“AN ISLAND SURROUNDED ON ALL SIDES BY LAND” - Augusto Roa Bastos, a famous Paraguayan novelist.
ONE OF THE WORLDS MOST ISOLATED COUNTRIES, RARELY VISITED BY TOURISTS. BUT IT OFFERS SO MUCH - A TRULY AUTHENTIC SOUTH-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.
We made a list of 17 most interesting facts about this little-known country.
1. Paraguay is sometimes called “Corazón de Sudamérica” (“Heart of South America”) due to its central position in the continent.
2. There are few theories about the origin of the name of this country. One is that the word means “crowned river” in Guarani language. But, according to the former president Juan Natalicio Gonzalez, it actually means “river of the habitants of the sea. There is also a story that its name comes from a parrot, which was found by the Jesuit settlers. He was called Frank, but was eventually eaten by the settlers.
3. Capital of Paraguay is Asunción, founded by the Spanish explorer Juan de Salazar y Espinoza in 1537. It is home to nearly a third of the country’s population.
4. Paraguay is bilingual – Guaraní is the first and Spanish is the second language. It is the one of the few South-American countries which retained its native tongue as the official language. Guaraní is a very interesting, onomatopoeic language – many words imitate the sounds of nature and animals.
5. Population of Paraguay is one of the most homogenous in all Latin America. More than 90% are mestizos, meaning of mixed Guaraní and Spanish descent.
6. Paraguay is the only country in the world to have different emblems on each side of its national flag. It’s a red-white-blue triband, with the country’s Coat of arms in the front and the Treasury Seal in the back, with the words ‘Paz y Justica’ (Peace and Justice), Paraguay’s motto. This flag is one of the oldest flags in the world.
7. Paraguay’s literacy rate is very high. Almost 94% of people older than 15 years know how to read and write.
8. In Paraguay, doors rarely have doorbells. You have to clap your hands in front of the door, but due to the hot weather the windows are always open, so good luck with people inside hearing your claps.
9. Paraguay is the forth country in the world in electricity export. It has the second largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, Itaipu Dam, which it shares with Brazil.
10. The Paraguay River is the second longest river in South America, after the more famous Amazon River.
11. It divides the country in two very different parts. Eastern Paraguay (Paraguay Oriental, also known as the Paraneña region) is covered in rainforests and is part of the Pantanal – the largest wetland in the world that extends across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Western Paraguay (Paraguay Occidental, also known as the Chaco) is comprised of marshes, grasslands, sand dunes and thorn forests.
12. The highest point of Paraguay, located in the Grand Chaco region, is Cerro Peró. It’s only 842 m (2,762 ft) high. It was once used by the armed forces of Paraguay for the army repeater.
13. On the other hand, Cerro León, which is only 610 m (2.001 ft) high, is the most summited peak in Paraguay.
14. The Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue is the least visited UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. They were founded by the Jesuit missioners in 17th century, during the colonization of South America and are considered one of the most impressive creations of the Jesuit.
15. Fauna of Paraguay is very diverse, due to the country’s different habitats. The most interesting creature is probably capybara – the world’s largest rodent. It basically looks like a giant guinea pig and can grow up to 134 cm (4.4 ft) and weight up to 66kg (164 lb).
16. Paraguay has the largest navy of all the landlocked countries in the world.
17. The first railway in South America was The Asunción-Encarnación railway, constructed by the British engineers from 1858-1861.