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, country, South America

Paraguay (pârˈəgwā, –gwī, Span. pärägwīˈ), officially Republic of Paraguay, republic (2015 est. pop. 6,639,000), 157,047 sq mi (406,752 sq km), S central South America. Paraguay is enclosed by Bolivia on the north and west, Brazil on the east, and Argentina on the south and west; Bolivia and Paraguay are the two landlocked nations of the continent. The capital and by far the largest city is Asunción.


The eastern part of the country, between the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, where most of the population lives, is a lowland, rising in the east and north to a plateau region. The region was once heavily forested, but forest land has been steadily depleted. The Paraná, south of the Iguaçu River (with its magnificent falls), separates Paraguay from Argentina. The Paraguay River also forms part of the border with Argentina, from its confluence with the Paraná north to the Pilcomayo River. The section west of the Paraguay River is a dry plain, part of the Chaco (see Gran Chaco). Cattle are raised and quebracho is found in the woodlands of the Chaco Boreal. All the important cities are in the east. Besides Asunción, they are Villarrica, Concepción, and Encarnación.


The population is largely mestizo, of mixed Spanish and Guaraní descent. Spanish and Guaraní, which is spoken by most of the population, are the official languages. The Jesuit missions (the reductions, active from the late 16th to the 18th cent.) were instrumental in the blending of Spanish and Guaraní cultures. Later immigrants—German, Italian, and French, and most recently Brazilian and Japanese—added new elements to the distinctive civilization of Paraguay. The country's arts and handicrafts reflect the various strains. A notable musical contribution is the guaranía, a form developed from native melodies by José Asunción Flores during the Chaco War. Nanduti (spider web) lace is the most famous Paraguayan handicraft. The isolated indigenous groups that live in the Chaco and elsewhere have little part in the national life. Roman Catholicism is the established religion; most of the small number of Protestants are Mennonites.


About half of Paraguay's workers are engaged in agriculture and forestry; a much smaller percentage are employed in industry and mining, and many work outside the formal economy. The principal crops are cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava, fruits, and vegetables; cattle and other livestock raising is also important. Orange groves furnish petitgrain, used in perfumes and flavorings. In addition to quebracho, hardwoods and cedars are commercially exploited. Meatpacking, sugar processing, textile and wood-products manufacturing, and the production of steel and consumer goods are the main industries. In recent years favorable taxation has promoted the manufacture of clothing, automobile parts, and other goods by foreign (largely Brazilian) companies for export, especially to Brazil. The country also has a large underground economy that encompasses smuggling, money laundering, and trafficking Andean cocaine.

Paraguay has minimal road and rail systems, and river transportation is the primary means of moving goods. Hydrovía, a proposed waterway to straighten and deepen the Paraná, was approved by Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay in 1994, but environmental concerns have slowed implementation of the plan. The Itaipú Dam on the Paraná River, completed in 1991, is one of the world's largest, and the electricity it generates is economically vital to Paraguay as a source of export income and nearly all the nation's electricity. The Yacyretá hydroelectric project, also on the Paraná, was inaugurated in 1998.

The leading exports are soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood, and leather. The leading imports are vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, and electrical machinery. Paraguay is a member of Mercosur; its main trading partners are Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and China. Customs duties furnish an important part of the country's revenues, but are significantly undercollected due to smuggling.


Paraguay is governed under the 1992 constitution. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected to a five-year term and cannot be reelected. The legislature has two houses, the 45-seat Chamber of Senators and the 80-seat Chamber of Deputies. Members of both are popularly elected for five-year terms. The two main parties, both conservative, are the Colorado party, which has governed almost exclusively since 1947, and the Authentic Radical Liberal party. Administratively, the country is divided into 17 departments and the capital city.


Early History

European influence in Paraguay began with the early explorations of the Río de la Plata. Juan Díaz de Solís was the first to come (1516), and Sebastian Cabot followed him (1527) to the Paraguay River, which was thought to offer access to Peru. One of the main reasons for the voyages (c.1535) of Juan de Ayolas and Domingo Martínez de Irala was to seek a way across the continent. A colony grew up, as Asunción became the nucleus of the La Plata region. Irala dominated the colony until his death (1556 or 1557) and clashed with Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

At the end of the 16th cent. Hernando Arias de Saavedra, called Hernandarias, became governor of Río de la Plata prov., of which Paraguay was a part; it was through his efforts that the administrations of present Argentina and Paraguay were separated (1617). The Jesuit missions were founded in the days of Hernandarias (most of them in the trans-Paraná area, now in Argentina). Real independence from Spain was asserted when in 1721 José de Antequera led the comuneros of Asunción in a successful revolt and governed independently for some 10 years. In 1776 the region was made part of the viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.

Independent Paraguay

Manuel Belgrano was unsuccessful in carrying the Argentinean revolution against Spain into Paraguay in 1810, but the next year the colonial officials there were quietly overthrown. In 1814 the first of the three great dictators who were to mold Paraguay came to power. He was José Gaspar Rodríguez Francia, the incorruptible, harsh, and autocratic dictator known as El Supremo, who kept Paraguay in the palm of his hand until his death in 1840. He was succeeded by another dictator, Carlos Antonio López, who held absolute power from 1844 to 1862. His son, Francisco Solano López, succeeded him and brought on disaster by involving Paraguay in war with Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay (1865–70; see Triple Alliance, War of the). The Paraguayans fought heroically and sustained the loss of more than half the population.

Recovery from the catastrophic war was slow, and the desperate state of the economy was matched by political confusion, as warring caudillos established short-lived dictatorships. Nevertheless, in the late 19th and early 20th cent. conditions improved. Trade increased as Paraguayan products found markets, immigration was encouraged, and farming and modest little industries prospered fitfully. The unsettled boundary with Bolivia, however, turned from an irritation into a threat, and in 1932 Paraguay plunged into another major war—the Chaco War (see under Gran Chaco), which lasted until 1935. From it the little country emerged victorious but exhausted.

The rapid succession of governments afterward was broken by the years when Higinio Morínigo was in power (1940–48). Signs of recovery from the Chaco War appeared in improvements in education, public health, and roads, but the oppressive dictatorship of Morínigo was challenged by numerous uprisings. He was overthrown in 1948, and the country was again subjected to a series of short-lived governments.

