11 Stereotypes of Uruguay All Locals Want to Deny

Uruguay | © Jimmy Baikovicius/Flickr
Photo of Milena Fajardo
30 November 2017

Although Uruguay is a small and relatively unknown country on the world stage, there are some common stereotypes about it and its people that still pervade. Discover why these stereotypes are just that, as this list explores and debunks some of the most common misconceptions about Uruguay.

It’s tropical

While climate change has been affecting the weather, Uruguay is still very far from the equator and has four distinct seasons. Spring and summer are incredible, with months of sunshine and plenty of beaches for everyone to enjoy. Autumn and winter, despite being cold and stormy, offer further options for experiencing Uruguay.

Palm trees in Winter | © milebrum/VSCO

It’s a cannabis paradise

Being the pioneering country for the legalization of cannabis doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a marijuana tourist destination. Buying cannabis from a pharmacy is a complex process for Uruguayans and straight up prohibited for tourists and other non-permanent residents.

Everybody loves meat

Another myth is that Uruguay is full of meat lovers. While it’s certainly true that you can get great quality meat and many Uruguayans eat tonnes of it, there are ever-increasing numbers of vegetarians and vegans. This may be because of religious, moral, or environmental reasons, but there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Uruguay to discover.

La Perdiz, Montevideo

It’s inexpensive

At the turn of the century Uruguay and neighboring Argentina went through an economic crisis. Jobs and homes were lost and both countries were left devastated for a long time. Uruguay luckily managed to avoid the worst of the 2008 Housing Crisis, but the damage had already been done and inflation is still taking its toll on the Uruguayan population. Imported goods are heavily taxed and even produce at local shops and markets are effected, making it one of the most expensive countries in Latin America. There are many affordable goods and services, but it’s best to come to Uruguay with a budget in mind.

It’s a bite-sized Argentina

Uruguay gets called a mere province of its much larger next door neighbor far too often. Although there are many similarities around the regions of the Rio de la Plata, Uruguayans and Argentinians have very different approaches and perspectives on life, their way of interacting with one another, and their culture in general.

The entire country is by the sea

While most of the population lives within spitting distance of the ocean, there is much more land that stretches for hundreds of kilometers to the north and west. There is plenty to see and do in these areas in the interior of the country that often get overlooked. Another popular misconception is that the capital, Montevideo, is located on the Atlantic, when it is in fact located on the Rio de la Plata, the widest river in the world!

Lunarejo Valley, Uruguay | © Marcelo Campi/Flickr

It’s tiny

As it is one of the smallest countries in Latin America, it’s easy to mistake its true size. The population is relatively small; there are only 3,45 million Uruguayans in the country as of the 2016 census, so there is an incredible amount of space for each of the residents. If you compare it to many European nations, Uruguay is huge although sparsely populated. For example, you can fit roughly two and a half Irelands into Uruguay, even though it has roughly the same population.

Uruguayans are lazy

Uruguayans are often considered to be laid back and relaxed which unfairly gets confused as laziness. Although they are a country of sun-bugs and things start later than planned, they are incredibly active and engaged. If you go out at night or to see the Uruguayan National Football team you will be amazed at how full of life Uruguayans can be.

Everybody loves football

The national pastime is indeed the most popular sport in the world: football. Uruguay, winners of the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930, has a strong footballing cultural dating back more than one hundred years. It is easy to believe that every Uruguayan is mad about football, but Uruguayans also enjoy several other sports, including kitesurfing and rock climbing.

Gurisa (little girl) with a Uruguayan team's football kit | © Brian Fitzharris/Flickr

It’s dangerous

Many people have this preconception that Latin America is a dangerous place and Uruguay is often included in this myth. But Uruguay is actually one of the safest countries in the world, and second only to Chile in Latin America as per the Global Peace Index.

Uruguay is nothing more than a holiday destination for the Brazilian and Argentine elite

This reputation began because the rich and powerful of Argentina and Brazil frequently traveled to Punta del Este and José Ignacio for their holidays. While it is true that these destinations are quite expensive, there are so many other places with unspoiled landscapes that may be more affordable and just as impressive.

Uruguay | © Unsplash

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