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History

Paraguay, landlocked country in south-central South America. Paraguay’s recent history has been characterized by turbulence and authoritarian rule. It was involved in two of the three major wars on the continent—the War of the Triple Alliance (1864/65–70), against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, and the Chaco War (1932–35), against Bolivia. Moreover, a civil war in 1947 and the long dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954–89) left a deep legacy of fear and self-censorship among Paraguayans, who began to overcome those impediments only in the early 21st century. Since 1989 the democratization process has been rocky, and Paraguay has experienced bouts of instability in its military, the assassination of a vice president in 1999, and the indictment of former presidents Juan Carlos Wasmosy (1993–98) and Luis González Macchi (1999–2003) on corruption charges. In 2008 Paraguay’s Colorado Party, the longest continuously ruling political party in the world, lost power for the first time since 1947, though it returned to power in 2013. The national capital is Asunción. Paraguay has a more-homogeneous population than most other countries in South America; most Paraguayans are of European and Guaraní ancestry. The Guaraní culture is strongly represented through folk art and festivals, and Guaraní was designated an official language of Paraguay in the country’s 1992 constitution. Paraguayans are intensely nationalistic and are proud to converse in Guaraní, which acts as a strong marker of their identity. That indigenous language is much more widely spoken in Paraguay than is Spanish, which is unique in Latin America. Rivers play an extremely important role in the economic life of Paraguay. Indeed, the name of the country is said to derive from the Guaraní word meaning “river that gives birth to the sea.” Rivers provide access to the Atlantic Ocean and serve as sites for the hydroelectric power plants that have made Paraguay one of the world’s largest exporters of hydropower. The country is also a major world producer of soybeans, and Paraguayans in parts of the fertile eastern border region have achieved relatively high standards of living based on modern diversified agricultural production. The growth of cooperative farms throughout Paraguay has increased the quality of life for many farmers who previously had depended on small-scale farms dedicated to the cultivation of a single crop. Nevertheless, the issue of land reform has remained unresolved since the 1880s and has given rise to extreme levels of inequality since the 1990s.

Geography

Paraguay is bounded by Bolivia to the northwest and north, Brazil to the northeast and east, and Argentina to the southeast, south, and west. Asunción is located on the east bank of the Paraguay River, opposite the mouth of its primary western tributary, the Pilcomayo River. The Paraguay River, which runs from north to south, divides Paraguay into two distinct geographic regions—the Región Oriental (Eastern Region) and the Región Occidental (Western Region), also called the Chaco Boreal.

The Eastern Region, with an area of about 61,700 square miles (160,000 square km), is an extension of the Brazilian Plateau and varies in elevation from about 165 feet (50 metres) above sea level in the southwest to a few hills that rise to 2,500 feet (760 metres) in the east. The Amambaí (Amambay) Mountains run approximately north to south along part of the border with Brazil and then run eastward as the Mbaracayú Mountains. From the northeast, other ranges extend southward toward Encarnación, diminishing to hills in the south. The highest peak is Mount San Rafael at 2,789 feet (850 metres), in the Cordillera de San Rafael in southeastern Paraguay. To the west lies the broad valley of the Paraguay River. The area from Encarnación northward to the Brazilian border, comprising one-third of eastern Paraguay, is called the Paraná Plateau. The western part of the Eastern Region and the Paraná valley north and east of Encarnación are the areas most favourable to human settlement. The Chaco Boreal, which covers more than 95,000 square miles (246,000 square km), about two-thirds of the country, forms the northeastern part of the Gran Chaco, a flat and largely featureless tropical region that extends into Bolivia and Argentina.

Map

Tours : Ciudad del este and surrounding areas

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Helicopter ride over Iguassu Falls

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Bird Park

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Private tour: Paraguay Experience Monda-y Waterfall

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$90 $80 Aerial view of Itaipu DAM

Private tour: Itaipu DAM

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