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HISTORY OF PARAGUAY
FOOD AND CUISINE
Paraguay, officially named the Republic of Paraguay, is one of the two countries in South America that are fully surrounded by land. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Bolivia to the northwest, and Brazil to the east and northeast ("Paraguay"(1)). Paraguay was named after the Paraguay River by the Guarani people and is literally translated as Para, meaning of many colors; Gua, meaning from or belonging to a place; Y, meaning water, river, or lake ("Paraguay" (2)). The capital city of Paraguay is Asunción, which is also the largest city covering 45.2 square miles. About 30% of Paraguay’s population lives in Asunción and its surrounding suburbs. Paraguay covers 157,048 square miles and has a population of 6,831,306 people. 32% of their population is below the poverty line and 16% are listed as unemployed ("Paraguay"(1)).
Paraguay has two official languages, Spanish and Guarani. 90% of the population speaks Guarani and 75% of the population can speak Spanish, so most citizens can speak both languages. They have one main ethnic group, mestizo, which is a mix of Spanish and Guarani Indian descent, that takes up 95% of their population. Almost all Paraguayan people, 90 %, are Roman Catholic while the other 10% is Mennonite and other Protestant minorities ("Republic of Paraguay").
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Paraguay is divided into two regions by the
, or the Paraguay River. The eastern half is called the Paraneña Region, and the western half is called the Chaco. Many of Paraguay’s rivers and their tributaries define the boundaries of Paraguay like the
Río de Paraná
as Paraná River
), containing the
that forms the southeastern border of Paraguay ("Paraguay: A Country Report").
The eastern section of Paraguay consists of rolling grasslands and fertile farming lands, and near the Brazilian border, wooded and jungle areas appear in several large patches. Most of the population lives in the east and are small scale agricultural farmers. The western region, also called the Gran Chaco, takes up nearly two-thirds of the total area of Paraguay. The land is a low-lying plateau that is covered with bogs, palms, spiny bushes, small trees, and grassy meadows ("Republic of Paraguay"). The weather is very unpredictable in the region with random floods or parched lands which makes agriculture difficult. Because of the impermeable clay soil, the land is not arable which makes only 6% of the land in Paraguay usable ("Paraguay"(1)). None of the land in Paraguay is permanently used for crops Not only can the land not be used but almost all of the land does not hav
e navigable rivers or roads, and because of this only 3% of Paraguay’s population lives in the west.
There are three main mountain ranges in Paraguay the Cordillera de Caaguazú, the Cordillera de Amambay, and the Cordillera de Mbaracayú.
The highest point in Paraguay is
rro Tres Kandu) which is 842 meters, 2762 feet, above sea level ("Paraguay"(2)). Both
Paraguay and the
Parana are very important to Paraguay because they define most of the country’s borders, provide all its drainage, and serve as transportation routes. Many of Paraguay’s largest cities are river ports. The lowest point is at the junction of the
Parana which is 46 meters, 151 feet, above sea level. But at an average, Paraguay is about 121 feet above sea level ("Paraguay"(1)).
The climate of Paraguay is subtropical and seasonal and is often subject to change abruptly. The long, hot summer is opposite the United States so it lasts from October through March. High winds and thunder and electrical storms are common in the summer along with severe spells of very high humidity and heat ("Republic of Paraguay"). The temperature of days in December through February usually exceed 100ºF, the record high being 109ºF. Winter is from June through August, July being the coldest month, and is rather moderate, being in the 70s and 80s, with short periods of temperatures in the 40s and 50s. The record low was recorded in Asunción at 32ºF. In the winter, temperatures change abruptly often sometimes going from the 30s to the 60s in a short period of time (Paraguay"(1)).
The annual rainfall in Paraguay is 127 centimeters, which is usually distributed evenly across the country. The most rain falls during the periods of March through May and October, with August having the least rainfall ("Republic of Paraguay").
