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Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a
landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a larger state. For example, th ...
in South America. It is bordered by
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...

Argentina
to the south and southwest,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...

Brazil
to the east and northeast, and
Bolivia , image_flag = Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg , flag_alt = Horizontal tricolor (red, yellow, and green from top to bottom) with the coat of arms of Bolivia in the center , flag_alt2 = 7 × 7 square p ...

Bolivia
to the northwest. It has a population of seven million, nearly three million of whom live in the
capital Capital may refer to: Common uses * Capital city, a municipality of primary status ** List of national capitals, List of national capital cities * Capital letter, an upper-case letter Economics and social sciences * Capital (economics), the dura ...
and largest city of
Asunción Asunción (, , , Guarani language, Guarani: Paraguay) is the capital (political), capital and the largest city of Paraguay. The city stands on the eastern bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo Rive ...

Asunción
, and its surrounding metro. Although one of only two landlocked countries in South America (Bolivia is the other), Paraguay has ports on the
Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to th ...
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 explorer-soldiers of the Spanish Empire, Spanish and Portuguese Empires of the 15th and 16th centuries. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to ...

conquistador
es arrived in 1524, and in 1537, they established the city of
Asunción Asunción (, , , Guarani language, Guarani: Paraguay) is the capital (political), capital and the largest city of Paraguay. The city stands on the eastern bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo Rive ...

Asunción
, the first capital of the
Governorate of the Río de la Plata The Governorate of the Río de la Plata (1549−1776) ( es, Gobernación del Río de la Plata, links=no, ) was one of the governorates of the Spanish Empire. It was created in 1549 by Spain in the area around the Río de la Plata. It was at firs ...
. During the 17th century, Paraguay was the center of Jesuit missions, where the native
Guaraní people Guarani are a group of culturally-related indigenous peoples of South America. They are distinguished from the related Tupi people, Tupi by their use of the Guarani language. The traditional range of the Guarani people is in present-day Paraguay b ...
were converted to Christianity and introduced to European culture. After the
expulsion of the Jesuits The suppression of the Jesuits was the removal of all members of the Society of Jesus The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviation: SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order ...
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, sometimes referred to as trade protectionism, is the economic policy The economy of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case ...
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 war that lasted from 1864 to 1870. It was fought between Paraguay and the Treaty of the Triple Alliance, Triple Alliance of Argentina, the Empire of Brazil, an ...
(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 South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
and
Uruguay Uruguay (; ), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America. It shares borders with Argentina to its west and southwest and Brazil to its north and northeast; while bordering ...

Uruguay
. In the 20th century, Paraguay faced another major international conflictthe
Chaco War The Chaco War ( es, link=no, Guerra del Chaco, gn, Cháko ÑorairõAlfredo Stroessner Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (; 3 November 1912 – 16 August 2006) was a Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked countr ...
, 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 A developing country is a sovereign state with a lesser developed industrial base and a lower Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no clear agre ...
, ranking 105th in the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, Education Index, education (mean years of schooling completed and expected years of schooling upon entering the Educational system, education system), ...
. It is a founding member of
Mercosur The Southern Common Market, commonly known by Spanish abbreviation Mercosur, and Portuguese Mercosul, is a South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relat ...

Mercosur
, the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...

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 countries that Non-belligerent, are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. The movement originated in ...
and the
Lima Group The Lima Group (GL; Spanish and pt, links=yes, Grupo de Lima, French: Groupe de Lima) is a multilateral body that was established following the Lima Declaration on 8 August 2017 in the Peruvian capital of Lima, Peru, Lima, where representativ ...

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, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked country in South America. It is bo ...
, in metropolitan Asuncion, is the seat of the
South American Football Confederation
South American Football Confederation
. The majority of Paraguay's seven million people are ''
mestizo (; ; fem. ) is a term used for racial classification to refer to a person of mixed Ethnic groups in Europe, European and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous American ancestry. In certain regions such as Latin America, it may also r ...

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 language that belongs to the Tupi–Guarani family of the Tupian languages. It is one of the official languages of ...
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

The origin of the name Paraguay is uncertain. One version postulates the name takes from Guaraní ''paraguá'' "feather crown" and ''y'' "water" thus ''paraguaí'' "feather crown of waters". Other versions affirm that the name derives from the
Payaguá people
Payaguá people
, for the
Paraguay River The Paraguay River (Río Paraguay in Spanish, Rio Paraguai in Portuguese, Ysyry Paraguái in Guarani) is a major river in south-central South America, running through Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Bra ...
was called the ''Payaguá-y'', or "river of the Payaguás" by the Guaraní and hence would have come the name for the country; or that, also from the Guaraní, ''para'' would mean sea, ''gua'', originates, and ''y'', river, thus Paraguay would mean "river which gives birth to the sea".


