|Rep¨²blica del Paraguay,
|Form of government
||406 752 km²
||UTC − 4
|Telephone area code
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
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 ¡ãC
in the summer months of November to January. In the
capital Asunci¨®n, mean average temperatures of 28.5 ¡ãC
are given for January (July: 18 ¡ãC). In the south-east
of Paraguay, the average values in summer are around
30 ¡ãC, in winter (July) around 20 ¡ãC. Here the average
rainfall amounts to 1,300 to 1,800 mm annually, in the
northwest the values are significantly lower (500-800
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.
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.