The Stroessner Regime and Its Aftermath

Gen. Alfredo Stroessner engineered a successful coup in 1954 and stayed in power by repeatedly suppressing opposition. He was elected president in 1958 and 1963; the 1967 constitution permitted him to be reelected numerous times. Under his rule the national economy improved and financial relationships with other countries were strengthened. Although Stroessner was elected in 1988 for an eighth term, Paraguayans wearied of his domineering administrative style. He was overthrown in a coup in Feb., 1989. The coup leader, Gen. Andres Rodríguez, was elected president, and he gradually began moving the country away from its authoritarian past.

In 1993, Juan Carlos Wasmosy of the governing Colorado party won the presidency, but his power was weakened by a divided legislature, labor strikes, and the demands of farmers for more equitable land distribution. In Apr., 1996, an apparent military coup by the army chief, Lino Oviedo, was averted. When Oviedo became the presidential candidate of the Colorado party in 1997, however, Wasmosy had him arrested on charges of insubordination in the 1996 dispute. Oviedo was sentenced to 10 years in prison; his running mate, Raúl Cubas Grau, replaced him and won the 1998 election. Wasmosy was later (2002) convicted of corruption because of his role in a bank scandal during his presidency.

Shortly after taking office Cubas freed Oviedo, and later ignored a supreme court order to return the former general to prison. A bitter power struggle developed between Cubas and his vice president, Luis María Argaña, who was killed in a street ambush in Mar., 1999. Following several days of rioting, Cubas was impeached on charges of misuse of public office; he resigned and fled to Brazil, returning in 2002 to face charges arising from the assassination. Oviedo fled to Argentina but disappeared in December, claiming to have returned to Paraguay. The president of the senate, Luis González Macchi, became president, heading a government of national unity.

An attempted coup by supporters of Oviedo failed in May, 2000, and Oviedo was arrested the following month in Brazil. A special vice presidential election in August was narrowly won by the Liberal party candidate, Julio César Franco; it was the first national election lost by the Colorado party since it came to power in 1947. Franco benefited from the split within the Colorado party and had the de facto support of Oviedo.

González Macchi's coalition subsequently disintegrated as his opponents within the Colorado party and Franco's supporters sought to undermine the president. In 2001, Paraguay's request to extradite Oviedo from Brazil was rejected by the latter country's supreme court. Opposition to the president culminated in 2003 in an impeachment trial for corruption that González Macchi denounced as politically motivated; the president survived when his opponents fell short of the two thirds majority needed to convict him in the Paraguayan senate. In the Apr., 2003, presidential election, Óscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos, the Colorado party candidate, won; Franco placed second. Oviedo returned to Paraguay in June, 2004, and was promptly arrested and jailed, but he was released on parole in Sept., 2007, and his conviction was overturned the next month.

In 2006 former president Macchi was convicted of involvement in the illegal transfer in 2000 of Paraguayan central bank funds to the United States. He denied any involvement and blamed the central bank officials who had been convicted in 2004; his conviction was overturned on appeal. He was later convicted (2006) of fraud and embezzlement. Fernando Lugo Méndez, the former Roman Catholic bishop of San Pedro and a moderate leftist who was the candidate of an opposition coalition, was elected president in Apr., 2008, with about 41% of the vote. His victory ended more than six decades of Colorado party rule, but the Congress remained dominated by conservative parties. In September, Lugo accused his predecessor and former General Oviedo of being involved in a plot to overthrow him; they denied the accusation.

In Apr., 2009, Lugo's reputation was damaged when he was forced to acknowledge that he had fathered a child while a bishop. There were accusations that he had additional children with other women, and he eventually acknowledged having a second child. Brazil agreed in 2009 (ratified 2011) to triple payments to Paraguay for exported electricity generated by the Itaipú Dam. In 2010, attacks by leftist guerrillas led in April to the imposition of a 30-day state of emergency and military rule in N Paraguay, but no significant progress against the guerrillas resulted, and they increased their activity in subsequent years.

Lugo, who had alienated both his leftist supporters and more conservative Liberal party allies, lost support in the Congress after a land eviction by police in June, 2012, led to violence and 17 deaths, and he was quickly impeached and removed from office by both his Colorado opponents and former Liberal allies. Federico Franco Gómez, the vice president and a Liberal, succeeded Lugo as president. Mercosur suspended Paraguay for a year in response to the impeachment.

Horacio Cartes Jara, a wealthy businessman and the Colorado party candidate, was elected president in Apr., 2013. In Mar., 2017, the senate voted in a closed session to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow the president to run for a second term, sparking protests and riots; protestors set fire to the Congress building. In April the president said he would not be a candidate in the next election if the amendment was adopted; the lower house rejected the amendment. The Colorado candidate, former senator Mario Abdo Benítez, won the Apr., 2018, presidential election.


See T. E. Weil et al., Area Handbook for Paraguay (1972); C. J. Kolinski, Independence or Death: The Story of the Paraguayan War (1965) and Historical Dictionary of Paraguay (1973); C. A. Washburn, The History of Paraguay (1871, repr. 1973); P. H. Lewis, Paraguay Under Stroessner (1980) and Socialism, Liberalism, and Dictatorship in Paraguay (1982); R. A. Nickson, Paraguay (1987).


, river, Brazil and Paraguay
Paraguay, river, c.1,300 mi (2,090 km) long, rising in the highlands of central Mato Grosso state, Brazil. Flowing generally southward, it forms the border between Brazil and Paraguay in the pantanal, then crosses the center of Paraguay, dividing the Gran Chaco from E Paraguay. Two large tributaries, the Pilcomayo and the Bermejo rivers, join it from the west. Below the Pilcomayo, the Paraguay River flows SW to the Paraná River, forming part of the Paraguay-Argentina border. Navigable for most of its course, the Paraguay River is one of the major arteries of the Río de la Plata system, with its chief port at Asunción, Paraguay.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Republic of Paraguay [República del Paraguay]).

Paraguay, a state in central South America, is bordered on the north and northwest by Bolivia, on the northeast and east by Brazil, and on the southeast, south, and southwest by Argentina. Its area is 406,800 sq km. In 1973 its population was 2.7 million. The capital is Asunción. The country is divided into 16 departments and the capital region.

