Paraguay achieved its independence from Spain in 1811. In the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) - between Paraguay and Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay - Paraguay lost two-thirds of its adult males and much of its territory. The country stagnated economically for the next half century. Following the Chaco War of 1932-35 with Bolivia, Paraguay gained a large part of the Chaco lowland region. The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo STROESSNER ended in 1989, and, despite a marked increase in political infighting in recent years, Paraguay has held relatively free and regular presidential elections since the country's return to democracy.



Central South America, northeast of Argentina, southwest of Brazil

Geographic coordinates

23 00 S, 58 00 W

Map references

South America


total: 406,752 sq km
land: 397,302 sq km
water: 9,450 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than California

Land boundaries

total: 4,655 km
border countries (3): Argentina 2,531 km, Bolivia 753 km, Brazil 1,371 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

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


mean elevation: 178 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana 46 m
highest point: Cerro Pero 842 m

Natural resources

hydropower, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone

Land use

agricultural land: 53.8%
arable land 10.8%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 42.8%
forest: 43.8%
other: 2.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1,362 sq km (2012)

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 pose 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 and Society


noun: Paraguayan(s)
adjective: Paraguayan


6,862,812 (July 2016 est.)

Ethnic groups

mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%, other 5%


Spanish (official), Guarani (official)


Roman Catholic 89.6%, Protestant 6.2%, other Christian 1.1%, other or unspecified 1.9%, none 1.1% (2002 census)

Demographic profile

Paraguay falls below the Latin American average in several socioeconomic categories, including immunization rates, potable water, sanitation, and secondary school enrollment, and has greater rates of income inequality and child and maternal mortality. Paraguay's poverty rate has declined in recent years but remains high, especially in rural areas, with more than a third of the population below the poverty line. However, the well-being of the poor in many regions has improved in terms of housing quality and access to clean water, telephone service, and electricity. The fertility rate continues to drop, declining sharply from an average 4.3 births per woman in the late 1990s to about 2 in 2013, as a result of the greater educational attainment of women, increased use of contraception, and a desire for smaller families among young women.
Paraguay is a country of emigration; it has not attracted large numbers of immigrants because of political instability, civil wars, years of dictatorship, and the greater appeal of neighboring countries. Paraguay first tried to encourage immigration in 1870 in order to rebound from the heavy death toll it suffered during the War of the Triple Alliance, but it received few European and Middle Eastern immigrants. In the 20th century, limited numbers of immigrants arrived from Lebanon, Japan, South Korea, and China, as well as Mennonites from Canada, Russia, and Mexico. Large flows of Brazilian immigrants have been arriving since the 1960s, mainly to work in agriculture. Paraguayans continue to emigrate to Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, the United States, Italy, Spain, and France.

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.04% (male 874,541/female 844,212)
15-24 years: 19.74% (male 680,998/female 673,534)
25-54 years: 40.56% (male 1,392,814/female 1,390,655)
55-64 years: 7.74% (male 270,769/female 260,300)
65 years and over: 6.92% (male 222,435/female 252,554) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 56.6%
youth dependency ratio: 47.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 9.4%
potential support ratio: 10.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 27.8 years
male: 27.5 years
female: 28 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.17% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

16.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

4.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

most of the population resides in the eastern half of the country; to the west lies the Gran Chaco, which accounts for 60% of the land territory, but only 2% of the overall population


urban population: 59.7% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

ASUNCION (capital) 2.356 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 205,297
percentage: 15% (2004 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

132 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 19.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.2 years
male: 74.5 years
female: 80 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.91 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2008)

Health expenditures

9.8% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

1.23 physicians/1,000 population (2012)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 94.9% of population
total: 98% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 5.1% of population
total: 2% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 95.5% of population
rural: 78.4% of population
total: 88.6% of population
urban: 4.5% of population
rural: 21.6% of population
total: 11.4% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.43% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

17,500 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

800 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

15.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

2.6% (2012)

Education expenditures

5% of GDP (2012)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.9%
male: 94.8%
female: 92.9% (2010 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2010)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2008 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 13%
male: 10%
female: 17.8% (2014 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Paraguay
conventional short form: Paraguay
local long form: Republica del Paraguay
local short form: Paraguay
etymology: the precise meaning of the name Paraguay is unclear, but it seems to derive from the river of the same name; one explanation has the name meaning "water of the Payagua" (an indigenous tribe that lived along the river)

