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Republic of Paraguay

 

Republic of Paraguay

"PRY" redirects here. For other uses, see PRY (disambiguation).
This article is about the country. For other uses, see Paraguay (disambiguation).

Republic of Paraguay
  • Template:Native name
  • Template:Native name
Flag (obverse) Coat of arms
Motto: Template:Native phrase
"Peace and justice"
Anthem: 
Template:Native name
Paraguayans, Republic or Death
Capital
and largest city
Asunción
25°16′S 57°40′W / 25.267°S 57.667°W / -25.267; -57.667
Official languages
Ethnic groups (2000)
Demonym Paraguayan
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
 -  President Horacio Cartes
 -  Vice President Juan Afara
Legislature Congress
 -  Upper house Chamber of Senators
 -  Lower house Chamber of Deputies
Independence from Spain
 -  Declared 14 May 1811 
 -  Recognized 15 May 1811 
Area
 -  Total 406,752 km2 (60th)
157,048 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 2.3
Population
 -  2012 estimate 6,600,284 [2] (104th)
 -  Density 14.2/km2 (204th)
39/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $40.874 billion[3]
 -  Per capita $6,136[3]
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $25.999 billion[3]
 -  Per capita $3,903[3]
Gini (2010)negative increase 52.4[4]
high
HDI (2012)Increase 0.669[5]
medium · 111th
Currency Guaraní (PYG)
Time zone PYT (UTC–4)
 -  Summer (DST) PYST (UTC–3)
Drives on the right
Calling code +595
ISO 3166 code PY
Internet TLD .py
a. Mixed European and Amerindian.

Paraguay (US /pɛərəɡw/, UK /pærəɡw/), officially the Republic of Paraguay (Spanish: República del Paraguay [reˈpuβlika ðel paɾaˈɣwaj], Guaraní: Tetã Paraguái [teˈtã paɾaˈɣwaj]), is a landlocked country in South America, bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de América ("Heart of America").[6]

The indigenous Guaraní had been living in Paraguay for at least a millennium before the Spanish conquered the territory in the 16th century. Christianity was introduced through the Jesuits, who relocated Indians to local communities near missions, where they developed a syncretic form of Roman Catholicism. Paraguay was on the periphery of Spain's colonial empire, with few urban centers and a sparse population. Following independence from Spain in 1811, Paraguay was ruled by a series of dictators who implemented isolationist and protectionist policies. This development was truncated by the disastrous Paraguayan War (1864–1870), in which the country lost 60 percent to 70 percent of its population through war and disease, and about 140,000 square kilometers (54,054 sq mi) of territory to Argentina and Brazil.

In the 20th century, Paraguay endured a succession of authoritarian governments, culminating in the regime of Alfredo Stroessner, who led South America's longest-lived military dictatorship from 1954 to 1989. He was toppled in an internal military coup, and free multi-party elections were organized and held for the first time in 1993. A year later, Paraguay joined Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to found Mercosur, a regional economic collaborative.

As of 2009, Paraguay's population was estimated to be at around 6.5 million, most of whom are concentrated in the southeast region of the country. The capital and largest city is Asunción, of which the metropolitan area is home to nearly a third of Paraguay's population. In contrast to most Latin American nations, Paraguay's indigenous language and culture, Guaraní, remains highly influential. In each census, residents predominantly identify as mestizo, reflecting years of intermarriage among the different ethnic groups. Guaraní is recognized as an official language alongside Spanish. Both languages are widely spoken in the country, with around 92 percent of the general population speaking Spanish and 98 percent speaking Guaraní.

Paraguay has long been one of the region's poorest and most isolated countries, although since the turn of the 21st century, it has experienced rapid economic growth. In 2010, its economy grew by 14.5 percent, the largest economic expansion in Latin America, and the third-fastest in the world (after Qatar and Singapore).[7] By 2011, economic growth had slowed to 6.4%, but remained far higher than the global average.[8] Nevertheless, income inequality and underdevelopment remain widespread.

Etymology

The name of the river, Paraguay, is thought to come from Guaraní, derived from para, "of many varieties", and gua, "riverine".