Paraguay is a republic. The constitution presently in force was adopted in 1967. According to the constitution, the head of state and of the government is the president, elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The president appoints an advisory body, the Council of State, which consists of the government ministers, the archbishop of Paraguay, the rector of the National University of Asunción, and representatives of commerce, agriculture, manufacturing, the Central Bank, the army, and the navy. The legislature of Paraguay consists of two houses—the 30-member Senate and the 60-member Chamber of Deputies—elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Since 1954, all power has in fact belonged to the president, who has dictatorial authority. All citizens 18 years of age or older have the right to vote, and participation in elections is mandatory.

The judicial system includes the Supreme Court of Justice— the court of highest instance for civil and criminal proceedings (it consists of five judges appointed by the president)—appellate courts, and courts of first instance.

Central Paraguay occupies an alluvial lowland of the Paraguay River that cuts across the entire country from north to south. The southeastern part of the country is occupied by the outer edges of the Brazilian Highlands, which here form the Paraná lava plateau, with average elevations of 300–600 m and maximum elevations of 700 m. Northwestern Paraguay is occupied by the plains of the Gran Chaco, with elevations in the west to 500 m.

Paraguay is located in the southwestern part of the Brazilian Platform. Its main geological formations are the Paraná syneclise, filled with Paleozoic and Lower Mesozoic marine and continental rock and with Cretaceous trap (eastern Paraguay), and the Chaco pericratonic depression, composed of marine and continental deposits of the Paleozoic, Lower Mesozoic, and Upper Cenozoic eras; in western Paraguay these layers are 5,000 m thick. These formations are divided by a meridional arched uplift of the Precambrian basement, which has small deposits of iron ore.

The climate of Paraguay is tropical. The average temperature in July is 17°-19°C; the average January temperature is 27°-29°C. From May to September there are short cold spells caused by the incursion of cold air masses from the south. Annual precipitation ranges from 2,000 mm in the east to 700–1,000 mm in the west, with maximum rainfall in the summer. There is a dense river network in the eastern and central sections of the country. The Paraná and Paraguay rivers and their numerous tributaries are navigable, and all the rivers are characterized by heavy spring and summer floods. Surface drainage is almost nonexistent in the northwest, where there are many small, often saline, lakes. In the wet, eastern part of the country mixed forests of deciduous and evergreen trees and brush (including maté, or Paraguay tea) grow on red ferralite soils. In the central region forests alternate with areas of tall grasses on meadow soils, and in the west there are sparse tropical forests containing valuable trees, such as quebracho, Caesalpinia melanocarpa, Prosopis juliflora, and chañar, growing on latosols and, in places, black alkali soils. Forests cover approximately one-half of the country’s area. There are many swamps along the Paraguay River. The country’s rich fauna includes tapirs, peccaries, coatis, otters, capybaras, swamp deer, jaguar, armadillos, and many species of birds and snakes.


Most of the population is Paraguayan. The western parts of the country are inhabited by Indians of various language families and groups (Tupi-Guarani, Zamuco, Mataco-Mataguayo, Mas-coi, Guaycuruan), who have partially retained their traditional seminomadic way of life. These Indians total about 30,000. There are also small groups of foreign settlers, including Argentinians, Brazilians, Germans, Italians, Ukrainians, and Japanese. Spanish is the official language. More than half the Paraguayans are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and Guarani; a small part of the population speaks only Spanish, and the remainder speaks only Guarani. Catholicism is the state religion. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1963 and 1972 the population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4 percent. Of the entire work force, 54 percent is employed in agriculture and forestry, 16 percent in manufacturing, 3 percent in construction, 23 percent in trade and services, and 4 percent in other sectors (1972). The most heavily populated area is the left-bank region of the Paraguay River, and the most sparsely populated is the Gran Chaco. Urban dwellers constitute 36 percent of the population (1972). The most important cities are Asunción (population, approximately 450,000 in 1973; with suburbs, 532,000), Encarnación, Concepción, Villar-rica, and Pilar.

The area that is now Paraguay has been inhabited since ancient times by numerous Indian tribes. The Guarani Indians (settled farmers) lived in the east, while the Toba, Mocovi, and Mataco tribes (nomadic hunters and fishermen) lived in the Chaco region. They all lived at various stages of a primitive clan society.

Period of Spanish colonial rule; the formation and development of feudal relations (beginning of the 16th to the beginning of the 19th century). The expeditions of the Spanish conquistadores García (1524), S. Cabot (1526), and Ayolas and Irala (1537) in the Río de La Plata basin laid the foundations of the colony of Paraguay, whose capital was at Asunción. The Spanish colonizers dealt harshly with the native population, establishing feudal, colonial order on seized lands. In the 16th century the territory of Paraguay was included in the viceroyalty of Peru; in the early 17th century Paraguay became a general governorship within Peru.

The Spanish introduced new agricultural crops and began raising cattle and horses. Existing along with the large estates of the secular Spanish feudal lords, who used the labor of the dependent Indians, were settlements of Indians under the rule of Spanish adelantados (military commanders) and, among the Guarani, individual family farms (chacras). Later the chacras developed into small farms of free Indian and mestizo peasants. The colonization of the southeast was led by the Jesuits, who created their own state there at the beginning of the 17th century. The Spanish authorities cruelly suppressed uprisings against colonial oppression by the Indians, mestizos, and Creoles, including the uprising headed by J. Antequera. In 1768 the Spanish authorities expelled the Jesuits from Paraguay, and the Spanish crown acquired Jesuit lands. In the 18th century, Paraguay saw the development of handicrafts, commerce, and commodity-money relations; wage labor arose, and a bourgeoisie appeared. All these conditions helped bring about the end of the feudal oppression. After the formation in 1776 of the viceroyalty of La Plata, of which Paraguay became a province, there was an increase in the export of Paraguayan goods through Buenos Aires.

Formation of an independent state of Paraguay; the development of capitalist relations (1811–70). The war for the independence of the Spanish colonies, which spread over the continent in 1810, spread to Paraguay as well. An uprising in Asunción in May 1811 ended with the proclamation of independence from Spain and the creation of a revolutionary junta. In 1814, J. G. Francia came to power as a dictator with the title of El Supremo Dictador, and in 1816 he became dictator for life. Supported by the middle and lower landowners and the national bourgeoisie, Francia reorganized the administration, the army, and the taxation system; abolished monasteries; and confiscated the property of the church and of some of the Spanish and Creole nobility. Half of the cultivated land became government property and part of the land was rented to peasants at low cost, thus stimulating the development of agriculture and industry.

