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Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tetã Paraguái, links=no), is a country in
South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern of a single continent called (see the ). The reference to South America instead of other cultural ...

South America
. It is bordered by
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of . Sharing the bulk of the with to the west, the country is also bordered by and to the north, to the ...

Argentina
to the south and southwest,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both and . At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 million people, Brazil is the ...

Brazil
to the east and northeast, and
Bolivia Bolivia ; ay, Wuliwya ; : ''Puliwya'' , officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a located in western-central . The constitutional capital is , while the and executive capital is . The largest city and principal industrial ce ...

Bolivia
to the northwest. It has a population of 7 million, nearly 3 million of whom live in the
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minusc ...
and largest city of
Asunción Asunción (, , ) is the capital (political) , capital and the largest city of Paraguay in South America. The city stands on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo River. The Paraguay River an ...

Asunción
, and its surrounding metro. Although one of only two landlocked countries in South America (the other being Bolivia), the country has coasts, beaches and ports on the
Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tetã Paraguái, links=no), is a country in South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in t ...
and
Paraná
Paraná
rivers that give exit to the Atlantic Ocean through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway. Spanish
conquistador Conquistadors (, ) or conquistadores (, ; meaning 'conquerors') were the invaders, knights, soldiers, and explorers of the Spanish Empire, Spanish and the Portuguese Empires. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to t ...

conquistador
es arrived in 1524, and in 1537 established the city of
Asunción Asunción (, , ) is the capital (political) , capital and the largest city of Paraguay in South America. The city stands on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo River. The Paraguay River an ...

Asunción
, the first capital of the Governorate of the Río de la Plata. During the 17th century, Paraguay was the center of Jesuit missions, where the native
Guaraní people Guarani are a group of culturally Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabiliti ...
were converted to Christianity and introduced to European culture. After the
expulsion of the Jesuits The suppression of the Jesuits was a politically instigated removal of all members of the Society of Jesus from most of the countries of Western Europe and their colonies, beginning in 1759, and ultimately approved by The Holy See in 1773. In 181 ...
from Spanish territories in 1767, Paraguay increasingly became a peripheral colony, with few urban centers and settlers. Following independence from Spain in the early 19th century, Paraguay was ruled by a series of authoritarian governments characterized by nationalist, isolationist and
protectionist Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
policies. This period ended with the disastrous
Paraguayan War The Paraguayan War, also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, was a South American South America is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather t ...
(1864–70), during which the country lost half its prewar population and around 25–33% of its territory to the Triple Alliance of Argentina,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both and . At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 million people, Brazil is the ...
and
Uruguay Uruguay (; ; pt, Uruguai), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern He ...

Uruguay
. In the 20th century, Paraguay faced another major international conflictthe
Chaco War The Chaco War ( es, Guerra del Chaco, gn, Cháko ÑorairõAlfredo Stroessner Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (; 3 November 1912 – 16 August 2006) was a Paraguayan Army officer who was the dictator of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. He ascended to the position after leading 1954 Paraguayan coup d'état, an army coup in 1954. Hi ...
, which lasted until his overthrow in 1989 by an internal military coup. This marked the beginning of Paraguay's democratic era, which continues to this day. Paraguay is a
developing country 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A developing country is a country with a less developed industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, ...
. It is a founding member of
Mercosur Mercosur (in Spanish), Mercosul (in Portuguese), or Ñemby Ñemuha (in Guarani), officially Southern Common Market,, pt, link=no, Mercado Comum do Sul, gn, link=no, Ñemby Ñemuha is a South American South America is a continent ...

Mercosur
, the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for har ...

United Nations
, the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...

Organization of American States
, the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A devel ...
and the
Lima Group
Lima Group
. Additionally, the city of
Luque Luque () is a city in Central Department of Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tetã Paraguái, links=no), is a country in South America South America is a ...
, in metropolitan Asuncion, is the seat of the
South American Football Confederation The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL, ; es, Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol; pt, Confederação Sul-Americana de Futebol or CSF) is the continental sport governing body, governing body of association football, football in S ...

South American Football Confederation
. The majority of Paraguay's seven million people are ''
mestizo (; ; fem. ) is a racial classification used to refer to a person of a combined Ethnic groups in Europe, European and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous American ancestry. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category for mixed-ra ...

mestizo
'', and Guarani culture remains widely influential; more than 90% of the population speak various dialects of the
Guarani language Guaraní (), specifically the primary variety known as Paraguayan Guarani ( "the people's language"), is a South American South America is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified ...
alongside Spanish. Despite a history of poverty and political repression, in a 2017 Positive Experience Index based on global polling data, Paraguay ranked as the "world's happiest place".


Etymology

From Guarani ''paraguá'' "feather crown" and ''y'' "water" thus ''paraguaí'' "feather crown of waters".


History


Pre-Columbian era

The
indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular place. The term ' ...

indigenous
Guaraní had been living in eastern Paraguay for at least a millennium before the arrival of the
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
. Western Paraguay, the
Gran Chaco The Gran Chaco or Dry Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semiarid lowland natural region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Argentina, and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Gross ...
, was inhabited by nomads of whom the
Guaycuru Image:Debret3.jpg, up300px, Guaycuru nomads by Debret Guaycuru or Guaykuru is a generic term for several ethnic groups Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous to the Gran Chaco region of South America, speaking related Guaicuruan languages. ...
peoples were the most prominent. The Paraguay River was roughly the dividing line between the agricultural Guarani people to the east and the nomadic and semi-nomadic people to the west in the Gran Chaco. The Guarcuru nomads were known for their warrior traditions and were not fully pacified until the late 19th century. These indigenous tribes belonged to five distinct language families, which were the bases of their major divisions. Differing language speaking groups were generally competitive over resources and territories. They were further divided into tribes by speaking languages in branches of these families. Today 17 separate
ethnolinguistic __NOTOC__ Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for stud ...
groups remain.


