The country Paraguay got its name from the river of the same name, which runs through it from north to south. The name “Paraguay” comes from the language of the Guarani Indians and means “source of the sea”. For centuries the river was the only access to the sea for the residents.
The South American state borders Bolivia in the northwest, Brazil in the north and east and Argentina in the south. This makes it, along with Bolivia, one of the two states in South America that has no direct access to the sea.
The local time in Paraguay is 4 hours behind our German time.
Paraguay has a size of 406,752 square kilometers. The north-south course of the Río Paraguay divides it into two geographical zones: the Gran Chaco in the west, which takes up about 60% of the country’s area, but is only very sparsely populated, and the eastern region, Oriente, which has most of the residents live and which consists of a 700 m high mountain and table land. The highest point in the country is the Cerro Peró with 842 m.
Originally the country was settled by the Aché Indians. These were made by the around 500 BC. The Guaraní Indians who immigrated from the Amazon region in BC were displaced, who settled on the rivers and forced the native Indians to settle in the higher-lying forest areas. They lived up to their name “Guaraní” “warrior”.
In 1537 the Spaniards conquered the country and founded the current capital, Asunción. Since the Spaniards were not particularly interested in the metal-poor country, the Mennonites were able to Christianize the Indians and taught them agriculture and livestock. In 1811 the country became independent. In 1864 – 1870 the “Great War” broke out. Paraguay, which Uruguay had actually asked for help against Brazil and Argentina, found itself in a defensive stance towards all three states at the end of the war. Due to the alliance of states, Paraguay had no chance and lost over half of its population and 55% of its territory.
At the beginning of the 20th century, immigrants came from Europe, but also from the neighboring states of Brazil and Argentina. Most of these Brazilian immigrants were of German descent. They came to the country during the takeover of General Alfredo Stroessner from 1954-1989. This time was marked by a dictatorial government, but also by political stability and economic boom. After a government overthrow, there was serious unrest and political turmoil for years. Fernando Lugo Mendez has been president of the country since 2008.
Flora and fauna
Thanks to the numerous rainfall, the hilly country has a tropical rainforest, which is followed by grassland in the west, in which small patches of forest can be found here and there. The Chaco consists of thorn bush and palm savannahs.
Most of the native animals such as the jaguar, puma, anteater, tapir, coati and armadillo have retreated to deserted areas.
The largest industry in Paraguay is agriculture, 40% of the workforce is employed here. Cotton, sugar cane, soybeans and grain are grown and livestock is farmed. 22% are employed in industry, which mainly processes agricultural products.
The population of 6.5 million people consists of 90% mestizos, the descendants of the whites and pure-blooded Indians, as well as of still pure-blooded Indians, who consist of four larger tribes. The proportion of black residents is very low; they have mixed with the white population over time. The Mennonites, who immigrated to Paraguay from Canada, Russia and the USA from 1927, form a special group of people. With around 30,000 followers, they are a small group in number, but they have economic power. German is still spoken in the Mennonite colonies. Another group of German origin are the German-Brazilians which includes about 300,000 people.
In addition to the Mennonites and smaller Protestant communities, the Paraguayans belong to the Roman Catholic community.
In addition to Spanish, the Indian language Guaraní is one of the official languages.
Food and drink
Probably the most popular food in Paraguay is ” Parillada ” (grilled meat). Corn and cassava are usually served as a side dish. The following specialties are also typical:
– bori-bori (chicken soup with grain balls)
– mazamorra (polenta)
– mbaipy he-é (dessert made from corn, milk and molasses)
– mbipy so-ó (a hot corn pudding with pieces of meat)
– sooyo sopy (a thick soup with meat, rice and noodles)
In Paraguay, you can usually drink mate mixed with ice-cold water or a lemonade, which is also called ” terere ” in this country. Visit cellphoneexplorer for South America Travel Guide.
To enter Paraguay, travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after arrival. In addition, proof of sufficient funds for the period of the trip must be presented. Documents for the onward or return journey should also be carried with you. No visa is required for stays of less than 90 days.
Current information on vaccinations can be obtained from your family doctor or on the website of the Center for Travel Medicine (CRM).
Security / drugs
In Paraguay, travelers should pay more attention to the usual security measures and not openly carry money, photos and cell phones. Otherwise the security situation is relatively stable. Current travel advice can also be found at https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/
There is an urgent warning against drug use and trafficking, even in the smallest quantities.
In Germany https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/
In Austria https://www.bmaa.gv.at/
In Switzerland https://www.eda.admin.ch/