After the death of Francia in 1840, authority passed to a government of the national bourgeoisie and bourgeois landowners that was headed by the consuls M. R. Alonso and C. A. López. While this government made concessions to the aristocracy and the church, it also strengthened the bourgeois transformation, and in 1844, the first constitution was adopted. The government of the first president, C. A. López (1844–62), continued to implement bourgeois reforms, which contributed to the growth of industry and commerce, the transformation of the patriarchal peasantry into farmers, and the expansion of government lands (to three-quarters of the area under cultivation). With capital obtained from the government monopoly on foreign trade of major exports (tea, lumber, tobacco), government enterprises were built, including a metallurgy plant, an arsenal, wharves, textile and other factories, and a railroad. The development of capitalism led to a change in the society’s class structure, the strengthening of the national bourgeoisie, the isolation of a bourgeois elite, stratification of the peasantry, and the emergence of a proletariat. President F. S. López (1862–70), continuing the policies of his father, strove to strengthen Paraguay’s economic and political independence, broadened commercial and diplomatic ties with other countries, and sought free access to the sea. However, the limitation of the entrepreneurial activity of foreigners led to conflicts with the United States, Great Britain, and France. Brazil and Argentina, attempting to increase their territory at Paraguay’s expense, supported a conspiracy of reactionary Paraguayan émigrés against the government of Paraguay and threatened Paraguay’s independence. As a result of the policies of these two countries, behind whom stood the USA and Great Britain, Paraguay was drawn into the War of the Triple Alliance (1864–70), in which the country suffered a cruel defeat.

Transformation of Paraguay into a country dependent on foreign powers (1870–1917). The war with Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay cut short the independent development of the country. Almost one-half of the territory of Paraguay was transferred to Argentina and Brazil, and four-fifths of the population perished. The constitution of 1870, which formally proclaimed bourgeois freedoms, in fact established the dominance of reactionary landowners and the commercial bourgeoisie, who were tied to foreign capital. National resources—lands, forests, and minerals—were misappropriated by local and foreign companies; government enterprises passed into the hands of foreigners. Onerous loans made to Paraguay by Great Britain increased the country’s dependence on foreign capital and turned Paraguay into an agricultural appendage of the great imperialist powers. Numerous coups d’etat reflected the struggle of various cliques for power; between 1870 and 1880, seven presidents were deposed.

Government policies caused discontent among the national bourgeoisie and the peasantry, and in 1887 the Liberal Party was formed, which advocated democratization and opposed the selling of national wealth. The latifundistas and the military clique united in the National Republican Party (Colorado Party). The workers’ movement was strongly influenced by anarcho-syndicalism. In the 1880’s and 1890’s the first strikes took place and the first labor unions appeared. In August 1904 a popular uprising broke out and spread throughout the country; however, when the liberals who had led the uprising attained power, they failed to fulfill their promises to satisfy the principal demands of the masses. As before, the country was dominated by British capitalists, and greater amounts of German and US capital were entering the country. Paraguay declared its neutrality during World War I.

Paraguay in contemporary times (since 1918). During World War I, expansion of trade and development of the export industry caused a significant increase in the size of the working class. A growing workers’ and students’ movement opposed the oppression of the oligarchy and foreign imperialism; it became stronger under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. The first communist groups appeared in the 1920’s, and the Paraguayan Communist Party was founded in 1928. The world economic crisis of 1929–33 led to the loss of Paraguay’s foreign markets, a sharp drop in exports, and massive unemployment. The latifundistas controlled the country’s principal resources—93 percent of the cultivated land and 63 percent of the livestock. American capital, which was becoming increasingly entrenched in Paraguay’s economy, competed with British capital. The rivalry of British and American oil monopolies led to the war between Paraguay and Bolivia for control of the oil-rich Chaco Boreal region. The Chaco War (1932–35) caused heavy casualties on both sides (250,000 killed and wounded), exhausted both countries’ resources, exacerbated internal political conditions, and led to a lowered standard of living for the working people. Although Paraguay obtained most of the disputed land, the land soon came under the control of US oil monopolies.

The growing discontent of the masses erupted in February 1936 in the form of an armed uprising mounted by veterans of the war. The uprising brought to power the newly created, petit bourgeois Revolutionary Febrerista Party. The Febrerista government of R. Franco (1936—37) proclaimed agrarian reform, introduced the eight-hour workday, established a minimum wage, and nationalized some branches of industry. The government was overthrown by reactionary forces, however, because of internal conflicts and irresoluteness in the struggle against imperialism. In 1939, General J. F. Estigarribia became president; he disbanded the congress and conferred dictatorial powers upon himself. All political activity was prohibited. The dictatorship was strengthened in 1940 when General H. Morínigo came to power and imprisoned many worker and student leaders.

Taking advantage of the difficult financial position of the country after the Chaco War, the United States bound Paraguay to onerous agreements, obtaining large concessions to work the oil fields in Chaco. During World War II new branches of industry arose in Paraguay, and a government merchant marine was formed. Paraguay declared war on Germany and Japan in February 1945; up until that time it had aided the Axis powers with raw materials and food. During the war the position of the working people deteriorated. In April 1944 and January 1945 there were general strikes in Asunción. In the postwar worldwide upsurge of democratic movements, antigovernment demonstrations began in Paraguay. In June 1945 a disturbance flared up in units of the capital garrison, supported by workers, the petite bourgeoisie, and the democratic intelligentsia; Morínigo was forced to allow the activity of some parties and to restrict censorship. In mid-1946 a coalition government was formed, which restored civil rights.

Supported by the Colorado Party, Morínigo in January 1947 staged a coup d’etat and once again concentrated all power in his own hands and unleashed terror against democrats. A new wave of protests followed, resulting in an armed uprising that began in March in Concepción and later developed into a civil war. The armed demonstrations culminated in the rebellion of sailors and dock workers in April and the siege of Asunción in August 1947. Military aid from the USA and Argentina to the Morínigo government led to the defeat of the democratic forces. The opposition was crushed, and thousands of opponents of the regime were thrown into prisons and concentration camps; others emigrated or went underground. Morínigo was able to retain power, but disagreements in the Colorado leadership often led to attempted coups d’etat. Under these conditions of political instability, Morínigo was overthrown in June 1948; in the next two years four government administrations were overthrown.