Colonization

The first Europeans in the area were Spanish explorers in 1516.Sacks, Richard S. "Early explorers and conquistadors". In Hanratty & Meditz. The Spanish explorer
Juan de Salazar de Espinosa Juan de Salazar y Espinosa (1508–1560) was a Spanish explorer, founder of the Paraguayan city of Asunción. Born in the city of Espinosa de los Monteros in Burgos (province), Burgos, Spain, not much is known about his early life. In August 153 ...
founded the settlement of
Asunción Asunción (, , ) is the capital (political) , capital and the largest city of Paraguay in South America. The city stands on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo River. The Paraguay River an ...

Asunción
on 15 August 1537. The city eventually became the center of a
Spanish colonial province of Paraguay
Spanish colonial province of Paraguay
. An attempt to create an autonomous Christian Indian nation was undertaken by
Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism, ...
missions and settlements in this part of South America in the eighteenth century. They developed
Jesuit reduction The Jesuit reductions were a type of settlement for indigenous people Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to ...
s to bring Guarani populations together at Spanish missions and protect them from virtual slavery by Spanish settlers and Portuguese slave raiders, the
Bandeirantes The ''Bandeirantes'' (), literally "flag-carriers", were slavers, explorers, adventurers, and fortune hunters in early Colonial Brazil. They are largely responsible for Brazil's great expansion westward, far beyond the Tordesillas Line of 1494 ...
, in addition to seeking their conversion to Christianity. Catholicism in Paraguay was influenced by the indigenous peoples; the
syncretic Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs and various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, Lis ...
religion has absorbed native elements. The ''reducciones'' flourished in eastern Paraguay for about 150 years, until the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Spanish Crown in 1767. The ruins of two 18th-century Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue have been designated as
World Heritage Sites A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for ha ...
by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
. In western Paraguay, Spanish settlement and Christianity were strongly resisted by the nomadic
Guaycuru Image:Debret3.jpg, up300px, Guaycuru nomads by Debret Guaycuru or Guaykuru is a generic term for several ethnic groups Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous to the Gran Chaco region of South America, speaking related Guaicuruan languages. ...
and other nomads from the 16th century onward. Most of these peoples were absorbed into the
mestizo (; ; fem. ) is a racial classification used to refer to a person of a combined Ethnic groups in Europe, European and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous American ancestry. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category for mixed-ra ...

mestizo
population in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Independence and rule of Francia

Paraguay overthrew the local Spanish administration on 14 May 1811. Paraguay's first dictator was
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco () (6 January 1766 – 20 September 1840) was a Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tetã Paraguái, links=no), is a co ...

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
who ruled Paraguay from 1814 until his death in 1840, with very little outside contact or influence. He intended to create a
utopian A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct f ...
society based on the French theorist
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, , ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Republic of Geneva, Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment throughout Europe, as w ...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
's ''Social Contract''. Rodríguez de Francia was nicknamed ''El Supremo''. Rodríguez de Francia established new laws that greatly reduced the powers of the Catholic church (Catholicism was then an established state religion) and the cabinet, forbade colonial citizens from marrying one another and allowed them to marry only blacks,
mulattoes Mulatto (, ) is a racial classification to refer to people of mixed black African and white Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...
or natives, in order to break the power of colonial-era elites and to create a
mixed-race Multiracial people are people of more than one race (human categorization), race or ethnicity. A variety of terms have been used for multi-racial people, including ''mixed-race'', ''biracial'', ''multiethnic'', ''polyethnic'', ''Métis'', ''Creo ...
or mestizo society. He cut off relations between Paraguay and the rest of South America. Because of Francia's restrictions of freedom,
Fulgencio Yegros Fulgencio Yegros y Franco de Torres (born 1780 in Quyquyhó, died 1821) was Paraguayan people, Paraguayan soldier and first head of state of independent Paraguay. The town of Yegros is named in his honor. Life Yegros was born to a family of mi ...

Fulgencio Yegros
and several other Independence-era leaders in 1820 planned a ''coup d’état'' against Francia, who discovered the plot and had its leaders either executed or imprisoned for life.


Rule of the López family

After Francia's death in 1840, Paraguay was ruled by various military officers under a new ''
junta Junta may refer to: Government and military * Junta (governing body), referring to various military governments and other governing bodies ** Military junta, one form of junta * Junta (Habsburg), an administrative body that ruled in personal union ...
'', until (allegedly Rodríguez de Francia's nephew) came to power in 1841. López modernized Paraguay and opened it to foreign commerce. He signed a
non-aggression pact A non-aggression pact or neutrality pact is a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometime ...
with Argentina and officially declared independence of Paraguay in 1842. After López's death in 1862, power was transferred to his eldest son,
Francisco Solano López Francisco Solano López Carrillo (24 July 1827 – 1 March 1870) was President of Paraguay The president of Paraguay ( es, Presidente del Paraguay), officially known as the president of the Republic of Paraguay ( es, Presidente de la R ...

Francisco Solano López
. The regime of the López family was characterized by pervasive and rigid centralism in production and distribution. There was no distinction between the public and the private spheres, and the López family ruled the country as it would a large estate. The government exerted control on all exports. The export of
yerba mate Yerba mate or yerba-maté (''Ilex paraguariensis''; from Spanish ; pt, erva-mate, or ; gn, ka'a, ) is a plant species of the holly genus ''Ilex'' native to South America. It was named by the French botanist Augustin Saint-Hilaire. The indig ...

yerba mate
and valuable wood products maintained the balance of trade between Paraguay and the outside world. The Paraguayan government was extremely protectionist, never accepted loans from abroad and levied high
tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated el ...
s against imported foreign products. This
protectionism Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
made the society self-sufficient, and it also avoided the debt suffered by Argentina and Brazil. Slavery existed in Paraguay, although not in great numbers, until 1844, when it was legally abolished in the new constitution.
Francisco Solano López Francisco Solano López Carrillo (24 July 1827 – 1 March 1870) was President of Paraguay The president of Paraguay ( es, Presidente del Paraguay), officially known as the president of the Republic of Paraguay ( es, Presidente de la R ...

