Paraguay Geography and Population

Paraguay – geography

The climate in Paraguay is tropical. In the hottest months (December-March) the temperature can vary between 25 °C and 43 °C and there is high humidity. During the winter months, large temperature fluctuations occur, rarely all the way down to near freezing point. The fluctuations in winter can happen from one day to the next, but the coldest periods are only few and short. It never snows in Paraguay.

During the summer months, the heaviest rain showers are experienced, but rain falls throughout the year. The largest quantities occur in the southeastern corner of the country, Itapúa, with an average of 1800 mm per years, while the northwestern part of the country receives only an average of 400.

The Paraguay River runs down the middle of the country and divides it into two very different regions. The western region, El Gran Chaco, is flat and barren, and in large parts of the area the terrain is impassable due to swamps and dense scrub forest. After the Chaco War (1932-35), the region was nicknamed the Green Hell. The chaco covers 61% of Paraguay’s total area, but only 2% of the population inhabits this region. A single highway runs through the area and connects eastern Paraguay with Bolivia, but otherwise the infrastructure is only sparsely developed. The relatively passable part of the Chaco is characterized by large estancias (farms), where extensive cattle farming is practiced. Many estancias are gigantic, several hundred thousand hectares, and often have their own runway for aircraft.

The largest city in Chaco, Philadelphia, is founded by Mennonites, immigrants originally from Germany; the first came to Paraguay in the late 1920’s. The Mennonites have in and around Philadelphia cleared the natural vegetation and developed a significant agricultural production that is primarily built around the dairy sector. In addition to Mennonites, the Chaco is inhabited by Indians and a small number of other Paraguayans. They have mostly settled near the Mennonites or along the Paraguay River. See also Chaco.

La Oriental is the eastern region of Paraguay. In the easternmost part, the landscape is hilly and very lush, and this is where the greatest amounts of precipitation fall. Here are hills and hills of up to 600 m, and there are still areas of native rainforest, although large parts have been cleared. There are no official figures on deforestation, but it is estimated that 2/3 of the original forest is gone. In particular, the two types of wood cedar (Cedrela spp.) And lapacho (Tabebuia spp.) Are sought after in the building and furniture industry, and a large part of the wood is traded through unofficial channels and sold, among other things. in Brazil.

In the central part of La Oriental the soil is fertile and large parts are cultivated. Just under half of the Paraguayan population lives in the countryside and subsist primarily on agriculture. In Paraguay, cities have grown slowly and the country has the lowest degree of urbanization among Latin American countries. At the 1992 census, for the first time, more people lived in cities (50.5%) than in the countryside. A large part of this urban population lives in smaller cities. There is only one large city, the capital Asunción with 729,000 residents in the entire urban area. Three other cities have more than 50,000 residents: Ciudad del Este(223,000), Encarnación (70,000) and Pedro Juan Caballero (64,200). They are all border trading cities on the border with Brazil or Argentina. The fact that Paraguay has not experienced the same urban development as other Latin American countries is partly due to the fact that the country has for decades focused on the development of agriculture, a large part of which has always been small family farms. At the same time, there has been a massive migration from country to city, just not towards cities in Paraguay. A continuous emigration has taken place towards São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and especially towards Buenos Airesin Argentina, where today more than one million Paraguayans live. It is not only economic conditions but also political conditions, repression and persecution during the years-long dictatorship that have caused the emigration from Paraguay.


The population is one of the most ethnically homogeneous in Latin America. 90% are mestizos, while the rest are white (including about 25,000 Mennonites) and Indians (about 80,000).

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During Spanish colonization, Paraguay was never home to a large number of Spaniards. The country, which was neither rich in gold nor other raw materials, functioned primarily as a strategic possession compared to the Portuguese in Brazil. But the Spaniards who were, mingled and lived with the locals, and in this lie the roots of Paraguay’s mestizo population. The language guaraní has been maintained by the Paraguayans, and outside Asunción it is common for guaraní to be spoken rather than Spanish.. When the president meets the people of the country outside Asunción, it also takes place on guaraní. It is estimated that approximately 40% of the population do not speak Spanish at all. Conversely, many city dwellers speak Spanish and master only an “urban” (limited) guaraní. In that sense, language barriers can arise internally in the Paraguayan population.

Underpopulation is a phenomenon that has existed in Paraguay for several periods. In the Triple Alliance War (1865-70), Paraguay lost over half of its population, mostly men; likewise, a very large proportion of the Paraguayan men in the Chaco War against Bolivia (1932-35) fell. The consequences can be seen in the current population pattern, where only 3% are over 65 years of age. Population growth is high, approximately 2.5% annually.


Agriculture is the cornerstone of the Paraguayan economy. Over 1/3 of the working age population is employed here, and production represents 22.4% of GDP (2005). The primary crops are soybeans and sugar cane (for export) as well as cassava, which targets domestic consumption. Cassava is a tuberous plant and a typical Paraguayan food, especially in the countryside. The land distribution is very skewed, and the export crops are grown especially on large farms, the number of which has been increasing, just as the number of small family farms has been increasing, and here the families cultivate mainly to feed themselves. Paraguay has never focused on industrial development; the country is poor in minerals and other raw materials, so the existing industry is built around the processing of agricultural products as well as on energy production.

Paraguay – language

Spanish is the official language, but over 90% of the population also speak Guaraní, which is perceived as a national cultural heritage; Spanish is most prevalent in cities, while guaraní is strongest in rural areas and as a home language. In addition, a total of approximately 15 Native American languages; several are like the guaraní of the linguistic tupí. For culture and traditions of Paraguay, please check calculatorinc.