In September 1949, F. Chávez, one of the Colorado Party leaders, became president. With the support of Argentina and the involvement of British monopolies, he was able to forestall coups d’etat by both the Colorado and opposition parties. Chávez signed a number of military-political pacts with the USA and concluded new trade and economic agreements with Argentina. Intensified cooperation with Argentina and Great Britain provoked opposition from the military upper echelons, which were oriented toward the USA and Brazil. In May 1954, Chávez was overthrown as the result of a military coup d’etat supported by the embassies of the USA and Brazil. A military junta headed by the commander in chief of the armed forces, A. Stroessner, seized power; in June, Stroessner became president as the result of elections carried out under the army’s control.

Stroessner established a military and police dictatorship. A decree of Dec. 4, 1954, prohibited the activity of opposition parties in the country and closed down opposition newspapers and journals. Thousands of democrats were thrown into prison or executed. The unconstitutional actions of the government and the dominance of the oligarchy and of foreign imperialism were opposed by the democratic forces of the country—the workers, the progressive intelligentsia, students, and leaders in the Catholic Church. A general strike of the working people in August 1958 swept the country and developed into a political strike, with demands for political freedoms and the release of political prisoners. From May to September 1959 there were antigovernment student demonstrations in Asunción. The armed struggle against the dictatorship was headed by an organization formed abroad in 1959—the United Front for National Liberation—which brought together representatives from all parties: from opposition elements of the Colorado and Liberal parties to Communists. Detachments of the front developed partisan action throughout the country, and peasants seized the property of landowners. Massive strikes took place in 1961, 1964, and 1967. They were all suppressed by the government with the help of the armed forces, the main support of the Stroessner regime. Under pressure from domestic and foreign opposition, Stroessner was forced to allow, beginning in May 1967, the activity of the Radical Liberal, Liberal, and Revolutionary Febrerista parties. Stroessner granted extensive privileges to the American monopolies, including uncontrolled disposal of 50 percent of profits made in Paraguay and a waiver of import duties on American goods. The USA controls the Central Bank of Paraguay.

Despite government oppression, because of which approximately 1 million Paraguayans have emigrated, the people of Paraguay are waging a struggle against the dictatorial regime. The patriotic intelligentsia, students, some of the Catholic clergy, and the workers have banded together in the National United Movement, which supports democratic freedoms and the overthrow of the dictatorship. In February 1973, Stroessner was “reelected” president for the fifth time, making use of a clause of the constitution adopted in 1967.


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Political parties. The National Republican Party (the Colorado Party; Asociación Nacional Republicana) was founded in 1887. The ruling party, it represents the interests of high-ranking military officers, the latifundistas, and the comprador bourgeoisie who are closely linked with US monopolies. The Radical Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Radical) was founded in 1962 after a split in the traditional Liberal Party, which had been founded in 1887. The left wing of the party, uniting workers, students, and peasants, opposes the Stroessner regime. The Liberal Party (Partido Liberal) was formed in 1962 after the split in the traditional Liberal Party. It represents the interests of the latifundistas and foreign monopolies, as well as part of the intelligentsia and students. The Revolutionary Febrerista Party (Partido Revolucionario Febrerista), founded in 1936, unites some officers, the petite and middle bourgeoisie, the peasantry, the intelligentsia, and the student population. The party belongs to the Socialist International. Its left wing is waging a struggle against the dictatorial regime. The Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano), founded in 1965, represents the interests of the urban and rural petite bourgeoisie. The Colorado Popular Movement (Movimiento Popular Colorado), founded in Buenos Aires in 1960, unites some of the intelligentsia, student population, bourgeoisie, and landowners. The party functions in exile. The Paraguayan Communist Party (Partido Comunista Paraguayo) was founded in 1928 and outlawed from the moment of its formation. The party functioned legally for only six months.

Labor unions. The Paraguayan Confederation of Labor (Confederación Paraguaya de Trabajadores), founded in 1951, is controlled by the government. The Christian Confederation of Labor (Confederación Cristiana de Trabajadores) was organized in 1965. The Paraguayan Confederation of Labor in Exile was formed in 1959.

General state of the economy. Paraguay is one of the most economically backward countries in Latin America, with an economy based on stock raising and forestry. It supplies the world market with meat and lumber. The per capita gross national product in 1973 was $295. Agriculture provides 32.6 percent of the gross national product; forestry, 3.6 percent; manufacturing, 15.5 percent; mining, 0.2 percent; construction, 3 percent; transportation and communications, 3.9 percent; and commerce and services, 41.2 percent. The country depends heavily on foreign capital. Direct private foreign investments in Paraguay totaled about $90 million in 1973, $65 million of which came from the USA. Other large investors are Argentina, Great Britain, and the Federal Republic of Germany. American monopolies control a significant part of the production and processing of meat, more than two-thirds of the production of textiles, and the major part of the production of petroleum products. In addition, foreign monopolies have significant control of the timber, chemical, and metalworking industries, as well as of construction and banking. The government capitalist sector owns banks, two airline companies, a railroad company, an electric power company, and other enterprises.

Agriculture. The agrarian structure is characterized by the predominance of large landholdings; land is owned primarily by latifundistas and foreign companies. Approximately one-half of the peasants do not own land, but rent it under harsh terms. Agricultural lands occupy about one-fourth of Paraguay’s area. Of those lands, more than 91 percent comprises meadows and pasturelands, and about 8 percent (825,000 hectares [ha]) is cultivated. The main branch of agriculture is the raising of beef cattle, which are grazed in the southern interfluves of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers and the Paraguay and Pilcomayo rivers and in the northern right-bank region of the Paraguay. The animals raised (1972) are cattle (5.95 million head), sheep (0.5 million head), horses (0.7 million head), and donkeys and mules (0.04 million head). Agricultural technology is backward and cannot meet the food needs of the population. The main areas under cultivation are the valleys of the Paraná and Paraguay rivers. The principal crops are maize (180,000 ha and 260,000 tons in 1972), cassava (125,000 ha; 1,850,000 tons), rice, wheat, sweet potatoes, and beans. Crops grown for export are tobacco (17,600 ha; 19,100 tons), tea (16,000 tons), cotton (15,000 tons of cotton fiber), coffee, and tung tree. Grapes are grown and wine is made in the vicinity of the city of Villarrica. The forests of the eastern Gran Chaco yield valuable wood, especially quebracho.

