Uruguay Natural

Welcome to Uruguay; a sunny nation nestled between Argentina and Brazil that is abuzz with Latin American culture. Friendly faces line the streets, people sip yerba mate, children run through empty fields playing pick up games of fùtbol, and street walls are splashed with colorful murals. Charming natural beaches draw visitors to Uruguay by hundreds of thousands in the summertime, but most citizens live in the bustling capital, Montevideo, on the Río de la Plata.

Uruguay is a very progressive country, with strong emphasis on social democracy and human rights. In 2011, the Global Peace Index ranked Uruguay the most peaceful and democratic country in all of Latin America.

The country is also becoming a pioneer in clean, renewable energy. In 2013 Uruguay’s energy ministry received a mandate from President José Mujica to begin producing some of the world’s cheapest solar power as the cost of photovoltaic panels continued to drop. By 2015, engineers predict that Uruguay will become a global leader in wind power.

However Uruguay’s nonrenewable resources have become increasingly coveted; more than 90 percent of the country’s land is privately owned. With no limitations on foreigners buying up land, investors have recently proposed ambitious mega-development projects, especially in the Department of Rocha on the Southern Atlantic coast. These include a huge open pit iron mine, a deepwater port and Oil exploration by international petroleum companies that have invested more than $1.56 billion USD to begin offshore testing.

The country now faces a crossroads of short-term economic gain or preserving its natural resources that make it a peaceful paradise.

One group, the Organization for the Conservation of Cetaceans (OCC) is fighting to protect these resources. They have established the Route of the Whale to better shelter ocean life and increase awareness on the importance of conservation.

This is the story along the route.