|Official language||Spanish, Guaran|
|Form of government||Presidential Republic|
|Area||406 752 km²|
|Time zone||UTC − 4|
|Telephone area code||00595 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)|
The Republic of Paraguay is centrally located in South America and is the second landlocked country of the subcontinent after Bolivia. The country covers 406 752 km², in the north-west and north the country borders on Bolivia, in the east on Brazil, in the south and west on Argentina.
The name of the republic comes from the river R¨ªo Paraguay (“Parrot River”), which flows through the country from north to south and divides it into two major regions: the western Reg¨ªon Occidental (Gran Chaco) and the eastern Reg¨ªon Oriental (Oriente). The R¨ªo Paraguay flows through the country over a length of around 1 300 km, its total length is 2 549 km. Extensive swamp and flood areas surround the river. At the southwestern tip of the country it flows into the R¨ªo Paran¨¢, which forms the border with Brazil in the east of the country for a distance of approx. 800 km. The R¨ªo Paran¨¢ flows into the Atlantic near the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.
The west of Paraguay (Gran Chaco) consists of a fill level that rises westwards to heights of up to 500 m. In the south this level is limited by the R¨ªo Pilcomayo, which is also the border with Argentina, in the east by the R¨ªo Paraguay. The east of the country (Oriente) is characterized by plateaus and mountain ranges up to heights of approx. 700 m, which are foothills of the Brazilian highlands. The highest elevation at 842 m is the Cerro Pero (Cerro Tres Kandu) in the province of Guair¨¢ in the southeast of the country.
The capital of Paraguay is Asunci¨®n.
The climate in Paraguay is tropical to subtropical. In the northwest, temperatures often rise to over 40 °C in the summer months of November to January. In the capital Asunci¨®n, mean average temperatures of 28.5 °C are given for January (July: 18 °C). In the south-east of Paraguay, the average values in summer are around 30 °C, in winter (July) around 20 °C. Here the average rainfall amounts to 1,300 to 1,800 mm annually, in the northwest the values are significantly lower (500-800 mm).
Flora and fauna
About 30% of Paraguay’s area is still forested. While there are remnants of rainforest in the eastern part of Paraguay, the vegetation in the western part (Chaco Boreal) is characterized by dry forest, palm trees and thorny shrub savannah. The tree species in Paraguay include flame tree, jacarand¨¢ (rosewood), bottle tree (samu¨²), orchid tree and the rare lapacho tree, which has an extremely hard wood. The palm trees include the up to 14 m high carnauba palm, coconut and wax palm.
Despite the increasing narrowing of the natural habitat, Paraguay’s wildlife is still very diverse. The more than 200 mammals include jaguars, tapirs, capybaras, coati and anteater and various monkeys. Representatives of the diverse bird life include parrots, hummingbirds, toucans up to 56 cm in size, herons, nandus and ibises. Numerous caimans live in the swamps and the rivers.
A total of around 6.19 million people live in Paraguay, the majority of them in the east of the country. The most sparsely populated region of Paraguay is the Chaco Boreal in the northwest, which takes up almost two thirds of the country’s total area. The degree of urbanization is 57%, by far the largest city is the capital Asunci¨®n (508,000). Other cities include Ciudad del Este with approximately 225,000 residents and San Lorenzo with 205,000 residents. Check ALLCITYPOPULATION to see other large cities in Paraguay by population.
Around 95% of the population are mestizo, who are of Spanish-Indian origin. Indians represent a minority with about 3%, the largest Indian ethnic group are the Guaran¨ª, who live in eastern Paraguay. Small remaining groups of Chaco Indians live in the west of the country. Other minorities are whites and Asians. Official languages in Paraguay are equal to Spanish and the Indian language Guaran¨ª. The Christian belief of Roman Catholic character is the state religion in the country (whereby the constitution guarantees freedom of religion), around 90% of the residents profess it. Religious minorities are Mennonites, Jews and followers of the Baha’i religious community.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the average life expectancy in Paraguay is 75 years on average. School attendance is compulsory for children between the ages of six and twelve, and attending primary school is free of charge. The literacy rate is almost 95%. The existing social and health care system is inadequate in rural regions and there is a considerable urban-rural gap. The population grows by an average of 2.5%.
Paraguay is a presidential republic, the current constitution is from 1992. The head of state with far-reaching powers is the president, who is also head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces (Horacio Cartes since August 2013). He is elected by the people for a term of five years (no re-election possible) and appoints the members of the cabinet.
The legislature lies with the Congress, which consists of two chambers: the Senate (C¨¢mara de Senoradores) with 45 MPs, who are elected for five years, and the Chamber of Deputies (C¨¢mara de Diputados), with 80 seats, whose members are also elected for five years. The Colorado Party (Asociaci¨®n Nacional Republicana, ANR-PC) is currently the strongest force in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Paraguay is divided into 17 provinces, each headed by an elected governor. The members of the regional parliaments are elected for a term of five years.
The agrarian developing country is one of the poorest countries in South America with large economic imbalances. However, the overall economic development shows a continuing upward trend. 7% of the population are unemployed (also high underemployment), 32% live below the poverty line.
The market economy is dominated by a large public sector. Another important area is the trade in re-exports of consumer goods with neighboring countries, as well as the large number of small businesses and street trading (shadow economy).
A quarter of the population is employed in agriculture, which contributes 17% to gross domestic product (GDP). Almost all export earnings are generated by agricultural products. Cotton, sugar cane, soybeans, cereals, tobacco, fruits and vegetables are grown here. Soybeans, cotton and edible oils are particularly important for export. Almost half of the country is used as pasture for cattle, sheep and horses, the focus of cattle breeding is in the western part of the country. Animal products contribute to export, as does forestry.
In Paraguay, only the deposits of limestone, granite and sandstone are significant. The country’s energy needs are met by hydropower, and Paraguay can export large amounts of electricity through the Itaip¨² dam, which was completed in 1982 with Brazil. Around a quarter of the workforce is employed in the only moderately developed and stagnating industry. Above all, local food and forestry products are processed.
The most important trading partners for export and import are China, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The main imports are electronics, machines and vehicles, consumer goods and fuels.
Around 30,000 km of roads are available in Paraguay, around half of which are paved. Most of the railway lines were shut down. There is an international airport near the capital Asunci¨®n and in Ciudad del Este. Significant for inland Paraguay is the navigability of the R¨ªo Paraguay and the R¨ªo Paran¨¢ (for ships up to 1 700 gross register tons).
The currency is the Guarani.