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Tetã Paraguái (Guaraní)
República del Paraguay (Spanish)
Republic of Paraguay
Flag of Paraguay
Paraguayan coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : Paz y justicia
( Spanish "peace and justice" )
Official language Guaraní and Spanish
Capital Asunción
State and form of government presidential republic
Head of state , also head of government President Mario Abdo Benítez
surface 406,752 km²
population 7.0 million ( 104th ) (2019; estimate)
Population density 18 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.3% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
2019 (estimate)
  • $ 37 billion ( 98th )
  • $ 93 billion ( 96. )
  • 5,233 USD ( 103. )
  • 13,022 USD ( 102. )
Human Development Index 0.728 ( 103rd ) (2019)
currency Guaraní (PYG)
independence 14./15. May 1811 (from Spain )
National anthem Paraguayos, República o muerte
National holiday May 15th (Independence Day)
Time zone UTC − 4
UTC − 3 (daylight saving time)
License Plate PY
ISO 3166 PY , PRY, 600
Internet TLD .py
Phone code +595
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Paraguay (officially: República del Paraguay [re'puβlika ðel pɑɾɑ'ɣwaj] ; in Guaraní : Tetã Paraguái ) is a landlocked country in South America , which borders on Brazil to the east, Argentina to the south and west and Bolivia to the north and west . The southern and southeastern border is formed by the Paraná River , the southwest and northeast of the Río Paraguay , which crosses the country. The name of the river, after which the state is named, comes from the language of the indigenous people, Guaraní .


Along with neighboring Bolivia, Paraguay is one of the two landlocked states on the continent of America . In the northwest and north it borders with Bolivia with 750 km, in the east with Brazil with 1290 km and in the south and west with Argentina with 1699 km. The total length of the border is 3739 kilometers. With a national territory of almost 407,000 km², the country is roughly the size of Germany and Switzerland put together.

Landscape picture

The Río Paraguay flows through the country from north to south and divides it into two natural parts, the sparsely populated Gran Chaco in the west, which takes up around 60 percent of the country's area, and the Oriente, the eastern region, in which over 97 percent of the population lives. The Gran Chaco is a Quaternary alluvial plain, sloping slightly to the east, gradually rising from 100 meters in the marshland on the Río Paraguay to 450 meters at the foot of the Andes, with a uniform landscape character. It is characterized by a lack of fresh water, the groundwater is largely highly saline. East of the Río Paraguay extends in the Cordillera de Caaguazú up to 700 meters high subtropical table and mountainous land, which belongs to the Precambrian Brazilian shield covered by Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments and thick basalt covers, the so-called Paraná basalts . It breaks off in a step to the fertile Paraná Paraguay Depression, in the southern part of which there are wide swamp and floodplains. The highest mountain in the country is the Cerro Peró (Cerro Tres Kandú) with a height of 842 meters.


The overall climate is tropical to subtropical . Like most of the countries in the region, Paraguay only has wet and dry periods rather than seasons. The wind plays an important role in influencing the weather in Paraguay: between October and March a warm wind blows from the Amazon basin in the north, while the period between May and August brings cold winds from the Andes.

The lack of mountain ranges as a natural barrier allows the wind to reach speeds of up to 161 km / h. This also leads to considerable temperature fluctuations within a short period of time; between April and September the temperatures sometimes drop below freezing point. January is the hottest summer month with an average daily temperature of 28.9 degrees Celsius.

Precipitation varies dramatically across the country, with significant rainfall in the eastern parts and semi-arid conditions in the far west. The Far Eastern forest belt receives an average of 170 centimeters of rain per year, while the western Chaco region is typically no more than 50 centimeters per year. The rains in the west are usually irregular; that they usually evaporate quickly, contributes to the dryness of the area.

Climate diagram Asunción
Climate diagram Mariscal Estigarribia

Flora and fauna


For native wildlife includes several species of monkeys, jaguars , pumas , anteaters , tapirs , armadillos , capybaras , ocelots and reptiles such as caimans , anacondas and other snakes. Paraguay's numerous fish species include lungfish , which burrow in the mud during the dry season, and piranhas . There are also over 700 species of birds, including toucans , hummingbirds , parakeets and various parrots, as well as the country's largest bird, rheas . Numerous national parks have been established in Paraguay to protect them. The largest are in the poorly populated western part of the country.

The vegetation is thickest in the eastern part of Paraguay, where there is also the most rainfall. In this part of the country, the trees lose only part of their leaves over the course of the year, so the landscape always looks green. In the much drier Gran Chaco region, however, bushes and trees that shed their leaves thrive. The extremely hard quebracho tree also grows in this area , the trunk of which contains the tannin substance and whose bark is used to cure malaria. In the driest area, the west, thorn bushes and savannas predominate . In the Chaco, the bulbous silk foil tree is also noticeable, which can grow up to 23 meters high. The bark of the young trees is provided with thick, spherical spines, the fibers of which are processed into ropes by the natives. The Chaco is also home to the Palo Santo ( Bulnesia sarmiento ), the hard and dense wood of which goes down in the water. It is used in the construction of furniture and vessels and as a remedy (tea). Also worth mentioning are the Paraguayan coconut palms (Coco del Paraguay), the trunks of which are provided with thorns. Their nuts are only the size of a golf ball and contain no liquid. They are used for soap production. There are also many other palm species in the country.