Francisco Solano López
, the son of Carlos Antonio López, replaced his father as the President-Dictator in 1862, and generally continued the political policies of his father. Both wanted to give an international image of Paraguay as "democratic and republican", but in fact, the ruling family had almost total control of all public life in the country, including church and colleges. Militarily, Carlos Antonio López modernized and expanded industry and the
Paraguayan ArmyTo win or to die , march= Marcha al Mariscal Lopez , mascot= , equipment= , equipment_label= , battles= War of the Triple Alliance Chaco War Paraguayan People's Army insurgency , anniversaries= 24 of July (Mariscal Lopez Birthday) , decorations= , b ...
and greatly strengthened the strategic defenses of Paraguay by developing the Fortress of Humaitá. The government hired more than 200 foreign technicians, who installed
telegraph line An electrical telegraph is a point-to-point text messaging system, primarily used from the 1840s until the mid 20th century when it was slowly replaced by other telecommunication systems. It used coded pulses of electric current An electric c ...
s and railroads to aid the expanding steel, textile, paper and ink, naval construction, weapons and gunpowder industries. The Ybycuí foundry, completed in 1850, manufactured cannons, mortars and bullets of all calibers. River warships were built in the shipyards of Asunción. Fortifications were built, especially along the
Apa River The Apa River (Spanish: Río Apa, Portuguese: Rio Apa) is a river of Paraguay and Brazil. It is a tributary of the Paraguay River, which in turn is a tributary of the Paraná River. It starts in the Amambai Mountains of the Brazilian state of Mato ...
and in
Gran Chaco The Gran Chaco or Dry Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semiarid lowland natural region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Argentina, and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Gross ...
.Hooker, T.D., 2008, The Paraguayan War, Nottingham: Foundry Books, The work was continued by his son Francisco Solano and in terms of socio-economic development, the country was dubbed as "the most advanced Republic in South America", notably by the British judge and politician Sir Robert Phillimore. According to George Thompson, Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers in the Paraguayan Army prior to and during the war, López's government was comparatively a good one for Paraguay:


Paraguayan War (1864–1870)

On 12 October 1864, despite Paraguayan ultimatums,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both and . At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 million people, Brazil is the ...
(allied with the Argentine Government under General
Bartolomé Mitre Bartolomé Mitre Martínez (26 June 1821 – 19 January 1906) was an Argentina, Argentine statesman, soldier and author. He was President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868. Early life Mitre was born in Buenos Aires to a Greeks, Greek family origi ...

Bartolomé Mitre
and the rebellious Uruguayan colorados led by Gen.
Venancio Flores 200px, Flores, photographed 1865 Venancio Flores Barrios (18 May 1808 – 19 February 1868) was a Uruguay Uruguay (; ; pt, Uruguai), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in the south ...

Venancio Flores
) invaded the Republic of Uruguay in order to overthrow the government of that time (which was under the rule of the Blanco Party, an ally of López), thus starting the
Paraguayan War The Paraguayan War, also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, was a South American South America is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather t ...
. The Paraguayans, led by the Marshal of the Republic Francisco Solano López, retaliated by attacking Mato Grosso on 15 December 1864 and later declared war against Argentina on 23 March 1865. The Blanco Government was toppled and replaced by a Colorado Government under General Venancio Flores on 22 February 1865. Afterward, the
Argentine Republic Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the S ...
, the
Empire of Brazil The Empire of Brazil was a 19th-century state that broadly comprised the territories which form modern Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America ...
and the Republic of Uruguay signed the Secret Treaty of the Triple Alliance against the Paraguayan Government on 1 May 1865. The Paraguayans put up a ferocious resistance but ultimately lost in 1870 in the Battle of Cerro Corá, where Marshal Solano López refused to surrender and died in action. The real causes of this war, which remains the bloodiest international conflict in the history of
The Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' ...
, are still highly debatable. Paraguay lost 25–33% of its territory to Argentina and Brazil, paid an enormous war debt, and sold large amounts of national properties to stabilize its internal budget. The worst consequence of the war was the catastrophic loss of population. At least 50% of the Paraguayans died during the conflict, numbers which took many decades for the country to return to. About the disaster suffered by the Paraguayans at the outcome of the war, William D. Rubinstein wrote: "The normal estimate is that of a Paraguayan population of somewhere between 450,000 and 900,000, only 220,000 survived the war, of whom only 28,000 were adult males." During the pillaging of Asunción in 1869, the
Imperial Brazilian Army The Imperial Brazilian Army ( Portuguese: Exército Imperial Brasileiro) was the name given to the land force of the Empire of Brazil. The Brazilian Army was formed after the independence of the country from Portugal Portugal (), officially ...
packed up and transported the Paraguayan National Archives to
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro (; ), or simply Rio, is the List of largest cities in Brazil, second-most populous city in Brazil and the Largest cities in the Americas, sixth-most populous in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the Rio de Janeiro (s ...

Rio de Janeiro
. Brazil's records from the war have remained classified. This has made Paraguayan history in the colonial and early national periods difficult to research and study.


20th century

In 1904 the Liberal revolution against the rule of Colorados broke out. The Liberal rule started a period of great political instability. Between 1904 and 1954 Paraguay had thirty-one
presidents President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
, most of whom were removed from office by force. Conflicts between the factions of the ruling Liberal party led to the Paraguayan Civil War of 1922. The unresolved border conflict with Bolivia over the Chaco region finally erupted in the early 1930s in the
Chaco War The Chaco War ( es, Guerra del Chaco, gn, Cháko ÑorairõFebruary Revolution The February Revolution ( rus, Февра́льская револю́ция, p=fʲɪvˈralʲskəjə rʲɪvɐˈlʲutsɨjə, tr. ), known in Soviet historiography Soviet historiography is the methodology of history History (from Greek , ' ...
brought colonel to power. Between 1940 and 1948, the country was ruled by general Higinio Morínigo. Dissatisfaction with his rule resulted in the Paraguayan civil war of 1947. In its aftermath
Alfredo Stroessner Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (; 3 November 1912 – 16 August 2006) was a Paraguayan Army officer who was the dictator of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. He ascended to the position after leading 1954 Paraguayan coup d'état, an army coup in 1954. Hi ...
began involvement in a string of plots, which resulted in his military
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for "blow of state"), often shortened to coup in English, (also known as an overthrow) is a seizure and removal of a government and its powers. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a politic ...
of 4 May 1954.


