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Geography of Paraguay

Learn about the South American Nation of Paraguay

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Flag of Paraguay
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Population: 6,375,830 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Asuncion
Bordering Countries: Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil
Land Area: 157,047 square miles (406,752 sq km)
Highest Point: Cerro Pero at 2,762 feet (842 m)
Lowest Point: Junction of the Rio Paraguay and the Rio Parana at 150 feet (46 m)

Paraguay is a large landlocked country located on the Rio Paraguay in South America. It is bordered to the south and southwest by Argentina, to the east and northeast by Brazil and to the northwest by Bolivia. Paraguay is also located in the center of South America and as such, it is sometimes called the "Corazon de America" or Heart of America.

History of Paraguay

The earliest inhabitants of Paraguay were semi-nomadic tribes that spoke Guarani. In 1537, Asuncion, Paraguay's capital today, was founded by Juan de Salazar, a Spanish explorer. Shortly thereafter, the area became a Spanish colonial province, of which Asuncion was the capital. In 1811 though, Paraguay overthrew the local Spanish government and declared its independence.

After its independence, Paraguay went through a number of different leaders and from 1864 to 1870, it was engaged in the War of the Triple Alliance against Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. During that war, Paraguay lost half of its population. Brazil then occupied Paraguay until 1874. Beginning in 1880, the Colorado Party controlled Paraguay until 1904. In that year, the Liberal Party took control and ruled until 1940.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Paraguay was unstable due to the Chaco War with Bolivia and a period of instable dictatorships. In 1954, General Alfredo Stroessner took power and ruled Paraguay for 35 years, during which time the country's people had few freedoms. In 1989, Stroessner was overthrown and General Andres Rodriguez took power. During his time in power, Rodriguez focused on political and economic reforms and built relationships with foreign nations.

In 1992, Paraguay adopted a constitution with goals of maintaining a democratic government and protecting people's rights. In 1993, Juan Carlos Wasmosy became Paraguay's first civilian president in many years.

The late 1990s and early 2000s were again dominated by political instability after attempted government overthrows, the assassination of the vice president and impeachments. In 2003, Nicanor Duarte Frutos was elected as president with goals of improving Paraguay's economy, which he did significantly during his time in office. In 2008, Fernando Lugo was elected and his main goals, are reducing government corruption and economic inequalities.

Government of Paraguay

Paraguay, officially called the Republic of Paraguay, is considered a constitutional republic with an executive branch made up of a chief of state and head of government - both of which are filled by the president. Paraguay's legislative branch has a bicameral National Congress consisting of the Chamber of Senators and the Chamber of Deputies. Members of both chambers are elected by popular vote. The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court of Justice with judges appointed by the Council of Magistrates. Paraguay is also divided into 17 departments for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Paraguay

Paraguay's economy is a market one focused on the re-export of imported consumer goods. Street vendors and agriculture also play a large role and in the country's rural areas the population often practices subsistence agriculture. Paraguay's main agricultural products are cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava, fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, eggs, milk and timber. Its largest industries are sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic and electricity.

Geography and Climate of Paraguay

Paraguay's topography consists of grassy plains and low wooded hills east of its main river, the Rio Paraguay, while the Chaco region west of the river consists of low marshy plains. Farther from the river the landscape is dominated by dry forests, scrub and jungles in some locations. Eastern Paraguay, between the Rio Paraguay and the Rio Parana, features higher elevations and it is where most of the country's population is clustered.

The climate of Paraguay is considered subtropical to temperate depending upon one's location within the country. In the eastern areas there is significant rainfall, while in the far west it is semi-arid.

More Facts about Paraguay

• The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Guarani
• Life expectancy in Paraguay is 73 years for males and 78 years for females
• Paraguay's population is almost entirely located in the southern part of the country (map)
• There is no official data on Paraguay's ethnic breakdown because the Department of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses does not ask questions about race and ethnicity in its surveys

To learn more about Paraguay, visit the Paraguay section in Geography and Maps on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (27 May 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Paraguay. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pa.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Paraguay: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107879.html

United States Department of State. (26 March 2010). Paraguay. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1841.htm

Wikipedia.com. (29 June 2010). Paraguay - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraguay
 

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