Industry. Industry is poorly developed, with a predominance of small enterprises, most of which are located in the left-bank region of the Paraguay River near Asunción. The leading industries are meat-packing (118,000 tons of meat and meat products in 1972), woodworking, and the extraction of quebracho (15,000 tons), in which Paraguay is one of the leaders in the world market. Other industries produce textiles (cotton and woolen fabrics); petroleum products; cement; tung, coconut, and essential oils; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages; tobacco; and sugar. In 1974, an oil refinery with a planned capacity of 500,000 tons per year was under construction in Asunción and a cement factory with a planned capacity of 3.5 million tons was under construction in Puerto Vallemi. The installed capacity of Paraguayan electric power plants is 110 megawatts (1973), and the output of electric energy is 270 million kilowatt-hours. The most important power plant is the Acaray Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Acaray River, whose first stage (45 megawatts of power) went into operation in 1969. Preliminary work has begun on the joint construction with Brazil of the Saltos de Guairá hydroelectric power plant on the Paraná River (12,000 megawatts).

Transportation. The main transport arteries are the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, which carry almost all the export freight. The main port is Asunción, which handles 350,000 tons of freight annually. There are 1,300 km of railroads (1973), including private narrow-gauge lines built to transport quebracho to the Paraguay River. A nationalized railroad line from Asunción to Encarnación (450 km) links Paraguay, by way of ferry across the Paraná River, with the rail network of Argentina. There are 421 km of asphalt highways (1973) and approximately 900 km of gravel roads. In 1973 there were 13,000 automobiles and 1,700 trucks.

Foreign trade. Fourteen percent of Paraguay’s gross national product is exported, and four-fifths of its foreign trade is controlled by foreign, primarily American, firms. The value of Paraguay’s exports in 1972 was US $86 million; the cost of imports, US $70 million. Meat and meat products account for 32 percent of the total value of exports; lumber, 16 percent; tobacco, 7 percent; tung and coconut oils, 12 percent; quebracho, 3 percent; and other goods, including cotton, coffee, and tea, 30 percent. Of imports, tools and machinery account for 18 percent of the value; means of transportation, 12 percent; foodstuffs, 18 percent; and other goods (including fuels and ferrous metals), 52 percent. Paraguay’s main trading partners (1972) are the USA (16 percent of exports and 22 percent of imports), Argentina (27 and 12 percent), the Federal Republic of Germany (6 and 10 percent), and Great Britain (6 and 8 percent). The monetary unit of Paraguay is the guarani; 126 guarani = US $1 (April 1974). The foreign debt of the Paraguay government was $350 million as of January 1973.


Nitoburg, E. L. Paragvai. Moscow, 1964.


The armed forces comprise an army, an air force, and a navy. The president is the commander in chief, but general command is assumed by the minister of national defense and the commanders of the air force and navy. The armed forces fill their ranks on the basis of legislation requiring universal military service; men are drafted at the age of 18 for a two-year term of service. Officers are trained in military academies and in the USA and Canada. There are five military districts. The armed forces total approximately 14,000 men (1972). The army (more than 11,000) has one cavalry brigade, six infantry regiments, and five engineering battalions; the air force (about 1,000) has 100 airplanes; the navy (about 2,000) has three gunboats and five patrol ships.

Medicine and public health. In 1971, according to the data of the World Health Organization, Paraguay’s birthrate was 32.3 per 1,000 inhabitants; the general mortality rate, 5.6 per 1,000 inhabitants; and infant mortality, 33.6 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy was 61.5 years.

Paraguay’s low level of economic development and its geographical location are the chief factors in the prevalence of infectious diseases. The main causes of death are enteritis and other intestinal diseases, cardiovascular disease, and malignant tumors. The most frequently registered infectious diseases are malaria, influenza, measles, venereal diseases, tuberculosis, and leprosy. There are natural geographic foci of trypanosomiasis (Chagas’ disease); cutaneous, or dermal, leishmaniasis; and jungle, or sylvan, yellow fever. Intestinal helminthiases are widespread, especially ascariasis and ankylostomiasis.

Medical services are provided in social-insurance institutions. Only an insignificant part of the population—workers in the industrial centers—is covered by social insurance. Those with insufficient income receive free medical care in government hospitals. Inhabitants of the vast stock-raising regions are virtually without medical services. More than 20 percent of the population consult only private medical practitioners. In 1971 there were 132 government hospitals with 3,800 beds (2.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), 1,300 physicians (one per 1,600 inhabitants), 383 dentists, 818 pharmacists, and approximately 1,500 paramedical personnel. Expenditures on public health accounted for 6 percent of the government budget in 1970.


Veterinary services. Many infectious and parasitic animal diseases are widespread in Paraguay. In 1973, 55 new foci of foot-and-mouth disease were registered, five of anthrax, 439 of rabies, and 360 of tuberculosis in cattle. The classic form of rabies is found in dogs, and the paralytic form is found among cattle. Diseases found among birds include salmonellosis, fowlpox, leukosis, and Newcastle disease. Parasitic diseases most commonly found are various helminthiases, coccidiosis, and babesia-sis. There are 300 veterinarians in Paraguay (1973).

According to 1973 figures, 26 percent of the population of Paraguay is illiterate. Elementary schools are divided into three classes: lower (three years or less), middle (five years), and superior (six years). In the 1970–71 academic year there was a total of 424,200 pupils in all elementary schools. General secondary education is divided into two three-year cycles—basic and upper. Vocational schools accept students who have completed from four to six years of elementary school or the basic cycle of secondary school. Their course of study is from two to six years. Elementary-school teachers are trained for three years in a pedagogical school, while teachers for the basic cycle of secondary school receive two years of training in a pedagogical institute. In the 1970–71 academic year 55,800 students were enrolled in 520 secondary schools, 87 percent of them in general education schools, 6 percent in vocational schools, and 6 percent in pedagogical schools and institutes.

Paraguay has two universities: the National University of Asunción, which was founded in 1890, and a Catholic university, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, which was founded in 1960 and has campuses in the cities of Villarrica, Concepción, and Encarnación. In the 1972–73 academic year there were 6,700 students enrolled at the universities.

Among the cultural institutions of the capital are the National Library (44,000 volumes), the National Museum of Fine Arts and Ancient Monuments, and the Museum of Natural History and Ethnography.


