Coordinates: 23°S 58°W / 23°S 58°W / -23; -58
Republic of Paraguay
República del Paraguay (Spanish)
Tetã Paraguái (Guaraní)
Seal [nb 1]
Motto: "Paz y justicia" (Spanish)
"Peace and justice"
Paraguayos, República o Muerte (Spanish)
Paraguayans, Republic or Death
Location of Paraguay (dark green)
in South America (grey)
and largest city
25°16′S 57°40′W / 25.267°S 57.667°W / -25.267;
Ethnic groups (2016)
Unitary presidential constitutional republic
• Vice President
• Upper house
• Lower house
Chamber of Deputies
Independence from Spain
14 May 1811
25 November 1842
406,752 km2 (157,048 sq mi) (59th)
• Water (%)
• 2018 estimate
16.95/km2 (43.9/sq mi) (210th)
$72.137 billion (100th)
• Per capita
$30.556 billion (101th)
• Per capita
medium · 110th
• Summer (DST)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
Mixed European and Amerindian.
Paraguay (/ˈpærəɡwaɪ/; Spanish
pronunciation: [paɾaˈɣwaj]; Guarani: Paraguái,
[paɾaˈɰwaj]), officially the
Republic of Paraguay
Republic of Paraguay (Spanish:
República del Paraguay; Guarani: Tetã Paraguái), is a landlocked
country in central South America, bordered by
Argentina to the south
Brazil to the east and northeast, and
Bolivia to the
Paraguay lies on both banks of the
Paraguay River, which
runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its
central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as
Corazón de Sudamérica ("Heart of South America").
Paraguay is one
of the two landlocked countries (the other is Bolivia) outside
Afro-Eurasia, and is the smallest landlocked country in the
The indigenous Guaraní had been living in eastern
Paraguay for at
least a millennium before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.
Western Paraguay, the Gran Chaco, was inhabited by nomads of whom the
Guaycuru peoples were the most prominent. In the 17th century, Jesuit
Christianity and Spanish culture to the region.
Paraguay was a peripheral colony of the Spanish Empire, with few urban
centers and settlers. Following independence from
Spain in 1811,
Paraguay was ruled by a series of dictators who generally implemented
isolationist and protectionist policies.
Following the disastrous
Paraguayan War (1864–1870), the country
lost 60 to 70 percent of its population through war and disease, and
about 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 sq mi), one quarter
of its territory, to
Argentina and Brazil.
Through the 20th century,
Paraguay continued to endure a succession of
authoritarian governments, culminating in the regime of Alfredo
Stroessner, who led South America's longest-lived military
dictatorship from 1954 to 1989. He was toppled in an internal military
coup, and free multi-party elections (and the legalization of
communist parties) were organized and held for the first time in 1993.
A year later,
Paraguay joined Argentina,
Uruguay to found
Mercosur, a regional economic collaborative.
As of 2016[update], Paraguay's population was estimated to be at
around 6.7 million, most of whom are concentrated in the southeast
region of the country. The capital and largest city is Asunción,
whose metropolitan area is home to nearly a third of Paraguay's
population. In contrast to most Latin American nations, Paraguay's
indigenous language and culture, Guaraní, remains highly influential.
In each census, residents predominantly identify as mestizo,
reflecting years of intermarriage among the different ethnic groups.
Guaraní is recognized as an official language alongside Spanish, and
both languages are widely spoken in the country.
2.1 Pre-Columbian Era
2.3 Independence and rule of Francia
2.4 Rule of the López
Paraguayan War (1864–1870)
2.6 20th century
2.9 From Lugo's 2008 election to his 2012 impeachment
4 Government and politics
4.2 Administrative subdivisions
5.1 Industry and manufacturing
5.2 Social issues
5.2.1 Social issues of the indigenous
6.3 Largest cities
10 See also
13 External links
The name of the country comes from the river of the same name. There
is no consensus regarding the derivation or meaning of Paraguay,
although many versions are similar and all of them in Paraguayan
Guarani. The most widely believed is that it comes from Paraguay
(compound of para 'sea', and the suffix -gua 'native to, coming from')
and y (water, river), which can mean either "water that comes from the
sea" or "the water of the people from the sea". Even though it most
believed that it means the first, the second meaning is more possible
from a linguistic point of view.
Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1585–1652) wrote in his 1639 work
Tesoro de la Lengua guaraní (Theasaurus of the Guarani Language) that
it was a compound of
Paraguay (feather crown) and y, thus meaning
"river of crowns" or "the river where men live and are ornate with
crowns of verious feathers"
The Spanish officer and scientist
Félix de Azara
Félix de Azara (1746–1821)
suggests two derivations: the Payaguás (Pajagua y, "river of
Payaguás"), referring to the indigenous tribe who lived along the
river, or a great cacique named Paraguáio or Paraguájo.
Although originally the word in Guarani was Paraguay, the country is
called Paraguái and pronounced the same as in Spanish, with the close
front unrounded vowel /i/ instead of /ɨ/. The word
Paraguay is just
used to refer to the river and the capital city of Asunción.
Main article: History of Paraguay
Indigenous peoples have inhabited this area for thousands of years.
Paraguay River was roughly the dividing line between the
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 groups remain.
The first Europeans in the area were Spanish explorers in 1516.
The Spanish explorer
Juan de Salazar de Espinosa
Juan de Salazar de Espinosa founded the
Asunción on 15 August 1537. The city eventually became
the center of a Spanish colonial province of Paraguay.
An attempt to create an autonomous Christian Indian nation  was
undertaken by Jesuit missions and settlements in this part of South
America in the eighteenth century, which included portions of Uruguay,
Argentina, and Brazil. They developed Jesuit reductions to bring
Guarani populations together at Spanish missions and protect them from
virtual slavery by Spanish settlers and Portuguese slave raiders, the
Bandeirantes. In addition to seeking their conversion to Christianity.
Paraguay was influenced by the indigenous peoples; the
syncretic 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
Paraguay Spanish settlement and
Christianity were strongly
resisted by the nomadic
Guaycuru and other nomads from the 16th
century onward. Most of these peoples were absorbed into the mestizo
population in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Independence and rule of Francia
Main article: Independence of Paraguay
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Paraguay's first dictator
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 who
Paraguay from 1814 until his death in 1840, with very little
outside contact or influence. He intended to create a utopian society
based on the French theorist Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social
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
or natives, in order to break the power of colonial-era elites and to
create a mixed-race or mestizo society. He cut off relations
Paraguay and the rest of South America. Because of Francia's
restrictions of freedom,
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
After Francia's death in 1840,
Paraguay was ruled by various military
officers under a new junta, until
Carlos Antonio López
Carlos Antonio López (allegedly
Rodríguez de Francia's nephew) came to power in 1841. López
Paraguay and opened it to foreign commerce. He signed a
non-aggression pact with
Argentina and officially declared
Paraguay in 1842. After López's death in 1862, power
was transferred to his eldest son, 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 and valuable wood products maintained the balance of trade
Paraguay and the outside world. The Paraguayan government
was extremely protectionist, never accepted loans from abroad and
levied high tariffs against imported foreign products. This
protectionism 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, 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.
Carlos Antonio López
Carlos Antonio López modernized and expanded industry and
Paraguayan Army and greatly strengthened the strategic defences of
Paraguay by developing the Fortress of Humaitá. The government
hired more than 200 foreign technicians, who installed telegraph lines
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
and in Gran Chaco.:22 The work was continued by his son Francisco
Political map of the region, 1864
According to George Thompson, C.E., Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers in
Paraguayan Army prior to and during the war, López's government
was comparatively a good one for Paraguay:
Probably in no other country in the world has life and property been
so secure as all over
Paraguay during his (Antonio Lopez's) reign.
Crime was almost unknown, and when committed, immediately detected and
punished. The mass of the people was, perhaps, the happiest in
existence. They had hardly to do any work to gain a livelihood. Each
family had its house or hut in its own ground. They planted, in a few
days, enough tobacco, maize and mandioca for their own consumption
[...]. Having at every hut a grove of oranges [...] and also a few
cows, they were almost throughout the year under little necessity
[...]. The higher classes, of course, lived more in the European
— George Thompson, C.E.
