Uruguay, together with neighboring Argentina, has the most uniform white population in South America. Population growth is low and the country has a relatively high proportion of the elderly.
In a 2011 census where residents were free to identify with more than one ethnic group, about 92 percent stated that they were descended from Europeans, 8 percent from Africans and 5 percent from American indigenous peoples, while over 3 percent refrained from responding.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Uruguay, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Most of the residents are descendants of the southern Europeans, mainly Spaniards and Italians, who emigrated to Uruguay in the late 1800s in the hope of finding work. The indigenous population is almost wiped out. The blacks who are mainly found in the capital Montevideo and at the border with Brazil are descendants of African slaves. Poverty is widespread among blacks and the group is discriminated against in the labor market.
More than nine out of ten Uruguayans live in the cities. Montevideo houses almost 40 percent of the country’s population.
More than half a million Uruguayans live abroad, mainly in Argentina, North America and Spain. The emigration was particularly great during the 1960s and 1970s, first for economic and then for political reasons. “The last time you extinguish the light,” it was scribbled among other things at the capital’s airport.
Spanish is the official language. In Uruguay, a Spanish is spoken with clear elements of Italian in vocabulary and pronunciation. In the border regions against Brazil, some Portuguese words are used in everyday language and some speak the Creole language brazilero, a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
large majority of European origin, small groups of descendants of Africans or indigenous peoples
Number of residents
3 456 750 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
95.2 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
14.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
9.4 per 1000 residents (2016)
0.4 percent (2017)
2.0 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
51.7 percent (2017)
77 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
81 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
74 years (2016)
Spanish is the official language
Presidential candidate assaulted
Senator and presidential candidate Jorge Saravia gets skull damage during a crowd of robbers who break into his home on the outskirts of Montevideo. The robbers also shoot at his 25-year-old daughter, who, however, does well.
The Minister of Economy is leaving
Minister of Economy Fernando Lorenzo resigns after it emerged that the Supreme Court will investigate his role in the liquidation of the state airline Pluna 2012.
Marijuana is legalized
Uruguay becomes the first nation in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana, without medical reasons. The Senate adopts the final proposal with the numbers 16-13. When the law comes into force, people over the age of 18 will be allowed to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana a month.
Weak support to stop abortion law
An attempt to get the new abortion law abolished fails when opponents do not receive enough support to hold a referendum on the law. Fewer than 9 percent of the eligible voters were required to obtain a referendum, 25 percent.
The President visits China
President Mujica visits China and, together with his colleague Xi Jinping, signs a series of bilateral agreements on trade, education and telecommunications.
General is convicted of human rights violations
General Miguel Dalmao is sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in the 1974 murder of Nibia Sabalsagaray, a literature professor and Communist who was found hanged in prison. Dalmao is the first active military convicted of human rights abuses during the dictatorship.
Presidential plea for insults
President Mujica apologizes after calling his Argentine colleague “an old hag” worse than “the wind-eyed man”. The comment, which was not intended for the public, concerns Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her representative and deceased husband, Néstor Kirchner. The statement has caused public protests in the neighboring country. Mujica blames his harsh language on his background in guerrillas.
Same-sex marriage is accepted
Both chambers of Parliament vote with a large margin for same-sex marriage, despite opposition from the Catholic Church. Parliament also raises the age for sexual self-determination, from 12 for girls and 14 for boys, to 16 for both sexes.
HD maintains the amnesty law
The Supreme Court annulled the decision to withdraw the amnesty law and to explain all abuses against humanity (see October 2011), since it is done retroactively.
Youth leagues more common in Montevideo
According to the Deputy National Police, several criminal youth gangs, similar to the so-called maras found in Central America, have begun to establish themselves in Montevideo. Many are also worried about an increase in violent crime in Uruguay.
Mujica proposes legalizing marijuana
President Mujica said in an interview that the war on drugs has failed, and that it would be better if the state took control of the marijuana trade. About two-thirds of Uruguayans, according to opinion polls, are critical of the president’s proposal to legalize marijuana.
Abortion is legalized
Abortions become legal even through the twelfth week of pregnancy. The law that President Mujica signs was barely approved, with the votes being 50-49 in the House of Representatives and 17-14 in the Senate.
UN soldiers are accused of violence
Prosecution is brought against four Marine Corps soldiers for assault on an 18-year-old in Haiti (see September 2011), where they participated in the UN peacekeeping operation. The charge concerns “private violence” against the man and not suspicion of sexual abuse.
Battle for support for Venezuela
Since Paraguay was suspended from the Mercosur Free Trade Organization, Venezuela, which has long been impeded by Paraguay, is adopted. It causes domestic political tensions between the government, which supports Venezuela’s membership, and the right-wing opposition. Several Colorado Party members are leaving in protest government jobs offered after President Mujica’s entry.