[Country map of Paraguay]



Location: Central South America, northeast of Argentina

Map references: South America

total area: 406,750 sq km
land area: 397,300 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than California

Land boundaries: total 3,920 km, Argentina 1,880 km, Bolivia 750 km, Brazil 1,290 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: short section of the boundary with Brazil, just west of Salto del Guaira (Guaira Falls) on the Rio Parana, has not been determined

Climate: varies from temperate in east to semiarid in far west

Terrain: 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

Natural resources: hydropower, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone

Land use:
arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 39%
forest and woodland: 35%
other: 5%

Irrigated land: 670 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation (an estimated 2 million hectares of forest land have been lost from 1958-1985); water pollution; inadequate means for waste disposal present health risks for many urban residents
natural hazards: local flooding in southeast (early September to June); poorly drained plains may become boggy (early October to June)
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Nuclear Test Ban

Note: landlocked; buffer between Argentina and Brazil


Population: 5,358,198 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 41% (female 1,077,284; male 1,123,776)
15-64 years: 55% (female 1,465,147; male 1,468,642)
65 years and over: 4% (female 120,776; male 102,573) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.71% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 31.48 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.38 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.58 years
male: 72.06 years
female: 75.18 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.22 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Paraguayan(s)
adjective: Paraguayan

Ethnic divisions: mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian) 95%, Caucasians plus Amerindians 5%

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Mennonite and other Protestant denominations

Languages: Spanish (official), Guarani

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 90%
male: 92%
female: 88%

Labor force: 1.692 million (1993 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 45%


conventional long form: Republic of Paraguay
conventional short form: Paraguay
local long form: Republica del Paraguay
local short form: Paraguay

Digraph: PA

Type: republic

Capital: Asuncion

Administrative divisions: 19 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Alto Paraguay, Alto Parana, Amambay, Boqueron, Caaguazu, Caazapa, Canindeyu, Central, Chaco, Concepcion, Cordillera, Guaira, Itapua, Misiones, Neembucu, Nueva Asuncion, Paraguari, Presidente Hayes, San Pedro

Independence: 14 May 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Days, 14-15 May (1811)

Constitution: 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; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory up to age 60

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President Juan Carlos WASMOSY (since 15 August 1993); Vice President Roberto Angel SEIFART (since 15 August 1993); election last held 9 May 1993 (next to be held May 1998); results - Juan Carlos WASMOSY 40.09%, Domingo LAINO 32.06%, Guillermo CABALLERO VARGAS 23.04%
cabinet: Council of Ministers; nominated by the president

Legislative branch: bicameral Congress (Congreso)
Chamber of Senators (Camara de Senadores): elections last held 9 May 1993 (next to be held May 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (45 total) Colorado Party 20, PLRA 17, EN 8
Chamber of Deputies (Camara de Diputados): elections last held on 9 May 1993 (next to be held by May 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (80 total) Colorado Party 38, PLRA 33, EN 9

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia)

Political parties and leaders: Colorado Party, Eugenio SANABRIA CANTERO, president; Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), Domingo LAINO; National Encounter (EN), Guillermo CABALLERO VARGAS (the EN party includes the following minor parties: Christian Democratic Party (PDC), Jose Angel BURRO; Febrerista Revolutionary Party (PRF), Euclides ACEVEDO; Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Hugo RICHER)

Other political or pressure groups: Confederation of Workers (CUT); Roman Catholic Church


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jorge Genaro Andres PRIETO CONTI
chancery: 2400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-6960 through 6962
FAX: [1] (202) 234-4508
consulate(s) general: Miami, New Orleans, and New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert SERVICE
embassy: 1776 Avenida Mariscal Lopez, Asuncion
mailing address: C. P. 402, Asuncion; Unit 4711, APO AA 34036-0001
telephone: [595] (21) 213-715
FAX: [595] (21) 213-728

Flag: 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)


Overview: Agriculture, including forestry, accounts for about 25% of GDP, employs about 45% of the labor force, and provides the bulk of exports, in which soybeans and cotton are the most important. Paraguay lacks substantial mineral or petroleum resources but possesses a large hydropower potential. In a major step to increase its economic activity in the region, Paraguay in March 1991 joined the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR), which includes Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. In 1992, the government, through an unorthodox approach, reduced external debt with both commercial and official creditors by purchasing a sizable amount of the delinquent commercial debt in the secondary market at a substantial discount. The government had paid 100% of remaining official debt arrears to the US, Germany, France, and Spain. All commercial debt arrears have been rescheduled. For the long run, the government must press forward with general, market-oriented economic reforms. Growth of 3.5% in 1993 was spurred by higher-than-expected agricultural output and rising international commodity prices. Inflation picked up steam in fourth quarter 1993 because of rises in public sector salaries and utility rates. GDP growth continued in 1994 at 3.5%. Although inflation declined a bit over 1993, increases in food prices, and crop and infrastructure damage from heavy rains at the end of the year, forced inflation to 18%, above the government's target of 15%. Paraguay reaffirmed its commitment to MERCOSUR on 1 January 1995 by implementing the organization's common external tariff.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $15.4 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 3.5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $2,950 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 18% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 11.2% (1994 est.)

revenues: $1.2 billion
expenditures: $1.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $487 million (1992 est.)

Exports: $728 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: cotton, soybeans, timber, vegetable oils, meat products, coffee, tung oil
partners: EC 37%, Brazil 25%, Argentina 10%, Chile 6%, US 6%

Imports: $1.38 billion (c.i.f., 1993 est.)
commodities: capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, raw materials, fuels
partners: Brazil 30%, EC 20%, US 18%, Argentina 8%, Japan 7%

External debt: $1.4 billion (yearend 1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.6% (1993 est.); accounts for 20% of GDP

capacity: 6,530,000 kW
production: 26.5 billion kWh (1992)
consumption per capita: NA
note: much of the electricity produced in Paraguay is exported to Brazil and domestic consumption cannot be determined

Industries: meat packing, oilseed crushing, milling, brewing, textiles, other light consumer goods, cement, construction

Agriculture: accounts for 26% of GDP; cash crops - cotton, sugarcane, soybeans; other crops - corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava, fruits, vegetables; animal products - beef, pork, eggs, milk; surplus producer of timber; self-sufficient in most foods

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; important transshipment point for Bolivian cocaine headed for the US and Europe

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $172 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $1.1 billion

Currency: 1 guarani (G) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: guaranies (G) per US$ - 1,949.6 (January 1995), 1,911.5 (1994), 1,744.3 (1993), 1,500.3 (1992), 1,325.2 (1991), 1,229.8 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 970 km
standard gauge: 440 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 60 km 1.000-m gauge
other: 470 km various gauges (privately owned)

total: 28,300 km
paved: 2,600 km
unpaved: gravel 500 km; earth 25,200 km

Inland waterways: 3,100 km

Ports: Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion

Merchant marine:
total: 13 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 16,747 GRT/19,513 DWT
ships by type: cargo 11, oil tanker 2
note: in addition, 1 naval cargo ship is sometimes used commercially

total: 929
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3
with paved runways under 914 m: 578
with unpaved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 27
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 314


Telephone system: 78,300 telephones; 16 telephones/1,000 persons; meager telephone service; principal switching center in Asuncion
local: NA
intercity: fair microwave radio relay network
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 40, FM 0, shortwave 7
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 5
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy (includes Naval Air and Marines), Air Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,290,894; males fit for military service 937,054; males reach military age (17) annually 55,551 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $100 million, 1.6% of GDP (1994 est.)