ECONOMY AND GOVERNMENT
Paraguay has a large market economy, based primarily on agriculture, but there is a very large informal sector. The informal sector includes the re-exporting of imported goods to neighboring countries and the thousands of urban street vendors. Because the informal sector is so large, it is hard to place an overall accurate measure of the economy. Overall, Paraguay’s economy is not that successful and is very unsteady, falling and rising every year. Many people blame the poor economy on political uncertainty, corruption, lack of work on structural reform, large internal and external debt, and deficient infrastructure ("Paraguay: A Country Report").
32% of Paraguay’s population is below the poverty line and 16% of Paraguayan people are unemployed. The main industries are sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, and electric power. The main agriculture they have is cotton, sugarcane, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava, fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, eggs, milk, and timber ("Paraguay"(1)). Their main exports are soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood and leather. They mainly export to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Bermuda. They import road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, and electrical machinery. They get these imports from Brazil, United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Hong Kong, and China. As an attempt to strengthen the economy and their foreign investment, Paraguay has recently joined the
Mercosur trade bloc ("Paraguay"(2))
The currency of Paraguay
is the Guarani. One Paraguayan Guarani equals 0.000197 of a U.S. dollar and one dollar equals about 5,700 Guaranies. The denominations of the Guarani begin at 1,000 Guaranies to 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 ("Republic of Paraguay"). Because of the very high inflation, the government had to de-issue the centimos, 100 centimos made up one Guarani. There are no coins in Paraguayan currency ("Paraguay: A Country Report").
The government of Paraguay is constitutional republic, which is much like the United States’ government. They have an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. The President of Paraguay is
Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez
and the vice president is Frederico Gómez. In Paraguay the president is both the chief of state and the head of the government and they, along with the vice president, are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term ("Paraguay"(1)).
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HISTORY OF PARAGUAY
Paraguay had remained untouched, with an exception of the the native indians, also known as the
, ("the Guaraní") until 1524. Spanish explorers discovered Paraguay and established Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, on August 15, 1537. Paraguay was the first country in South America to achieve its independence. The rule of Colonialism was used in Paraguay until the 19th Century before it was turned into a dictatorship. ("Republic Of Paraguay")
José Gaspar Rodríguez Francia
ruled the first dictatorship until his death in 1840. After the death of
José Gaspar Rodríguez Francia, Carlos Antonie López became the next dictator and made
an attempt to “remodel” Paraguay but backfired when his son, Francisco Solano López took Paraguay to into
The War of the Triple Alliance
("Infoplease:Hisory"). Paraguay lost the war and experienced over a decade of hardships and unstable government. After the war, in 1874, Bernardion Caballero, who was known as “the war hero”, established
The Colorado Party
("Paraguay Government")and took over the Paraguayan polictics for more than thirty years.("Paraguay:History") This caused Paraguay to rebuild itself from the Triple Alliance War. Decades later, Paraguay found itself in the Chaco War between Bolivia. This was another battle for land possession. This war lasted for ten years and ended in 1938 when a peace tready was signed by Bolivia. It declared Paraguay’s defeat. Paraguay gained 20,000 square miles of land back but also lost more of their male population. ("Paraguay")In 1874, General Bernardion Caballero, a war hero, created the Colorado party and ruled Paraguayan politics for thirty years. Also during this time, Paraguay had been invaded by the Roman Catholic Church. The people were referred to as the Jesuits, or the Society of Christ.(Jesuits:Paraguay). The first Jesuits arrived in Paraguay as early as 1588 and tried to influence the government in Paraguay. The Jesuits also wanted to free the Indians of Paraguay. The believed it was unjust to enslave the Guaraní and had a mission to
stop the slave-raiting people.
constituted a unique experience of spreading the gospel and of community government, which began in 1604 and culminated with the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1777".("Colonial Period")
For thirty years, politics flourished and Paraguay was strong and successful. From this point forward, Paraguay has been under dictorship rule. BBC News says, “Paraguay has experienced more than three decades of dictatorship under Alfredo Stroessner, who was ousted in 1989 and died in exile in 2006.” Now, Paraguay has changed their rule of government completely. Paraguay is now a more republic type of government.("Infoplease:Government")Paraguay now has a president and not a dictator.