There is no consensus for the derivation or meaning of the name Paraguay, although many versions are very similar. The most common interpretations include:

  1. "River which originates a sea"
  2. The Spanish officer and scientist Félix de Azara suggests two derivations: the Payaguas (Payaguá-ý", or "river of Payaguás"), referring to the Indian tribe who lived along the river, or a great chief named "Paraguaio."
  3. The French-Argentine historian and writer Paul Groussac argued that it meant "river that flows through the sea (Pantanal)."
  4. The ex-president and Paraguayan politician, Juan Natalicio González said it meant "river of the habitants of the sea."
  5. Fray Antonio Ruiz de Montoya said that it meant "river crowned."

History

Main article: History of Paraguay


Early history

Indigenous peoples inhabited this area for thousands of years. Pre-Columbian society in the region which is now Paraguay consisted of semi-nomadic tribes at the time of Spanish encounter. They were known for their warrior traditions. These indigenous tribes belonged to five distinct language families, which was the basis of their major divisions. Differing language 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 groups remain.

The first Europeans in the area were Spanish explorers in 1516.[9] The Spanish explorer Juan de Salazar de Espinosa founded the settlement of Asunción on 15 August 1537. The city eventually became the center of a Spanish colonial province of Paraguay, an attempt to create an autonomous Christian Indian nation.[10] This was the center of the Jesuit missions and settlements in this part of South America in the eighteenth century, which included portions of Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. They developed Jesuit Reductions to bring Indian populations together at Spanish missions and protect them from virtual slavery by Spanish settlers, in addition to seeking their conversion to Christianity. Catholicism in Paraguay was influenced by the indigenous peoples; the syncretic 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 missions have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.[11]

Independence from Spain (1811)

Paraguay overthrew the local Spanish administration on 15 May 1811. Paraguay’s first ruler was the dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia. He ruled Paraguay from 1814 until his death in 1840, with very little outside contact or influence. He intended to create a utopian society based on the French theorist Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract.[12] Rodríguez de Francia established new laws that reduced the powers of the church (Catholicism was then an established state religion) and the cabinet, forbade colonial citizens from marrying one another and allowed them only to marry blacks, mulattoes or natives, to create a mixed-race or mestizo society. He cut off relations between Paraguay and the rest of South America. Because of De Francia’s restrictions on personal freedom, Fulgencio Yegros and several other military leaders and former politicians, planned a coup d’état against him. De Francia discovered the plot and had its leaders either executed or imprisoned for life.

After his death, Paraguay was ruled by various military officers under a new junta, until the secretary Carlos Antonio López, De Francia’s nephew, declared himself dictator. López modernized Paraguay and opened it up to foreign commerce. He developed a non-aggression pact with Argentina and declared independence from the state in 1842. After López’s death in 1862, power was transferred to his eldest son, Francisco Solano López.

Paraguayan War (1864–1870)

Main article: Paraguayan War

Solano López led the nation into the Paraguayan War in 1864. Paraguay fought against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, and was overwhelmingly defeated in 1870 after five years of the bloodiest war in South America. 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."[13] Paraguay also suffered extensive territorial losses to Brazil and Argentina.


During the pillaging of Asunción (Saqueo de Asunción) in 1869, the Brazilian Imperial Army packed up and transported the Paraguayan National Archives to Rio de Janeiro, where the documents have been kept in secrecy.[14] This has made Paraguayan history in the Colonial and early National periods difficult to research and study. Since the war, the Colorado Party and Liberal Party maintain independent official versions of Paraguayan history. .


20th century

Between 1904 and 1954, Paraguay had thirty-one presidents, most of whom were removed from office by force.[15]

In the 1930s, Paraguay fought the Chaco War with Bolivia, in part to try to reclaim some of the land lost. It defeated Bolivia and re-established sovereignty over the region called the Chaco. It forfeited additional territorial gains in the Mato Grosso as a price of peace.

After World War II, politics became particularly unstable, with several political parties fighting for power in the late 1940s, which most notably brought about the Paraguayan civil war of 1947.[16] A series of unstable governments ensued until the establishment, in 1954, of the stable regime of dictator Alfredo Stroessner, 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 abuses.[17]

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"). Torture and death for political opponents was routine. After his overthrow, the Colorado continued to dominate national politics until 2008.

Post-1979

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 Laino served as the focal point of the opposition in the second half of the 1980s. The government's effort to isolate Laino by exiling him in 1982 had backfired. On his sixth attempt to re-enter the country, in 1986 Laino 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 Laino's return.

