Paraguay Country Facts

Paraguay
Capital city Asuncion
Surface 406.752 km²
Population 7,053,000
Road network length 30,000 km
Length of highway network 7km
First highway 2016
Motorway name autopista
Traffic drives Right
License plate code PY

Paraguay (Spanish: República del Paraguay) is a country in South America. The lant has 7 million inhabitants and is approximately 10 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Asuncion.

Geography

Paraguay is an inner state, it is not directly on the sea. The country borders Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia clockwise. The country measures a maximum of 900 kilometers from north to south and about 700 kilometers from east to west. Paraguay is a flat country, the west consists of the Gran Chaco, a vast and sparsely populated savanna area. There are no larger cities here. The east of Paraguay has small differences in height and some isolated ridges. The highest point of Paraguay is located here, the 842 meter high Cerro Peró. Much of Paraguay consists of agricultural land.

Two major rivers flow through Paraguay. The río Paraguay flows north-south through the middle and is a hard division between the more populous east and the sparsely populated west of Paraguay (the Gran Chaco). The río Paraná forms the southeastern border with Argentina. North of Ciudad del Este, the Paraná is dammed with the large Itaipu Dam, with a large reservoir on the border with Brazil. Much of Paraguay’s borders are formed by rivers.

Paraguay has a subtropical climate in the south and a tropical climate in the north. The precipitation decreases from east to west, the west of the Gran Chaco is a dry savanna area. The average maximum temperature in Asunción ranges from 23°C in winter in June and July to 32-33°C in summer from December to March. Frost is extremely rare.

Economy

Paraguay is a less developed country, with a large informal economy. Although the country has presented high growth figures since the 1970s, the absolute level of prosperity is still low. Most of the prosperity is concentrated around the capital Asunción and the economic zone around Ciudad del Este on the border with Brazil. Paraguay’s exports consist mainly of agricultural products, especially soy. It is also a net exporter of electricity due to the location of the Itaipú Dam on the border with Brazil. However, the country has few other raw materials. The industrial sector is underdeveloped. Tourism hardly plays a significant role.

Demographics

The population of Paraguay has grown rapidly since the 1950s, from 1.5 million inhabitants in 1950 to 5.3 million in 2000 and 7 million in 2018. The population is highly concentrated in the country east of the río Paraguay. In the greater western half of Paraguay, the country is very sparsely populated and poorly developed. The 20 largest cities are all located in the east of the country. The capital Asunción is by far the largest city in the country with approximately 525,000 inhabitants. The second largest city in Paraguay is Ciudad del Este with almost 300,000 inhabitants, located on the border with Brazil. There are 5 other cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, these are all suburbs of Asunción, so that the urban area of ​​​​Asunción – Gran Asunción – has approximately 2.5 million inhabitants, one third of all inhabitants of Paraguay.

Almost all residents of Paraguay are Mestizo, a mix between Europeans and Amerindians. Many Mennonites live in the Gran Chaco in western Paraguay, which gives this region a different culture from the rest of Paraguay. Most Mennonites are of German descent, whether or not they migrated to Paraguay via other countries, for example from Canada in the 1920s.

Paraguay is essentially bilingual Spanish and Guaraní. Spoken by almost the entire population in addition to Spanish, Guaraní is one of the best-preserved original languages ​​in South America. Government, media and business services prefer Spanish for its status as a lingua franca in Latin America.

History

The first Europeans in the area were Spaniards in 1516. Asunción was founded in 1537 and is considered one of the oldest cities in South America. In 1811 Paraguay gained independence from Spain and was thereafter an isolated dictatorship with little contact with the outside world until 1840. Between 1864 and 1870, the so-called War of the Triple Alliance was fought, a war between Paraguay and neighboring Argentina and Brazil, plus Uruguay. It was the deadliest conflict ever in South America, the population of Paraguay was halved and a large part of the male population was killed. The war also forced Paraguay to cede significant tracts of land to Argentina and Brazil.

After Bolivia lost its access to the sea in 1884 after the Pacific War, it looked for another way to the sea, passing through the Gran Chaco to the río Paraguay. In 1932, Bolivia invaded the Gran Chaco, leading to the Chaco War from 1932 to 1935. This was the bloodiest conflict in South America during the 20th century. The war was difficult for both countries and eventually a peace agreement was signed in 1935, with Paraguay being allocated two-thirds of the Gran Chaco.

Already in the early 20th century and after the Chaco War, Paraguay was characterized by internal conflict, with short civil wars. Governments succeeded each other after revolutions. This ended with the installation of the regime of Alfredo Stroessner in 1954. This was a dictatorship until 1989. The country developed only slowly during that period. In 1989 the Stroessner regime was overthrown and from 1992 Paraguay was a democratic country.

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