Government type

presidential republic


name: Asuncion
geographic coordinates: 25 16 S, 57 40 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends fourth Sunday in March

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)


several previous; latest approved and promulgated 20 June 1992; amended 2011, 2014 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system with influences from Argentine, Spanish, Roman, and French civil law models; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court of Justice

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: at least one parent must be a native-born citizen of Paraguay
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 3 years


18 years of age; universal and compulsory until the age of 75

Executive branch

chief of state: President Horacio CARTES Jara (since 15 August 2013); Vice President Juan AFARA Maciel (since 15 August 2013); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Horacio CARTES Jara (since 15 August 2013); Vice President Juan AFARA Maciel (since 15 August 2013)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by simple majority popular vote for a single 5-year term; election last held on 21 April 2013 (next to be held in April 2018)
election results: Horacio CARTES elected president; percent of vote - Horacio CARTES (ANR) 45.8%, Efrain ALEGRE (PLRA) 36.9%, Mario FERREIRO (AP) 5.9%, Anibal CARRILLO (FG) 3.3%, other 8%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (45 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (80 seats; members directly elected in 18 multi-seat constituencies - corresponding to the country's 17 departments and capital city - by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators - last held on 21 April 2013 (next to be held in April 2018); Chamber of Deputies - last held on 21 April 2013 (next to be held in April 2018)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ANR 19, PLRA 12, FG 5, PDP 3, Avanza Pais 2, UNACE 2, PEN 1, PPQ 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ANR 44, PLRA 27, Avanza Pais 2, PEN 2, UNACE 2, FG 1, PPQ 1, other 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 9 justices divided 3 each into the Constitutional Court, Civil and Commercial Chamber, and Criminal Division
judge selection and term of office: justices proposed by the Council of Magistrates or Consejo de la Magistratura, a 6-member independent body, and appointed by the Chamber of Senators with presidential concurrence; judges appointed until mandatory retirement at age 75
subordinate courts: appellate courts; first instance courts; minor courts, including justices of the peace

Political parties and leaders

Asociacion Nacional Republicana - Colorado Party or ANR [Pedro ALLIANA]
Avanza Pais coalition [Adolfo FERREIRO]
Broad Front coalition (Frente Guasu) or FG [Fernando Armindo LUGO Mendez]
Movimiento Union Nacional de Ciudadanos Eticos or UNACE [Jorge OVIEDO MATTO]
Partido del Movimiento al Socialismo or P-MAS [Camilo Ernesto SOARES Machado]
Partido Democratica Progresista or PDP [Desiree MASI]
Partido Encuentro Nacional or PEN [Fernando CAMACHO Paredes]
Partido Liberal Radical Autentico or PLRA [Miguel ABDON SAGUIER]
Partido Pais Solidario or PPS [Carlos Alberto FILIZZOLA Pallares]
Partido Popular Tekojoja [Sixto PEREIRA]
Patria Querida (Beloved Fatherland Party) or PPQ [Sebastian ACHA]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Ahorristas Estafados or AE
National Coordinating Board of Campesino Organizations or MCNOC [Luis AGUAYO]
National Federation of Campesinos or FNC [Odilon ESPINOLA]
National Workers Central or CNT [Secretary General Juan TORRALES]
Paraguayan Workers Confederation or CPT
Roman Catholic Church
Unitary Workers Central or CUT [Jorge Guzman ALVARENGA Malgarejo]

International organization participation

CAN (associate), CD, CELAC, FAO, G-11, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, Mercosur, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador German Hugo ROJAS Irigoyen (since 28 December 2016)
chancery: 2400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-6960 through 6962
FAX: [1] (202) 234-4508
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, Miami, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Leslie A. BASSETT (since 15 January 2015)
embassy: 1776 Avenida Mariscal Lopez, Casilla Postal 402, Asuncion
mailing address: Unit 4711, DPO 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 a circular seal of the treasury (a yellow lion below a red Cap of Liberty and the words PAZ Y JUSTICIA (Peace and Justice)); red symbolizes bravery and patriotism, white represents integrity and peace, and blue denotes liberty and generosity
note: the three color bands resemble those on the flag of the Netherlands; one of only three national flags that differ on their obverse and reverse sides - the others are Moldova and Saudi Arabia

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "Paraguayos, Republica o muerte!" (Paraguayans, The Republic or Death!)
lyrics/music: Francisco Esteban ACUNA de Figueroa/disputed
note: adopted 1934, in use since 1846; officially adopted following its re-arrangement in 1934


Economy - overview

Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy distinguished by a large informal sector, featuring re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. A large percen

On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. The economy grew rapidly between 2003 and 2008 as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion.

