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Fact File

Capital

Asunción

Other Cities

Cuidad del Este, San Lorenzo, Luque, Capiata, Limpio

Official languages

Spanish, Guaraní

Area

Total 406,752 km2

Population

6,831,306 (2009est)

Currency

Guaraní

Country Profile: Paraguay

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Paraguay, officially the Republic of Paraguay is one of the only two landlocked countries in South America (along with Bolivia). It lies on both banks of the Paraguay River and is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Because of its central location in South America, the country is sometimes referred to as Corazón de América — Heart of America.

Language and Ethnicity

According to the CIA World Factbook, Paraguay has a population of 6,669,086; 95% of which are mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) and 5% are "other".  One trace of the original Guaraní culture that has endured is the Guaraní language, understood by 90% of the population. About 75% of all Paraguayans speak Spanish. Guarani and Spanish are official languages.  Small groups of ethnic Italians, Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Arabs, Ukrainians, Brazilians, and Argentines settled in Paraguay, and they have to an extent retained their respective languages and culture, particularly the Brazilians who represent the largest number. 

Paraguay's population is distributed unevenly throughout the country. About 56% of Paraguayans live in urban areas. The vast majority of the people live in the eastern region near the capital and largest city, Asunción, that accounts for 10% of the country's population. The Gran Chaco region, which includes the Alto Paraguay, Boquerón and Presidente Hayes Department, and accounts for about 60% of the territory, is home to less than 2% of the population.

Environment and Energy

Paraguay is divided by the Rio Paraguay into the eastern region, officially called Eastern Paraguay (Paraguay Oriental) and known as the Paraneña region; and the western region, officially called Western Paraguay (Paraguay Occidental) and also known as the Chaco.  The southeastern border is formed by the Paraná River, containing the Itaipu dam shared with Brazil. It is currently the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, generating all the electricity required by Paraguay. Because Paraguay co-owns Itaipu Dam, they have the right to use 50% of electricity generated.  Because they use less than 10% of that electricity produced, they sell the rest back to Brazil. Another large hydroelectric power plant on the Paraná River is Yacyretá, shared by Paraguay and Argentina.  Paraguay is considered to be the only country in the world that produces 100% of its electricty needs from hydroelectricity.

Economy

Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector that features both re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, and thousands of small business enterprises. Paraguay's largest economic activity is based on agriculture, agribusiness and cattle ranching. Paraguay is ranked as the world's third largest exporter of chalk boards, and its beef exports are substantial for a country of its size.  Such perception may put Paraguay into the focus of international agro producers. Reuters India reports that "Some of India's top vegetable oil firms plan to lease or buy land in Paraguay.  Paraguay allows foreign land ownership of any size. Only nationals of Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia can not own land in specific frontier regions. 

Religion

According to the 2009 census, 89.6% of the population is Roman Catholic, 6.2% is evangelical Christian, 1.1% is other Christian, 0.6% practice indigenous religions and 0.3 profess non-Christian religions.  A U.S. State Department report on Religious Freedom names Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Jewish (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), and Baha'i as prominent religious groups and also mentions a large Muslim community in Alto Paraná as a result of middle-eastern immigration, especially from Lebanon, and also the Mennonite community in Boquerón.

Future Outlook

Although Paraguay is a very small country, there are a global giant in terms of renewable energy, being able to boast as the only country in the world that produces all of its electric needs by menas of hydroenergy.  Also Paraguay exports a tremendous amount of goods for such a small country.  As a country, Paraguay will look to further its growth by focusing on its strengths og agricultural production and hydroenergy power production.

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For other languages, please visit our Multiple Language Services Translation page.

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