Paraguayan War (1864–1870)
Main article: Paraguayan War
Paraguayan War casualties
Francisco Solano López
In 12 October 1864, despite Paraguayan ultimatums, the Brazilian
Empire (sided with
Argentina and the rebellious Gen. Venancio Flores)
invaded the Republic of
Uruguay (which then was an ally of the Lopez's
Government), thus starting the Paraguayan War.
The Paraguayans, led by the Marshal of the Republic Francisco Solano
López, held a fierce resistance, but were ultimately defeated in 1870
after the Death of Solano López, who was killed in action. The
real causes of this war, which remains the bloodiest international
conflict in Latin American history, are still highly debated.
About the disaster suffered by the Paraguayans at the outcome of the
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."
Paraguay also suffered extensive territorial losses to
The Battle of Tuyutí, May 1866
During the pillaging of
Asunción in 1869, the Imperial Brazilian Army
packed up and transported the Paraguayan National Archives to 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.
Gran Chaco was the site of the
Chaco War (1932–35), in which Bolivia
lost most of the disputed territory to Paraguay.
Paraguayan recruits during the Chaco war
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, 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 Chaco region finally
erupted in early 1930s in the Chaco War. After great losses Paraguay
Bolivia and established its sovereignty over most of the
disputed Chaco region. After the war, military officers used popular
dissatisfaction with the Liberal politicians to seize the power for
themselves. On 17 February 1936, the February Revolution brought
Rafael Franco 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 began involvement in a string of plots, which
resulted in his military coup d'état of 4 May 1954.
See also: El Stronato
A series of unstable governments ensued until the establishment in
1954 of the regime of dictator Alfredo Stroessner, 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").
Torture and death for political opponents was routine. After his
overthrow, the Colorado continued to dominate national politics until
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, were catalysts for
anti-regime demonstrations and statements by the opposition prior to
the 1988 general elections.
Domingo Laíno served as the focal point of the opposition
in the second half of the 1980s. The government's effort to isolate
Laino by exiling him in 1982 had backfired. On his sixth attempt to
re-enter the country in 1986, Laino 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 Laino's
The Stroessner regime relented in April 1987, and permitted Laino to
return to Asunción. Laino 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 of the Colorado Party to break up demonstrations. A number
of opposition leaders were imprisoned or otherwise harassed. Hermes
Rafael Saguier, 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. Laino 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
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 340,000 acres
(138,000 ha). At the time, 2.06 million people lived in rural
areas, more than half of the 4.1 million total population, and most
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
Juan Carlos Wasmosy was
elected as Paraguay's first civilian president in almost 40 years, in
what international observers deemed fair and free 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 Lino Oviedo
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
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.
Nicanor Duarte Frutos was elected as president.
For the 2008 general elections, the Colorado Party was favored in
polls. Their candidate was Minister of Education Blanca Ovelar, 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, a former Roman Catholic Bishop and not a professional
politician in civil government. He had long followed liberation
theology, which was controversial in South American societies, but he
was backed by the center-right Liberal Party, the Colorado Party's
From Lugo's 2008 election to his 2012 impeachment
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
Nicanor Duarte Frutos 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 Paraguayan Congress continued
to be dominated by right-wing elected officials. The Lugo
administration set its two major priorities as the reduction of
corruption and economic inequality.
Inauguration of new President Horacio Cartes, 15 August 2013
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's strong accusations against Cartes related
to drug trafficking, he continued to amass followers in the political
On 14 January 2011, the Colorado Party convention nominated Horacio
Cartes as the presidential candidate for the party. However, the
party's constitution didn't allow it.[clarification needed] 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 and other neighboring
countries, especially those currently governed by leftist leaders, as
a coup d'état. The Organization of American States, which sent a
Paraguay to gather information, concluded that the
impeachment process had been carried out in accordance with the
Constitution of Paraguay.