The Stroessner regime relented in April 1987, and permitted Laino to return to Asunción. Laino 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 of the Colorado Party to break up demonstrations. A number of opposition leaders were imprisoned or otherwise harassed. Hermes Rafael Saguier, 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. Laino 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.[18]

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. 74% believed that the political situation needed changes, including 45% who wanted a substantial or total change. Finally, 31% stated that they planned to abstain from voting in the February elections.

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 340,000 acres. 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.[19]

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 40 years, in what international observers deemed fair and free 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 but, 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 Frutos was elected as president.

For the 2008 general elections, the Colorado Party was favored in polls. Their candidate was Minister of Education Blanca Ovelar, the first woman to be nominated as a candidate for a major party in Paraguayan history. After sixty years of Colorado rule, voters chose Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic Bishop and not a professional politician in civil government. He had long followed liberation theology, which was controversial in South American societies, but he was backed by the center-right Liberal Party, the Colorado Party's traditional opponents.

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.[20] 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 Paraguayan Congress continues to be dominated by right-wing elected officials. The Lugo administration has highlighted the reduction of corruption and economic inequality as two major priorities.[8]

Political instability following Lugo's election and disputes within his cabinet, encouraged some renewal of popular support for the Colorado Party. Reports suggest that the businessman Horacio Cartes is the new political figure amid disputes. Despite the US Drug Enforcement Administration's strong accusations against Cartes related to drug trafficking, he continues 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. The party's constitution didn't allow it. On 21 June 2012, impeachment proceedings against President Lugo began in the country's lower house, 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.[21] 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.[22] 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 trespassers.[23]

Lugo's supporters gathered outside Congress to protest the decision as a "politically motivated coup d'état".[22] 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.[24] The Organization of American States, which sent a mission to Paraguay to gather information, concluded that the impeachment process had been carried out in accordance with the Constitution of Paraguay.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Paraguay

Paraguay is divided by the Río Paraguay into the eastern region, called Eastern Paraguay (Paraguay Oriental) but also known as the Paraná region; and the western region, officially called Western Paraguay (Paraguay Occidental) and also known as the Gran Chaco or Chaco. The country lies between latitudes 19° and 28°S, and longitudes 54° and 63°W. The terrain consists of grassy plains and wooded hills in the east. To the west are mostly low, marshy plains.

Climate

Main article: Climate of Paraguay

The overall climate ranges from subtropical to temperate. 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 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). 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 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 67 inches (170 cm) of rain annually, while the western Chaco region typically averages no more than 20 inches (50 cm) a year. The rains in the west tend to be irregular and evaporate quickly, contributing to the aridity of the area.

Government and politics

Paraguay is a representative democratic republic, with a multi-party system and separation of powers in three branches. Executive power is exercised solely by the President, who is head of state and head of government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the National Congress. The judiciary is vested on tribunals and Courts of Civil Law and a nine-member Supreme Court of Justice, all of them independent of the executive and the legislature.

Military

Main article: Military of Paraguay

The military of Paraguay consist of the Paraguayan army, navy (including naval aviation and marine corps) and air force.

The constitution of Paraguay establishes the president of Paraguay as the commander-in-chief.

Paraguay has compulsory military service, and all 18-year-old males and 17-year-olds in the year of their 18th birthday are liable for one year of active duty. Although the 1992 constitution allows for conscientious objection, no enabling legislation has yet been approved.

In July 2005, military aid in the form of U.S. Special Forces began arriving at Paraguay's Mariscal Estigarribia air base, a sprawling complex built in 1982.[25][26]

Administrative subdivisions

Paraguay consists of seventeen departments and one capital district (distrito capital).

It is also divided into 2 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:

