Paraguay Country Guide

Paraguay , Republic of South America , which is limited to the north and northwest by Bolivia, to the east by Brazil and to the south and southwest by Argentina. The surface is 406,750 km 2 . Asuncion is the capital.


The Paraguay River divides the country into two regions: to the west, the Chaco or Western Paraguay , part of an alluvial plain that extends to Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil; to the east, Eastern Paraguay formed by the southern portion of the Paraná plateau, a basin where numerous tributaries of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers are born, which, together with the Pilcomayo, are the main in the country. The climate is subtropical.

Population and Government

The population, ethnically, is very homogeneous: the vast majority are mestizos, descendants of the Guarani Indians. Minority groups are made up of pure Guarani, descendants of Spaniards and small colonies of immigrants, among whom the Mennonites stand out. According to 2016 data, the population is 6,725,000 inhabitants.

The most important cities are: Asunción, the capital, with 607,700 inhabitants (1990); Encarnación, with 58,261 inhabitants (1992); Concepción, with 35,276 inhabitants (1992); and Colonel Oviedo, with 71,216 inhabitants (1995).

The Spanish and Guaraní are the official languages. Most Paraguayans are Catholic. The Catholic religion is the official one, although freedom of worship is recognized.

The 1992 Constitution grants broad powers to the President of the Republic, who can only hold office for a period. It is assisted by a Council of Ministers and assisted by a Council of State.


According to homeagerly, the economy is based on agriculture . In 2016, gross domestic product (GDP) reached $ 27.44 billion, with a per capita income of $ 4,080.20. The main products are cassava, cottonseed, sugar cane, corn, soybeans, potatoes and fruits.

Cattle breeding is the main agricultural occupation; has cattle, horses, sheep and pigs. Forest exploitation is also important. In addition to wood, it produces tannins and aromatic oils. Industrial production is limited to the transformation of agricultural and forestry products and basic consumer goods.

The liberal import system turns Paraguay into a consumer paradise, which attracts many tourists but also smugglers. The currency unit is the Guarani.


Aboriginal people in Paraguay were indigenous people known as Guarani , due to their common language. Its population was very large when the Portuguese explorer Aleixo Garcia visited the country, around 1525.

In 1537, Spanish conquerors who sought gold founded Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Colonial Paraguay and the territory of Argentina were jointly governed until 1620, when they became dependencies of Peru’s viceroyalty.

In early 1609, the Jesuits established Jesuit missions, known as “reductions”. Boasting almost complete autonomy, they became the most solid power of the colonial era. In 1767 they were expelled, after inciting a rebellion against the transfer of the territory to Portugal.

In 1776, Spain created the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata and Paraguay declined until it was considered insignificant at the beginning of the 19th century.

Paraguay proclaimed its independence in 1811. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia proclaimed himself a dictator and governed until 1840, keeping the country isolated and covered by the civil wars that ravaged neighboring countries.

In 1844, his nephew, Carlos Antonio López, became president and dictator. Its autonomous development policy transformed the Mediterranean country into one of the most developed at the time, which was achieved by sending the best students to pursue technical careers in Europe. As a consequence, Paraguay was the first South American country to build a railroad without resorting to English engineers, and the economy was so prosperous that the Guarani nation had no debts. With his death in 1962, López was succeeded by his son Francisco Solano López.

In 1865, when he sought to defend the neutrality of Uruguay, threatened by Brazil and Argentina, he provoked the War of the Triple Alliance that devastated Paraguay. When the conflict ended with López’s death in 1870, the economy was destroyed.

Paraguay was occupied by Brazilian troops until 1876. In 1878, the border with Argentina was established, with considerable territorial losses. Paraguay’s history after the war was characterized by alternating periods of political stability with periods of instability and social rebellions.

The border with Bolivia, which had never been formally demarcated, was the stage for the Chaco War , when the area was invaded by Bolivia in 1929. In the final agreement, in 1938, Paraguay was granted most of the disputed area.