Main article: Geography of Paraguay
Paraguay map of Köppen climate classification
Landscape in the Gran Chaco, Paraguay
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
Occidental) and also known as the Chaco, which is part of the Gran
Chaco. The country lies between latitudes 19° and 28°S, and
longitudes 54° and 63°W. The terrain consists mostly of grassy
plains and wooded hills in the eastern region. To the west are mostly
low, marshy plains.
Main article: Climate of Paraguay
The overall climate is tropical to subtropical. Like most lands in the
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 161 km/h (100 mph). 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 170
centimeters (67 inches) of rain annually, while the western Chaco
region typically averages no more than 50 cm (20 in) a year.
The rains in the west tend to be irregular and evaporate quickly,
contributing to the aridity of the area.
Government and politics
Main articles: Politics of Paraguay, Human rights in Paraguay, and
Foreign relations of Paraguay
Paraguay is a representative democratic republic, with a multi-party
system and separation of powers in three branches. Executive power is
exercised solely by the President, who is head of state and head of
Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the
National Congress. The judiciary is vested on tribunals and Courts of
Civil Law and a nine-member Supreme Court of Justice, all of them
independent of the executive and the legislature.
Main article: Military of Paraguay
Paraguayan marines at Ancon Marine Base
The military of
Paraguay consist of the Paraguayan army, navy
(including naval aviation and marine corps) and air force.
The constitution of
Paraguay (article 238) establishes the president
Paraguay as the commander-in-chief.
Paraguay has compulsory military service, and all 18-year-old males
and 17-year-olds in the year of their 18th birthday are liable for one
year of active duty. Although the 1992 constitution allows for
conscientious objection, no enabling legislation has yet been
In July 2005, military aid in the form of U.S.
Special Forces began
arriving at Paraguay's
Mariscal Estigarribia air base, a sprawling
complex built in 1982.
Departments of Paraguay
Departments of Paraguay and Districts of Paraguay
Paraguay consists of seventeen departments and one capital district
It is also divided into 2 regions: The "Occidental Region" or Chaco
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:
Population (2002 census)
San Juan Bautista
Ciudad del Este
Pedro Juan Caballero
Salto del Guairá
The departments are further divided into districts (distritos).
Main article: Economy of Paraguay
The macro-economy in
Paraguay has some unique characteristics. It is
characterized by a historical low inflation rate – 5% average (in
2013, the inflation rate was 3.7%), international reserves 20% of GDP
and twice the amount of the external national debt. On top of that,
the country enjoys clean and renewable energy production of 8,700 MW
(current domestic demand 2,300 MW).
Between 1970 and 2013, the country had the highest economic growth of
South America, with an average rate of 7.2% per
In 2010 and 2013,
Paraguay experienced the greatest economic expansion
of South America, with a GDP growth rate of 14.5% and 13.6%
Graphical depiction of Paraguay's product exports in 28 color-coded
Paraguay is the sixth-largest soybean producer in the world,
second-largest producer of stevia, second-largest producer of tung
oil, sixth-largest exporter of corn, tenth-largest exporter of wheat
and 8th 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.
The country also boasts the third most important free commercial zone
in the world: Ciudad del Este, 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
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[when?] meet
70% of domestic consumption and have begun to export drugs. Paraguay
is quickly[quantify] 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%.
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to
reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2014)
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.
Social issues of the indigenous
Literacy rates are extremely low among Paraguay's indigenous
population, who have an illiteracy rate of 51% compared to the 7.1%
rate of the general population.
Only 2.5% of Paraguay's indigenous population has access to clean
drinking water and only 9.5% have electricity.