During the first half of the 20th century, research institutions were founded (mainly with private funds) in the humanities and natural sciences. These include the Paraguayan Scientific Society (1921), the Paraguayan Pediatrics and Child Welfare Society (1928), the Paraguayan Institute of Historical Research (1937), the Academy of Guarani Language and Culture (1942), the Paraguayan Institute of Numismatics and Antiquities (1943), and the Center for Anthropological Studies (1950). Only after World War II did scientific research begin in the government sector; this work was concentrated in applied natural and technical sciences. Government research organizations include the National Commission on Atomic Energy (1965), the National Institute of Technology and Standardization (1965), the National Institute of Agronomy and the Barrerito experimental ranch (soil science, animal husbandry, and forestry), the Department of Mineral Resources (prospecting for oil and ore deposits), and the Military Geographic Institute (topographical maps). Theoretical and applied research in the natural and technical sciences is conducted mainly at the Institute of Basic Sciences (1962) of the National University of Asunción; its Council of Scientific and Technological Research (1968) coordinates scientific research work in the country. By the beginning of the 1970’s there were more than 20 scientific research institutions in Paraguay. The total expenditure on scientific research at that time was less than 0.1 percent of the gross national product.


Guide to World Science, vol. 12: Latin America. Guernsey, 1970.
UNESCO. La politica científica en América Latina. Paris, 1969.


In 1977, more than ten periodicals were published in Paraguay. The largest daily newspapers, published in Asunción, are Patria (published since 1946, circulation 25,000), organ of the Colorado Party; La Tribuna (since 1925, circulation 30,000); and Adelante!, the central organ of the Paraguayan Communist Party, published illegally. The weekly publications are La Liber-tad (since 1962), organ of the Liberal Party; El Pueblo (since 1964), organ of the Revolutionary Febrerista Party; and El Radical, the organ of the Radical Liberal Party (circulation 20,000). The Ministry of Public Works and Communications regulates radio and television broadcasting. There is one government radio station, Radio Nacional del Paraguay, and 25 commercial stations. There is one commercial television station, Televisión Cerro Corá.

Paraguayan literature is written in both Spanish and Guarani. The bilingual nature of the literature is one of Paraguay’s distinctive features. During the colonial period (early 16th to the early 19th century), there was almost no written literature; bloody wars, the prolonged dominance of tyrannical regimes, and economic backwardness slowed the development of literature. N. M. Talavera (1839–67), the father of patriotic lyric poetry, was the first romantic poet. At the end of the 19th century, writer-educators, such as R. Barret (1874–1910), appeared. They were historical researchers as well as writers and publicists.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Paraguayan poetry, inspired by historical traditions and folklore, was permeated with enlightenment ideas, as can be seen in the verse cycle Our Epic by J. E. O’Leary and the epic poem Song of the Centuries by E. Farina Núñez (1897–1935). After the first anthology of Guarani folklore appeared (Forest Flowers, 1917), the poet A. Guanes (1872–1926) began writing verse in both Guarani and Spanish. M. Ortiz Guerrero (1897–1933) wrote poetry in Guarani; the social inspiration of his poetry and his brilliant public-minded temperament made Guerrero exceptionally popular. The poet J. Correa (1890–1953) made an important contribution to national drama with his play The Hunger of the Undernourished, written in Guarani. The play ends with a scene of nationwide struggle against the oppression of the exploiters. Since the 1930’s, Paraguayan poetry has been influenced by world poetry; it has sought new means of expression and has become permeated with social themes. This new period was begun by H. Campos Cervera (1908–53), the author of the poem “The Woodcutter.” Among his followers are J. Plá, A. Roa Bastos (born 1917), and E. Romero (born 1926), the author of the collections Plowed Days and Sun Under the Roots (1956).

Prose in Paraguay has gained importance only since the 1920’s. The events of the Chaco War (1932–35) inspired the factual novellas and short stories of A. Valdovinos, J. Villarejo, and J. Pastor Benítez. The war also influenced G. Casaccia. A milestone in the history of Paraguayan literature was A. Roa Bastos’ novel Son of Man (1960)—an epic tale of the fate of the Paraguayan people, combining astute social insight with mythological elements. The regime of the military-police dictatorship has led many Paraguayan authors to live outside the country.


Romero, E. “Rodniki paragvaiskoi poezii.” In the collection Problemy ideologii i natsional’noi kul’tury stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1967.
Semenov, S. “Paragvai, mif i deistvitel’nost’.” In A. Roa Bastos, Syn chelovecheskiL Moscow, 1967.
Centurión, C. R. Historia de las letras paraguayas, vols. 1–3. Buenos Aires [1947–51].
Gonzalez, J. N. Proceso y formación de la cultura paraguaya, 2nd ed. Asunción, 1948.
Rodríguez-Alcalá, H. Historia de la literatura paraguaya. Asunción, 1971.


The ancient art of the Indians of Paraguay consisted primarily of ornamentation of pottery and clothing. During the colonial period the Jesuits built many fortified settlements (reducciones) with workshops, warehouses, and barracks and huts for the Indians. There were large, three-aisled frame churches of wood and adobe surrounded by galleries in the reducciones and cities. At the turn of the 18th century, Jesuit architects—such as J. B. Primoli, A. Forcada, and A. Ribera—built stone churches in the baroque style in the reducciones. Paraguay’s cities had streets laid out in a grid pattern and two central squares—one with a church and the other with the town hall. Dwellings were usually one-story frame houses with small inner courtyards and galleries. In the reducciones the Indians were taught painting, carving, and engraving; their carved wooden statues and reliefs are especially expressive. In the 19th century, Paraguay’s art basically continued the traditions of the colonial period. From 1840 to 1865 large-scale construction was carried out in Asunción; the city center was redesigned, and palaces and public buildings with neoclassical galleries and colonnades were erected. Neoclassi-cism in architecture was not replaced by the modern style until after 1945, when architects from the USA and Brazil designed buildings in Paraguay.

The first native artists, including the landscape painter S. Ríos and the portraitist A. García, emerged in the mid-19th century. In the 20th century the life and history of the people were reflected in the paintings, full of folk humor, of P. Alborno, the sculpture of V. Pallarollo, and the etchings of J. de la Herrería. At the same time, avant-garde tendencies appeared in painting (C. Colombino) and sculpture (B. Cuggiari). Paraguayan folk art combines Spanish and Indian traditions in its lace, clay figurines, red and white earthenware, and silver and copper jewelry. A purely Indian art can still be seen in Paraguayan earthenware with stamped designs, woven bags with geometrical patterns, and ornaments made of feathers.