In November 1842, the flag of Paraguay was created. The red stripe in the flag stands for justice, the white stripe stands for peace, and blue stripe stands for liberty. The National Coat of Arms, located in the center of the white stripe, contains a star in it that stands for the nation, and the palm and olive branches framing the star are symbols that stand for unity and peace. The design on the back of the flag is a little different, with the seal of the treasury which is the image of a lion under the words “Peace” and “Justice”.("Culture Grams")
ENTERTAINMENT IN PARAGUAY
There were many forms of entertainment in Paraguay. Sports are a big deal, and soccer is greatly looked upon and many people are fond of it. It's the national sport of Paraguay and everyone follows it, no matter who. Not only is soccer a big deal but other things like music, theater, film and art are also popular.
Paraguayan Music largely depends on the two intruments: the guitar and the harp. (Music) Feliz Perez Cardoso was the first artist that brought the harp to international fame, along with Digno Garcia, Luis Bordon and Lorenzo Leguizamon.
so was the first artist that brought the harp to
nternational fame, along with Digno García, Luis Bordón and Lorenzo Leguizamón. The guitar was found in famous composer and interpreter
Augustín Pío Barrios
works. He composed extremely difficult
compositions such as La Catedral, Las Abejas, and the Danza Paraguaya. Since the 70’s Paraguayan music has progressed and has shown indications of improvement (Music). For example, the genre rock, is new in Paraguayan music. The dictator Alfredo Stoessner during his command from 1954 to 1989 didn’t allow forms of liberal expressions (Paraguay Music). Although still, some rock groups were made in the 1970s such as
The Blue Cap.
But in 1989 with the fall of Stroessner rock groups started to emerge. Groups such as Chris Patik, Enemigos de la Klase, Gaia, Deliverans, El Temple, Dogma, Shaman, Turkish Blend and Slow Agony became popular. With the thanks to the big rock festivals such as “Pilsen Rock” and “Quilmes Rock” these rock bands have had much success with 60,000 spectators for every event (Paraguay Music). Some even made small gigs in the United States, and made international success by touring throughout Latin America. Popular Paraguayan bands today are Flou, Rebolber, Ripe,
, Area 69, Paiko, Orchablex and Nod
The Polka, is the most popular genre and the most typical type of music in Paraguay. (Music) It has different versions including the Galopa, the Krye’ and the Canción Paraguaya. The Galopa and the Krye’ are faster and more cheerful then the regular polka, and Canción Paraguaya, is a bit slower and gloomy (Music). Other less popular styles include the Purahéi Jahe’o and the Compuesto. They usually tell sad, epic or love stories in their songs. Also a popular genre, Guarania, was created by the great musician
Jose Asuncion Flores
in 1925. It has a slower beat that conveys the miserable mood of this man. As the new style grew, he composed and created the symphonic version of Guarania (Music)
From religious symbolic plays and operettas, the Paraguayan theater came about with a strong Spanish influence, following the first stagings of theatrical pieces brought from Spain.(Paraguay Theater) With actors such as Josefina Pla, Roque Centurion Miranda, Fernando Oca del Valle, Manuel Ortiz Guerrero and Julio Correa, Paraguayan theater in the 20th century has escalated with popularity (Paraguay Theater). New themes, with the finding of Paraguays independent theater differed from many subjects which started to make their presence known. Today the modern day theater of Paraguay has the courage to experiment and to innovate its plays, one of the biggest names in theater is, Agustin Nunez (Paraguay Theater). Today Paraguay Theater is produced in Spanish and Guarani. (Paraguay Culture) The first Paraguayan films was “Paraguayan Soul” produced by Hipólito Jorge Carrón and his nephew Agustín Carrón Quell. Together they made movies such as, documentaries showing images of places such as Guayzu Marcket, and images of patriotic parades with celebrities of the times. Almost all of these movies were silent, in black and white and were recorded in 35 millimeter.
