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.