History


Pre-Columbian era

The
indigenous
indigenous
Guaraní had been living in eastern Paraguay for at least a millennium before the arrival of the
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...

Spanish
. Western Paraguay, the
Gran Chaco The Gran Chaco or Dry Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semiarid lowland Upland and lowland are conditional descriptions of a plain based on elevation above sea level. In studies of the ecology of freshwater rivers, habitats are c ...
, was inhabited by nomads of whom the Guaycuru 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 Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics) is an area of anthropological linguistics Anthropological linguistics is the subfield of linguistics and anthropology which deals with the place of language in its wider social and cultu ...
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 de Espinosa
founded the settlement of
Asunción Asunción (, , , Guarani language, Guarani: Paraguay) is the capital (political), capital and the largest city of Paraguay. The city stands on the eastern bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo Rive ...

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 The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviation: SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order of clerics regular of pontifical right for men in the Catholic Church headquartered in Rom ...
missions and settlements in this part of South America in the eighteenth century. They developed
Jesuit reduction Reductions ( es, reducciones, also called ; , pl. ) were settlements created by Empire of Spain, Spanish rulers and Roman Catholic missionaries in Spanish America and the Spanish East Indies (the Philippines). In Portuguese America, Portugues ...
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 14 ...
, in addition to seeking their conversion to Christianity. Catholicism in Paraguay was influenced by the indigenous peoples; the
syncretic Syncretism () is the practice of combining different beliefs and various school of thought, schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or religious assimilation, assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in t ...
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 UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNES ...
by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...

UNESCO
. In western 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 (; ; fem. ) is a term used for racial classification to refer to a person of mixed Ethnic groups in Europe, European and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous American ancestry. In certain regions such as Latin America, it may also r ...

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 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 or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its members. It was coined by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book ''Utopia (book), Utopia'', describing a fictional ...
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 throughout Europe, as well as aspects ...

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 (, ) is a Race (human categorization), racial classification to refer to people of mixed Sub-Saharan African, African and Ethnic groups in Europe, European ancestry. Its use is considered outdated and offensive in several languages, including ...
or natives, in order to break the power of colonial-era elites and to create a
mixed-race Mixed race people are people of more than one race (human categorization), race or ethnicity. A variety of terms have been used both historically and presently for mixed race people in a variety of contexts, including ''multiethnic'', ''polyeth ...
or mestizo society. He cut off relations between Paraguay and the rest of South America. Because of Francia's restrictions of freedom, 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'', until
Carlos Antonio López Carlos Antonio López Ynsfrán (November 4, 1792 – September 10, 1862) served as leader of Paraguay from 1841 to 1862. Early life López was born at Manorá (Asunción) on November 4, 1792, as one of eight children. He graduated from Real Co ...

Carlos Antonio López
(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 with Argentina and officially declared independence of Paraguay in 1842. After López's death in 1862, power was transferred to his eldest son, . 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 leave ...

yerba mate
and valuable wood products maintained the balance of trade between Paraguay and the outside world. The Paraguayan government was extremely protectionist, levying high
tariff A tariff is a tax imposed by the government of a country or by a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of foreign trade an ...
s against imported foreign products. This
protectionism Protectionism, sometimes referred to as trade protectionism, is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations. ...
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. , 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 Army 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 Electrical telegraphs were point-to-point text messaging systems, primarily used from the 1840s until the late 20th century. It was the first electrical telecommunications system and the most widely used of a number of early messaging systems ...
s and railroads to aid the expanding steel, textile, paper and ink, naval construction, weapons and gunpowder industries. The Ybycuí foundry, completed in 1850, initially supplied all public works with iron and was used to make tools for the populace. In the 1860s, it also started to manufacture 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 The Gran Chaco or Dry Chaco is a sparsely populated, hot and semiarid lowland Upland and lowland are conditional descriptions of a plain based on elevation above sea level. In studies of the ecology of freshwater rivers, habitats are c ...
.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 South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
(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 and the first president of Argentine Civil Wars#National unification, unifi ...

Bartolomé Mitre
and the rebellious Uruguayan colorados led by Gen.
Venancio Flores Venancio Flores Barrios (18 May 1808 – 19 February 1868) was a Uruguayan political leader and general. Flores was President of Uruguay from 1854 to 1855 (interim) and from 1865 to 1868. Background and early career In 1839, he was made politi ...