In addition to the agricultural challenges, political uncertainty, corruption, limited progress on structural reform, and deficient infrastructure are the main obstacles to long-term growth.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$64.12 billion (2016 est.)
$61.94 billion (2015 est.)
$60.09 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$27.32 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

3.5% (2016 est.)
3.1% (2015 est.)
4.7% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$9,400 (2016 est.)
$9,200 (2015 est.)
$9,000 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

16.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
15% of GDP (2015 est.)
15.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 67.4%
government consumption: 12.9%
investment in fixed capital: 15.3%
investment in inventories: 0.3%
exports of goods and services: 43.3%
imports of goods and services: -39.2% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 17.1%
industry: 27.3%
services: 55.6% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (manioc, tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber


sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, base metals, electric power

Industrial production growth rate

6.5% (2016 est.)

Labor force

3.291 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 26.5%
industry: 18.5%
services: 55% (2008)

Unemployment rate

6.2% (2016 est.)
5.8% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line

34.7% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

53.2 (2009)
57.7 (1998)


revenues: $5.231 billion
expenditures: $5.687 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

19.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-1.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

22.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.3% (2016 est.)
3.1% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

5.5% (31 December 2012)
6% (31 December 2011)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

21% (31 December 2016 est.)
19.74% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$4.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$3.974 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$9.483 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$8.546 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$13.94 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$12.06 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$962.3 million (31 December 2012 est.)
$958.1 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$42 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

$172 million (2016 est.)
-$462 million (2015 est.)


$11.91 billion (2016 est.)
$11.17 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

soybeans, livestock feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, wood, leather

Exports - partners

Brazil 31.7%, Russia 9.1%, Chile 7.1%, Argentina 7% (2015)


$10.2 billion (2016 est.)
$10.07 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, electrical machinery, tractors, chemicals, vehicle parts

Imports - partners

Brazil 25.4%, China 23.7%, Argentina 14.8%, US 7.9% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$6.059 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.939 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$15.42 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$14.41 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$7.114 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.41 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$309 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$259 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

guarani (PYG) per US dollar -
5,689.1 (2016 est.)
5,160.4 (2015 est.)
5,160.4 (2014 est.)
4,462.2 (2013 est.)
4,424.9 (2012 est.)


Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Electricity - access

population without electricity: 100,000
electrification - total population: 98%
electrification - urban areas: 99%
electrification - rural areas: 96% (2013)

Electricity - production

55 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

9.7 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

41 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

8.8 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

0.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

99.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

36,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

33,270 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

3.9 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 384,135
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 7.412 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 109 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: the fixed-line market is a state monopoly and fixed-line telephone service is meager; principal switching center is in Asuncion
domestic: deficiencies in provision of fixed-line service have resulted in a rapid expansion of mobile-cellular services fostered by competition among multiple providers
international: country code - 595; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

6 privately owned TV stations; about 75 commercial and community radio stations; 1 state-owned radio network (2010)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 3.011 million
percent of population: 44.4% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 5
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 452,004
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,641,624 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

ZP (2016)


799 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 15
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 5 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 784
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 290
under 914 m: 471 (2013)


total: 30 km
standard gauge: 30 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)


total: 32,059 km
paved: 4,860 km
unpaved: 27,199 km (2010)


3,100 km (primarily on the Paraguay and Paran� River systems) (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 19
by type: cargo 13, container 3, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 6 (Argentina 5, Netherlands 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion (Parana)


Military branches

Armed Forces Command (Commando de las Fuerzas Militares): Army, National Navy (Armada Nacional, includes Marine Corps, Naval Aviation, and Coast Guard), Paraguayan Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Paraguay, FAP), Logistics Command, War Materiel Directorate (2012)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation is 12 months for Army, 24 months for Navy; volunteers for the Air Force must be younger than 22 years of age with a secondary school diploma (2012)

Military expenditures

1.66% of GDP (2012)
1.16% of GDP (2011)
1.66% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is locus of money laundering, smuggling, arms and illegal narcotics trafficking, and fundraising for violent 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, and Europe; weak border controls, extensive corruption and money-laundering activity, especially in the Tri-Border Area; weak anti-money-laundering laws and enforcement