Nine things you probably never knew about Uruguay

On 10 December 2013, whole world heard that Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the sale, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis. You probably all know about it, but do you know something more about this country? Probably not. Here is nine things you never knew about Uruguay.



To combat problems related to drug trafficking, Uruguay might soon become the first country in the world to license the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. This week it was reported that it will be sold for $1 a gram. [via]


This is around an eighth of what it sells for at American legal marijuana dispensaries. Uruguayans should probably brace themselves for a wave of tourism from people thrilled that they don’t have to pretend to have glaucoma any more.


However, Uruguay also has one of the most strictly enforced smoking bans in South America. It was initiated in 2006 by then-president Tabaré Vázquez, who remained a practising oncologist throughout his tenure. Vázquez was also president in 2009, when Uruguay became the first country to guarantee every schoolchild a free laptop and wireless internet access. [via]



The first ever Fifa World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. In the buildup to the final – which Uruguay won, beating Argentina 4-2 – disagreements over the type of ball that should be used became so heated that death threats were made and fans were frisked for weapons on the way into the stadium. The Belgian referee, fearing for his safety, only agreed to officiate so long as there was a boat waiting for him at the nearest harbour to give him a speedy getaway at full time.



Uruguay’s rivalry with Argentina continued for decades, with its first flush of rock bands initiating the so-called Uruguayan Invasion of Argentina in the mid-1960s. This was led by two English-speaking bands, Los Shakers and Los Mockers, who modelled themselves on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones respectively. You’d never know.



One of the most popular beverages in Uruguay is mate, a tea-like drink made of dried yerba mate leaves, which may or may not be carcinogenic. Legend has it that mate was presented as a gift from the gods to humanity after a man stopped two goddesses from being eaten by a jaguar. This is almost definitely false.


As a country with no official religion, Uruguay has renamed many of its traditional Catholic holidays. Christmas, for instance, is called Family Day and Holy Week is called Tourism Week.


Uruguay has the longest national anthem in the world. It has 11 verses, can run for about six minutes and contains the line “No one insults the image of the sun!” That said, it is incredibly catchy.



Homer Simpson thinks “Uruguay” is pronounced “You are gay”.

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