Uruguay Demographics

What is the population of Uruguay?

Population 3,387,605
Population Growth Rate 0.25%
Urban Population 92.5%
Population in Major Urban Areas MONTEVIDEO (capital) 1.672 million
Nationality Noun Uruguayan(s)
Nationality Adjective Uruguayan
Ethnic Groups white 88%, mestizo 8%, black 4%, Amerindian, practically nonexistent
Languages Spoken Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)

Uruguay Learning

What is school like in Uruguay?


School uniforms are required only in private schools.

Schools are beginning to deal with an unusual problem for Latin America—overcrowding. Schools in both rural and urban settings have insufficient supplies and teachers. Children from higher income families are more likely to get past these challenges and graduate to university studies.

School lunch in Uruguay is usually a very well-balanced, nutritional meal, often consisting of some sort of vegetable soup, fish or chicken with rice or potatoes, a salad, cooked vegetables, and dessert (such as ice cream or fruit).

The typical school day used to be in four-hour shifts to accommodate the number of students in limited schooling facilities. But a few years ago, especially in the lower-income areas, schools have begun switching from four hours per day to eight hours per day in an attempt to raise test scores, especially in language and literacy. It also helps to keep at-risk kids off the streets longer each day.

Because Uruguay is the most technologically savvy country in Latin America, a small number of elementary schools in the country have been chosen to begin piloting the ambitious “One Laptop per Child” project begun by Nicholas Negroponte, former director of the media lab at the Massachesetts Institute of Technology. The goal is to create and distribute highly functional yet inexpensive ($100 each) laptops for students throughout the world. Needless to say, the children in the schools testing the new computers are very excited.

Education Culture

The majority of Uruguayans are descendants of European immigrants with a long tradition of educational priorities. Thus, 92% of all children in the country attend kindergarten, and many attend preschool beginning at age 4. Public schooling is free and required for children from ages 6 to 14 years old. Almost all children are able to complete this requirement. Most rural areas, however, only have elementary schools, so children must go to nearby cities if they are to attend high school. Despite this challenge, Uruguay has the highest secondary school attendance in Latin America at 85%, double the average for the southern hemisphere!

The school year begins in the first or second week of March and goes until mid-December. There are often three holiday vacations also: a week before Easter, a midwinter holiday of two weeks in the middle of July, and another spring break for a week in September.

The university in Monevideo was for many years the only university in Uruguay. In recent years, a number of private universities and institutions have been founded to supplement this traditional university, founded almost 200 years ago. Furthermore, there is a nationwide system of vocational schools. Other institutes of higher learning include facilities for training teachers. Currently, one out of every three workers in Uruguay has completed vocational or university studies. Because of this, Uruguay is known for its technological advances in Latin America, and for the way it easily adapts to the changing technologies of the world.

It is worth noting that before World War II, Uruguay had perhaps the strongest economy in all of Latin America. However, since that time, and especially during the past 20 years, the economy has been declining, which means that social programs that depend on tax dollars, such as education, has also been declining. So while the tradition and basic infrastructure is solid, the educational system is gradually becoming more brittle, especially for lower income families whose children must hit the streets to market some small trinkets or food in an effort to not only improve their situation but more often just to eat.


The school system is broken into two six-year periods, the first six years are primary school, followed by six years in secondary school. The last two years of secondary school are designed especially for students preparing for university studies. During those final two years, students must choose between three different focuses: biology, science, or humanities.

The courses of study are established by a national organization, which means for students that they cannot choose any elective courses but can study only the subjects outlined for each school year by that organization.

The average student to teacher ratio is 21 to 1. Some of the poorer schools approach ratios of 40 to 1.

To School

Kids will either walk or ride public transportation buses to school, and then return home the same way. Uruguay has a very well-developed public transportation sytem. In some areas, bicycles may be the best way to get around, but walking remains most common. Children typically stay at school for lunch.

Uruguay Health Information

What are the health conditions in Uruguay?

Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 15-49 77%
Contraceptive Prevalence - note note: percent of women aged 15-50
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 9.52
Drinking Water Source - percent of rural population improved 94.9%
Drinking Water Source - percent of total population unimproved 0.5%
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 99.9%
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 8%
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.7%
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 3
Infant Mortality Rate - female deaths/1,000 live births 8.17
Infant Mortality Rate - male deaths/1,000 live births 10.2
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 9.2
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 29
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 24.8%
People Living with HIV/AIDS 9,900
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 3.74
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of total population unimproved 3.6%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 96.5%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of rural population improved 95.8%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.86
Underweight - percent of children under five years 4.5%

Uruguay Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Uruguay?

