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Flag of Paraguay
Map of Paraguay
Introduction Paraguay
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.
Geography Paraguay
Central South America, northeast of Argentina
Geographic coordinates:
23 00 S, 58 00 W
Map references:
South America
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)
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: 5.54%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 94.25% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
670 sq km (1998 est.)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note:
landlocked; lies between Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil; population concentrated in southern part of country
People Paraguay
5,884,491 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 38.7% (male 1,156,366; female 1,119,558)
15-64 years: 56.6% (male 1,671,721; female 1,658,683)
65 years and over: 4.7% (male 128,137; female 150,026) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.57% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
30.5 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
4.69 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
28.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.16 years
female: 76.77 years (2002 est.)
male: 71.67 years
Total fertility rate:
4.07 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.11% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
220 (1999 est.)
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: 92.1%
male: 93.5%
female: 90.6% (1995 est.)
Government Paraguay
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Paraguay
conventional short form: Paraguay
local short form: 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)
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 Luis Angel GONZALEZ MACCHI (since 28 March 1999); Vice President Julio Cesar FRANCO (since NA August 2000) resigned 16 October 2002; position now vacant; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Luis Angel GONZALEZ MACCHI (since 28 March 1999); Vice President Julio Cesar FRANCO (since NA August 2000) resigned 16 October 2002; position now vacant; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 10 May 1998 (next to be held NA May 2003)
note: President Luis Angel GONZALEZ MACCHI, formerly president of the Chamber of Senators, constitutionally succeeded President Raul CUBAS Grau, who resigned after being impeached soon after the assassination of Vice President Luis Maria ARGANA; the successor to ARGANA was decided in an election held in August 2000
election results: Raul CUBAS Grau elected president; percent of vote - 55.3%; resigned 28 March 1999
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)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Colorado Party 25, PLRA 13, PEN 7; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Colorado Party 45, PLRA 26, PEN 9
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held 10 May 1998 (next to be held NA May 2003); Chamber of Deputies - last held 10 May 1998 (next to be held NA May 2003)
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)
Political parties and leaders:
Authentic Radical Liberal Party or PLRA [Miguel Abdon SAGUIER]; Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Luis Miguel ANDRADA Nogues]; Febrerista Revolutionary Party or PRF [Oscar ACUNA TORRES]; National Encounter Party or PEN [Mario PAZ CASTAING]; National Republican Association - Colorado Party [Nicanor DUARTE FRUTOS]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Ahorristas Estafados or AE; National Workers Central or CNT; Paraguayan Workers Confederation or CPT; Roman Catholic Church; Unitary Workers Central or CUT
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Leila Teresa RACHID COWLES
chancery: 2400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York
FAX: [1] (202) 234-4508
telephone: [1] (202) 483-6960 through 6962
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John F. KEANE
embassy: 1776 Avenida Mariscal Lopez, Casilla Postal 402, Asuncion
mailing address: Unit 4711, APO AA 34036-0001
telephone: [595] (21) 213-715
FAX: [595] (21) 213-728
Flag description:
three equal, horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue with an emblem centered in the white band; unusual flag in that the emblem is different on each side; the obverse (hoist side at the left) bears the national coat of arms (a yellow five-pointed star within a green wreath capped by the words REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY, all within two circles); the reverse (hoist side at the right) bears the seal of the treasury (a yellow lion below a red Cap of Liberty and the words Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice) capped by the words REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY, all within two circles)
Economy Paraguay
Economy - overview:
Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector. The informal 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 their living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. The formal economy grew by an average of about 3% annually in 1995-97, but GDP declined slightly in 1998, 1999, and 2000. 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.
purchasing power parity - $26.2 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $4,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 29%
industry: 26%
services: 45% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
36% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 44% (1998) (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
58 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.2% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
2 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 45%
Unemployment rate:
17.8% (2001 est.)
revenues: $1.3 billion
expenditures: $2 billion, including capital expenditures of $700 million (1999 est.)
sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products
Industrial production growth rate:
0% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
53.056 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 0%
hydro: 100%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
1.95 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
47.392 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber
$2.2 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
electricity, soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils
Exports - partners:
Brazil 39%, Uruguay 14%, Argentina 11% (2000)
$2.7 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, electrical machinery
Imports - partners:
Argentina 25.4%, Brazil 24.5%, Uruguay 3.8% (2000)
Debt - external:
$2.9 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
guarani (PYG)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
guarani per US dollar - 4,783.0 (January 2002), 4,107.7 (2001), 3,486.4 (2000), 3,119.1 (1999), 2,726.5 (1998), 2,177.9 (1997); note - since early 1998, the exchange rate has operated as a managed float; prior to that, the exchange rate was determined freely in the market
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Paraguay
Telephones - main lines in use:
290,475 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
510,000 (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: meager telephone service; principal switching center is Asuncion
domestic: fair microwave radio relay network
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 46, FM 27, shortwave 6 (three inactive) (1998)
925,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4 (2001)
990,000 (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
4 (2000)
Internet users:
20,000 (2000)
Transportation Paraguay
total: 971 km
standard gauge: 441 km 1.435-m gauge
note: there are 470 km of various gauges that are privately owned
narrow gauge: 60 km 1.000-m gauge
total: 25,901 km
paved: 3,067 km
unpaved: 22,834 km (2001)
3,100 km
Ports and harbors:
Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion
Merchant marine:
total: 21 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 34,623 GRT/36,821 DWT
ships by type: cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 3
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Argentina 2, Japan 1 (2002 est.)
899 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 868
1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
914 to 1,523 m: 323
under 914 m: 518 (2002)
Military Paraguay
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Naval Air and Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,427,160 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,028,935 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 58,359 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$125 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.4% (FY98)
Transnational Issues Paraguay
Disputes - international:
Illicit drugs:
major illicit producer of cannabis, most or all of which is consumed in South America; transshipment country for Andean cocaine headed for Brazil, other Southern Cone markets, Europe, and US; corruption and some money-laundering activity, especially in the Tri-Border Area

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003