ISO 3166-2:PY Departament Capital Population (2002 census) Area (km²) Districts
ASU Distrito Capital Asunción 512,112 117 6
1 Concepción Concepción 179,450 18,051 8
2 San Pedro San Pedro 318,698 20,002 20
3 Cordillera Caacupé 233,854 4,948 20
4 Guairá Villarrica 178,650 3,846 18
5 Caaguazú Coronel Oviedo 435,357 11,474 21
6 Caazapá Caazapá 139,517 9,496 10
7 Itapúa Encarnación 453,692 16,525 30
8 Misiones San Juan Bautista 101,783 9,556 10
9 Paraguarí Paraguarí 221,932 8,705 17
10 Alto Paraná Ciudad del Este 558,672 14,895 21
11 Central Areguá 1,362,893 2,465 19
12 Ñeembucú Pilar 76,348 12,147 16
13 Amambay Pedro Juan Caballero 114,917 12,933 4
14 Canindeyú Salto del Guairá 140.137 14.667 12
15 Presidente Hayes Villa Hayes 82,493 72,907 8
16 Alto Paraguay Fuerte Olimpo 11,587 82,349 4
17 Boquerón Filadelfia 41,106 91,669 3
Paraguay Asunción 5,163,198 406,752 245

The departments are further divided into districts (distritos).

Economy

Main article: Economy of Paraguay

Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy 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. Between 1970 and 2009 the country had the highest economic growth of South America, with an average rate of 7.2% per year and the prospect of 9% annual growth from 2010, being the highest in South America.

The country also boasts the third most important free commercial zone in the world: Ciudad del Este, 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. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. The economy grew rapidly between 2003 and 2008 as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion. Paraguay is the sixth-largest soybean producer in the world. Drought hit in 2008, reducing agricultural exports and slowing the economy before the onset of the global recession.

In 2010, Paraguay experienced the greatest economic expansion of the zone and the highest of South America, with a GDP growth rate of 14.5% by the end of the year.[27] The following year, Paraguay's growth rate remained a relatively high 6.4%;

Industry and manufacturing

The industrial sector produces about 25% of Paraguay's gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 31% of the labor force. Output grew by 2.9% in 2004, after five years of declining production. Traditionally an agricultural economy, Paraguay is showing some signs of long-term industrial growth.

The pharmaceutical industry is quickly supplanting foreign suppliers in meeting the country's drug needs. Paraguayan companies now meet 70% of domestic consumption and have begun to export drugs. Strong growth also is evident in the production of edible oils, garments, organic sugar, meat processing, and steel.

Nevertheless, capital for further investment in the industrial sector of the economy is scarce. Following the revelation of widespread financial corruption in the 1990s, the government is still working to improve credit options for Paraguayan businesses.

In 2003, manufacturing made up 13.6% of the GDP, and the sector 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%.[28]

Social issues

Various poverty estimates suggest that 30–50% of the population is poor.[29] In rural areas, 41.20% of the people lack a monthly income to cover basic necessities, whereas in urban centers this figure is 27.6%. The top 10% of the population holds 43.8% of the national income, while the lowest 10% has 0.5%. The economic recession has worsened income inequality, notably in the rural areas, where the Gini coefficient has risen from 0.56 in 1995 to 0.66 in 1999.

More recent data (2009)[30] show that 35% of the Paraguayan population is poor, 19% of which live in extreme poverty. Moreover, 71% of the latter live in rural areas of the country.

Similarly, land concentration in the Paraguayan countryside is one of the highest in the globe: 10% of the population controls 66% of the land, while 30% of the rural people are landless.[31] In the immediate aftermath of the 1989 overthrow of Stroessner, some 19,000 rural families occupied hundreds of thousands of acres of unused lands formerly held by the dictator and his associates by mid-1990, but many rural poor remained landless. This inequality has caused a great deal of tensions between the landless and land owners.[19]

Social issues of the Indigenous

Literacy rates are extremely low among Paraguay's indigenous population , who have an illiteracy rate of 51% compared to the 7.1% rate of the general population.[32]

Access to clean drinking water is an alarming issue for Indigenous Paraguayans. Only 2.5% of Paraguay's indigenous population has access to drinking water and only 9.5% have electricity.[32]

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, which accounts for 10% of the country's population. The Gran Chaco region, which includes the Alto Paraguay, 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 that resulted from the Paraguayan War. Small groups of ethnic Italians, Germans, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Arabs, Ukrainians, Brazilians, and Argentinians have also settled in Paraguay. Many of these communities have retained their languages and culture, particularly the Brazilians, who represent the largest and most prominent immigrant group, at around 400,000.[33] Many Brazilian Parguayans are of German, Italian and Polish descent.[34] There are an estimated 63,000 Afro-Paraguayans, comprising 1% of the population.[35]


There is no official data on the ethnic composition of the Paraguayan population, as the Department of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses[36] 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, the indigenous people made up 1.7% of Paraguay's total population.[37]

Traditionally, the majority of the Paraguayan population is considered mixed (mestizo in Spanish). According to the CIA World Factbook, Paraguay has a population of 6,669,086, 95% of which are mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) and 5% are labelled as "other",[38] which includes members of indigenous tribal groups. They are divided into 17 distinct ethnolinguistic groupings, many of which are poorly documented.

