Flag of Paraguay

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In the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70), Paraguay lost two-thirds of all adult males and much of its territory. It stagnated economically for the next half century. In the Chaco War of 1932-35, large, economically important areas were won from Bolivia. The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo STROESSNER was overthrown in 1989, and, despite a marked increase in political infighting in recent years, relatively free and regular presidential elections have been held since then.


Central South America, northeast of Argentina

Geographic coordinates:

23 00 S, 58 00 W


total: 406,750 sq km
land: 397,300 sq km
water: 9,450 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 3,920 km
border countries: Argentina 1,880 km, Bolivia 750 km, Brazil 1,290 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


subtropical to temperate; substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, becoming semiarid in the far west


grassy plains and wooded hills east of Rio Paraguay; Gran Chaco region west of Rio Paraguay mostly low, marshy plain near the river, and dry forest and thorny scrub elsewhere

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: junction of Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana 46 m
highest point: Cerro Pero (Cerro Tres Kandu) 842 m

Natural resources:

hydropower, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone

Land use:

arable land: 7.47%
permanent crops: 0.24%
other: 92.29% (2005)

Irrigated land:

670 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

local flooding in southeast (early September to June); poorly drained plains may become boggy (early October to June)

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; water pollution; inadequate means for waste disposal pose health risks for many urban residents; loss of wetlands

Geography - note:

landlocked; lies between Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil; population concentrated in southern part of country


6,506,464 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 37.7% (male 1,245,149/female 1,204,970)
15-64 years: 57.5% (male 1,878,761/female 1,862,266)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 145,899/female 169,419) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 21.3 years
male: 21.1 years
female: 21.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.45% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

29.1 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

4.49 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 24.78 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.92 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 75.1 years
male: 72.56 years
female: 77.78 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.89 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.5% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

15,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

600 (2003 est.)


noun: Paraguayan(s)
adjective: Paraguayan

Ethnic groups:

mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%, other 5%


Roman Catholic 90%, Mennonite and other Protestant 10%


Spanish (official), Guarani (official)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94%
male: 94.9%
female: 93% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Paraguay
conventional short form: Paraguay
local long form: Republica del Paraguay
local short form: Paraguay

Government type:

constitutional republic



Administrative divisions:

17 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 1 capital city*; Alto Paraguay, Alto Parana, Amambay, Asuncion*, Boqueron, Caaguazu, Caazapa, Canindeyu, Central, Concepcion, Cordillera, Guaira, Itapua, Misiones, Neembucu, Paraguari, Presidente Hayes, San Pedro


14 May 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 14 May 1811 (observed 15 May annually)


promulgated 20 June 1992

Legal system:

based on Argentine codes, Roman law, and French codes; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court of Justice; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal and compulsory up to age 75

Legislative branch:

bicameral Congress or Congreso consists of the Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (45 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (80 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held 27 April 2003 (next to be held April 2008); Chamber of Deputies - last held 27 April 2003 (next to be held April 2008)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ANR 16, PLRA 12, UNACE 7, PQ 7, PPS 2, PEN 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - ANR 37, PLRA 21, UNACE 10, PQ 10, PPS 2
note: as of January 2006, changes in party affiliation has led to the composition of the legislature as follows: Chamber of Senators - seats by party - ANR 18, PLRA 12, UNACE 5, PQ 7, PPS 2, PEN 1; Chamber of Deputies - seats by party - ANR 39, PLRA 21, UNACE 8, PQ 10, PPS 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges appointed on the proposal of the Council of Magistrates or Consejo de la Magistratura)

Economy - overview:

Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector. This sector features both reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. A large percentage of the population derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. The formal economy grew by an average of about 3% annually in 1995-97, but averaged near-zero growth in 1998-2001 and contracted by 2.3 percent in 2002, in response to regional contagion and an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, lack of progress on structural reform, substantial internal and external debt, and deficient infrastructure. Aided by a firmer exchange rate and perhaps a greater confidence in the economic policy of the DUARTE FRUTOS administration, the economy rebounded between 2003 and 2005, posting modest growth each year.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$31.79 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$7.408 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.4% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$4,900 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 27.5%
industry: 24%
services: 48.5% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

2.68 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 45%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate:

16% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

32% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 0.5%
highest 10%: 43.8% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

56.8 (1999)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

7.5% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

20.1% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.334 billion
expenditures: $1.37 billion; including capital expenditures of $700 million (2005 est.)

Public debt:

36.1% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber


sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, electric power

Electricity - production:

51.29 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

3.528 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

44.17 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

25,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$170 million (2005 est.)


$3.13 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood, leather

Exports - partners:

Uruguay 27.8%, Brazil 19.2%, Argentina 6.3%, Switzerland 4.1% (2004)


$3.832 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, electrical machinery

Imports - partners:

Brazil 30.9%, Argentina 23.3%, China 16.6%, US 4% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.293 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$3.535 billion (2005 est.)

Currency (code):

guarani (PYG)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

280,800 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,770,300 (2003)

Telephone system:

general assessment: meager telephone service; principal switching center is in Asuncion
domestic: fair microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 595; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 46, FM 27, shortwave 6 (three inactive) (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

5 (2003)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

10,206 (2005)

Internet users:

150,000 (2005)


880 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 12
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 868
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 324
under 914 m: 518 (2005)


total: 441 km
standard gauge: 441 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)


total: 29,500 km
paved: 14,986 km
unpaved: 14,514 km (1999)


3,100 km (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 20 ships (1000 GRT or over) 32,504 GRT/32,915 DWT
by type: cargo 15, livestock carrier 1, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Argentina 2)
registered in other countries: 1 (Ecuador 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion

Military branches:

Army, Navy (includes Naval Aviation, River Defense Corps, Coast Guard), Air Force

Disputes - international:

unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and illegal narcotics trafficking, and fundraising for extremist organizations

Illicit drugs:

major illicit producer of cannabis, most or all of which is consumed in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile; transshipment country for Andean cocaine headed for Brazil, other Southern Cone markets, and Europe; corruption and some money-laundering activity, especially in the Tri-Border Area; weak anti-money-laundering laws and enforcement