Have you ever been curious about the “Heart of South America”, Paraguay? After all, there’s a lot to know! So, let’s see some exciting facts about Paraguay.
- Facts About Paraguay
- 1. Paraguay Has Two Major Languages
- 2. The Country Is Also Known as “The Heart of South America”
- 3. Paraguay Was One of the First Countries to Gain Independence in South America
- 4. The War of the Triple Alliance
- 5. Asado is a Popular Tradition in Paraguay
- 6. The Country Has One UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 7. Paraguay Is Known for Its Hydroelectric Plants
- 8. Paraguay Has a High Deforestation Rate
- 9. The Meaning Behind Paraguay’s Flag
- 10. Mate Is a Popular Drink in Paraguay
- 11. Paraguay Is a Small Country
- 12. You Can (Not) Have a Duel in Paraguay!
- 13. Paraguay Is Rich in Wildlife
- 14. The Biggest Feline in the Americas Lives in Paraguay
- 15. Paraguay Has a High Literacy Rate!
- 16. Paraguay Has Experienced One of the Worst Fires
- 17. Catholicism Is the Most-Followed Religion in Paraguay
- 18. Paraguay Faces a Lot of Inequality in Wealth
- 19. Lapacho Is the Country’s National Tree
- 20. Paraguay Homes Don’t Have a Doorbell
- 21. The Encarnacion Carnival Is a Popular Festival
- 22. The Second-Largest River of South America Is in Paraguay
- 23. The Name Paraguay May Originate From a Parrot
- 24. The Guarani Tribes Inhabited Paraguay 1000 Years Ago!
- 25. Paraguay Was One of the UN’s Original Member States
- Further Reading – Facts About Paraguay
Facts About Paraguay
Located in the centre of South America, Paraguay is a landlocked country with an extensive history, beautiful culture, and amazing people.
Despite being small in size, the country boasts magnificent biodiversity with much left to be discovered. Hence, without any further ado, here are some fascinating facts about Paraguay.
1. Paraguay Has Two Major Languages
If you’re a language buff, here are some facts about Paraguay for you.
Paraguay is one of the few countries with two official languages – Spanish and Guarani. Around 87% of the population speaks Spanish, whereas 90% speaks Guarani. There are about 52% Guarani speakers that don’t speak Spanish.
The astonishing thing about Paraguay is that the majority of the non-indigenous population still speaks Guarani. This is rare as most non-indigenous people in South American countries are influenced by European languages.
Apart from these two major languages, Paraguayans also speak indigenous languages like Ayoreo, Aché, Kaskihá, Lengua, and many more.
2. The Country Is Also Known as “The Heart of South America”
Let’s get into some fun facts about Paraguay.
Did you know that the country is also known as the “The Heart of South America”? Well, the reason behind this is its central location in South America.
If you look at South America’s map, you’ll find that Paraguay is located right in the centre, surrounded by Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina. This makes it seem like the country is in the heart of the continent.
3. Paraguay Was One of the First Countries to Gain Independence in South America
Just like many other countries of Latin America, the Spanish colonisers also ruled over Paraguay.
In 1537, a Spanish explorer named Juan de Salazar de Espinosa settled in a region named “Asunción”. It became the centre of administration for the Spanish colonisers in the entire southeastern South America.
The Spanish colonisers continued to rule the country for the next few hundred years. However, in 1811, José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia led the Paraguayans towards victory against the colonisers and freed the country.
Later, José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia also ruled the country between 1814 and 1840.
The only two Latin American countries that got freedom before Paraguay were Colombia (1810) and Chile (1810).
4. The War of the Triple Alliance
The War of the Triple Alliance is an important and brutal part of Paraguay’s history.
This war was fought between Paraguay and the alliance of three nations, namely, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It lasted for about six years, from 1864 to 1870. Now, there are many reasons behind the war – one of the major ones being the dispute in the Rio de la Plata region.
However, I was beyond shocked to find out that this war led to the deaths of over two-thirds of Paraguay’s population, including 90% of its men!
5. Asado is a Popular Tradition in Paraguay
Paraguay is a tradition-rich country. So, let’s talk about some culture-related facts about Paraguay.
