We celebrate Uruguay Independence Day on August 25, the anniversary of the day Uruguay officially separated from Brazil to become an independent nation. It is a festive event that celebrates the rich, diverse culture of the country that’s home to only 3,495,527 people as of April 2022. Another 630,000 people of Uruguayan descent around the world celebrate the Uruguayan victory after a long and bloody rebellion against Spain, and then, Brazil, which resulted in their independence.
History of Uruguay Independence Day
The struggle for independence in Uruguay dates back to the early 1500s when Portuguese explorers and Spanish colonists arrived in the region. The country’s lack of natural resources made the interest in settling and colonizing it a symbol of imperial dominance rather than exploitation. The Spanish were quick to establish cattle farms, using the land to set up a wealthy supply of cattle. The native Uruguayan population was ruthlessly pushed out of their homeland and eradicated before the second half of the 19th century.
For centuries, Uruguay was an area riddled with conflict, a historically poor country as a result of foreign powers interfering and exploiting the small population. After Uruguay defeated Spain in 1811 and moved out from under the sovereign yoke of the colonial empire, they were soon annexed by Brazil — under the control of Portugal — their larger and more powerful neighbor. The Brazilian Empire was established shortly after Portugal left the continent, and Uruguay, along with Argentina, was ruled under one banner.
In 1825, Uruguay joined many other nations to rebel and push for independence, leading to a 500-day war that ended in 1828 with a treaty brokered by British diplomat Viscount John Ponsonby. The history of conflict in Uruguay was finally over, at least for some time, and the excitement for the nation’s freedom remains alive to this day. After enduring conflict and civil unrest for almost 200 years, Uruguay has become a nation known for its incredibly welcoming population, friendly citizens, and beautiful landscape. Over the past decades, Uruguayans have experienced a steady rise in the increase of living conditions and general wellbeing.
Uruguay Independence Day timeline
José Gervasio Artigas becomes a national hero, rising above the Spanish Imperial Army and expelling them from Uruguay, permanently.
Uruguay drafts its first constitution, which does not include the rights of the native Uruguayan population.
After the election of President José Batlle y Ordóñez, rural towns led by the Blancos, a major political party, stage a revolt, beginning an eight-month struggle for control over the nation.
To curtail increasing civil unrest, President Jorge Pacheco takes steps to transform the government of Uruguay into a military-led dictatorship.
After much conflict and national misery, the people of Uruguay finally see a return to democracy with the election of Colorado Party leader Julio María Sanguinetti.
Uruguay Independence Day FAQs
Why is an Independence Day such a big deal?
A national day of independence in any country marks a significant point in its history. It symbolizes sovereign integrity and national identity for many people and cultures, especially the minorities.
Where is Uruguay?
Located on the South-Eastern Peninsula of South America, Uruguay sits south of Brazil and East of Argentina.
What’s in Chivito?
It is made up of a thin slice of tender-cooked beef steak with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and black or green olives. Bacon, fried or hard-boiled eggs, and ham, may also be included and served as a sandwich in a bun, often accompanied by French fried potatoes.
Uruguay Independence Day Activities
It's non-negotiable for anyone who wants to celebrate the day properly. You have to prepare the national dish of the people of Uruguay.
Sing the National Anthem
Uruguay’s national anthem is one of the longest in the world. Thankfully, the Uruguayans know that too, so it's customary to sing only the first verse and chorus.
Find a local celebration or host one
In most major metros in the Americas, there is an Uruguayan community chomping at the bit to celebrate their nation's independence, so join in. If you can’t find a community, however, throw your own party, respectfully celebrate their local culture, and it will be a smash hit.
5 Interesting Facts About Uruguay
They speak Spanish
Uruguay is the smallest nation that speaks Spanish as its primary national language.
It's a picturesque landscape
The landscape is so beautiful that Uruguay translates to “river of painted birds.”
Massive football fans
In 1930, Uruguay hosted the very first FIFA World Cup.
They love their red meat
For such a small population, Uruguay has one of the highest rates of red meat consumption per capita in the world.
Education is a priority
Uruguay, despite its challenges over the years, has one of the highest literacy rates in the world — 96%.
Why We Love Uruguay Independence Day
It’s something to celebrate
For a country like Uruguay, marred with conflict and violence for centuries, being able to authentically celebrate independence is a massive achievement. We appreciate a reason to celebrate what’s good in the world.
We get to eat Chivito
Any holiday that involves cheese and bacon in a sandwich is a holiday that has our full support. If you haven't had one ever, try one today!
It expands our horizons
We’re all for learning about the world and what’s going on in it. Discovering the rich, cultural diversity present on our planet is important for everyone, and days like this remind us to do that.
Uruguay Independence Day dates