Our Top Ten Facts about Uruguay: Football and Beyond..

19 June 2014

Misc Special Events

Many of us are looking forward to watching England’s 2nd match in their Brazilian World Cup campaign tonight at 8pm on ITV. Uruguay Badge

Billed as the ‘match of death’ – both sides have lost their first match (England 1-0 to Italy and Uruguay 1-3 to Costa Rica) and will be determined to get a valuable win under their belt.

Many England fans will be watching to see if Luis Suarez, who plays for Liverpool in the Premiership will be returning in a talismanic striking role for Uruguay after knee surgery in May.  Steven Gerrard, says the banter with Suarez about the match has been good fun in the run up to the World Cup, but that it will be business as usual for the England Captain against the whole Uruguay side – team-mate or not.

England may benefit from the change of location from the Amazonian humidity of Rio de Janeiro to the more temperate Sao Paolo, and are optimistic of a win after their positive showing on Saturday night, where many felt they were unlucky to lose to Italy.

Lots of fact fans know that Uruguay won the inaugural World Cup back in 1930, and some people may be aware that they also won the title in 1950 too – so they obviously have a pretty good international football pedigree – but what else is there to know about the South American neighbour of Brazil?

We’ve rounded up some interesting and entertaining facts about Uruguay:

  1.  Uruguay’s National Anthem is the world’s longest at 5 minutes – eleven verses, each followed by the chorus.  It is known as “Orientales, la Patria o la Tumba” – our nation of the grave, Liberty or with glory we die”.  Usually, only one verse and chorus are sung…pheeew!
  2. The Italian pasta dish gnocchi is traditionally eaten on the 29th day of each month, in a reference to Uruguay’s Italian heritage, and the fact that potatoes and flour were sometimes all that remained in the food cupboards at the end of the month, in times of austerity.  Uruguay has strong links to Italy because the first settler in Uruguay originated from Italy, and 1 in 2 present-day Uruguayans have Italian ancestry.
  3. Cows outnumber people in Uruguay by three to one, ¾ of the country is grassland, and the export of meat and livestock is one of the country’s highest earners.  Uruguay also attracts a fair amount of tourism to the small heart-shaped country (the second smallest geographically in S.America) with a population of 3.3. million.  Find out about the main tourist draws in Uruguay, one of which is the culturally-rich capital Montevideo.
  4. Dulce de Leche is a caramel spread that is very popular in Uruguay, and is a sweet accompaniment to bread, pancakes, biscuits, fruit or ice-cream.  It has made the news during the World Cup, as Brazilian officials have seized 86lb of the sticky stuff from the Uruguay football team as they entered the country, due to “needing sanitary documentation which was lacking.”  Many Uruguay fans are blaming the lack of the national favourite upon Uruguay’s defeat by Costa Rica.  Perhaps the players will have to pop a pinny on and whip up a homemade batch.
  5. Duelling was legal in Uruguay between 1920 when it was legalised, until 1992, when it was banned.  The rather extreme method of sorting an argument was initially smothered in red-tape to try and stop the bloodshed.  Although it was allowed, only a limited amount of gunpowder could be used, and contests involving swords must be stopped at first-blood. These deterrents effectively prevented any further deaths.
  6. The official names of Uruguay are “Oriental Republic of Uruguay”, “Eastern Republic of Uruguay” or “Republic East of the Uruguay” but the shortened version is Uruguay.  These longer names are related to the fact that the country is East of the Uruguay River.  The river is known as “River of the Painted Birds.”
  7. The national dish is a “chivito”, which is a substantial form of sandwich:
    1. Grab two thick slices of bread.
    2. Add beef, a slice of mozzarella and tomato, a scattering of olives, a fried or hard-boiled egg, a slice of ham and a rasher of bacon – not for vegetarians then!  Optional extras are cucumber, fried peppers and a dollop of mayonnaise.

If this doesn’t touch the sides, treat yourself to a portion of fries too.

  1.  Uruguay beat the UK to legalising same-sex marriage, which they did in August 2013, and they were the first Latin American nation to allow same-sex unions, in 2008.  They are regarded as a liberal and non-corrupt country, who are prosperous and have a high rate of literacy amongst the population.
  2. Football is the most popular sport in Uruguay, and they are pretty good at it for a small country! They have won more international tournaments than any other country, and successful footballing exports include Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan.  Club football in Uruguay is dominated by two big Montevideo clubs – Penarol/CURCC and Nacional.  They play in the second most long-running derby in the world, outside Great Britain.
  3.  And finally…….. the  country Uruguay is unique as it has the letter ‘u’ appear three times within the first five letters, and boy have I seen some strange spellings online – one of my favourites being Urugary!

So the country Uruguay clearly has a lot going for it, and I would be happy to take a trip to this land of cowboy culture, native wildlife and fascinating history.

But tonight, at 8pm, the nation will be hoping that we can score more goals than them, win the match and go into our final group match against Costa Rica on a winning streak.

Come on England!!!

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