50 Fascinating Facts about Paraguay

Paraguay is a landlocked country that shares a border with some of the largest countries in South America: Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. Due to its location, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica ('Heart of South America') and it is the smallest landlocked country in the Americas. Paraguay is mainly composed of large swaths of swampland, subtropical forests and scrubland. The capital city of Asunción lies on the banks of the Paraguay River, and is home to the grand Government Palace and the Museo del Barro, which displays pre-Columbian ceramics and artefacts. Of the country's nearly seven million strong population, almost a third are based in the metropolitan area around the capital city. Unlike most other South American countries, Paraguay has retained much of its indigenous language and culture. The Guaraní language remains widely spoken and recognised an official language, along with Spanish.

Paraguay Facts

1
Along with Bolivia, Paraguay is the only other landlocked country in South America.
2
Fancy an old fashioned duel? In Paraguay you can as it is still legal. You do need to have a medical professional on hand and both be registered blood donors though.
3
Due to being right in the middle of South America, Paraguay is also known as ‘The Heart of America’, or Corazón de América.
4
It shares a single border point with two other countries, Argentina and Brazil.
5
In Paraguay there are two spoken languages Guarani and Spanish.
6
Guaraní, believe it or not, is an onomatopoeic language. It mimics sounds made by nature and wildlife and is used in both music and spoken word.
7
The first railway line in South America, the Asunción-Encarnación, was made by British engineers in Paraguay between 1858 and 1861.
8
Formally a Spanish Colony, Paraguay gained independence in 1811.
9
Although that was in a way, short lived. As the first 3 presidents were dictators, they still lived in oppression for another 60 years.
10
The lack of a coastline poses no problem to Paraguay, they have still amassed the largest navy of any landlocked country in the world. I’m not sure where they keep all the boats though.
11
Paraguay receives almost 100% of its electricity from hydroelectric power.
12
The Itaipu Dam which is co-owned with Brazil, produces 75% of this.
13
Situated on the Paraná River, the Itaipu Dam is the 2nd largest in the world.
14
Over 80% of the population are made up of a mix between Native Guarana and Spanish descent, known as mestizos
15
Paraguay is split in two by the Paraguay River and it is the 2nd largest river in South America.
16
Although the original native language, Guarani is still spoken by everyone in the country.
17
Former Paraguayan football captain José Luis Chilavert, was a rare asset. Playing nearly 700 competitive games for club and country as a goalkeeper, he managed to score 67 goals during his career due to being a freekick and penalty specialist.
18
The most popular sports in Paraguay are football and fishing.
19
Paraguay’s flag is made up of 3 horizontal red, white and blue stripes.
20
But it is the only country’s flag in the world to have a different symbol on each side. On the front is the national coat of arms, and on the rear in the same position is the coat of arms for the national treasury.
21
One of the most shattering wars in modern history was the Paraguayan War. Fought between 1864 and 1870, when it was over Paraguay had less than 15% of its pre-war population remaining, with one man for every 5 women.
22
The most tea drunk per head in the world, is in Paraguay.
23
Want a divorce? Before 1991 it was illegal.
24
Paraguay has borders with Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.
25
Although nearly twice the size of the UK, Paraguay’s population in 2015 was just over 6.5 million, barely one tenth of the UK.
26
Around 90% of Paraguayans are Catholic.
27
Over 95% over people over the age of 15 can read and write. That’s a higher percentage than the USA.
28
Soy is one of the biggest exports. Paraguay ranked number 6 in the world for soy production.
29
Cannabis production is also big business in Paraguay.
30
The capital of Paraguay is Asuncion.
31
Paraguay’s national dish is Sopa Paraguaya, which is a cornbread with onions and cheese.
32
Don’t look for a doorbell when visiting someone in Paraguay. Clap your hands instead.
33
In the northwest of the country is a plain called the Chaco. Although virtually no one lives there over 100,000 lives were lost when Paraguay fought Bolivia for it.
34
Although pronounced mahtay, the national drink is called mate. A hot beverage served when the weather is cooler, it is also drunk cold when the temperature is hot. Only then it is called tereré
35
Used as tea and herbal medicines and often used by the Incas, Lapacho is from the inside of the bark of red and purple lapacho trees.
36
If you want to see the biggest rodent in the world, Paraguay is the place to go. Coming in at up to nearly 70 kg the Capybara is huge.
37
The currency used is the Paraguayan Guarani.
38
Traditional music is played in harps with 38 strings.
39
Lace making based on spider’s webs is hugely popular with both men and women.
40
The average Paraguayan has a life expectancy of 71 years.
41
The terrain of Paraguay is mixed to say the least. Marsh plains, woody hills, forest and grass plains make up most of the country.
42
Be careful if you check in to a cheap hotel or inn. These generally double up as brothels.
43
30,000 people once tucked into the worlds biggest ever barbeque in Paraguay, getting them a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
44
Money and land is not split equally in Paraguay. 2.5 % of the population own more than 80 % of the land, while over 90% of the wealth is split between less than 200 people.
45
The main meal of the day is eaten at noon, so don’t make any lunchtime plans.
46
The Iguacu Falls are certainly something to see. Consisting of over 275 separate waterfalls, it is twice as wide and taller than the Niagara Falls.
47
You can find over 1000 different types of bird in Paraguay, as well as Jaguars, crocodiles and anteaters.
48
The motto of Paraguay is Paz y Justicia, peace and justice.
49
Lying underneath Paraguay is the largest water reserve on Earth called Acuifero Guaraní.
50
One of the world’s deadliest fires occurred in the capital in 2004. Nearly 500 died and the same number was injured when a fire broke out in a supermarket. The doors had been locked by the stores manager after the fire broke out to stop people leaving without paying for their shopping. A true tragedy.

The geography of Paraguay is defined by the Rio Paraguay river that divides the country into two distinct regions: the eastern Región Oriental and the western Región Occidental (also known as the Chaco). The terrain consists mostly of grassy plains and wooded hills in the east, and low marshy plains in the west. Paraguay's climate is mainly tropical to subtropical, but the absence of mountain ranges to act as a natural barrier means that the country's weather can fluctuate dramatically. Tourism is a small, but steadily growing, industry in Paraguay, but the popularity of its better-known neighboring countries means that Paraguay is still one of the least-visited countries in South America.

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