90 Cool Facts About Paraguay

Facts About Paraguay - Paraguay is a country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. It has a population of 7 million, nearly 3 million of whom live in the capital and largest city of 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 and Paraná rivers that give an exit to the Atlantic Ocean, through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway.

Paraguay Flag

Interesting Facts About Paraguay

  • 6,896,000 people live in Paraguay (2018).
  • Paraguay has 157,048 square miles of land.
  • Mario Abdo Benitez is the president of Paraguay (2018).
  • People speak Spanish or Guarani, a native Indian language.
  • Most people are Roman Catholic.
  • People in Paraguay can expect to live 73 years.
  • 95% percent of adults can read.
  • At 842 meters Cerro Pero is the tallest mountain.
  • American president Rutherford B. Hayes was the binding arbitrator of the peace terms after the War of the Triple Alliance. Because Hayes awarded the Gran Chaco to Asuncion, Paraguay instead of Buenos Aires, he became a national hero. The town and county of Villa Hayes were named for him.
  • Paraguay didn’t grant women the right to vote until 1961, the last Latin American nation to do so. Constitutional reforms in 1992 finally gave women equal rights within their marriages.
  • Ciudad del Este’s crowded street bazaars attract many Brazilians across the river for bargains. Many Brazilians are moving to Paraguay because its homDes are less expensive.
  • The national currency in Paraguay (money) is called the Paraguayan guarani.
  • Paraguay is full of wonderful wildlife such as: Porcupine, Armadillo, Chinchilla, Tapir, Bear, Jaguar, Opossum and much more.
  • Small-scale farmers are losing their jobs due to the big agricultural companies. Almost 90 percent of the land belongs to just 5 percent of landowners. The rural-urban economic gap is the result of large-scale agriculture steadily monopolizing the market in Paraguay. Studies have confirmed that, between 1991 and 2008, when the last National Agricultural Census was conducted, the number of farms and homesteads covering less than 100 hectares has shrunk, while those between 100 and 500 hectares has risen by almost 35 percent, and massive plantations covering more than 500 hectares are up by almost 57 percent. In late March 2017, 1,000 farmers converged on Asunción, country’s capital, in an annual march, demanding agrarian reform.
  • Paraguayan democracy is lacking in social components. It consists almost exclusively to ensure that institutions function, elections are held regularly and transparently. A steady stream of scandals has revealed widespread fraud and corruption.
  • The people of Paraguay enjoy sports, including football (soccer), rugby, tennis, and volleyball. Fishing is as popular as football.
  • Paraguay is the only country worldwide whose national flag has different emblems on each side. The country’s Coat of Arms is on the front and its Treasury Seal is on the back with its motto, ‘Paz y Justica’ (Peace and Justice). Paraguay’s flag is one of the world’s oldest national flags.
  • Though Paraguay is a land-locked country with no border on the ocean, it has a well-trained navy. Their navy is the largest of any land-locked country in the world.
  • The native Guarana people were living in Paraguay long before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1600s. Today, 95 percent of Paraguay’s people are mestizos, descendants of those Spanish men and Guarana women. This makes Paraguay’s population the most homogenous in South America.
  • Guarani is still spoken by everyone in Paraguay, regardless of their income, politics or social class. This is one of the country’s unifying strengths. Other indigenous heritages are its traditional 38-string harp music and the traditional bottle dance, performed with dancers twirling bottles around their heads.
  • Paraguay’s people make some of the world’s finest lacework. Nanduti (meaning “spiderweb”) is beautiful lace created in circular designs and found in a rainbow of various colors. Other traditional folk arts are embroidered cloth, black clay work and ceramics, and gorgeous silver jewelry in filigree designs.
  • The rates of poverty and extreme poverty among indigenous people are at 75 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Factors such as corruption, the concentration of land ownership and environmental degradation combined with institutional weaknesses hinder progress in alleviating poverty and create obstacles for the indigenous people to maintain access to their fundamental rights, such as water, education and health care. The rate of chronic malnutrition among the indigenous population is 41.7 percent. Some indigenous communities have seen improvements, though, in regards to increased food security. A food-security cash-transfer program, Tekoporã, expanded to cover more indigenous population- from 3 percent in 2013 up to nearly 70 percent in 2018.
  • One-fifth of the people who live in Asunción live in slums. Although complete official accounting of informal settlements is not available, the National Housing Bureau, SENAVITAT, estimates that there are 1,000 slum areas around the city. Slums along the flood-prone riverbanks of the city sometimes house up to 100,000 people. There has been a dramatic increase in the production of social housing for low-income families living in Asunción. In 2016, the Ministry built more than 10,000 low-income housing units, compared to less than 2,000 units built in 2014.
  • Paraguayans face hunger and malnutrition. Only 6 percent of agricultural land is available for domestic food production, while 94 percent is used for export crops. According to the Food Security Index, around 10 percent of children under the age of 5 currently suffer from stunting. Nearly 27 percent of pregnant women are underweight, while 30 percent are overweight.
  • Endangered animals include the jaguar, harpy eagle, red parrot, giant armadillo and anteater (jurumi). More Uruguay animals include brown wolves, foxes, tapirs and more than 1000 species of birds. Paraguay also has many boa constrictors and crocodiles, and even some piranha, as well.
  • Climbing on and off the national buses, “Chipa ladies” dress in blue miniskirts, train conductor caps and fishnet stockings to sell Chipa to passengers.
  • Paraguay’s name may have come from a parrot befriended by the country’s earliest Jesuit priests. Named Frank, he eventually became dinner for those priests. Whether true or not, the country was actually labeled on 16th-century maps as “Parrot”.