Stroessner era, 1954–1989

A series of unstable governments ensued until the establishment in 1954 of the regime of dictator
Alfredo Stroessner Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (; 3 November 1912 – 16 August 2006) was a Paraguayan Army officer who was the dictator of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. He ascended to the position after leading 1954 Paraguayan coup d'état, an army coup in 1954. Hi ...
, who remained in office for more than three decades until 1989. Paraguay was modernized to some extent under Stroessner's regime, although his rule was marked by extensive human rights abuses. Stroessner and the ''Colorado'' party ruled the country from 1954 to 1989. The dictator oversaw an era of economic expansion, but also had a poor human rights and environmental record (see "Political History"). Paraguay actively participated in
Operation Condor Operation Condor ( es, link=no, Operación Cóndor, also known as ''Plan Cóndor''; pt, Operação Condor) was a United States-backed campaign of political repression and state terrorism, state terror involving Intelligence (information gatheri ...
. Torture and death for political opponents was routine. After his overthrow, the ''Colorado'' continued to dominate national politics until 2008. The splits in the ''Colorado'' Party in the 1980s, and the prevailing conditions – Stroessner's advanced age, the character of the regime, the economic downturn, and
international isolation International isolation is a penalty applied by the international community or a sizeable or powerful group of countries, like the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain internati ...
– were catalysts for anti-regime demonstrations and statements by the opposition prior to the 1988 general elections. '' PLRA'' leader Domingo Laíno served as the focal point of the opposition in the second half of the 1980s. The government's effort to isolate Laíno by exiling him in 1982 had backfired. On his sixth attempt to re-enter the country in 1986, Laíno returned with three television crews from the U.S., a former United States ambassador to Paraguay, and a group of Uruguayan and Argentine congressmen. Despite the international contingent, the police violently barred Laíno's return. The Stroessner regime relented in April 1987, and permitted Laíno to return to Asunción. Laíno took the lead in organizing demonstrations and reducing infighting among the opposition party. The opposition was unable to reach agreement on a common strategy regarding the elections, with some parties advocating abstention, and others calling for blank voting. The parties held numerous 'lightning demonstrations' (''mítines relámpagos''), especially in rural areas. Such demonstrations were gathered and quickly disbanded before the arrival of the police. In response to the upsurge in opposition activities, Stroessner condemned the Accord for advocating "sabotage of the general elections and disrespect of the law". He used national police and civilian
vigilantes Vigilantism is the act of enforcement, investigation or punishment of perceived offenses without legal authority. A vigilante (from Spanish and Italian ''vigilante'') is practitioner of vigilantism. History Vigilantism and the vigilante ethos ...

vigilantes
of the ''Colorado'' Party to break up demonstrations. A number of opposition leaders were imprisoned or otherwise harassed. , another key leader of the ''PLRA'', was imprisoned for four months in 1987 on charges of sedition. In early February 1988, police arrested 200 people attending a National Coordinating Committee meeting in
Coronel Oviedo Image:Peaje de Cnel. Oviedo.jpg, 240px, left, The toll of Coronel Oviedo, a few meters away from the entrance to Nueva Londres Coronel Oviedo (), locally simply known as Oviedo, is a city in east-central Paraguay. It is the capital of the Caagua ...

Coronel Oviedo
. Laíno and several other opposition figures were arrested before dawn on the day of the election, 14 February, and held for twelve hours. The government declared Stroessner's re-election with 89% of the vote. The opposition attributed the results in part to the virtual Colorado monopoly on the mass media. They noted that 53% of those polled indicated that there was an "uneasiness" in Paraguayan society. 74% believed that the political situation needed changes, including 45% who wanted a substantial or total change. Finally, 31% stated that they planned to abstain from voting in the February elections.


Stroessner's overthrow, post-1989

On 3 February 1989, Stroessner was overthrown in a military coup headed by General Andrés Rodríguez. As president, Rodríguez instituted political, legal, and economic reforms and initiated a ''rapprochement'' with the international community. Reflecting the deep hunger of the rural poor for land, hundreds immediately occupied thousands of acres of unused territories belonging to Stroessner and his associates; by mid-1990, 19,000 families occupied . At the time, 2.06 million people lived in rural areas, more than half of the 4.1 million total population, and most were landless. The June 1992 constitution established a democratic system of government and dramatically improved protection of fundamental human rights. In May 1993, Colorado Party candidate Juan Carlos Wasmosy was elected as Paraguay's first civilian president in almost forty years, in what international observers deemed free and fair elections. With support from the United States, the Organization of American States, and other countries in the region, the Paraguayan people rejected an April 1996 attempt by then Army Chief General to oust President Wasmosy. Oviedo was nominated as the Colorado candidate for president in the 1998 election. However, when the Supreme Court upheld in April his conviction on charges related to the 1996 coup attempt, he was not allowed to run and was detained in jail. His former running mate, Raúl Cubas, became the Colorado Party's candidate, and was elected in May in elections deemed by international observers to be free and fair. One of Cubas' first acts after taking office in August was to commute Oviedo's sentence and release him. In December 1998, Paraguay's Supreme Court declared these actions unconstitutional. In this tense atmosphere, the murder of Vice President and long-time Oviedo rival Luis María Argaña on 23 March 1999, led the Chamber of Deputies to impeach Cubas the next day. On 26 March, eight student anti-government demonstrators were murdered, widely believed to have been carried out by Oviedo supporters. This increased opposition to Cubas, who resigned on 28 March. Senate President Luis González Macchi, a Cubas opponent, was peacefully sworn in as president the same day. In 2003, Nicanor Duarte Frutos was elected as president.