Asado is a culinary cultural event and also a dish in Paraguay. It’s similar to barbecue as it involves slow-cooking a piece of meat on a special type of grill, known as parrilla.
Now, the event isn’t just focused on eating smoked meat. In fact, if you’re invited, it’s rude to drop in once the meat has been fully cooked. Instead, you have to arrive at least two hours early, see the meat being prepared and put on the grill, and wait till it’s done.
Meanwhile, the guests can mingle around while drinking beer and having fun!
6. The Country Has One UNESCO World Heritage Site
Here’s one of the historical facts about Paraguay.
The country is known to have only one UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Jesuit Mission of Jesús de Tavarangüe. The construction of these buildings started in the 17th century and was completed in the 18th century. The UN declared it as a World Heritage Site around 1993.
Today, these archaeological ruins have a major significance in the country’s history as they show the Jesuit heritage of Paraguay.
7. Paraguay Is Known for Its Hydroelectric Plants
This is one of my favourite facts about Paraguay!
Hydropower electricity makes up about 100% of the country’s electricity requirements. In fact, 90% of the generated electricity is also exported to the neighbouring countries of Brazil and Argentina.
The second-largest hydroelectric power plant, the Itaipu Dam, is built on the Paraná River near the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The dam has a height of 196 metres and a length of 7.9 kilometres.
The construction cost of the dam was nearly $196 billion!
8. Paraguay Has a High Deforestation Rate
This isn’t exactly one of the exciting facts about Paraguay.
Unfortunately, the country used to have 20.5 Mha of natural forest in 2010. It covered 51% of its total land. However, between 2001 and 2022, it lost 6.77 Mha of its tree cover! This caused a 28% decrease in Paraguay’s overall forest cover.
The reason behind such massive deforestation is the cultivation of marijuana. Hence, the government is working towards seizing marijuana to prevent any further loss of forests.
9. The Meaning Behind Paraguay’s Flag
Every country’s flag symbolises its beliefs and what it stands for. So, let’s talk about some flag-related facts about Paraguay.
Paraguay’s flag consists of three horizontal bands of red, white, and blue colour. Its flag resembles France’s flag in its colour scheme. There’s also a national emblem in its centre.
The red and white colours represent equality, patriotism, and courage whereas the blue represents freedom and justice. The national emblem consists of a coat of arms, an olive branch, and the nation’s motto “Paz y Justicia” (peace and justice).
10. Mate Is a Popular Drink in Paraguay
If you love reading about drinks, here are some intriguing facts about Paraguay.
The national drink of Paraguay is Mate, and it is made out of the yerba mate plant. In reality, it’s a type of tea infused with the plant and boiling water. Traditionally, the drink is served hot.
You’ll also find a cold version of the drink known as Terere. It’s more popular during the summer months due to its refreshing feel.
Mate isn’t just a drink but it also has a social significance as drinking it with friends and family is a part of the Paraguayan culture.
11. Paraguay Is a Small Country
Here’s one of the truly surprising facts about Paraguay!
It may be a country, but its total land area is less than that of California. It has an area of 406,752 square kilometres. Despite its small size, it’s not on the list of the 100 smallest countries. This shows that there are many countries smaller than Paraguay!
12. You Can (Not) Have a Duel in Paraguay!
Duels were pretty popular in history as they allowed two people to fight with weapons to settle a score or solve a personal disagreement. Most countries banned duels due to their adverse effects on individuals.
Now, you might come across many websites claiming that pistol duels are allowed in Paraguay as long as medical staff is present and both the participants are blood donors. However, there’s no truth to this “fact” as confirmed by the Paraguayan Embassy.
13. Paraguay Is Rich in Wildlife
As I mentioned earlier, almost 50% of Paraguay’s land used to be covered with forests! Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the country is blessed with beautiful wildlife too.
Paraguay is home to the adorable Pampas fox, which is also the country’s national animal. You’ll also find other unique wildlife here including armadillos, jaguars, sloths, tapirs, puma, and many more. In all, there are more than 150 mammal species in Paraguay.
It also has an exciting birdlife with over 650 bird species, including toucans, parakeets, falcons, etc..