In 1940, General Higinio Moríñigo proclaimed himself president and governed as dictator until he was overthrown by a coup in 1948. In 1949, Federico Chávez, leader of a Colorado Party faction, with the support of the Army, was elected president, imposing a dictatorship. In 1954, his government was overthrown by a junta made up of members of the army and the police.

In 1954, voters recognized General Alfredo Stroessner, commander-in-chief of the Army and top leader of the Colorado Party as president. Stroessner modified the Constitution in 1967 to make his re-election legal. He exercised a dictatorial regime until he was overthrown by a military coup in February 1989. The leader of the coup, General Andrés Rodríguez, won the presidential election. In the 1993 elections, Juan Carlos Wasmosy of the Colorado Party won the presidency.

It was up to the two governments to promote the country’s integration with Mercosur , an integration treaty that is changing regional economic relations. Wasmosy suffered a coup attempt led by the army commander, General Lino Oviedo. Having overcome the incident with the intervention of neighboring governments, Oviedo ran for Wasmosy, but when he was condemned by the justice and arrested for his participation in the coup, he was unable to participate in the May 1998 elections.

In his place, his running mate, Raúl Cubas, won by a wide margin. Only when the government took over in August of that year, Cubas signed a decree that released General Oviedo. Subsequently, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the presidential decree was invalid, and ordered the general to return to prison. As the court order was not complied with, in December 1998 Congress decided to denounce President Cubas’ behavior to Mercosur, for violation of the constitution. A clause in the constitutive treaty provides that the member who does not maintain the democratic system will be automatically expelled.

In 2012, the country experienced an impeachment process , with the deposition of President Fernando Lugo. Vice President Federico Franco of PLRA (Partido Liberal Radical Autentico), who had broken with Lugo, took over. Fernando Lugo came to power in 2008, with 41% of the votes, interrupting the hegemony of the Colorado Party, which had lasted for six decades and was the mainstay of the dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989).

Known as “bishop of the poor” for his religious background and engagement in social movements, Lugo managed to come to power with a broad political alliance of right and left, by the Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC, acronym in Spanish), which broke up during his term.

The fall of Fernando Lugo was considered by many people to be a white coup (an expression that refers to a conspiracy or plot that aims to change the political leadership or the current order by legal means, partially or in full), that is, a political coup opposition to withdraw the president with socialist political training, in a maneuver of the Colorado and PLRA parties.

The president was accused on the basis of Article 225 of the Constitution, which “provides for the political judgment of the president for poor performance of his duties”; Congress justified the impeachment by the growing insecurity in the country, by the death, in 2012, of 17 people during an armed confrontation between police and peasants in Curuguaty, for the support given to a riot of young socialists in an Armed Forces complex, for not having acted decisively in the fight against the small armed group EPP (Paraguayan People’s Army, a guerrilla group that claims to be Marxist and Leninist, accused of links with the FARC, of ​​involvement with drug trafficking, kidnappings, murders and assaults) and for the signing of the Protocol de Ushuaia II – which foresees the interference of Unasur in matters of the country.

With Fernando Lugo’s “lightning” impeachment , Paraguay was suspended from Mercosur, by decision of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, on the grounds that democracy was hurt in the country. Taking advantage of Paraguay’s suspension, which hindered Venezuela’s entry into the bloc, through the Congress that did not approve the presence of Venezuelans, the inclusion of Venezuela as a full member (with veto power) in the bloc was approved.

In 2013, Horacio Cartes (a businessman considered one of the richest men in the country) was democratically elected president of Paraguay. Under the new government, the Paraguayan Congress ended up approving the inclusion of Venezuela in the bloc and, in 2014, President Cartes accepted the country’s return to Mercosur, in response to requests from members of the bloc. The country’s economic advances continued with Cartes, through the establishment of the Public-Private Partnership for the infrastructure sector and the Fiscal Responsibility Law, which set the fiscal deficit target at 1.5% of GDP. One of the infrastructure works is the construction of the Solidarity Bridge, which would be the second bridge to connect Brazil and Paraguay, as the only bridge is that of Friendship.

Paraguay Country Guide