Election of Fernando Lugo

For the 2008 general elections, the Colorado Party was favored in polls. Their candidate was Minister of Education , the first woman to be nominated as a candidate for a major party in Paraguayan history. After sixty years of Colorado rule, voters chose
Fernando Lugo Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez (; born 30 May 1951) is a Paraguayan politician who was President of Paraguay from 2008 to 2012. Previously he was a Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic priest and bishop, serving as Bishop of the Roman Catholic ...

Fernando Lugo
, a former Roman Catholic Bishop and not a professional politician in civil government, and a member of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, Paraguay's largest opposition party. Lugo was an adherent of
liberation theology Liberation theology is a Christian theological Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), aca ...
. Lugo achieved a historic victory in Paraguay's presidential election, defeating the ruling party candidate, and ending 61 years of conservative rule. Lugo won with nearly 41% of the vote, compared to almost 31% for Blanca Ovelar of the Colorado party. Outgoing President
Nicanor Duarte Frutos Óscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos (born 11 October 1956) is a Paraguayan politician who served as President of Paraguay from 2003 to 2008. He currently holds the title of Senator for life. Career Born in Coronel Oviedo, Caaguazú Department, Caaguaz ...
hailed the moment as the first time in the history of the nation that a government had transferred power to opposition forces in a constitutional and peaceful fashion. Lugo was sworn in on 15 August 2008. The Lugo administration set its two major priorities as the reduction of corruption and economic inequality. Political instability following Lugo's election and disputes within his cabinet encouraged some renewal of popular support for the Colorado Party. Reports suggested that the businessman Horacio Cartes became the new political figure amid disputes. Despite the US
Drug Enforcement Administration The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA; ) is a Federal law enforcement in the United States, United States federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Justice tasked with combating drug trafficking and distribution within th ...

Drug Enforcement Administration
's strong accusations against Cartes related to
drug trafficking Uncoated tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders. Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug ...
, he continued to amass followers in the political arena. On 14 January 2011, the Colorado Party convention nominated Horacio Cartes as the presidential candidate for the party. However, the party's constitution did not allow it. On 21 June 2012, impeachment proceedings against President Lugo began in the country's lower house, which was controlled by his opponents. Lugo was given less than twenty-four hours to prepare for the proceedings and only two hours in which to mount a defense. Impeachment was quickly approved and the resulting trial in Paraguay's Senate, also controlled by the opposition, ended with the removal of Lugo from office and Vice President Federico Franco assuming the duties of president. Lugo's rivals blamed him for the deaths of 17 people – eight police officers and nine farmers – in armed clashes after police were ambushed by armed peasants when enforcing an eviction order against rural trespassers. Lugo's supporters gathered outside Congress to protest the decision as a "politically motivated coup d'état". Lugo's removal from office on 22 June 2012 is considered by
UNASUR The Union of South American Nations (USAN; es, links=no, Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; pt, links=no, União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; nl, links=no, Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN; and sometimes referred to as t ...

UNASUR
and other neighboring countries, especially those currently governed by leftist leaders, as a coup d'état. However, the Organization of American States, which sent a mission to Paraguay to gather information, concluded that the impeachment process was not a coup d'état, as it had been carried out in accordance with the Constitution of Paraguay.


Present day

From August 2013 to 15 August 2018, the President of Paraguay was Horacio Cartes. Since 15 August 2018, the President of Paraguay has been Mario Abdo Benítez. They are both from the conservative Colorado Party (Paraguay), Colorado Party. President Mario Abdo enjoys a close relationship with the Brazilian far-right president since 2019, Jair Bolsonaro. In February 2019, President Mario Abdo Benitez was at Bolsonaro's side when Bolsonaro praised Paraguayan military dictator Alfredo Stroessner, calling him "a man of vision."


Geography

Paraguay is divided by the Río Paraguay into two well differentiated geographic regions. The eastern region (Región Oriental); and the western region, officially called Western Paraguay (Región Occidental) and also known as the Chaco, which is part of the
Gran Chaco The Gran Chaco or Dry Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semiarid lowland natural region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Argentina, and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Gross ...
. The country lies between latitudes 19th parallel south, 19° and 28th parallel south, 28°S, and longitudes 54th meridian west, 54° and 63rd meridian west, 63°W. The terrain consists mostly of grassy plains and wooded hills in the eastern region. To the west are mostly low, marshy plains. Paraguay contains six terrestrial ecoregions: Alto Paraná Atlantic forests, Gran Chaco, Chaco, Cerrado, Humid Chaco, Pantanal, and Paraná flooded savanna. It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 6.39/10, ranking it 74th globally out of 172 countries. The Guarani Aquifer is an important Open and closed lakes, exorheic basin to the region.


Climate

The overall climate is tropical climate, tropical to subtropical climate, subtropical. Like most lands in the region, Paraguay has only wet and dry periods. Winds play a major role in influencing Paraguay's weather: between October and March, warm winds blow from the Amazon Basin in the north, while the period between May and August brings cold winds from the Andes. The absence of mountain ranges to provide a natural barrier allows winds to develop speeds as high as . This also leads to significant changes in temperature within a short span of time; between April and September, temperatures will sometimes drop below freezing. January is the hottest summer month, with an average daily temperature of 28.9 degrees Celsius (84 degrees F). Rainfall varies dramatically across the country, with substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, and semi-arid conditions in the far west. The far eastern forest belt receives an average of of rain annually, while the western Chaco region typically averages no more than a year. The rains in the west tend to be irregular and evaporate quickly, contributing to the aridity of the area.


Fauna

Wildlife in Paraguay include marsh deer, monkeys, armadillos, anteaters, otters, wild boars, tapirs, jaguars, ocelots, bats, and the coypu


Government and politics

Paraguay is a representative democratic republic, with a multi-party system and separation of powers across three branches. Executive power is exercised solely by the President of Paraguay, President, who is head of state and head of government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Congress of Paraguay, National Congress. The Judicial Branch, judiciary is vested on tribunals and Courts of Civil Law (legal system), Civil Law and a nine-member Supreme Court of Justice, all of them independent of the executive and the legislature.