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Demographics of Paraguay
Demographics of Paraguay and Immigration to Paraguay
See also: List of most common surnames in Paraguay
Paraguay population density (people per km2)
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, which accounts for 10% of the
country's population. The
Gran Chaco region, which includes the Alto
Paraguay, 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 that resulted from the Paraguayan War. Small groups of ethnic
Italians, Germans, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Arabs,
Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Brazilians, and Argentines have also settled
Paraguay has also been a haven for communities persecuted
for the religious faith, like the 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 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
A gathering in Caacupé
There is no official data on the ethnic composition of the Paraguayan
population, as the Department of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses
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, the indigenous people made up 1.7% of Paraguay's
Traditionally, the majority of the Paraguayan population is considered
mixed (mestizo in Spanish). HLA-DRB1 polymorphism studies have shown
the genetic distances between Paraguayans and Spanish populations were
closer than between Paraguayans and Guaranis. Altogether these results
suggest the predominance of the Spanish genetic in the Paraguayan
population. According to the 2017 revision of the World Population
Paraguay has a population of 6,725,308, 95% of which
are mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) and 5% are labelled as
"other", which includes members of indigenous tribal groups. They are
divided into 17 distinct ethnolinguistic groupings, many of which are
Paraguay has one of the most prominent German
communities in South America, with some 25,000 German-speaking
Mennonites living in the Paraguayan Chaco. German settlers founded
several towns as Hohenau, Filadelfia, Neuland,
Obligado and Nueva
Germania. Several websites that promote German immigration to Paraguay
claim that 5–7% of the population is of German ancestry,[dubious –
discuss] including 150,000 people of German-Brazilian
descent.[better source needed]
Main article: Religion in Paraguay
Main Catholic Chapel in Concepción, Paraguay
Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, is the dominant religion
in Paraguay. According to the 2002 census, 89.9% of the population
is Catholic, 6.2% is Evangelical Protestant, 1.1% identify with other
Christian sects, and 0.6% practice indigenous religions. A U.S. State
Department report on Religious Freedom names Roman Catholicism,
evangelical Protestantism, mainline Protestantism, Judaism (Orthodox,
Conservative, and Reform), Mormonism, and the
Baha'i Faith as
prominent religious groups. It also mentions a large Muslim community
Alto Paraná (as a result of Middle-Eastern immigration, especially
from Lebanon) and a prominent
Mennonite community in Boquerón.
Main article: Languages of Paraguay
Paraguay is a bilingual nation. Both Spanish and Guaraní are official
Guarani language is a remarkable trace of the
indigenous Guaraní culture that has endured in Paraguay, which is
generally understood by 95% of the population. 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
Languages of Paraguay
Largest cities or towns in Paraguay
(2002 DGEEC census)
Ciudad del Este
Mariano Roque Alonso
Ciudad del Este
Pedro Juan Caballero
Fernando de la Mora
Music of Paraguay
Music of Paraguay and Cinema of Paraguay
Paraguay's cultural heritage can be traced to the extensive
intermarriage between the original male Spanish settlers and
indigenous Guaraní women. Their culture is highly influenced by
various European countries, including Spain. Therefore, Paraguayan
culture is a fusion of two cultures and traditions; one European, the
other, Southern Guaraní. More than 93% of Paraguayans are mestizos,
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. Jopara, a mixture
of Guaraní and Spanish, is also widely spoken.
Ovecha Ragué Festival
This cultural fusion is expressed in arts such as embroidery (ao
po'í) and lace making (ñandutí). The music of Paraguay, which
consists of lilting polkas, bouncy galopas, and languid 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 yuca also known as Cassava
root found in the
Southwestern United States
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
The 1950s and 1960s were the time of the flowering of a new generation
of Paraguayan novelists and poets such as José Ricardo Mazó, Roque
Vallejos, and Nobel Prize nominee Augusto Roa Bastos. Several
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
Main article: Sport in Paraguay
Main article: Education in Paraguay
List of universities in Paraguay and List of schools in
Literacy was about 93.6% and 87.7% of Paraguayans finish the 5th grade
according to 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.
Paraguay's universities 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 (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.
Main article: Health in Paraguay
Average life expectancy in
Paraguay is rather high given its poverty:
as of 2006[update], it was 75 years, equivalent to far wealthier
Argentina, and the 8th 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.
Latin America portal
Bibliography of Paraguay
Index of Paraguay-related articles
Outline of Paraguay
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Central Intelligence Agency
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1864) as the real beginning of the war. He writes (and it's the most
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^ Hooker, T.D., 2008, "The Paraguayan War". Nottingham: Foundry Books,
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^ The classical view asserts that Francisco Solano López's
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"lopistas" (supporters of Solano López, both in
worldwide), affirms that
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^ Hipólito Sanchez Quell: "Los 50.000 Documentos Paraguayos Llevados
al Brasil". Ediciones Comuneros,
^ Some of the documents taken by
Brasil during the war, were returned
Paraguay in the collection known as "Colección de Río Branco",
nowadays in the National Archives of Asunción, Paraguay
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^ "Paraguayan Wins His Eighth Term", The New York Times, 15 February
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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.
