Paraguay is a country with great natural beauty and friendly people, but is one of the least visited in South America. Below are some interesting, funny and unusual facts about Paraguay’s history, culture, famous people, literacy rate, imports and exports, popular sports, animals, natural resources, wildlife and national parks, economy, tourism and much more.
Let’s start with 40 interesting facts about Paraguay
Fact 1. Paraguay’s nickname is the “Corazón de América” (the Heart of America). The name refers to Paraguay’s location in the center of the South American continent.
Fact 2. Paraguay’s name is said to mean “crowned river” after the Guarani words for water and palm crown. According to former president Juan Natalicio Gonzalez, it means “river of the habitants of the sea.”
Fact 4. The Paraguay River, which divides the country into two halves, is South America’s second-longest river after the more famous Amazon River.
Fact 5. Paraguay’s literacy rate is higher than that of the United States. Paraguay’s citizens age 15 and older read and write at a 94 percent literacy rate, compared to 86 percent for the U.S.
Facts about Paraguay’s Culture
Fact 6. The native Guarana people were living in Paraguay long before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1600s. Today, 93 percent of Paraguay’s people are mestizos, descendants of those Spanish men and Guarana women. This makes Paraguay’s population the most homogenous in South America.
Fact 7. Guarani is still spoken by everyone in Paraguay, regardless of their income, politics or social class. This is one of the country’s unifying strengths. Other indigenous heritages are its traditional 38-string harp music and the traditional bottle dance, performed with dancers twirling bottles around their heads.
Fact 8. Paraguay’s people make some of the world’s finest lacework. Nanduti (meaning “spiderweb”) is beautiful lace created in circular designs and found in a rainbow of various colors. Other traditional folk arts are embroidered cloth, black clay work and ceramics, and gorgeous silver jewelry in filigree designs.
Fact 9. Paraguay’s national beverage is mate. Mate (pronounced “mahtay”) is often served hot. When it is served chilled, it is called tereré. It is imbibed through a metal drinking straw called a bombilla. Yerba mate, which is related to common holly, is cultivated on plantations.
Fact 10. The day’s main meal is eaten at noon. Two staples of the Paraguayan diet are corn and cassava, a starchy root vegetable. Cassava (or mandioca) is baked with cheeses to make the thick bread known as Chipa. Corn is used in Paraguayan soup (sopa paraguaya), Bori bori soup and other dishes.
Fact 11. Lapacho (or Taheebo) comes from the inner bark of Purple or Red Lapacho trees and is used in herbal medicines and as tea. An ancient cure, it was one of the primary medicines of the Incas.
Fact 12. The people of Paraguay enjoy sports, including football (soccer), rugby, tennis and volleyball. Fishing is as popular as football.
Paraguay Facts for Kids
Fact 13. Paraguay is the only country worldwide whose national flag has different emblems on each side. The country’s Coat of Arms is on the front and its Treasury Seal is on the back with its motto, ‘Paz y Justica’ (Peace and Justice). Paraguay’s flag is one of the world’s oldest national flags.
Fact 14. Though Paraguay is a land-locked country with no border on the ocean, it has a well-trained navy. Their navy is the largest of any land-locked country in the world.
Fact 15. Iguacu Falls, spanning the Iguacu River, is made up of more than 275 individual waterfall cascades, is taller than Niagara Falls, and is twice its width.
Fact 16. As many as 210 football stadiums could be built with the same amount of concrete as was used to build the Itaipu Dam.
Fact 17. Paraguay is just a little smaller than the state of California.
Fact 18. Famous Paraguay athletes are Jose Luis Chilavert of football (soccer) and Rossana De Los Rios (tennis). Leryn Franco is a javelin thrower who participated in three different Olympic games and was also featured in the 2011 ‘Sports Illustrated’ “Swimsuit Edition.”
Fact 19. Paraguay is home to the world’s largest rodent called the Capybara, which is basically a giant guinea pig.
Fact 20. Endangered animals include the jaguar, harpy eagle, red parrot, giant armadillo and anteater (jurumi). More Uruguay animals include brown wolves, foxes, tapirs and more than 1000 species of birds. Paraguay also has many boa constrictors and crocodiles, and even some piranha, as well.
Funny Facts Paraguay
Fact 21. Climbing on and off the national buses, “Chipa ladies” dress in blue miniskirts, train conductor caps and fishnet stockings to sell Chipa to passengers.