Facts about Paraguay food

  • Paraguay’s colorful festivals also attract tourists. The Festival de San Juan in June features fire walking in hot coals and embers, great food and the ritual burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot. February’s San Blas Fiestas are Carnival celebrations. Bus service is safe and inexpensive.
  • There are old, established Australian, German and Japanese communities in Paraguay where visitors can say ‘g’day,’ dine on sushi, rice and fresh vegetables and enjoy fresh schnitzels. In fact, the New Germany colony was established by Friedrich Nietzsche’s sister in the 1880s.
  • The native Ache peoples gave up cannibalism more than 20 years ago. Today, they still live simply (primitively), but are friendly and are known to welcome visitors in their rainforest homes.
  • Paraguay is the world’s sixth-largest soybean producer, the second-largest tung oil producer, the second-largest stevia producer, sixth-largest corn exporter, seventh-largest beef exporter and fourteenth-largest wheat exporter. Over half of Paraguayans work in agriculture and forestry.
  • The people of Paraguay are known for their gentle and friendly behavior toward tourists. Do be aware, however, that cheap inns and hotels in Paraguay usually serve as local brothels, as well. European and North American tourists are somewhat of a novelty, and they are treated with respect.
  • The well-preserved Jesuit ruins in Paraguay dating back to 1706 have been named UNESCO World Heritage sites, though they are some of the most seldom visited in South America. The Robert De Niro film, ‘The Mission,’ was filmed at some of these historic sites.
  • Inequality is widespread. Though the country’s GINI coefficient, which indicates economic inequality, has dropped from 0.51 to 0.47, there is still a significant gap between rich and poor Paraguayans. According to the General Statistics Surveys and Census Bureau (DGEEC), the poorest 40 percent of Paraguayans earn only 12.5 percent of the nation’s revenue, while the richest 10 percent earn 37.1 percent of the total income.
  • Underemployment is high and working conditions are poor. In 2017, underemployment was recorded at 19 percent, while 20 percent of Paraguayans worked less than 30 hours per week. In the Chaco region of Paraguay, a region dominated by large-scale cattle agricultural facilities, some workers characterized their working conditions as a form of slave labor.
  • Educational attainment is lacking. The 2016-2017 Global Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum ranked the overall quality of Paraguay’s primary education system the 136th place out of 138 countries. Around 65 percent of children do not complete secondary education which is one of the highest dropout rates in Latin America. The latest 2017 household survey showed that about 5 percent of the adult population, or roughly 280,000 people, are still illiterate. This number has not decreased over the past decade.
  • Health care is not accessible to everyone. An estimated 40 percent of the population is unable to afford health care of any kind. Around 7 percent have private health coverage and 20 percent are covered by the health services of the social security institute, the Instituto de Previsión Social. The rest depend on the public health system.
  • Paraguay has made giant leaps in increasing access to clean drinking water. The country triumphantly achieved almost complete access to safe drinking water among its rural population, from 51.6 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2017.
  • Paraguay’s nickname is the “Corazón de América” (the Heart of America). The name refers to Paraguay’s location in the center of the South American continent.