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 war that lasted from 1864 to 1870. It was fought between Paraguay and the Treaty of the Triple Alliance, Triple Alliance of Argentina, the Empire of Brazil, an ...
. The Paraguayans, led by the Marshal of the Republic , 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, the
Empire of Brazil The Empire of Brazil was a 19th-century state that broadly comprised the territories which form modern Brazil and (until 1828) Uruguay. Its government was a Representative democracy, representative Parliamentary system, parliamentary constituti ...
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 The Battle of Cerro Corá was fought on 1 March 1870 on a hill-surrounded valley of the Cerro Corá (hill), same name, in the north-east of Paraguay. Background In February 1870, an Treaty of the Triple Alliance, allied column under the comman ...
, 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, which are sometimes collectively called America, are a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. ...
, 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 packed up and transported the Paraguayan National Archives to
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro ( , , ; literally 'River of January'), or simply Rio, is the capital of the state of the same name, Brazil's third-most populous state, and the second-most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo. Listed by the GaWC as a b ...

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. Following the attacks, in 1870, The
Republic of Colombia Colombia (, ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with Insular region of Colombia, insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua, Nicaragua's Caribbean Sea, Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Oc ...

Republic of Colombia
officially offered to all citizens of Paraguay, the Colombian citizenship, just by stepping on Colombian national territory.


20th century

In 1904 a
revolution In political science, a revolution (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known ...
against the rule of the Colorados, who had been in power since the 1880s, broke out. The subsequent period, on which Paraguay was governed by the Liberals, was one 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. A long-lasting unresolved border conflict with Bolivia over the Chaco region erupted in the early 1930s in the
Chaco War The Chaco War ( es, link=no, Guerra del Chaco, gn, Cháko ÑorairõFebruary Revolution The February Revolution ( rus, Февра́льская револю́ция, r=Fevral'skaya revolyutsiya, p=fʲɪvˈralʲskəjə rʲɪvɐˈlʲutsɨjə), known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution and somet ...
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 Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked countr ...
, began involvement in a string of plots, which resulted in his military coup d'état of 4 May 1954. In the aftermath of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, Paraguay had become a hideout for Nazi fugitives accused of war crimes.


Stroessner era, 1954–1989

A series of unstable governments ensued until the establishment in 1954 of the regime of the dictator
Alfredo Stroessner Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (; 3 November 1912 – 16 August 2006) was a Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tavakuairetã Paraguái, links=si), is a landlocked countr ...
, 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 gath ...
. 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 – 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 preventing, investigating and punishing perceived offenses and crimes without Right, legal authority. A vigilante (from Spanish, Italian and Portuguese “vigilante”, which means "sentinel" or "watcher") is a pers ...
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. 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. Some 74% believed that the political situation required 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.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.
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 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 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 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
Blanca Ovelar Blanca Margarita Ovelar de Duarte (born September 2, 1957) is a Paraguayan politician and former Minister of Education. She was the Colorado Party (Paraguay), Colorado Party's nominee for president in the 2008 Paraguayan general election, April 2 ...
, the first woman to be nominated as a candidate for a major party in Paraguayan history. After sixty years of Colorado rule, voters chose , 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 approach emphasizing the liberation of the oppressed. In certain contexts, it engages socio-economic analyses, with "social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples". ...
. 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 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 Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara (born 5 July 1956) is a Paraguayan businessman and politician who served as the president of Paraguay from 2013 to 2018. He is a member of the Colorado Party (Paraguay), Colorado Party. Cartes owns about two dozen bus ...
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 A drug is any chemical substance that causes a change in an organism's physiology or psychology when consumed. Drugs are typically distinguished from food and substances that provide nutritional support. Consumption of drugs can be via insuffla ...
, 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 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 Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara (born 5 July 1956) is a Paraguayan businessman and politician who served as the president of Paraguay from 2013 to 2018. He is a member of the Colorado Party (Paraguay), Colorado Party. Cartes owns about two dozen bus ...
. Since 15 August 2018, the President of Paraguay has been Mario Abdo Benítez. They are both from the conservative Colorado Party (Paraguay), Colorado Party.


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 Upland and lowland are conditional descriptions of a plain based on elevation above sea level. In studies of the ecology of freshwater rivers, habitats are c ...
. 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. Although Paraguay is landlocked, there are a number of noteworthy lakeside beaches.


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 consists 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 operations.US 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.