Fact 22. Paraguay’s name may have come from a parrot befriended by the country’s earliest Jesuit priests. Named Frank, he eventually became dinner for those priests. Whether true or not, the country was actually labeled on 16th century maps as “Parrot”.
Fact 23. Paraguay is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest barbecue, which was attended by approximately 30,000 people.
Fact 24. Homes have no doorbells. To announce your arrival, clap your hands. With windows always open in the hot climate, claps are clearly heard inside.
Fact 25. Dueling is legal here, but only between participants who are registered blood donors.
Fact 26. One of Paraguay’s hidden secrets is Fermina Benitezs, the lady of 100,000 chickens. Now 70, she began making her black clay folk-art chickens when she was 17.
Fact 28. Before the war, Paraguay was prosperous with substantial gold assets. Between 5,000 and 60,000 caches of this gold were buried or hidden. None are known to have been recovered.
Fact 29. American president Rutherford B. Hayes was the binding arbitrator of the peace terms after the War of the Triple Alliance. Because Hayes awarded the Gran Chaco to Asuncion, Paraguay instead of Buenos Aires, he became a national hero. The town and county of Villa Hayes were named for him.
Fact 30. Paraguay didn’t grant women the right to vote until 1961, the last Latin American nation to do so. Constitutional reforms in 1992 finally gave women equal rights within their marriages.
Fact 31. Ciudad del Este’s crowded street bazaars attract many Brazilians across the river for bargains. Many Brazilians are moving to Paraguay because its homes are less expensive.
Fact 33. The western Paraguay region of Chaco has 60 percent of the country’s land, but only 2 percent of the people live there. The remainder of the population lives within 100 miles of the capital Asuncion in eastern Paraguay. It is estimated that half of the population lives below the poverty level.
Fact 34. Paraguay is the world’s fourth-largest soybean producer, the second-largest tung oil producer, the second-largest stevia producer, sixth-largest corn exporter, eighth-largest beef exporter and tenth-largest wheat exporter. Over half of Paraguayans work in agriculture and forestry.
Fact 35. The people of Paraguay are known for their gentle and friendly behavior toward tourists. Do be aware, however, that cheap inns and hotels in Paraguay usually serve as local brothels, as well. European and North American tourists are somewhat of a novelty, and they are treated with respect.
Fact 36. The well-preserved Jesuit ruins in Paraguay dating back to 1706 have been named UNESCO World Heritage sites, though they are some of the most seldom visited in South America. The Robert De Niro film, ‘The Mission,’ was filmed at some of these historic sites.
Fact 37. Paraguay has 42 protected wildlife areas and 10 national parks. There are comfortable accommodations and tours available in the Mbaracayu tropical forests, as well as 89 mammal species and 410 bird species. Ybycui features metallic blue butterflies, waterfalls and howler monkeys.
Fact 38. Paraguay’s colorful festivals also attract tourists. The Festival de San Juan in June features fire walking in hot coals and embers, great food and the ritual burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot. February’s San Blas Fiestas are Carnival celebrations. Bus service is safe and inexpensive.
Fact 39. There are old, established Australian, German and Japanese communities in Paraguay where visitors can say ‘g’day,’ dine on sushi, rice and fresh vegetables and enjoy fresh schnitzels. In fact, the New Germany colony was established by Friedrich Nietzsche’s sister in the 1880s.
Fact 40. The native Ache peoples gave up cannibalism more than 50 years ago. Today, they still live simply (primitively), but are friendly and are known to welcome visitors in their rain forest homes.
|Total area||406,752 sq km|
|Government type||presidential republic|
|Borders||Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia|
|National anthem||"Paraguayos, Republica o muerte!" (Paraguayans, The Republic or Death!)|
|Life expectancy||77.18 years (2016)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Climate||subtropical to temperate; substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, becoming semiarid in the 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|
|Independence||14 May 1811 (from Spain)|
|Industries||sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, base metals, electric power|
|Exports||$8.352 billion (2015 est.)
soybeans, livestock feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, wood, leather
|Imports||$9.604 billion (2015 est.)
road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, electrical machinery, tractors, chemicals, vehicle parts
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$8,700 (2015 est.)|
|Birth rate||16.37 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Death rate||4.68 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Sex ratio||1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|Internet users||3.011 million
percent of population: 44.4% (July 2015 est.)
|Internet country code||.py|
|Time Zone||PYT (UTC–4)
Summer (DST) PYST (UTC–3)
|Drives on the||Right|