List of national parks in Paraguay

Administrative districts

Paraguay consists of 17 administrative regions ( departamentos ) and the state capital Asunción as an independent municipality. The population figures refer to an estimate for June 2017:

Bolivien Argentinien Uruguay Brasilien Alto Paraguay Boquerón Presidente Hayes Concepción Amambay San Pedro Canindeyú Cordillera Asunción Central Ñeembucú Misiones Caaguazú Guairá Alto Paraná Paraguarí Caazapá Itapúa
Departments in Paraguay
number Department Area (km²) population Inhabitants per km² Capital
I. Concepción 18.051 244.100 13.5 Concepción
II San Pedro 20.002 419,600 21.0 San Pedro
III Cordillera 4,948 299,200 60.5 Caacupé
IV Guairá 3,846 220,800 57.4 Villarrica
V Caaguazú 11,474 545,900 47.6 Coronel Oviedo
VI Caazapá 9,496 184,500 19.4 Caazapá
VII Itapua 16,525 592,000 35.8 Encarnación
VIII Misiones 9,556 123,400 12.9 San Juan Bautista
IX Paraguarí 8,705 254,900 29.3 Paraguarí
X Alto Paraná 14,895 796,700 53.5 Ciudad del Este
XI Central 2,465 2,072,000 840.6 Areguá
XII Ñeembucú 12,147 88,800 7.3 Pilar
XIII Amambay 12,933 164,500 12.7 Pedro Juan Caballero
XIV Canindeyú 14,667 221,600 15.1 Salto del Guairá
XV Presidente Hayes 72.907 121,100 1.7 Villa Hayes
XVI Alto Paraguay 82,349 17,200 0.2 Fuerte Olimpo
XVII Boquerón 91,669 63,000 0.7 Filadelfia
Asunción 117 524,200 4,480.0 Asunción

Important cities

Government Palace in Asunción
The old congress building in Asunción, Cabildo

Paraguay's largest and most important city is the capital Asunción with around one million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, the center of administration, industry and trade. The second largest city is Ciudad del Este (281,500 inhabitants) near the border with Brazil and Argentina , a rapidly growing city that is known as a shopping and trade center, but also as a metropolis of smuggling. Other important cities are: Luque (about 244,500 inhabitants), San Lorenzo (about 244,000 inhabitants), Capiatá (about 232,000 inhabitants), Lambaré (about 158,000 inhabitants), Fernando de la Mora (about 153,500 inhabitants), Encarnación (about 130,000 inhabitants) on the border with Argentina, Caaguazú (about 119,000 inhabitants), Limpio (about 114,000 inhabitants), Ñemby (about 110,600 inhabitants), Coronel Oviedo (about 108,000 inhabitants), Pedro Juan Caballero (about 108,000 inhabitants) in the northeast on the border with Brazil , Itauguá (around 106,200 inhabitants) and Mariano Roque Alonso (around 101,700 inhabitants).

The smaller university town of Villarrica (about 66,000 inhabitants) is one of the medium-sized cities . It is known nationwide for its great carnival that crosses the city every year. In the Cordillera, the 3rd state of Paraguay, there are two noteworthy smaller cities. One is Caacupé , about 50 km east of Asunción, where the feast of the Virgin of Caacupé is celebrated annually on December 8th with more than two million people. On the other hand, the neighboring town of Eusebio Ayala is significant due to its history. This historic school and university town with its 22,000 inhabitants is one of the most important historical places in Paraguay. A devastating battle in the Triple Alliance War (1865-1870) took place here, in which 20,000 soldiers murdered more than 3,500 Paraguayan children disguised as soldiers with beards. The annual parade of schoolchildren from all over the country on August 16 and the memorial at Cerro Cora are a reminder today to refrain from any acts of inhumanity.

List of cities in Paraguay


Population development in Paraguay
year population
1950 1,473,253
1960 1,902,875
1970 2,474,106
1980 3,180,630
1990 4,213,742
2000 5,302,700
2010 6,209,877
2020 7,191,685
Population density (inhabitants per km²)
Population pyramid Paraguay 2016

The population is called Paraguayans in German. The majority of the population lives east of the Río Paraguay and here especially in the area around Asunción and near the border with Brazil. In the north and west of the country, which is occupied by the Gran Chaco plain , only about five percent of the population live. According to a poll by the polling institute Gallup in December 2012, the people of the country consider themselves the happiest people on earth; In 2013, Paraguay was once again in first place for subjective feelings of happiness.

The fertility rate per woman was 1.9 children in 2017. For every 1000 inhabitants there were 16.6 births and 4.8 deaths in the same year. The median age was 28.2 years. 24.6% of the population are under 15 years old and 7.1% are over 65 years old. Population growth was 1.18 percent per year in 2017.

61.6% of the population live in cities. This makes the country one of the least urbanized countries in South America.


Almost 90 percent of the population are Paraguayans, the majority of them mestizos , who emerged from the union of Guaraní Indians with Spanish immigrants, which essentially took place from the 16th to the 18th century . Sporadically, especially at the beginning of the 20th century, there were waves of immigration from Europe as well as from neighboring countries Brazil and Argentina. However, the number of immigrants remained at a lower level compared to other countries in the first decades of the 20th century. While in Uruguay, for example, the population growth triggered by migratory movements was around 800,000 in that phase and that of neighboring Argentina was as much as 4.3 million, Paraguay was only able to register an increase of 70,000 people from immigration and emigration during this period. It should be noted, however, that the official immigration statistics only take into account those who immigrated by ship and rail, and there was no registration of those who immigrated via neighboring countries. In the period from 1881 to 1927, only 27,537 people came to the country. Among them 5,372 were German nationals , 5,240 Italians and 3,788 Spaniards. In the period that followed, a small number of Japanese and Slavs and a larger group of Germans from abroad joined them.

For the period from 1927 to 1930, the immigration of 1,303 Canadian Germans and a little later 2,008 Mennonites from the Soviet Union was recorded. In the 1930s, immigration was only a few hundred people. Only 1,122 immigrants of the Jewish faith from Germany led to a brief increase in the number in 1935. From 1926 to 1948 a total of 27,872 immigrants, a little more than a third of them Mennonites, were registered. For the period after the Second World War, an increased influx of Japanese is listed, who settled in particular on the Alto Paraná near Encarnación . At the beginning of the 1960s, around 4,000 Japanese lived in Paraguay. In addition, in 1959, the Paraguayan government set an annual quota of 3,500 Japanese people to be admitted with a planned total influx of 85,000 people.

There are regionally significant minorities of Europeans and indigenous peoples, among which the Guaraní are the most important group. Their language ( Guaraní ) - which is also spoken by 80 percent of the non-indigenous population - has official status under the 1992 constitution; in addition to Spanish - which only about 11% of the population mentioned as their mother tongue in the 2002 census. Today there are four tribes to the Guaraní-Tupí group: the Avá-Guaraní, the Pãí tavyterá̃ (Caiuá), the Mbyá and the Aché . The descendants of the comparatively few black African slaves who came to Paraguay are now almost completely mixed with the rest of the population.

1000 to 1200 Aché Indians live in the subtropical east. They are considered to be the descendants of the former indigenous people of Eastern Paraguay. Around 500 BC BC Guaraní groups immigrated from the Amazon region, occupied the areas on the river plains, planted their plantations there and displaced the ancestors of the Aché into the higher forest areas. A total of around 2 percent (approx. 112,000 people according to the 2012 census) are attributable to the indigenous indigenous population. According to the 2012 census, these are divided into 19 indigenous tribes, which in addition to the Guaraní belong to four other language families.

In 2017, 2.4% of the population was born abroad.

Germans of origin

The first German immigrants came to the country as early as 1535 with the Spanish conquerors. With the expedition of Pedro de Mendoza , 80 Germans came to the Río de la Plata . Among them was Ulrich Schmidl , chronicler of the expedition and a co-founder of Asunción. The first colonies formed in San Bernardino in 1881 and in Nueva Germania in 1887 . In 1919 the Colonia Independencia was founded near Villarrica. Today it has about 25,000 inhabitants. Between 1930 and 1933, the Paraguayan government advertised immigrants in the German press, especially farmers. Most came from Baden-Württemberg, Saxony, Bavaria and Austria.

German is often spoken by German emigrants and Mennonites . However, the latter mostly use a Low German dialect ( Plautdietsch ) as a colloquial language . Nonetheless, standard German plays a significant role in the Mennonite colonies: especially as the language of churches, schools and administration, as well as the language of the media. However, only a few people of German origin still use German as their mother tongue. This numerically insignificant minority of the German-speaking Mennonites, who have immigrated from Canada since 1927 and later mostly from Russia , lives about half in East Paraguay and half in the Chaco . As a result of further immigration from the United States , Canada and Mexico , the number has now risen to almost 30,000. Around 500,000 Portuguese-speaking settlers now live in the Brazilian border region, 150,000 of them are of German origin from the states of Rio Grande do Sul , Santa Catarina and Paraná . They are also called Brasiguayos . The situation of the Brasiguayos is currently being discussed in the Paraguayan media because of the unequal distribution of property in favor of the Brasiguayos during Stroessner's period.

Five to seven percent of the Paraguayan population are immigrants of German origin. The 2002 census shows people living in Paraguay (around 0.035 percent of the population) who were born in Germany in 1838. During the reign of the dictator Alfredo Stroessner of German descent , who held the office of President from 1954 to 1989, tens of thousands of Brazilian Germans immigrated. In 1973/74 alone there were 42,000, mainly in the departments of Alto Paraná, Itapua, Canendiyú, Caaguazú and San Pedro. In these departments alone, well over 100,000 German-Brazilians now live in nine large and 45 peripheral settlements. Another center of immigration is near Encarnación around Hohenau with at least 30,000–35,000 German-Brazilians. Since Stroessner's fall in February / March 1989, another 150,000 Germans from southern Brazil have been added. In 2005 a new colony called Kolonie Neufeld was founded in the Caazapá department , in which Russian Germans settled. Many people of Polish and Ukrainian descent also live on the Argentine border.


Languages ​​in Paraguay (2002)
(first language)
(second language)
Guaraní 3,915,089 85.9% 30,232 0.7% 3,946,905 86.6%
Spanish 506.185 11.1% 2,655,687 58.3% 3,170,813 69.6%
Portuguese 53,822 1.2% 83,288 1.8% 326.496 7.2%
German 13,255 0.3% 24,471 0.5% 59.166 1.3%
English 0 0.0% 684 0.0% 97,542 2.1%
other non-indigenous people 2.136 0.0% 33,909 0.7% 42,246 0.9%
other indigenous languages 55,876 1.2% 2,726 0.1% 59,165 1.3%

Over 20 languages ​​are spoken in Paraguay. The following overview lists the largest languages ​​according to the results of the 2002 census. Up to five languages ​​could be specified per person.


Like many countries in Latin America , Paraguay is a predominantly Catholic country, around 90% of the population professes this belief. There are various Protestant communities , to which the 30,000 or so Mennonites , mostly of German origin, belong. Over 10,000 residents are practicing Jehovah's Witnesses (2015). In Ciudad del Este there is a Muslim minority that can be traced back to immigrants from Lebanon . There are also followers of indigenous religions .


Life expectancy development in Paraguay
Period Life expectancy
in years
Period Life expectancy
in years
1950-1955 62.8 1985-1990 67.6
1955-1960 63.3 1990-1995 68.5
1960-1965 64.5 1995-2000 69.4
1965-1970 65.1 2000-2005 70.8
1970-1975 66.0 2005-2010 71.8
1975-1980 66.6 2010-2015 72.8
1980-1985 67.1

Public health expenditure was around 4.5% of GDP and private around 5.3% in 2014. In 2005 the infant mortality rate was 20 per 1000 births. In 2000, the maternal mortality rate was 150 per 100,000 live births. Life expectancy between 2010 and 2015 was 72.9 years (men: 70.7 years, women: 74.9 years). 20.3% of the population are severely overweight . 0.5% of the population were HIV positive in 2016 .

Treatment in public hospitals is free. However, the structural condition and the hygienic conditions are not comparable with those in affluent countries. Those who can afford it have private health insurance and can be treated in a private hospital.


In June 2018 Paraguay officially became the first country in South America to eradicate malaria . In April he was certified by the WHO that there had been no malaria infections in the country for three years. The fight against this disease began in Paraguay in 1957 with the establishment of the anti-malaria agency Senepa .


Dengue fever outbreaks occur in some years . This mainly affects Asunción and the neighboring Departamento Central . There were 616 infections in 2017, but none of them were fatal. Another outbreak occurred in early 2018.


Schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 15, but this is not sufficiently enforced. In the country, the mean school attendance of over 25s increased from 5.8 years in 1990 to 8.1 years in 2015. The current educational expectation is 12.3 years. A state-regulated training system (servicio nacional de promoción profesional, SNPP) for obtaining professional qualifications, for example in craft or trade, only exists to a limited extent . Private institutions and also foreign non-governmental organizations , such as the German Kolping Works , offer professional courses for young people that are subject to a fee. Due to poor quality in public schools, children whose parents can afford the money attend one of the numerous private schools , such as the Goethe School in the capital Asunción. There are also a few public German schools in Paraguay. Paraguay also has state and private universities whose degrees are often not recognized as equivalent abroad, for example in Germany . The higher education system in Paraguay is tripartite for the humanities and linguistics as well as some natural sciences (licenciatura, postgraduate master, doctorate), in law, economics, chemical and medical sciences it is one-part, so that upon completion of the degree one can obtain a doctorate. (en derecho, en economía, en química, en medicina / odontología / veterinaria). The engineering sciences also practice the one-tier awarding of degrees. The Universidad Nacional de Asunción (state) enjoys a generally good reputation nationwide . Tuition fees are generally charged in Paraguay.

The literacy rate in 2015 was 95.6% of the adult population.


In pre-Columbian times, today's Paraguay belonged to the settlement area of ​​the indigenous Guaraní tribes (means "warrior") between the Río de la Plata and the Orinoco Delta, the Atlantic and the Andes. There were periodic migrations in different directions in search of the "land without evil". The migration of the Guaraní to the west led to another clash with the Inca Empire between 1513 and 1518. During this time, rumors of mountains and cities made of precious metal spread in the west.

The Spaniard Juan de Salazar y Espinosa founded today's capital Asunción in 1537. In order to control and evangelize the indigenous population, the Franciscan Luis de Bolaños founded the first reductions from 1580 , shielding the indigenous people living in these settlements from the access of the large landowners, slave hunters and the Spanish crown. From 1609 to 1767 the Jesuits continued these foundations and evangelized. Paraguay became independent in 1811, but lost a large part of its population and territory in the Triple Alliance War (1864-1870). In the Chaco War against Bolivia from 1932 to 1935, Paraguay was victorious and thus secured extensive areas in the controversial Chaco area.

One of the heroes of the local culture is primarily Francisco Solano López , the commander in chief of the Triple Alliance War .


Universal male suffrage came into effect with the constitution of 1870. Law number 704 introduced universal active and passive voting rights for women at the national level in 1961 .

Paraguay was ruled by the Partido Colorado for 61 years . The long period of rule has led to a close interweaving between the structures of the state and those of the party. A complete turn towards pluralistic democracy, as has taken place in other countries with military dictatorships in South America (e.g. in Brazil , Chile and Argentina ) has so far failed to materialize in Paraguay.

On April 20, 2008, parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Paraguay . Fernando Lugo , former bishop and liberation theologian , was elected president with over 40% of the vote and was installed in the office of president of Paraguay. Among other things, he promised to fight the misery and corruption in the South American country. On June 23, 2012, he was removed from office by the Senate.

Vice-President Federico Franco of the Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico was appointed as the new President, who was to lead the office until the election in August 2013. Senator Óscar Denis was appointed as the successor to the office of Vice President . The Mercosur suspended Paraguay's membership as a result of the events surrounding the dismissal of the president temporarily up to the local elections.

In April 2013 Horacio Cartes was elected President with 45.8% of the vote. He belongs to the Partido Colorado.

In the days from March 31 to April 2, 2017, serious unrest broke out in the capital Asunción, during which the parliament building was set on fire. During the demonstrations that were directed against the attempt by the ruling party, which, in consultation with the opposition, wanted to pass a law so that the incumbent President Horacio Cartes could have been re-elected against the constitution, a 25-year-old opposition politician from the Liberal Party was defeated by the Police shot. The demonstrators showed signs with the slogan no + dictatura (Never again dictatorship). As a consequence, the president dismissed the incumbent interior minister Tadeo Rojas and the police chief of the country Críspulo Sotelo. After the experiences of various Latin American countries with dictatorships, the term of office of a president in Paraguay was limited to one term in the constitution. The riot broke out when Congressmen approved the change in the first of two houses.

On May 28, 2018, Horacio Cartes announced his resignation as President. Accordingly, the Vice President, Alicia Beatriz Pucheta de Correa, would have followed him in office. However, on June 26, 2018, Cartes revoked his resignation in a letter to Fernando Lugo, President of the National Congress.

houses of Parliament

The National Congress consists of a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate.

Political indices

Political indices published by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 65.2 out of 120 104 of 178 Stability of the country: Warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 6.18 out of 10 67 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 65 of 100 --- Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 33.52 out of 100 100 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 28 out of 100 137 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020



Foreign policy



Paraguay River
View of the Paraguayan city of Encarnación from the Argentine bank of the Río Paraná
Cattle breeding on an estancia in the Chaco
Paraguay has extensive reserves of potential agricultural land, today still far removed from any transport infrastructure: An earth road in the north-western Chaco (Agua Dulce / Palmar de las Islas)

Paraguay was a purely agricultural country until the 1960s , but also a country that greatly expanded its water management. Agriculture still plays an important role today: 39 percent of the population works in the agricultural sector, which contributes 24.9 percent to GDP .

Large estates continue to shape the ownership structure , around 66% of the arable land belongs to 10% of the population - a characteristic that is typical for most Latin American countries. However, the forest law Ley 536/95 and the adoption of the Estatuto Agrario in January 2002 led to a significant shift in ownership. Today, all large plots of land that are not at least 30% used for agriculture can be expropriated. Even so, around a third of the rural population is still without land. The unemployment rate across the country was 6.5% in 2017. The poverty rate in 2015 was 22.2%, with large regional differences. The poorest departments are Caazapá with a poverty rate of 47.9%, San Pedro (44.9%) and Caaguazú (40.1%). The lowest poverty is in Presidente Hayes (8.2%).

An industrial sector has developed since the 1970s, which in 2006 contributed around 13.9 percent to GDP. In the same year (2006), the service sector contributed 51.4 percent, the lion's share of GDP of 9.3 billion US dollars.