Military

The Armed Forces of Paraguay, military of Paraguay consist of an army, navy (including naval aviation and Marines, marine corps) and air force. constitution of Paraguay, Paraguay's constitution establishes the president of Paraguay as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Paraguay has Conscription, compulsory military service; all 18-year-old males, as well as 17-year-old males in the year of their 18th birthday, are liable for one year of active duty. While the constitution allows for Conscientious objector, conscientious objection, no enabling legislation has yet been approved. Paraguay has partnered with Argentina, Brazil, and the United States in regional anti-terrorism and anti-narcotics efforts. In July 2005, U.S. special forces began arriving at Paraguay's Mariscal Estigarribia air base to support joint training and humanitarian operationsUS Marines put a foot in Paraguay
, ''Clarín (Argentine newspaper), El Clarín'', 9 September 2005
In 2019, Asuncion hosted the first meeting of the Regional Security Mechanism (RSM), which promotes cooperation between Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and the U.S. in addressing transnational crime and terrorism in the "triple frontier" region. In 2017, Paraguay ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, thus banning the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, and transfer of nuclear weapons in its territory, as well as forbidding assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.


Administrative Divisions

Paraguay consists of seventeen departments and one capital district (''distrito capital''). It is also divided into two regions: The "Occidental Region" or Chaco (Boquerón, Alto Paraguay and Presidente Hayes), and the "Oriental Region" (the other departments and the capital district). These are the departments, with their capitals, population, area and the number of districts:


Economy

In 2010 and 2013, Paraguay experienced the greatest economic expansion of South America, with a GDP growth rate of 14.5% and 13.6% respectively. In 2005 the International Monetary Fund explained that less than 10% of workers in Paraguay participate in the pension system, 95% of which is administered by two institutions. Both are financed on a Pay as you go pension plan, pay as you go system by worker contributions; the first, is for private sector employees, and the for public employees (including university professors, teachers, judicial employees, army officers and police officers) and veterans of the Chaco War (or their descendants). All of Electricity sector in Paraguay, Paraguay's electricity is generated by hydroelectricity, hydropower, making it one of the List of countries by electricity production from renewable sources, cleanest in the world. Paraguay has an installed electrical production capacity of 8,110 MW, producing 63 billion kWh/year in 2016; with domestic consumption of just 15 billion kWh, the excess production is sold to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, making Paraguay the world's largest exporter of electric power. This production is from two large hydroelectric power projects along its borders, including the Itaipu Dam, the world's second largest generating station. Paraguay is the fifth-largest soybean producer in the world, the second-largest producer of stevia and the ninth-largest exporter of beef. The market economy is distinguished by a large informal sector, featuring re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Nonetheless, over the last 10 years the Paraguayan economy diversified dramatically, with the energy, auto parts and clothing industries leading the way. Paraguay's biggest cities are located along the Argentina-Paraguay border:
Asunción Asunción (, , ) is the capital (political) , capital and the largest city of Paraguay in South America. The city stands on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo River. The Paraguay River an ...

Asunción
, Encarnación, Paraguay, Encarnación, Pilar, Paraguay, Pilar and Ciudad del Este, the latter being the third most important free commercial zone in the world, only trailing behind Miami and Hong Kong. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. The economy grew rapidly between 2003 and 2013 as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion. In 2012, Paraguay's government introduced the MERCOSUR (FOCEM) system in order to stimulate the economy and job growth through a partnership with both Brazil and Argentina.


Industry and manufacturing

The mineral industry of Paraguay produces about 25% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 31% of the labor force. Production of cement, iron ore, and steel occurs commonly throughout Paraguay's industrial sector. The growth of the industry was further fueled by the maquila industry, with large industrial complexes located in the eastern part of the country. Paraguay put in place many incentives aimed to attract industries to the country. One of them is the so-called "Maquila law" by which companies can relocate to Paraguay, enjoying minimal tax rates. In the pharmaceutical industry, Paraguayan companies now meet 70% of domestic consumption and have begun to export drugs. Paraguay is quickly supplanting foreign suppliers in meeting the country's drug needs. Strong growth also is evident in the production of edible oils, garments, organic sugar, meat processing, and steel. In 2003 manufacturing made up 13.6% of the GDP, and the sector employed about 11% of the working population in 2000. Paraguay's primary manufacturing focus is on food and beverages. Wood products, paper products, hides and furs, and non-metallic mineral products also contribute to manufacturing totals. Steady growth in the manufacturing GDP during the 1990s (1.2% annually) laid the foundation for 2002 and 2003, when the annual growth rate rose to 2.5%. Paraguay was ranked 97th in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, down from 95th in 2019.


