out. And of course, your partner might throw you from a balcony (or something a little less violent maybe)... and .. come to think of it... her brothers and sisters will probably finish you off if you survive ;) haha!

On the dating thing, it depends on your age, 30+ you might want to join a good gym with loads of lively people, take up activities like group running, mountain biking clubs - that sort of thing brings loads of social activity and not only keeps YOU looking good, it definitely raises your chances of meeting someone.
Best of Luck in the future!
Reimar
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Mar 17, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
Hi everybody,
friends of mine (Germans) are moving to Uruguay in May. They have been there twice already and now they ate going to stay.

Curious as I am I then searched the internet for the nightlife and music in Uruguay (I dance a lot and go out quite often). Seems there are some clubs in Montevideo where they play dance/electronic, but I did not find any bands or festivals regarding hard rock/metal/funk&soul.

Is this kind of music quite unnkown there or is there just not much onformation available on the net?
Rylee
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Mar 23, 2013 @ 10:10 am
I need Help finding The five themes of geography for Uruguay and every website I go to never has it!
alexis
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Dec 12, 2013 @ 9:21 pm
this is a wonderful article I found everything I needed for my project and then some :)
asmita
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Dec 27, 2013 @ 12:00 am
it was really useful ..i m surly used in my project
Roy
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Dec 31, 2013 @ 5:05 am
Well, I was born and grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay but have lived in Australia for nearly 30 years, as such, I cannot claim to know much about present conditions there, be it political, financial, cultural, etc. I do have fond memories of Christmas Eve (Navidad), Dia de Reyes on January 6th and of course, the long school holiday period starting in early December to early March when school resumes (is it still the case now?). As for traditions; certain foods and Mate are still very much part of my family's diet, not unlike the way in which, for instance, people of German descent continue their production and consumption of traditional German foods (as well as maintaining their language and celebrating traditional German festivals), even though many of these families have been established in this country for quite a long time. The unity which Maria mentioned above is very real, all Uruguayans (or Orientales) are part of this big family where everyone is equal (yes, there are divisions just like anywhere else), this unity pulsates in our veins. Even though many of us are scattered around the world, when we see our national flag or hear that most wonderful national anthem of ours, our hearts swell. In a perfect world we'd all be back home where we belong, but the world is far from perfect, and neither is my beloved country, Uruguay.
Samantha
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Mar 5, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
Hi. I am Samantha from Mauritius. I am currently participating in the Model united Nations and I have been named delegate of Uruguay. My commission is sports and I have to debate on the promotion of sports among elderly in Uruguay. Please help.

I need to get more information on the social status of elderly people in Uruguay and whether they are accredited the same priority when sports is concerned since this is considered as a very important aspect contributing to the image of the country.

I would like to know the type sports activities practised by old people and what is the maximum age to represent your country in international games.

I would appreciate if the problems faced by old people when sports is concerned could be outlined as well.

Thanks

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