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

For many years, the country's image was associated with the illicit trade in Electronics, electronic products, weapons and drugs. However, this scenario began to change in the 2000s, with the rise of legalized businesses such as the production of soy, maize, beef, among others. Data from the Central Bank of Paraguay (BCP) showed that, in 2006, exports related to the triangulation trade (China-Paraguay-Brazil), treated by Brazil – in most cases – as smuggling and embezzlement, represented 22% of the country's GDP. In 2016, this percentage dropped to 12%. With higher tax collections through legalized employment, the country has been able to improve its infrastructure, which was precarious. Paraguay has an economic development policy based on exports and dependence on the Brazilian market prevails. The triangulation trade has in its essence the export of products originating in China, with Brazil as its main destination. The energy exported is essentially the hydroelectric surplus generated by the Itaipu Power Plant, for which Brazil is the main buyer. And maquilas, whose main investors are Brazilians, also have a large consumer market in Brazil for their products. Therefore, in these three pillars of Paraguay's development strategy, there is the outstanding characteristic of re-exports. In the case of agricultural commodities, it is the export of products originating in Paraguay. In the 2010s, the economy, largely directed towards soybean production, grew by an average of 4%. The economic growth did not, however, reduce poverty, which in 2018, according to official figures, reached more than 26% of the population. According to ''The New York Times'', Paraguay is "one of the Latin American countries 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. In 2005, the International Monetary Fund stated that fewer 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). 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 most important urban areas are located along the Argentina-Paraguay border:
Asunción Asunción (, , , Guarani language, Guarani: Paraguay) is the capital (political), capital and the largest city of Paraguay. The city stands on the eastern bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo Rive ...

Asunción
, Alberdi, Paraguay, Alberdi, 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.


Agriculture

Paraguay is the sixth-largest soybean producer in the world, the second-largest producer of stevia and the ninth-largest exporter of beef. In 2018, in addition to soy, the country had a large production of maize and sugar cane, where it positioned itself as the 21st largest producer in the world; other important cultures of the country are cassava, rice, wheat, Orange (fruit), orange,
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 leave ...

yerba mate
, and sorghum. In livestock, Paraguay produced, in 2020, 481 thousand tons of beef, being the 26th largest producer in the world. The culture of soy was brought by Brazilians to the country: in 2019, almost 70% of soy and rice producers in Paraguay were people from Brazil, or descendants of Brazilians (the so-called brasiguaios). The first Brazilian producers began to arrive in the country in the 1980s. Before that, there was a lot of undisturbed land in the country.


Industry and manufacturing

The World Bank lists the top producing countries each year, based on the total value of production. By the 2019 list, Paraguay had the 79th most valuable industry in the world ($6.9 billion). The country was the seventh largest producer of soybean oil in the world in 2018. 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 comprised 13.6% of the GDP and it 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 88th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021, up from 95th in 2019.


Infrastructure


Transport

According to official data from the M.O.P.C (Ministry of Public Works and Communications of Paraguay), in 2019, there were a total of of roads, of which were paved. One of the most important recent investments in the country's history is the construction of the Route 15 (Paraguay), Bioceanic Corridor, which will cross the north of Paraguay in a horizontal line, connecting Brazil to Argentina, reaching both the ports of northern Chile, as to Brazilian ports. The work will open a new route for exports of products to Asia, and will enable the development of an isolated region of Paraguay, the Chaco. In February 2022, Paraguay inaugurated of the road (about half of the route), connecting Carmelo Peralta (Alto Paraguay), on the border with Brazil, to Loma Plata (Boquerón), in the center of the country. Paraguay has also been implementing the country's first Dual carriageway, double highway: of the Route 2 (Paraguay), Route 2, which connects the capital Asunción to Ciudad del Este, on the border with Brazil (the highway that also connects with Port of Paranaguá). In January 2022, there were almost duplicated. River transport is important due to the Paraná River, Paraná-Paraguay system, which covers an area of of navigable network and concentrates the most intense commercial maritime traffic to the Port of Buenos Aires. Asunción is the main port of Paraguay. Silvio Pettirossi International Airport, Asunción airport is an important stopover for international airlines and Guaraní International Airport, Ciudad del Este airport, is an important international air cargo hub.


Energy

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.


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 (, , , Guarani language, Guarani: Paraguay) is the capital (political), capital and the largest city of Paraguay. The city stands on the eastern bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the Pilcomayo Rive ...

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 Upland and lowland are conditional descriptions of a plain based on elevation above sea level. In studies of the ecology of freshwater rivers, habitats are c ...
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, Koreans in Paraguay, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese Paraguayans, Japanese, Lebanese migration to Paraguay, Arabs, Ukrainians in Paraguay, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Brazilians, Argentines, Americans, Bolivians, Venezuelans, Mexicans, 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/Castilian 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, Castilian 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.


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 is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...

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 (MSPandBS) management.


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. 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 favourable 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. The most popular instruments in Paraguayan music are the harp and the guitar. The native genres are the Paraguayan polka and the guarania, characterised by a slow song that was developed by José Asunción Flores around the 1920s.


Sport

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.


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