  • Paraguay’s name is said to mean “crowned river” after the Guarani words for water and palm crown. According to former president Juan Natalicio Gonzalez, it means “river of the habitants of the sea.”
  • The Itaipu Dam on the Parana River produces almost all of Paraguay’s electricity. Situated on the border with Brazil, the dam is owned by both countries.
  • The Paraná River, which runs through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina is South America’s second-longest river after the more famous Amazon River.
  • Paraguay’s literacy rate is higher than that of the United States. Paraguay’s citizens age 15 and older read and write at a 94 percent literacy rate, compared to 86 percent for the U.S.
  • Paraguay’s national beverage is mate. Mate (pronounced “mahtay”) is often served hot. When it is served chilled, it is called tereré. It is imbibed through a metal drinking straw called a bombilla. Yerba mate, which is related to common holly, is cultivated on plantations.
  • The day’s main meal is eaten at noon. Two staples of the Paraguayan diet are corn and cassava, a starchy root vegetable. Cassava (or mandioca) is baked with cheeses to make the thick bread known as Chipa. Corn is used in Paraguayan soup (sopa paraguaya), Bori bori soup and other dishes.
  • Lapacho (or Taheebo) comes from the inner bark of Purple or Red Lapacho trees and is used in herbal medicines and as for tea. An ancient cure, it was one of the primary medicines of the Incas.
  • Iguacu Falls, spanning the Iguacu River, is made up of more than 275 individual waterfall cascades, is taller than Niagara Falls, and is twice its width.
  • As many as 210 football stadiums could be built with the same amount of concrete as was used to build the Itaipu Dam.
  • Paraguay is just a little smaller than the state of California.
  • Famous Paraguayan athletes are Jose Luis Chilavert of football (soccer) and Rossana De Los Rios (tennis). Leryn Franco is a javelin thrower who participated in three different Olympic games and was also featured in the 2011 ‘Sports Illustrated “Swimsuit Edition.”
  • Paraguay is home to the world’s largest rodent called the Capybara, which is basically a giant guinea pig.
  • Paraguay is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest barbecue, which was attended by approximately 30,000 people.
  • Homes have no doorbells. To announce your arrival, clap your hands. With windows always open in the hot climate, claps are clearly heard inside.
  • Dueling is legal here, but only between participants who are registered, blood donors.
  • One of Paraguay’s hidden secrets is Fermina Benitez's, the lady of 100,000 chickens. Now 70, she began making her black clay folk-art chickens when she was 17.
  • The Triple Alliance War (1864-1870) with Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay was South America’s bloodiest war. Paraguay’s population was cut in half, and only 28,000 men survived.
  • Before the war, Paraguay was prosperous with substantial gold assets. None are known to have been recovered.
  • With the world’s second-largest hydroelectric plant co-owned with Brazil, Paraguay is the world’s fourth-largest electricity exporter.
  • The western Paraguay region of Chaco has 60 percent of the country’s land, but only 2 percent of the people live there. The remainder of the population lives within 100 miles of the capital Asuncion in eastern Paraguay. It is estimated that half of the population lives below the poverty level.
  • Paraguay has 42 protected wildlife areas and 10 national parks. There are comfortable accommodations and tours available in the Mbaracayu tropical forests, as well as 89 mammal species and 410 bird species. Ybycui features metallic blue butterflies, waterfalls, and howler monkeys.

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