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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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
landlocked; lies between Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil; population concentrated in southern part of country
People Paraguay
6,191,368 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 38.2% (male 1,201,459; female 1,162,954)
15-64 years: 57% (male 1,773,151; female 1,758,323)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 136,376; female 159,105) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 21.1 years
male: 20.8 years
female: 21.3 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.51% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
29.78 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
4.58 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 26.67 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 31.5 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.64 years
male: 72.12 years
female: 77.29 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.98 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.11% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
220 (2001 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: 94%
male: 94.9%
female: 93% (2003 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) (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 Nicanor DUARTE Frutos (since 15 August 2003); Vice President Luis CASTIGLIONI Joria (since 15 August 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Nicanor DUARTE Frutos (since 15 August 2003); Vice President Luis CASTIGLIONI Joria (since 15 August 2003); 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 27 April 2003 (next to be held NA April 2008)
election results: Nicanor DUARTE Frutos elected president; percent of vote - Nicanor DUARTE Frutos 37.1%, Julio Cesar Ramon FRANCO Gomez 23.9%, Pedro Nicolas Maraa FADUL Niella 21.3%, Guillermo SANCHEZ Guffanti 13.5%, other 4.2%
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)
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held 27 April 2003 (next to be held NA April 2008); Chamber of Deputies - last held 27 April 2003 (next to be held NA April 2008)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Colorado Party 16, PLRA 12, UNACE 7, MPQ 7, PPS 2, PEN 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Colorado Party 37, PLRA 21, UNACE 10, MPQ 10, PPS 2
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:
Asociacion Nacional Republicana - Colorado Party or ANR [leader NA]; Movimiento Patria Querida or MPQ [Pedro Nicolas Maraa FADUL Niella]; Movimiento Union Nacional de Colorados Eticos or UNACE [Lino Cesar OVIEDO Silva]; Partido Encuentro Nacional or PEN [Diego ABENTE Brun]; Partido Liberal Radical Autentico or PLRA [Julio Cesar FRANCO]; Partido Pais Solidario or PPS [Carlos Alberto FILIZZOLA Pallares]; note - Nicanor DUARTE Frutos on leave as party leader of the Colorado Party or ANR while serving as President of Paraguay
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Ahorristas Estafados or AE; Coordinating Table of National Campesino Organizations or MCNOC; National Federation of Campesinos or FNC; 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 James SPALDING Hellmers
consulate(s) general: Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York
FAX: [1] (202) 234-4508
telephone: [1] (202) 483-6960 through 6962
chancery: 2400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
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, rose slightly in 2001, only to fall again in 2002. 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 - $28.03 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $4,600 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 27%
industry: 27%
services: 46% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
36% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.5%
highest 10%: 43.8% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
57.7 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
10.5% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
2.5 million (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 45%
Unemployment rate:
16.4% (2002 est.)
revenues: $1.3 billion
expenditures: $2 billion, including capital expenditures of $700 million (1999 est.)
sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, electric power
Industrial production growth rate:
0% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
44.89 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 0%
hydro: 99.9%
other: 0.1% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
2.637 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
39.11 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
25,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber
$2.727 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood, leather
Exports - partners:
Brazil 29.8%, Argentina 18%, Chile 5.5%, Bermuda 4% (2002)
$2.77 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, electrical machinery
Imports - partners:
Brazil 28.9%, US 22.5%, Argentina 17.7%, Uruguay 4.7%, Hong Kong 4.3%, China 4.1% (2002)
Debt - external:
$3.2 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$NA (2001)
guarani (PYG)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
guarani per US dollar - 6,424.34 (2003), 5,716.26 (2002), 4,105.92 (2001), 3,486.35 (2000), 3,119.07 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Paraguay
Telephones - main lines in use:
273,200 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.667 million (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: meager telephone service; principal switching center is Asuncion
domestic: fair microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 595; 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:
5 (2003)
990,000 (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
4,351 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
4 (2000)
Internet users:
100,000 (2002)
Transportation Paraguay
total: 441 km
standard gauge: 441 km 1.435-m gauge (2002)
total: 29,500 km
paved: 14,986 km
unpaved: 14,514 km (1999 est)
3,100 km
Ports and harbors:
Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion
Merchant marine:
total: 21 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 31,667 GRT/30,826 DWT
registered in other countries: 1 (2003 est.)
by type: cargo 14, livestock carrier 1, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: Argentina 2, Japan 1
880 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 869
1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
914 to 1,523 m: 324
under 914 m: 518 (2003 est.)
Military Paraguay
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Naval Air and Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,504,407 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,084,087 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 63,386 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$52.7 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.9% (2003)
Transnational Issues Paraguay
Disputes - international:
unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and drug trafficking, and fundraising for extremist organizations
Illicit drugs:
major illicit producer of cannabis, most or all of which is consumed in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile; 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