Paraguay has one of the most prominent German communities in South America, with some 25,000 German-speaking Mennonites living in the Paraguayan Chaco.[39] German settlers founded several towns as Hohenau, Filadelfia, 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.[40][41][42][43][44]

Religion

Main article: Religion in Paraguay

Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, is the dominant religion in Paraguay. According to the 2002 census, 89.9% of the population is Catholic, 6.2% is evangelical Christian, 1.1% identify with other Christian sects, and 0.6% practice indigenous religions. A U.S. State Department report on Religious Freedom names Roman Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, mainline Protestantism, Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform), Mormonism, and the Baha'i 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.[45]

Languages

Main article: Languages of Paraguay

One remarkable trace of the indigenous Guaraní culture that has endured in Paraguay is the Guaraní language which is generally understood by 95% of the population. Additionally, Spanish is understood by about 90 percent of the population, which alongside Guaraní is an official language.[46] During late 1980s, Spanish was spoken just by 75% of Paraguay’s population.[47]

Largest cities

Template:Largest cities

Culture

Paraguay's cultural heritage can be traced to the extensive intermarriage between the original male Spanish settlers and female indigenous Guaraní brides. Their culture is highly influenced by various European countries, including Spain. Therefore, Paraguayan culture is a fusion of two cultures and traditions: one European, the other, Southern Guaraní. 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 lace making (ñandutí). The music of Paraguay, which consists of lilting polkas, bouncy galopas, and languid guaranías 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 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 saw the flowering of a new generation of Paraguayan novelists and poets such as José Ricardo Mazó, Roque Vallejos, and Nobel Prize nominee Augusto Roa Bastos. Several Paraguayan films have been made.

Social life revolves largely around an extended family of parents, children and blood relations, as well as godparents. The Paraguayans' chief loyalty is to their family, and it, in turn, is their haven and support. Family interests determine to a large extent which political party they will join, whom they will marry, what sort of job they will get, whether they will win a lawsuit, and—in some cases—whether they would be wise to emigrate for a time. Even so, Paraguayans are very heartwarming and open to tourists and foreigners.

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 favorable 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.

Sports

Main article: Sport in Paraguay

Education

Main article: Education in Paraguay

Literacy was about 93.6% and 87.7% of Paraguayans finish the 5th grade according to UNESCO's last Educational Development Index 2008. Literacy does not differ much by gender.[48] A more recent study[30] 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.[48] Paraguay's universities include:

The net primary enrollment rate was at 88% in 2005.[48] Public expenditure on education was about 4.3% of GDP in the early 2000s.[48]

Health

Main article: Health in Paraguay

Average life expectancy in Paraguay is rather high given its poverty: as of 2006, it was 75 years,[52] equivalent to far wealthier Argentina, and the 8th 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%.[48] Infant mortality was 20 per 1,000 births in 2005.[48] Maternal mortality was 150 per 100,000 live births in 2000.[48] 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 (MSPBS) management.[53]

See also

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References

External links

Government
  • Chief of State and Cabinet Members
  • National Department of Tourism (Spanish)
  • Ministry of Finance with economic and Government information, available also in English (Spanish)
  • Paraguay Photos
General information
  • Encyclopædia Britannica
  • The World Factbook
  • Paraguay at UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • DMOZ
  • BBC News
  • Atlas of Paraguay
  • Geographic data related to OpenStreetMap
  • International Futures
News media
  • La Rueda – Weekly reviews (Spanish)
  • ABC Color (Spanish)
  • Última Hora (Spanish)
  • La Nación (Spanish)
  • Paraguay.com (Spanish)
  • Ñanduti (Spanish)
Travel
  • Paraguay Convention & Visitor's Bureau
  • Paraguay.com: Tradition, Culture, Maps, Tourism
  • Template:-inline
  • Tourism in Paraguay, information, pictures and more. Turismo.com.py (Spanish)Template:Paraguay topics

Template:List of Paraguayan Wars

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