^ Nickson, Andrew (2009). "The general election in Paraguay, April
2008". Journal of Electoral Studies. 28 (1): 145–9.
^ "Paraguay". State.gov. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 5 October
^ Mark Weisbrot (22 June 2012). "What will Washington do about
Fernando Lugo's ouster in Paraguay?". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June
^ a b Mariano Castillo (22 June 2012). "Paraguayan Senate removes
president". CNN. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
^ Daniela Desantis (21 June 2012). "Paraguay's president vows to face
impeachment effort". Reuters US edition. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
UNASUR Asunción, 22 de Junio de 2012" (in Spanish).
UNASUR. 22 June 2012. Archived from the original on 27 June 2012.
Retrieved 23 June 2012.
^ "Constitution of 1992". Retrieved 18 December 2017.
^ "U.S. Military Moves in
Paraguay Rattle Regional Relations".
International Relations Center. 14 December 2005. Archived from the
original on 24 June 2007.
^ US Marines put a foot in Paraguay, El Clarín, 9 September 2005 (in
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January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
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Economia.gov.py. Retrieved on 18 June 2016.
^ ÂżQuĂŠ es Maquila? Ministerio de Industria y Comercio –
Paraguay. Mic.gov.py. Retrieved on 18 June 2016.
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^ 2003 Census Bureau Household Survey
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– ABC Color". Abc.com.py. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
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Poverty Alleviation" (PDF).
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^ "A Life of the Land, Cut Short". The American Conservative.
Bruderhof Communities - GAMEO". gameo.org. Retrieved
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^ San Alberto Journal: Awful Lot of Brazilians in Paraguay, Locals
Say. The New York Times. 12 June 2001.
^ "Afro-Paraguayan". Joshua Project. U.S. Center for World Mission.
Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 25 August
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Dgeec.gov.py. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
^ CAPÍTULO III. Características Socio-Culturales y étnicas, pp.
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Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
^ Benitez, O; Loiseau, P; Busson, M; Dehay, C; Hors, J; Calvo, F;
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Paraguay Auswandern Einwandern
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^ Paraguayan Guaraní, Ethnologue
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^ "Languages of Paraguay". VisitParaguay.net. Retrieved 21 April
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Unique Staying Power - The New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 21
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Paraguay - Ritual Kinship". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 30 January
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Hdrstats.undp.org. Archived from the original on 18 February 2010.
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^ "::Una::". Una.py. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
^ "Universidad Autónoma de Asunción: Educación Superior en
Paraguay". UAA. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
^ "Campus de
Asunción – Universidad Católica "Nuestra Señora de
la Asunción"". Uca.edu.py. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 5 October
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Paraguay Mother & Child Basic Health Insurance" Archived 17 May
2012 at the Wayback Machine.. The World Bank.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paraguay.
Wikinews has news related to:
Chief of State and Cabinet Members
National Department of Tourism (in Spanish)
Ministry of Finance with economic and Government information,
available also in English (in Spanish)
Paraguay from the Encyclopædia Britannica
"Paraguay". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
Paraguay at UCB Libraries GovPubs
Paraguay at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Paraguay profile from the BBC News
Wikimedia Atlas of Paraguay
Geographic data related to
Paraguay at OpenStreetMap
Key Development Forecasts for
Paraguay from International Futures
La Rueda – Weekly reviews (in Spanish)
ABC Color (in Spanish)
Última Hora (in Spanish)
La Nación (in Spanish)
Paraguay.com (in Spanish)
Ñanduti (in Spanish)
World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Paraguay
Paraguay Convention & Visitor's Bureau[permanent dead link]
Paraguay.com: Tradition, Culture, Maps, Tourism
Paraguay travel guide from Wikivoyage
Tourism in Paraguay, information, pictures and more. Turismo.com.py
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