Social issues

Various poverty estimates suggest that 30–50% of the population is poor. In rural areas, 41.20% of the people lack a monthly income to cover basic necessities, whereas in urban centers this figure is 27.6%. The top 10% of the population holds 43.8% of the national income, while the lowest 10% has 0.5%. The economic recession has worsened income inequality, notably in the rural areas, where the Gini coefficient has risen from 0.56 in 1995 to 0.66 in 1999. More recent data (2009) show that 35% of the Paraguayan population is poor, 19% of which live in extreme poverty. Moreover, 71% of the latter live in rural areas of the country. Similarly, land concentration in the Paraguayan countryside is one of the highest in the globe: 10% of the population controls 66% of the land, while 30% of the rural people are landless. In the immediate aftermath of the 1989 overthrow of Stroessner, some 19,000 rural families occupied hundreds of thousands of acres of unused lands formerly held by the dictator and his associates by mid-1990, but many rural poor remained landless. This inequality has caused a great deal of tensions between the landless and land owners.Nagel, Beverly Y.(1999) "'Unleashing the Fury': The Cultural Discourse of Rural Violence and Land Rights in Paraguay"
, in ''Comparative Studies in Society and History'', 1999, Vol. 41, Issue 1: 148–181. Cambridge University Press.
In the 2010s, the economy, largely directed towards soybean production, grew by an average of 4%. The economic growth did not, however, reduce poverty. According to The New York Times, Paraguay is "one of the countries in Latin America where the gap between rich and poor has widened the most in recent years." In the countryside, 85% of agricultural land is owned by 2.6% of the owners. In addition, people of indigenous descent have been expelled to make way for soybean companies. The soybean export market is largely dominated by multinationals (Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge Limited, etc.) and therefore benefits few Paraguayans. Export companies and landowners pay little tax. For example, a study by ECLAC (a UN agency) released in 2018 indicates that Paraguay is one of the countries where companies participate the least in the state budget. Pesticides and other chemicals are used heavily in soybean fields. The country's environmental standards are not met by companies and agrochemicals contaminate the environment. In 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a ruling urging Paraguay to undertake an investigation into the massive fumigation of agrochemicals and the poisoning of people. However, the situation is not improving: "The high level of political corruption, the extreme fragility of institutions, the high level of social vulnerability, the omnipotence of economic interests in political decisions, as well as the location [of the country] in the geographic heart of the Southern Cone and its abundance of natural resources, make Paraguay an attractive target for imperial geopolitical interests," says sociologist Tomás Palau. Academic José Luis Insfrán also notes that the country's politicians "are subsidized by big business; they are the ones who implement the policies.


Social issues of the indigenous

Literacy rates are extremely low among Paraguay's indigenous population, who have a literacy rate of 7.1% compared to the 51% rate of the general population."Paraguay".
''Pan-American Health Organization''. (retrieved 12 July 2011)
Only 2.5% of Paraguay's indigenous population has access to clean drinking water and only 9.5% have electricity.


Demographics

Paraguay's population is distributed unevenly through the country, with the vast majority of people living in the eastern region near the capital and largest city,
Asunción Asunción (, , ) is the capital (political) , capital and the largest city of Paraguay in South America. The city stands on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo River. The Paraguay River an ...

Asunción
, which accounts for 10% of the country's population. The
Gran Chaco The Gran Chaco or Dry Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semiarid lowland natural region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Argentina, and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Gross ...
region, which includes the Alto Paraguay Department, Alto Paraguay, Boquerón Department, Boquerón and Presidente Hayes Department, and accounts for about 60% of the territory, is home to less than 2% of the population. About 56% of Paraguayans live in urban areas, making Paraguay one of the least urbanized nations in South America. For most of its history, Paraguay has been a recipient of immigrants, owing to its low population density, especially after the demographic collapse caused by the Paraguayan War. Immigrants include Italians in Paraguay, Italians, Germans, Spanish, English people in Paraguay, English, Russians, Japanese Paraguayan, Japanese, Koreans in Paraguay, Koreans, Chinese, Lebanese migration to Paraguay, Arabs, Ukrainians in Paraguay, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Brazilians, Argentines, Americans, Bolivians, Venezuelans, Chileans, Taiwanese people, Taiwanese and Uruguayans. Along with German Argentines, German Paraguayans are one of the most prominent and growing Germans in Paraguay, German communities in South America, with some 25,000 German-speaking Mennonites in Paraguay, Mennonites living in the Paraguayan Gran Chaco, Chaco. German settlers founded several towns, such as Hohenau, Paraguay, Hohenau, Filadelfia, Neuland Colony, Neuland, Obligado and Nueva Germania. Several websites that promote German immigration to Paraguay claim that 5–7% of the population is of German ancestry, including 150,000 people of German-Brazilian descent. Similarly, from the 1920s, 1920-30s, Paraguay received :es:Inmigración eslava en Paraguay, waves of Slavs, Slavic people who settled in Asunción and Southern Paraguay (Itapúa Department, Itapúa, Misiones Department, Misiones and Ñeembucú Department, Ñeembucú), especially in the towns of Fram, Paraguay, Fram, Coronel Bogado, Encarnación, Paraguay, Encarnación, San Juan del Paraná, San Ignacio, Paraguay, San Ignacio and Pilar, Paraguay, Pilar Paraguay has also been a haven for communities persecuted for the religious faith, like the Bruderhof Communities, Bruderhof who were forced to leave England in 1941 because of their pacifist beliefs. Many of these communities have retained their languages and culture, particularly the Brazilian people, Brazilians, who represent the largest and most prominent immigrant group, at around 400,000. Many Brazilian Paraguayans are of German, Italian and Polish descent. There are an estimated 63,000 Afro-Paraguayans, comprising 1% of the population. There is no official data on the ethnic composition of the Paraguayan population, as the Department of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses of Paraguay does not ask about ''race'' and ''ethnicity'' in census surveys, although it does inquire about the indigenous population. According to the census of 2002, indigenous people made up 1.7% of Paraguay's total population. Traditionally, the majority of the Paraguayan population is considered mixed (''mestizo'' in Spanish). HLA-DRB1 polymorphism studies have shown genetic distances between Paraguayans and Spanish populations were closer than between Paraguayans and Guaranis, suggesting the predominance of Spanish genetics among Paraguayans. According to , Paraguay has a population of , of which 95% are Mestizo or white and 5% are labelled as "other", which includes members of 17 distinct ethnolinguistic indigenous groups, many of which are poorly documented.


Religion

Christianity, particularly Catholicism, is the dominant religion in Paraguay. According to the 2002 census, 89.9% of the population was Catholic, 6.2% was Evangelicalism, Evangelical Protestant, 1.1% identified with other Christian sects, and 0.6% practiced indigenous religions. A U.S. State Department report on Religious Freedom names Catholicism, evangelical Protestantism, mainline Protestantism, Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform), Mormonism, and the Baháʼí Faith as prominent religious groups. It also mentions a large Muslim community in Alto Paraná (as a result of Middle-Eastern immigration, especially from Lebanon) and a prominent Mennonite community in Boquerón.