Life Expectancy at Birth 76 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - female 79 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - male 73 Years
Median Age 34 Years
Median Age - female 35 Years
Median Age - male 32 Years

Uruguay Infant Mortality - per 1,000 live births

Uruguay median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 13
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 9.52
Median Age 34 Years
Median Age - female 35 Years
Median Age - male 32 Years
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population -1.26
Population Growth Rate 0.25%
Sex Ratio 0-14 Years - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio 15-24 Years - male/female 1.03
Sex Ratio 25-54 Years - male/female .97
Sex Ratio 55-64 Years - male/female .93
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio of Total Population - male/female .93
Sex Ratio Over 64 Years - male/female .66

Uruguay Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Uruguay?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Facilities for medical care in Uruguay are considered adequate. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Uruguay Education

What is school like in Uruguay?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 4.5%
Literacy - female 98.4%
Literacy - male 97.6%
Literacy - total population 98%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
School Life Expectancy - female 17 Years
School Life Expectancy - male 14 Years
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 16 Years

Uruguay Literacy

Can people in Uruguay read?

Literacy - female 98.4%
Literacy - male 97.6%
Literacy - total population 98%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Predominant Language Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)

Uruguay Crime

Is Uruguay a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Street crime is common throughout Montevideo and criminals may resort to violence when the victims resist. Common targets for criminals may include tourists, individuals openly carrying valuable items, and motorists in unlocked vehicles stopped at busy intersections, including Montevideo's riverfront road known as the Rambla.

You should exercise reasonable caution to minimize your exposure to crime. Criminals are opportunists and prey on unwary people, particularly those carrying cameras, pocketbooks, laptops, or backpacks. Lock your valuables in secure hotel safes and empty your wallets of excess credit cards and cash. If dining at an outdoor restaurant, keep an eye on your belongings at all times. While driving, it is best to keep all car doors locked, windows open no more than one inch, and purses, bags, briefcases, and other valuables out of sight on the floor or in the trunk. Parked cars, particularly in the Punta Carretas and Pocitos neighborhoods, also have been broken into.

Parts of Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja are popular tourist attractions, but the only sections of Ciudad Vieja with continual police patrols are Plaza de la Independencia, the pedestrian street Sarandi, and the Mercado del Puerto. Muggings have occurred in other parts of Ciudad Vieja - particularly for travelers walking alone or couples walking at night. A smart alternative is to call for a taxi for evening travel between restaurants, bars, and hotels. Muggings and other street crime also have occurred in residential districts of the downtown area, including Pocitos and Punta Carretas.

Montevideo continues to experience armed robberies of patrons at crowded restaurants. Most of these crimes have occurred late at night, so you should exercise additional caution if you choose to dine late.Burglaries and attempted burglaries are increasingly common in upscale residential neighborhoods, including Carrasco, Montevideo. A combination of preventive measures including rigorous use of locks and alarms, strong grillwork on all windows, guard dogs, keeping a residence occupied as much as possible, and using a security service is recommended.

During the summer months (December-March), beach resort areas such as Punta del Este see an increase in the number of petty street crimes and residential burglaries.

Exercise common sense in your activities in Montevideo and in Uruguayan resort areas, and be attentive to your personal security and surroundings in these areas.

Uruguayan law enforcement authorities have increased the number of patrol cars in residential areas and of uniformed policemen on foot in areas where criminal activity is concentrated. Patrol cars are clearly marked and equipped with cellular phones. Most police do not speak English.

Uruguay Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Uruguay, you are subject to its laws. If you break the law in Uruguay, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is important to know what activities are legal and what activities are illegal wherever you go. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Criminal penalties can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. There are also some activities that may be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. Engaging in sexual conduct with children and using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country remains illegal in the United States and may subject you to prosecution in the United States.

Persons violating Uruguay’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uruguay are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available, as you may be breaking local law.

The Uruguayan Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing strictly enforces all regulations regarding hunting permits, as well as seasonal and numerical limits on game. Visitors who contravene local law are subject to detention by the authorities and the seizure of their weapons. Under Uruguayan law, seized weapons can only be returned after payment of a sum equivalent to the value of the property seized. Hunters are also subject to stiff fines for hunting without all appropriate permits.

Arrest notifications in host country: Uruguayan law enforcement officers are trained to automatically notify the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy immediately if you are arrested or detained.

Uruguay Population Comparison

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