The economic output of the two binational hydropower plants Itaipú and Yacyretá was regarded as not being produced in the country until 2009 and was not included in the GDP. From 2010, the revenues from the power plants corresponding to the Paraguayan share will be added to Paraguay's GDP. This increases the GDP by a good 9% (as of 2010); In addition, energy production is replacing the export of soy as the largest single item in GDP.

Agriculture and Forestry

In the western half of the country, the Chaco , pasture farming is mainly practiced , where rainfall allows it (Agua Dulce region) also field farming ( sorghum ). In the arid west of the Chacos (January 2009) some large-scale Jatropha plantations are planned.

In the last few decades the Mennonites expanded the dairy industry according to European standards, which is now firmly in their hands. East of Paraguay is predominantly arable farming. The main crops are soybeans , cassava , cotton , sugar cane and grain . Forestry products (21 percent of Paraguay is covered with forest) are tannin and petitgrain in addition to wood . Petitgrain is a bitter orange oil that is used to make perfumes.

The situation of the forest in Paraguay continues to be critical. With 400,000 hectares of forest being destroyed annually, the forest area has decreased by more than 65% within just 50 years, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. There are practically no more untouched forest areas, as there is also illegal logging in national parks. Only 20,000 hectares of the natural forest are managed according to forestry criteria. There are also 43,000 hectares of fast-growing plantations on which neophytes such as pine , eucalyptus and teak are raised.

The export of soy as a preliminary product, not only for edible oil and fodder but also for biofuel, is playing an extremely rapidly growing role, so that there are now serious conflicts between large landowners who grow soy on the one hand and the rest of the farming population on the other Side comes. Around 100,000 farmers and indigenous groups had been resettled against their resistance by 2007. At the same time, the forest cover was drastically reduced and, since it was not a question of food production, the use of pesticides was greatly increased.

In Paraguay, foreign property of any size is permitted with almost no restrictions (only citizens of Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia are not allowed to acquire land in certain border regions. Reports by some media at the end of 2008 that foreign property acquisition should be restricted are accordingly incorrect and based on a misunderstanding exactly this Brazilian / border region determination).

Mining hardly plays a role in Paraguay because the proven deposits are only mined to a small extent. There are oil , iron ore , manganese and rock salt deposits .

Huge deposits of titanium ore were discovered in 2014, but their exploitation will take some time.


The industrial sector has grown significantly since the 1970s and now accounts for 13.9 percent of GDP . Industrial production is largely limited to agricultural and forestry goods. The main branches are wood and meat processing , the extraction of vegetable oils and the production of confectionery and fruit juices . There are also textile and glass factories as well as a cement and steel mill. 22 percent of the workforce is employed in industry.

A source of foreign currency for Paraguay is the Itaipú power plant , which was the largest power plant in the world until 2006. It was built in a joint venture with Brazil and is owned equally by the two states. The Paraguayan electricity generated by the Itaipú power station, which Paraguay cannot use, had to be sold to Brazil at production costs until 2011. After lengthy negotiations between the two countries, the electricity is now paid for by Brazil at the market price. The situation is similar with the Yacyretá hydropower plant , which is shared by Paraguay and Argentina. Over 99 percent of Paraguay's electrical energy is generated in the three hydropower plants Itaipú, Yacyretá and Acaray . At peak times, small amounts of electricity have to be purchased from abroad.


Paraguay's foreign trade
Exports to Imports from
country percent country percent
BrazilBrazil Brazil 44.0% ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 25.4%
UruguayUruguay Uruguay 14.0% BrazilBrazil Brazil 24.5%
ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 11.0% UruguayUruguay Uruguay 3.8%
Other 36.0% Other 46.3%

Between 1998 and 2002 Paraguay went through an economic crisis, which was characterized by a decline in gross domestic product, an increase in national debt and a significant increase in unemployment.

Since 2003 there has been a noticeable recovery in the economic situation. Between 2003 and 2006, GDP grew by an average of 3.7 percent. Since 2004, for the first time since 1995, a budget surplus has been achieved, which in 2006 was 0.5 percent of GDP. Paraguay's national debt at the end of 2006 was 24.1 percent of GDP.

The improvement in the general conditions is a result of the generally favorable economic development in South America, the increase in important export items, and consolidation efforts by the Nicanor Duarte Frutos government .

Due to the strong population development (growth of 2.3 percent per year) and the pronounced social inequalities, however, economic growth is only slowly contributing to the improvement of living conditions for large sections of the population.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Paraguay was ranked 112th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-18). In 2017, Paraguay was ranked 80th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .

Development of the characteristics

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
8.05 billion 11.58 billion 16.44 billion 23.04 billion 25.58 billion 31.58 billion 34.15 billion 36.92 billion 40.04 billion 38.74 billion 44.35 billion 47.23 billion 47.51 billion 55.05 billion 55.68 billion 61.08 billion 64.34 billion 68.33 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
2,556 3,171 3,974 4,824 4,840 5,464 5,804 6,179 6,594 6,281 7,078 7,422 7,353 8,393 8,815 9,041 9,387 9,825
GDP growth
11.7% 3.9% 4.1% 6.8% −2.3% 2.1% 4.8% 5.4% 6.4% −4.0% 13.1% 4.3% −1.2% 14.0% 4.7% 3.0% 4.0% 4.3%
(in percent)
22.5% 24.8% 38.2% 13.4% 8.9% 6.8% 9.6% 8.1% 10.2% 2.6% 4.6% 8.2% 3.7% 2.7% 5.0% 3.1% 4.1% 3.6%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... 67% 18% 35% 28% 21% 18% 18% 18% 16% 13% 16% 17% 20% 24% 25% 26%

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 5.531 billion , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 5.531 billion. This results in a balanced budget.

The national debt was 25.5% of GDP in 2016.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:

Shadow economy

Paraguay has a market economy characterized by a strong shadow economy . The black economy is characterized by the import of consumer goods and their re-export to neighboring affluent countries, as well as the activities of thousands of micro-entrepreneurs and urban street vendors.

Because of the importance of the shadow economy, economic data is difficult to obtain. A large percentage of the population works in the simple service sector , in agriculture and there often in the form of subsistence farming .

According to Paraguayan labor law (Chapter IV, Article 151), people without a professional qualification are not allowed to earn less than 40% of the statutory minimum wage .

Largest marijuana producer in South America

Paraguay is South America 's largest marijuana producer with an estimated 50,000 tons annually . However, only about five percent are consumed in their own country, the rest is smuggled out of the country. 80 percent of the marijuana is brought to Brazil illegally, especially in the metropolises of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the rest goes to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. The Paraguayan farmers are, as is so often the case, the poorest in illegal trade. You get around $ 30 for a kilogram of marijuana, while the street price in Chile is up to $ 2,800 and the boat crew makes around $ 10,000 per smuggling. There are areas in the north of the country where eight out of ten families make a living from growing cannabis . The result is a vicious circle, because the young people in these families often have to help with the cultivation and harvest of the intoxicant at an early age and usually cannot go to school. You then have no choice but to take over the family business and cultivate cannabis yourself. Paraguay tries to destroy fields on the border with Brazil by eradication and was able to achieve partial success. Nevertheless, the country is struggling in the fight against drugs, especially through ship smuggling. Since the consumption of cannabis was legalized in Uruguay in 2013, a large part of the intoxicant from Paraguay goes there because of the lower price.


Encarnación Beach

Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in the country. In 2015, 1.28 million foreign tourists came to Paraguay. This increased the number by 97% compared to 2014, which earned the country first place in the ranking of the World Organization for Tourism of the UN. In 2016, the number rose slightly to 1.3 million and generated $ 519 million in foreign exchange. Tourism ranked sixth as a source of foreign exchange after the export of electricity, soy seeds, meat, soy flour and grain. In 2017, the number of tourists increased by 17.5% compared to the previous year. This increase was twice the growth in tourism in South America. It raised around $ 620 million in foreign currency. Of the 1.54 million foreign tourists, 75% were Argentinians, 14.5% Brazilians, 1.3% Uruguayans and just under one percent each were Americans, Spaniards and Chileans. These figures do not include the 3.5 million day visitors, who mostly only come to the towns near the border to shop. In addition, 2.5 million Paraguayans operated tourism in the country. The most popular travel destinations for Paraguayans are the beaches of Encarnación and Carmen del Paraná on the Río Paraná, which is several kilometers wide.



Of importance is the inland navigation on the Rio Paraguay . An important port is located in the capital Asunción.

air traffic

Aeropuerto Internacional Silvio Pettirossi

There are two airports in Paraguay with flights to neighboring countries. Near Asunción, in the area of ​​Luque, is the Aeropuerto Internacional Silvio Pettirossi, and near Ciudad del Este, the Aeropuerto Internacional Guaraní . There are also many other smaller and larger airfields, but without scheduled services.


Former main train station in Asunción, the oldest reception building on the subcontinent

The railway network of Paraguay consisted mainly of the standard gauge , 370 km long route from Asunción to the border town Encarnación . The regular passenger traffic was discontinued in 1999, the freight traffic of the state railway Ferrocarriles del Paraguay (Fepasa) in 2010 and the tourist traffic with steam-hauled trains in 2011. On the end of the line from Encarnación across the border to Argentina, there is again goods and passenger traffic, the latter since 2014.

Road traffic

Map of national roads

Paraguay is crossed by a number of national roads (rutas), most of which are paved. Most of the Rutas are two-lane, some sections are four-lane and a few six-lane. In 2013, the Paraguayan government started a road improvement and expansion campaign. This includes the construction of a new six-lane motorway (called Autopista Ñu Guazu ) in the capital Asunción with connections to the local transport network and with a connection to the coastal road that is still under construction, which together form a ring around the city in order to relieve the traffic there . In addition, Ruta 2 and Ruta 7 , which are currently only two-lane, are to be expanded into four-lane motorways. Road kilometer zero is in Asunción at the portico of the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes.

