A world away in Uruguay – 2

Some little-known fun facts about Uruguay that tickled our fancy:

  • Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalise the sale of marijuana, which is widely and freely available – there are a few ‘head shops’ in Colonia and many cafes offering weed like it was a cup of tea
  • Uruguay has no official religion and has renamed many of its traditional Catholic holidays. Christmas, for instance is called Family Day and Holy Week is now Tourism Week
  • Uruguay has the longest national anthem in the world at 11 verses, running for about 6 minutes and contains the line ‘No one insults the image of the sun!’ It’s quite catchy and wouldn’t be out of place in a stage musical – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6L_0NZlqk
  • Uruguay became the first country in the world to guarantee every schoolchild a free laptop and wireless internet access
  • Uruguay has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 98.1%, thanks to the country’s provision of free, compulsory education
  • Uruguay has only 3 million people (with 1.8 million in the capital, Montevideo) and the second highest GDP in South America
  • In 2013, The Economist named Uruguay its Country of the Year
  • Eduardo says the country’s national characteristic is understatedness and pleasure in small things – he showed us a bird nesting stock-still just above our heads in a jasmine vine in his back courtyard and we saw what he meant
  • A recent long-serving President of Uruguay donated 90% of his salary to charity, earning him the nickname of ‘the world’s poorest president’ – he lives a quiet modest life on a ramshackle farm with just two police officers and a three-legged dog to keep watch

A first tantalising taste of this charming country. Given the amount of time we have in BA we may well nip across the Río de la Plata for another experience, possibly taking a look at the capital, Montevideo.

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