Paraguay has a large number of sports like; soccer, basketball, tennis, chess, etc. (Paraguay Sports) Sports is pretty big in Paraguay and is one of the major past times for kids, teens, and adults. The Paraguayan basketball team received second place in the 1955 and 1960 South American Basketball Championship. (Paraguay Sports) Some Paraguayan tennis players are Rossana de los Rios, Victor Pecci, Hugo Chapacu, and Francisco Gonzalez, and for the first time Paraguay took part in the Davis Cup for the first time in 1931. (Paraguay Sports) The soccer team for Paraguay won a silver medal in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The team is run by Asocicaion Paraguya de Futbol. (Paraguay Sports) Some of the soccer players consist of:
Juan Eduardo Samudio
, Dionisio Arce, Arsenio Erico, Carlos Morales Santos, and Juan Vicente Lezcano
Paraguayan Art is shown within or on churches (Paraguay Art). It decorates the pews, pulpits, alters, and the stones. It’s related to folklore and religious believes. Famous Paraguayan artists are Pablo Alborno.
A type of popular art is
ñandutí lace; it’s thought to be the most well-known of all crafts (Paraguay Art). It’
s the same as knitting, but very difficult. Museums and knitting organizations have been created because this lace is so popular. The Guarani flag has a web like pattern
used in its
design. Another noticeable form of art is Ceramics. (Paraguay Art) Paraguayan ceramics contains pieces from ancient funerary vases to jugs used for cooking purposes, which are well-known for their decoration with engobe, urucú designs, or being corrugates. These works are from Western Paraguay and show Andean influences. Finally, there is wood carving. (Paraguay Art) This art varies from the making of masks used for ethnic services, pipes, small chairs, apyká, and to various types of animal/human like figures.
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FOOD AND CUISINE IN PARAGUAY
The eating habits in Paraguay differ from person to person. Depending on the region where they live, people eat at different times throughout the day. Poor farmers living in rural areas eat whenever they can throughout the day because food is scarce. Often times they’ll eat while they’re farming instead of going back to their house because it’s the only place food is available. Also, they have to be constantly working to make a living. People with more wealth living in urban areas eat together with their families (“Eating & Recipes”).
It is not common for people in Paraguay, especially those living in rural areas, to drink while eating a meal. The celebrations and parties hosted by rural people are normally separated by gender. Women are forced to eat before men and often at a different table. An
is a very popular social gathering in many areas of Paraguay (“Eating & Recipes”).
Eating habits for urban class people are very different. Most of the time, the children of the household eat before guests arrive. This rule applies only to guests who aren’t relatives. Guests are served a full plate for a meal and very much encouraged to eat seconds. Serving plates on the table offer a place to get more food. It is considered an insult to the host if a guest doesn’t eat all of the food on their plate. Also, urban class people enforce etiquette rules at the dinner table. These rules are important in formal situations. People aren’t supposed to put their hands in their laps, but instead rest them on the side of the table. Also, they cannot eat before the host has taken the first bite (“Eating & Recipes”).
When walking down the streets of Paraguay, one can find people eating everywhere. Street vendors are a very common way to buy food, which in turn makes eating and drinking in public common. People of Paraguay always share their food with others around them. When going out to a restaurant, people rarely order a drink for just themselves. Huge pitchers are ordered for the whole table. Other diners are expected to order more rounds throughout the night. At a restaurant, tips are not expected because service is always included in the bill. Even when just eating a snack, it is considered rude to not share it with others. It is impolite to decline an offer of food (“Eating & Recipes”).
Paraguayans eat three main meals throughout the day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal of breakfast often includes pastries, rolls, bread and butter, and coffee or cocido. Lunch is considered the major meal and occurs about midday. Dinner is often served around dark when all of the work from that day is completed. The staple foods of Paraguay are chipa (hard cheese bread), sopa Paraguaya (cornbread baked with cheese, onions, and meat),
, tortillas, and empanadas (deep-fried vegetable or meat pockets). Beef, chicken, and pork are common in the adult diet. Many Paraguayans grow their own food. Most families on a farm have small gardens to grow their fruits and vegetables. Some of the most common produce grown are tomatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, squash, garlic, and watermelon. Fruit is provided from nearby trees and bushes (“Eating & Recipes”).