Languages

Paraguay is a bilingual nation. Both Spanish and Guarani language, Guaraní are official languages. The Guaraní language is a remarkable trace of the indigenous Guaraní culture that has endured in Paraguay. Guaraní claims its place as one of the last surviving and thriving of South American indigenous national languages. In 2015, Spanish was spoken by about 87% of the population, while Guaraní is spoken by more than 90%, or slightly more than 5.8 million speakers. 52% of rural Paraguayans are bilingual in Guaraní. While Guaraní is still widely spoken, Spanish is generally given a preferential treatment in government, business, media and education as one of South America's lingua francas.Paraguayan Guaraní
, Ethnologue
There are approximately 19 other indigenous languages spoken in Paraguay, many of which are threatened by extinction. Languages such as Guana, Ayoreo and Ishir (Chamacoco) are considered endangered.


Culture

Paraguay's cultural heritage can be traced to the extensive interracial marriage, intermarriage between the original male Spanish settlers and indigenous Guarani people, Guaraní women. Their culture is highly influenced by various European countries, including Spain. Therefore, the Paraguayan culture is a fusion of two cultures and traditions; one European, the other, Southern Guaraní. Although this is common throughout the country, it is more visible around the towns of Atyrá, Tobatí and Altos, Paraguay, Altos. More than 93% of Paraguayans are ''mestizos'', making Paraguay one of the most homogeneous countries in Latin America. A characteristic of this cultural fusion is the extensive bilingualism present to this day: more than 80% of Paraguayans speak both Spanish and the indigenous language, Guaraní language, Guaraní. Jopara, a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish, is also widely spoken. This cultural fusion is expressed in arts such as embroidery (''ao po'í'') and Nanduti, lace making (''ñandutí''). The music of Paraguay, which consists of lilting polkas, bouncy ''galopas,'' and languid ''Guarania (music), guaranias'' is played on the native harp. Paraguay's culinary heritage is also deeply influenced by this cultural fusion. Several popular dishes contain manioc, a local staple crop similar to the Cassava, yuca also known as Cassava root found in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, as well as other indigenous ingredients. A popular dish is ''sopa paraguaya'', similar to a thick corn bread. Another notable food is ''chipa'', a bagel-like bread made from cornmeal, manioc, and cheese. Many other dishes consist of different kinds of cheeses, onions, bell peppers, cottage cheese, cornmeal, milk, seasonings, butter, eggs and fresh corn kernels. The 1950s and 1960s were the time of the birth of a new generation of Paraguayan novelists and poets such as José Ricardo Mazó, Roque Vallejos, and Nobel Prize nominee Augusto Roa Bastos. Several Cinema of Paraguay, Paraguayan films have been made. Inside the family, conservative values predominate. In lower classes, godparents have a special relationship to the family, since usually, they are chosen because of their favorable social position, in order to provide extra security for the children. Particular respect is owed them, in return for which the family can expect protection and patronage.


Sports

Sport in Paraguay is an important part of the country's national culture. Association football, Football is the most popular sport, the main national team is the Paraguay national football team. Basketball is also very popular. Other sports such as volleyball, handball, futsal, Swimming (sport), swimming and tennis are also popular. Additional Paraguayan sports and pastimes include rugby union, chess, motorsport, golf and rowing (sport), rowing.


Education

Literacy was about 93.6% and 87.7% of Paraguayans finish the fifth grade according to
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
's last Educational Development Index 2008. Literacy does not differ much by gender. A more recent study reveals that attendance at primary school by children between 6 and 12 years old is about 98%. Primary education is free and mandatory and takes nine years. Secondary education takes three years. Main universities in Paraguay include: * National University of Asunción (public and founded in 1889) * Autonomous University of Asunción (private and founded in 1979) * Universidad Católica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (private and run by the church). * Universidad Americana (private). * Universidad del Pacífico (Paraguay), Universidad del Pacífico (private and founded in 1991). The net primary enrollment rate was at 88% in 2005. Public expenditure on education was about 4.3% of GDP in the early 2000s.


Health

Average life expectancy in Paraguay is rather high given its poverty: , it was 75 years, equivalent to far wealthier Argentina, and the eighth highest in the Americas according to World Health Organization. Public expenditure on health is 2.6% of GDP, while private health expenditure is 5.1%. Infant mortality was 20 per 1,000 births in 2005. Maternal mortality was 150 per 100,000 live births in 2000. The World Bank has helped the Paraguayan government reduce the country's maternal and infant mortality. The ''Mother and Child Basic Health Insurance Project'' aimed to contribute to reducing mortality by increasing the use of selected life-saving services included in the country's Mother and Child Basic Health Insurance Program (MCBI) by women of child-bearing age, and children under age six in selected areas. To this end, the project also targeted improving the quality and efficiency of the health service network within certain areas, in addition to increasing the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare's (MSPBS) management."Paraguay Mother & Child Basic Health Insurance"
. The World Bank.


See also

* Bibliography of Paraguay * Index of Paraguay-related articles * Outline of Paraguay


Notes


References


External links

Government
Chief of State and Cabinet Members

National Department of Tourism

Ministry of Finance with economic and government information; also available in English
General information
Paraguay
from the ''Encyclopædia Britannica''
Paraguay
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
Paraguay
at ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' *
Paraguay profile
from the BBC News * *
Key Development Forecasts for Paraguay
from International Futures News media
La Rueda – Weekly reviews

ABC Color

Última Hora

La Nación

Paraguay.com

Ñanduti

Paraguayan Pymes News
Trade
World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Paraguay

Exchange rate of the Guaraní – Paraguayan Currency
Travel
Paraguay.com: Tradition, Culture, Maps, Tourism
*
Tourism in Paraguay, information, pictures and more. Turismo.com.py
{{Authority control Paraguay, Countries in South America 1811 establishments in South America States and territories established in 1811 Former Spanish colonies Landlocked countries Member states of Mercosur Member states of the United Nations Republics Spanish-speaking countries and territories Southern Cone countries