Giuria, J. La arquitectura en el Paraguay. [Buenos Aires] 1950.
Busaniche, H. La arquitectura en las misiones jesuíticas guaraníes. Santa Fe [1955].


The Guarani Indians had a developed musical culture. They had numerous religious dances, as well as war and ceremonial dances. They also had various genres of monophonic songs and instrumental music based on pentatonic scales. Their musical instruments included vertical and transverse flutes, panpipes, and various types of drums and rattles. In Creole folk music, European musical traditions prevailed, influencing melody, harmonic structure, rhythm, and instrumentation. The most popular dances were the Paraguayan polka, the Santa Fe, the cielo (cielito), solito, golondriana, and waltz. The traditional songs were the canción and the guaranía, and the main solo and accompaniment instruments were the guitar and harp.

At the beginning of the 17th century, Jesuit missionaries began opening special schools at which Indians were taught to sing plainsong and to play musical instruments. A professional musical culture developed slowly. Concerts and other musical performances began being staged (although irregularly) only in the period from 1840 to 1860. The first music institutions, societies, and associations were organized at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. These included the Paraguayan Institute (founded in 1895) and the Paraguayan Gymnasium (founded in 1913), which presented concerts and gave lessons. In 1934 the Paraguayan Academy of Arts was created out of these two institutes. The academy has music classes and a musical-theater troupe and stages concerts and other musical performances. Paraguay’s best-known composers include J. C. Moreno González, J. M. Boettner, R. Giménez, J. A. Flores, H. Gimenez, and C. Lara Bareiro. Musicians include the pianists E. L. Brynicki, F. Marin Nogueras, L. Aranda, M. M. Salcedo, and V. Alfaro; the violinists E. Misch and C. Escobar; the guitarists A. P. Barrios, C. S. Godoy, C. Talavera, and D. R. Basualdo; the harpists F. Perez Cardozo, D. García, and L. Gonzalez; and the singers S. Mendoza and J. Ocampos. Paraguay does not have a regular schedule of symphony concerts. Asunción has a school for the training of music teachers and several private music schools.


Boettner, J. M. Música y músicos del Paraguay. Asunción, 1957.


Theater presentations first appeared in the mid-16th century. In the colonial period, works were staged irregularly and were mainly of a religious nature, organized primarily by the Jesuits. A national theatrical art developed in the mid- 19th century, and in 1858 a theater was built in Asunción. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the capital had the Granados, Nacional, and Independiente theaters and the Paraguayan Drama and Comedy Troupe, whose directors included A. Suñé. An outstanding development in mid-20th century theater is the Elenco Teatral Guarani, which owes much to the actor and playwright J. Correa, the playwright F. M. Barrios, and the association of the Paraguayan Academy of Arts in Asunción. Many achievements of Paraguayan theater are associated with the creative and organizational work of R. Centurión Miranda and J. Plá, who collaborated on several important plays, including The Disinherited (1933, staged 1942) and The Hour of Cain (1935). Among Paraguay’s best-known actors and actresses are E. Baez, E. Reisofer, and C. Gomez. The development of a national theater has been impeded by the domination of the military-police dictatorship.


Plá, J. EI teatro en el Paraguay. [Asunción, 1967.]

V. B. OVODOV [19–4–91–1]



a river in Brazil and Paraguay, a right tributary of the Paraná River; in places forms the official border of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. The Paraguay River is 2,200 km long (according to some data, 2,500 km) and drains an area of 1,150 sq km. It rises in the northwestern Brazilian Highlands and flows to the south, crossing the vast marshy Pantanal and the lowland areas of the Gran Chaco. The main tributaries are, on the right, the Verde, Pilcomayo, and Bermejo rivers.

The Paraguay River is meandering for most of its course. Sandbars and islands abound, making navigation difficult. The river’s width in its middle course is 350–600 m. The lower course reaches widths of 1–1.5 km, with depths of 10–20 m. During July and August, the dry period of the year, many rivers in the basin dry up, and only the waters of the major tributaries reach the Paraguay. In spring and especially in summer, during the rainy season (October-April), the rivers rise and overflow, submerging vast areas. The flooding reaches the main channel of the Paraguay only in May or June; therefore, the river has a relatively high volume of water in the lower reaches throughout the entire year. The mean flow rate at Asunción is 2,940 cu m per sec; at the mouth it is approximately 4,000 cu m per sec. The river is Paraguay’s main transportation route. The regular deepening of the river channel permits vessels with a draft of 2 m to reach Concepción and small vessels to reach Corumbá; seagoing vessels travel as far as Asunción.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Paraguay

Capital city: Asuncion

Internet country code: .py

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)

Geographical description: Central South America, north­east of Argentina

Total area: 157,047 sq. mi. (406,752 sq. km.)

Climate: Subtropical to temperate; substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, becoming semiarid in the far west

Nationality: noun: Paraguayan(s); adjective: Paraguayan

Population: 6,669,086 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%, other 5%

Languages spoken: Spanish (official), Guarani (official)

Religions: Roman Catholic 89.6%, Protestant (including Mennonite and other Christian) 7.3%, other or unspeci­fied 1.9%, none 1.1%

Legal Holidays:

Christmas DayDec 25
End of the Chaco WarJun 12
Founding of AsuncionAug 15
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Heroes' DayMar 1
Holy ThursdayApr 21, 2011; Apr 5, 2012; Mar 28, 2013; Apr 17, 2014; Apr 2, 2015; Mar 24, 2016; Apr 13, 2017; Mar 29, 2018; Apr 18, 2019; Apr 9, 2020; Apr 1, 2021; Apr 14, 2022; Apr 6, 2023
Immaculate ConceptionDec 8
Independence DayMay 15
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
Victory DaySep 29
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. an inland republic in South America: colonized by the Spanish from 1537, gaining independence in 1811; lost 142 500 sq. km (55 000 sq. miles) of territory and over half its population after its defeat in the war against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay (1865--70). It is divided by the Paraguay River into a sparsely inhabited semiarid region (Chaco) in the west, and a central region of wooded hills, tropical forests, and rich grasslands, rising to the Paraná plateau in the east. Official languages: Spanish and Guarani. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: guarani. Capital: Asunción. Pop.: 6 018 000 (2004 est.). Area: 406 750 sq. km (157 047 sq. miles)
2. a river in South America flowing south through Brazil and Paraguay to the Paraná River. Length: about 2400 km (1500 miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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