Paraguay often called the Corazon or Heart of South America. Paraguay is the least densely populated country in South America, the quiet country, an island surrounded by land, is only the second land locked country in the Americas, the other being Bolivia.
Paraguay lies in the center of South America, surrounded by the countries of Brazil to the east, Argentina to the west and the south. The closest ocean is the Atlantic, 900 miles away by way of the Parana River. Paraguay is divided into two very distinct regions by the Paraguay River, to the east is the Paraguay Oriental and to the west lays the Paraguay Occidental. Paraguay offers a varying landscape, from unbelievable waterfalls in the south western corner of the country where the boarders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay come together. Paraguay has dense jungles, grassy plains, large areas of wilderness forests, lagoons and marshes, as well as many national parks. The Gran Chaco, a wilderness area located between Bolivia and northern Argentina lies in the Rio de la Plata. This area of Paraguay is hot, humid and encompasses some semiarid lowlands. Situated along the western banks of the Paraguay River and east of the Bolivian Andes, the Gran Chaco has been called the last South American Frontier.
Paraguay was first settled in the early 16th century when the Spaniards arrived in 1537 and founded Asunción, today’s capital of Paraguay. Asuncion became a center for the Spanish colonization of South America, as well as a major site for the Jesuit missions in South America. Starting in 1811, when Paraguay won its independence from Spain, the country has been ruled by numerous dictators and has seen much infighting, as well as destructive wars with its neighbors. The Paraguayan War also known as the War of the Triple Alliance was fought between Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil during the years 1864 to 1870. The Paraguayan War had the most deaths of any of the South American wars. Fought over the Rio Plata region, it is estimated that Paraguay lost upwards of 90% of its prewar population. The most recent war being the Chaco War of 1932-1935, fought over the Gran Chaco region with its neighbor to the west, Bolivia.
Paraguay’s economy is mainly based on agriculture and cattle ranching. Since Paraguay is land locked, the economy is dependent on its neighbors Argentina and Brazil. On the south eastern border with Brazil, Paraguay is co-owners of the Itapúa Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Paraguay uses only 10% of electricity produced, thus exporting the rest of their 50% share making Paraguay the largest exporter of electricity.
Today, travelers are drawn to Paraguay for the wilderness and breathe taking waterfalls. Asunción, the capital and largest city in Paraguay is a major attraction for its Spanish colonial architecture, as well as the impressive Jesuit Missions.
Paraguay’s climate ranges from tropical in the Gran Chaco region to subtropical in the Paranena region. The Paranena region, humid with rainfall throughout the year varies slightly in temperature. During the months of November through April, the winds blow out of Brazil to the northeast and are called Sirocco. From May to October, you will find the winds from the south coming across Argentina from the South Atlantic called Pampero Winds bringing cooler temperatures to Paraguay.