Facts about Paraguay

World Facts Index

ParaguayIn the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) - between Paraguay and Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay - 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, Paraguay won large, economically important areas from Bolivia. The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo STROESSNER ended in 1989, and, despite a marked increase in political infighting in recent years, Paraguay has held relatively free and regular presidential elections since then.

Geography of Paraguay

Central South America, northeast of Argentina
23 00 S, 58 00 W
total: 406,750 sq km
water: 9,450 sq km
land: 397,300 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries:
total: 3,920 km
border countries: Argentina 1,880 km, Bolivia 750 km, Brazil 1,290 km
0 km (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
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 present 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

Population of Paraguay

6,831,306 (July 2008 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)
Median age:
21.3 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
24.78 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.1 years
male: 72.56 years
female: 77.78 years
Fertility rate:
3.89 children born/woman
noun: Paraguayan(s)
adjective: Paraguayan
Ethnic groups:
mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%
Roman Catholic 90%, Mennonite, and other Protestant
Spanish (official), Guarani (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94%
male: 94.9%
female: 93%


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Paraguay
local long form: Republica del 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
18 years of age; universal and compulsory up to age 75
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Fernando Armindo LUGO Mendez (since 15 August 2008); Vice President Federico FRANCO (since 15 August 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Fernando Armindo LUGO Mendez (since 15 August 2008); Vice President Federico FRANCO (since 15 August 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single five-year term.
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)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges appointed on the proposal of the Counsel of Magistrates or Consejo de la Magistratura)


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, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, limited progress on structural reform, and deficient infrastructure. The economy rebounded between 2003 and 2007, posting modest growth each year, as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion.

$26.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 22.4%
industry: 20.7%
services: 56.9%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
2.68 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 45%
revenues: $1.334 billion
expenditures: $1.37 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 0%
hydro: 99.9%
other: 0.1% 
nuclear: 0%
sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, electric power
cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber
soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood, leather
Export partners:
Uruguay 27.3%, Brazil 15.7%, Argentina 4.9%, Chile 4.6%
road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, electrical machinery
Import partners:
Brazil 27%, Argentina 21.3%, US 20.2%, China 9.3%
guarani (PYG)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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