Bus transport

Bus traffic is the most important form of passenger transport within the country as well as to and from Paraguay. There are direct connections to Chile (Santiago), Brazil (São Paulo, Rio), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Córdoba), Bolivia (Santa Cruz) and Uruguay (Montevideo).



The greater part of Paraguay's literature is written in Spanish, a small part in Guaraní . In the 19th century Paraguay was largely cut off from intellectual life. Roberto Villanueva is regarded as a romantic of at least regional importance .

Felix de Guarania

The writer and Cervantes Prize laureate in 1989 Augusto Roa Bastos , who lived in exile in Argentina and France for over 40 years, became of lasting importance for Spanish-language literature in Paraguay . With Yo, el Supremo ("I, the Almighty", 1974) he wrote one of the most important novels in Latin America about the dictatorship of José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia from 1814 to 1840. Josefina Pla was born in the Canary Islands as a poet, narrator and playwright known. In the absence of efficient publishers, many authors have to publish their work abroad.

In 1959, the anthropologist León Cadogan put together an important collection of traditional sacred texts in the Mbyá dialect of the Guaraní under the title Ayvu Rapyta (about: The Origin of Language). In the 20th century, the linguist and socialist Félix de Guarania (actually Félix Giménez Gómez, 1924–2011) wrote in Guaraní , who also had to go into exile and translated numerous texts from Spanish into Guaraní, and the representative of modernismo Manuel Ortiz Guerrero ( 1897–1933), the poet Carlos Martínez Gamba (1939–2010) and the poet and doctor Carlos Federico Abente (1924–2018). Many of her poems written in Guaraní have been set to music. In popular song poetry, there are often texts that are written in hybrid Spanish-Guaraní.


With regard to classical music, the guitar virtuoso Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885–1947) should be emphasized, who was born in San Juan Bautista and worked successfully as a virtuoso , teacher and composer throughout South America and Europe .

In Paraguay, folkloric music is also very popular, with the "polka" being particularly important. The harp is a classic folklore instrument . From this folklore, José Asunción Flores developed the Guarania .

As in many Latin American countries, the cumbia ( called cachaca in Paraguay ) is currently the most important form of popular music.


The Carnival in the city of Encarnación is the largest in the country. It takes place on four weekends in a row in the Sambódromo and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

The largest religious festival is that of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, which is a public holiday in Paraguay.

Every year on September 8th, the traditional Vito de dinero (Money Rain Festival) takes place in Guarambaré , where banknotes are thrown at the crowd like confetti from the church tower.

A special Christmas is celebrated in Nueva Londres . The famous Fiesta del Tujú is held on December 25th . It starts with a rodeo and ends with hundreds of residents and visitors throwing each other in the mud and dancing in it.


Typical, traditional Paraguayan dishes include chipa , a kind of donut made from cassava or corn and cheese, to which a national holiday was dedicated, and sopa paraguaya , a soufflé-like corn bread.



South American Football Association building in Luque

Football is the main sport in Paraguay. The forerunner of this sport was invented by the Guaraní in pre-Columbian times . Since 1639 the soccer game with a ball made of hard rubber has been documented in writing by these indigenous people.

The national team grew stronger in the 1990s and was able to qualify for the soccer World Cup four times in a row from 1998 onwards. For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the team qualified third in the South American qualification. As the first in Group F, she met Japan in the round of 16 and won on penalties. Paraguay advanced to the quarterfinals and lost the game against Spain 0-1. Paraguay was unable to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The two most popular clubs in the national league Primera División are Club Cerro Porteño and Club Olimpia . In 2011 the Club Nacional won the Apertura and Olimpia the Clausura .

The most famous Paraguayan soccer players are Salvador Cabañas , Lucas Barrios , José Luis Chilavert , Roque Santa Cruz , Nelson Valdez , Julio dos Santos and José Saturnino Cardozo .


Víctor Pecci won the Roland Garros youth tournament in 1973 and the runner-up in the professional class in 1979. Rossana de los Ríos repeated the success of Pecci in 1992 at the Roland Garros youth tournament. Paraguay's Davis Cup team had their first appearances in the tournament in 1931, but did not return to the competition until 1982. The best result was reaching the quarter-finals in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987.

Other sports

After soccer, rallies are the sport with the most fans. The event with the longest tradition is the Trans-Chaco-Rally , which has been held since 1971. In 2017, the Dakar Rally took place in Paraguay for the first time. The start was in Atyrá and Asunción. Otherwise handball is very popular with the Paraguayan youth.


Web links

Commons : Paraguay  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Paraguay  - on the news
Wikimedia Atlas: Paraguay  - geographical and historical maps
Wiktionary: Paraguay  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Paraguay  - Travel Guide
Wikisource: Paraguay  - Sources and full texts

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Coordinates: 23 °  S , 58 °  W