22 Interesting Facts About Paraguay
Paraguay is a small country situated in South America. It is surrounded by land from all sides and has unique geographical and cultural characteristics. It shares its borders with Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina. Along with its distinct geography, the country has several fascinating features.
Let’s start with the flag of the country. Paraguay is the only country in the world to have different emblems on each of its sides. Its flag consists of red, white, and blue coloured bands of equal lengths. It has an emblem of the coat of arms at the centre, while the seal of the navy is on the posterior side of the flag. It resembles the Dutch flag with a key distinction in the emblem.
From the latest and most advanced energy power plants to their different types of duels, here are some of the most interesting facts about Paraguay.
Geography of Paraguay
- FACT 1: Geographical Area
Paraguay’s geographical area totals around 406,702 kilometres. With this figure, the country is smaller than the state of California. And with the highest point of the country being just 842 metres, the plains of Paraguay don’t allow the sight of a mountain.
- FACT 2: Heart of South America
As the country is located near the centre of South America, it is often referred to as the heart of South America. Paraguay is surrounded by Bolivia to the north, Brazil to the east, and Argentina to the southwest, offering complete protection from all sides of the country against foreign intruders.
- FACT 3: Capital and Paraguay River
Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, is the largest city in the country. Asunción divides itself into two political areas, Western (Occidental) and eastern (Oriental) regions on either side of the Paraguay River.
- FACT 4: Second Largest Hydroelectric Power Plant
Paraguay has the second largest river in the entire South America region. The river is named as Parana river. Rising in the Mato Grosso region in Brazil, the Parana river flows through Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. It covers a total distance of 4881 kilometres. It falls short of 1520 kilometres in length to beat the longest river in South America. i.e., The Amazon river.
Parana River holds the second largest working hydroelectric power plant in the world. It is called the Itaipu dam, and it costs $196 billion to build and maintain. With the amount of concrete used in the construction of the dam, one can build almost 210 football stadiums.
It was built in 1971, and it has been meeting the power production needs ever since. The dam single-handedly generates almost all of the electricity requirements for the entire country of Paraguay. Brazil uses about 90% of the generated electricity.
- FACT 5: Largest Landlocked Navy in the World
While it doesn’t have a coast on any of its borders, Paraguay still holds the world record for the largest Navy seal for any landlocked country. Paraguay smartly overcame the challenge of operating a full-scale Navy. The Navy operates through the wide network of rivers in the country, and it connects to the sea through Argentina.
- FACT 6: Flora and Fauna
Paraguay is home to multiple plants and trees. One of the popular ones is the quebracho tree. The quebracho tree contains tannin, which serves multiple industries as a raw material used to make leather. Almost 3400 different plant species can be found in Paraguay. One can also find medicinal and herbal plants such as marijuana in the land of Paraguay.
Paraguay is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. It is home to around 1000 different species of birds. This is great diversity, considering that many forests in the country were cut down for the land to be freed for cultivation.
The rich wildlife of the country includes armadillos, monkeys, anteaters, otters, bears, tapirs, and jaguars. Ocelot, Guecon, Lowland tapir, Toucan, and Chaco tortoise form a major portion of wildlife diversity in the country.
- FACT 7: Snakes and Piranhas
Along with the hundreds of snake species (most of them harmless to humans), you can find Piranhas in the country too. And contrary to what Hollywood movies show, Piranhas rarely attack humans. In fact, they make for healthy and delicious meals that are popular throughout the country.
- FACT 8: Jaguar and the National Animal
You can find America’s largest cat, Jaguar, in some places in Paraguay. But the national animal of Paraguay is Pampas Fox. The grey colour with brownish markings on the head and legs give them the alternate “false” fox name.
Population and People
- FACT 9: The Population of Paraguay
The total population of Paraguay is about 7,025,763. The population is comparable to that of the state of Arizona, and it is barely above the population of Massachusetts state. Most of the country’s population is located in eastern Paraguay, between Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana. The average life expectancy of males and females in Paraguay is 73 years and 78 years, respectively.
The population density in Paraguay is one of the lowest in the world. A small percentage of the population lives in Chaco, on the west of Paraguay River, where Brazilians and Paraguayans have settled since the 1970s.
- FACT 10: Literacy Rate
The literacy rate of Paraguay is higher than that of the USA by quite a margin. The literacy rate of people above the age of 15 years is around 95%, whereas the same for the US is 86%. This means, on average, more people in Paraguay can read and write when compared to people in the US.
- FACT 11: Cultural Diversity
Paraguay has some of the most homogeneous populations in South America in terms of ethnicity, culture, and social life. With around 70% Mestizo people, and 30% whites, Paraguay is one of the least diverse countries in the world in terms of population and culture.
Most of its inhabitants are mestizo, a mix of Indian European ancestry. In the 1970s, Paraguay saw an influx of almost 300,000 immigrants, many of them Brazilian farmers. Other immigrants came in from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, South Korea, and China. Currently, there are about 30,000 Mennonites, or German-speaking people in Paraguay, situated in the Chaco colonies.
The Japanese immigrants established thriving agricultural colonies in Asuncion after the 1930s. Ever since Koreans immigrated to Paraguay in the 1960s, Paraguay has had small Korean communities, especially in the country’s larger cities.
- FACT 12: Language
Paraguay has two official languages. Guarani is the first, and Spanish is the second language used in the country. It is also one of the few American countries that retained their native/mother tongue as the official language. An interesting fact about the Guarani language is that many of the words in the language imitate the sounds in nature. About 19 other indigenous and rare languages are spoken in the country apart from Spanish and Guarani.
- FACT 13: Independence Day (14th and 15th May)
Paraguayans celebrate their independence from Spain on the 14th and 15th of May. Along with this, Paraguay celebrates almost all of the Christian festivals with high enthusiasm. Paraguay became independent on the 14th of March 1811.
- FACT 14: Paraguay Legally Allows Duelling
In Paraguay, it is legal for anyone to duel with pistols. The only prerequisite of this duel is that both participants must consent to the duel. The people involved in the duel must also be registered blood donors. A medical specialist needs to be present during the duel.
- FACT 15: Paraguay’s Relationship with Wars
Paraguay underwent multiple wars in the last few centuries, making it lose tremendous manpower and infrastructure. The war of triple alliance between Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay fought between 1864 to 1870 caused the country to lose almost half of the male population.
History has become a distinguishing and identifying feature for the country, so much so that the country is popular because of the wars fought over the course of a few decades. The country lost about 30% of its land to Argentina and Brazil in this war between 1865 and 1870.
The culture in Paraguay is highly influenced by many European countries. This was due to the extensive intermarriage between male Spanish settlers and indigenous Guarani women after the wars. This is the reason why Spanish is the second recognized language in Paraguay.
This cultural interaction reflects in the various art forms in the country. Embroidery, lace making, and music clearly convey the fusion of the two cultures to form a unique take on both.
- FACT 16: National Dish and Other Unique Dishes
The national dish of Paraguay is sopa paraguaya. It is a delicious combination of cornbread, cheese, and onions. The country also has several other unique and exquisite dishes.
Paraguay serves Sopa Paraguaya, the only soup in the world which is not liquid. The soup is a unique combination of cornbread with onion, fat, cheese, eggs, milk, and butter.
Chipas and Paraguaya are the two traditional dishes of Paraguay. Chipas are the cheese and manioc flour biscuits containing cheese in an excessive amount. It comes in many variants, but the most popular of them all is the one that adds cornmeal to the recipe. It’s the preferred dish in the country on Good Friday.
- FACT 17: National Beverage
Calabash is a plant in Paraguay used to make a tea-like drink called “Mate” (mah tay). “Mate” is the national beverage of the country.
- FACT 18: Currency and Conversion
Guarani is the official currency in Paraguay. While it is fairly stable compared to other standards such as dollars, the exchange value is something that people from a country outside Paraguay take time to comprehend properly . One dollar equates to roughly 6950 Paraguayan Guarani.
- FACT 19: Businesses
Agriculture, street vendors, and re-export of imported goods form a large section of Paraguay’s economy. The presence of multiple rivers across the country massively helps agriculture and related industries. Cooperative farming in Paraguay increased the quality of life for many farmers who had thus far depended on small-scale farming for single-crop cultivation.
The main agricultural products are cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, and others, while the supporting businesses provide beef, pork, eggs, milk, and wood.
Sugar, cement, textiles, food and beverages, timber products, steel and metallurgy, and electricity form the largest industries in the country.
- FACT 20: The Unequal Distribution of Wealth
The unequal wealth distribution in the country leads to many problems and creates an economic divide between the rich and poor. According to World Finance, 80 percent of the land is held by 2.5 percent of the population, and 161 people control 90 percent of the wealth of our country.
Many reports suggest that almost 30-50% of Paraguay’s population lives below the poverty line. In rural areas of the country, more than 40% of the citizens don’t earn enough monthly income to cover their basic necessities. The top 10% of the population in the country holds more than 40 percent of the total national income.
Government and Society
- FACT 21: Constitution
Paraguay has a Constitutional Republic Government that consists of an executive branch with a chief of state and a head of the government. Both of these posts get filled by the president. Paraguay is divided into seventeen departments for better local administration.
Almost all of Paraguay’s population is located in the southern part of the country. The elevated plains make for an ideal environment to live in the country.
- FACT 22: Religion
Most of the country follows Christianity. About 90 percent of Paraguay’s population was Catholic, 6.2% were Evangelical protestants, 1 percent identified themselves with other Christian sects, and the rest 0.6% of the population practised indigenous religions.
All these facts help Paraguay attain a unique position in South America as well as in the world. The historical, geographical, and cultural diversity and importance of the country make us appreciate the country even more. Conserving the culture by fostering traditions such as duelling and the use of a native language as a National language gives it a unique spot on the map of South America.
If you wish to learn more interesting facts about other countries, explore the Cool Kid Facts website!