ORIGIN OF PARAGUAYAN FOOD
Paraguayan food customs have strong indigenous roots, although they’ve become a lot broader since colonization. They’ve been influenced by Europe and surrounding countries in South America (Crespo).
The first people to live in Paraguay started cooking with two staples that have stayed the base of many modern Paraguayan dishes.
Cassava (a tuber with generous roots) and corn (American grain) can be made to eat in many forms
Cassava can be used in many dishes and is often found in at least one dish at the Paraguayan dinner table. Cassava makes farina (a type of flower), typyraty and almidón. All of these are very different products, and therefore used in an array of dishes. Cassava is found in chipa, which is a common food at festivals such as Holy Week. Chipa is a traditional bread kneaded with cassava starch, milk, cheese and eggs
Corn can also be used in many different dishes. It is found as sweet kernels in chipá guasú and as corn flour in Paraguayan soup. Also, corn is in bori bori, a thick broth with balls of corn and cheese in it
COMMON PARAGUAYAN DISHES
Old fashioned dishes-
Mbeyú: omelet with cassava starch, topped with cheese
Puchero: a traditional stew with Spanish origin
Arró Quesú: Paraguayan-style rice with cheese
Bife Koyguá: tender and juicy beef cut with onions and fried eggs
Quesú Paraguái: cheese made by Paraguayan artisans from the countryside
Mazamorra: a common sweet dish based from crushed corn, sugar and honey
Kivevé: sweet polenta tossed with corn flour and pumpkin
Koserevá: dessert prepared with citrus fruits such as the sour orange
Ka’i ladrillo: a sweet made with peanuts, remind one of bricks when cut up
Dulce de mammon: a dessert made from the genip
Arró kamby: a local version of European rice pudding
(Dumpling Soup) (Main Dish)
(“Eating and Recipes”)
This restaurant specializes in Mediterranean cuisine and any meats on the menu are a safe bet. It started off as a place for lunch time clients; however, over the years it has adapted into malls and fast food places. Run by the same family since 1960, the original Confiteria Bolsi is located in a 19th century house. The prices tend to be higher than average, usually less than $10 US dollars for a dish. It is located on Estrella 399 esquina Alberdi. (021/491 841) (Zaldua)
Hacienda Las Palomas:
This Mexican restaurant will create a very memorable meal with its genuine Mexican dishes. The ambiance is very relaxed on this property surrounded by gardens. Common dishes include their quesadillas, fried cheese, and crepes with dulce de leche. The prices tend to be more expensive than average, ranging from $11 to $20 US dollars. It is located on Guido Spano 1481. (021/605 111) (Zaldua)
A relaxed, romantic atmosphere can be found here at this Italian restaurant. The restaurant is in Asuncion, Paraguay and is famous for its wines, featuring Chilean, Italian, and Argentinean wine. It’s located in a cute little building with wooden beams and white walls. The food is more expensive than average, ranging between $11 and $20 US dollars per dish. Il Capo can be found at Peru 291 c/Jose Berges (Zaldua)
ERVA MATE TEA
Mate is a very healthy tea that can be served either hot or cold. It is the national drink of Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay; however, it is a social normality to drink it in Bolivia, Chile, Turkey, Lebanon, and Brazil as well. It comes from the llex paraguariensis tree. To prepare it, dried leaves from the tree are cooked in hot water. It extracts substances like caffeine and other stimulates (Zaldua).
When drinking Erva Mate, it is common tradition for one person to try it first to make sure there are no bad substances in it and it tastes right. This person is called the mate de zonzo (mate of the fool). It is than passed around the group until the mate is completely empty. Due to the stimulates in it, Erva Mate has the ability to relieve fatigue and stimulate physical and mental ability. It also helps in weight loss and is an antioxidant. There are many complex minerals in it including vitamins A, C, E, B1, Iron, and Zinc (“Mate (Beverage)”).
Mate is drunk with a metal straw called a bombilla. Usually, the bombilla is made of silver. The Mate is served in a gourd (a hollow shell of a fruit). In more modern times, Mate can also be found in tea bags (“Mate (Beverage)”).
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