14. The Biggest Feline in the Americas Lives in Paraguay
Here is another one of the animal-related facts about Paraguay.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the biggest cat in the Americas is the jaguar (Panthera onca). It’s known for its swimming prowess and is the third largest cat in the world after lions and tigers.
Paraguay has more than 1,000 jaguars living in its forests. The country also has a zoological park named Asuncion’s Jardin Zoologico dedicated towards the protection of jaguars.
15. Paraguay Has a High Literacy Rate!
This is yet another one of my favourite facts about Paraguay.
Despite its turbulent past and dictatorship, Paraguyans have given immense importance to education. Today, the country’s adult literacy rate for people over 15 years remains around 94% to 95%.
16. Paraguay Has Experienced One of the Worst Fires
In 2004, a disastrous fire broke out at the Ycua Bolanos supermarket in Asunción, due to a poorly built chimney.
The fire led to the death of more than 300 people and also injured around 500 people. One of the scariest reasons behind the casualties is that the exit doors were locked so that the people wouldn’t be able to steal and run away.
Later on, the owner of the supermarket, his son, and a security guard were sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.
17. Catholicism Is the Most-Followed Religion in Paraguay
Just like many other Latin American countries, Christianity is the most-followed religion in Paraguay too.
Over 88.3% of Christians follow Catholicism whereas 6.8% are Evangelical Protestants. Around 2.6% of the population also identify as atheists.
18. Paraguay Faces a Lot of Inequality in Wealth
The main issue with many developing countries, including Paraguay, is wealth disparity or income inequality.
As per the data of 2021, Paraguay has a Gini coefficient between 40% and 45% which is considered high. The richest 20% of the country’s population held around 48.9% of its total income.
19. Lapacho Is the Country’s National Tree
The Lapacho tree, known as the Pink Trumpet Tree, is found in many South American countries. It’s also Paraguay’s national tree.
This tree is famous for its beautiful pink leaves and its medicinal properties. In fact, many believe that the Incas used the Lapacho tree as an important medicine.
20. Paraguay Homes Don’t Have a Doorbell
Do you want to know some weird facts about Paraguay? Well, most homes in Paraguay don’t have a doorbell!
Instead, when any guests arrive, they clap their hands to signal their arrival. Paraguyans can hear these claps as they keep their windows open due to the sweltering atmosphere.
21. The Encarnacion Carnival Is a Popular Festival
Have you heard of the world’s famous Rio Carnival? Well, the Encarnacion Carnival is the Rio Carnival of Paraguay.
The carnival takes place between the months of January and February for around five days (mostly on Saturdays), every year. During this time, there are grand Samba parades with Paraguayan dancers wearing exquisite costumes.
22. The Second-Largest River of South America Is in Paraguay
Here’s one of the interesting facts about Paraguay.
We all know that the largest river in South America is the Amazon River. However, did you know that you can find the second-largest river on the continent in Paraguay?
The Parana River has a length of 4,880 kilometres and runs across Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. It’s also the eighth-largest river in the entire world.
23. The Name Paraguay May Originate From a Parrot
Let’s get into some naming-related facts about Paraguay.
There are two theories about where the name “Paraguay” originated from. The first theory states that the word means “River of the Paiaguas” after the native tribes.
According to another version, the name may also mean parrot, as it’s believed that the first Jesuit settlers befriended a parrot named Frank.
24. The Guarani Tribes Inhabited Paraguay 1000 Years Ago!
It’s believed that the Guarani tribe of Paraguay settled in the eastern region for at least 1,000 years before Spanish colonialism.
On the other hand, another tribe named the Gran Chaco inhabited the western region. Both the regions were divided by the Paraguay River.
The tribes residing on the eastern side were skilled at agriculture, whereas the ones on the western side were warriors.
25. Paraguay Was One of the UN’s Original Member States
The UN was formed on 24 October 1945. Paraguay was one of the 51 founding member countries that joined the organisation in the same year.
Paraguay joined the UN on 24th October 1945 along with other countries like Argentina, Belarus, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Lebanon, and many more.
Further Reading – Facts About Paraguay
Paraguay is truly an impressive country with its renewable energy sources, lively events, and beautiful flora and fauna. I hope you were able to take a glimpse into its history and beauty through these facts about Paraguay!
If you want to know more about other such facts, do check out my other articles: