Paraguay
by Dusty Bakker, Kevin Hand, Justin Keller, and Danny Buetner

General Information


Paraguay is one of the only two countries in South America that is land locked, along with Bolivia. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, by Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest (country reports). The capital city of Paraguay is Asuncion. Asuncion is located in the southern-most part of Paraguay, near the border of Argentina. The population in Paraguay is rather low, with only about 6.6 million people (country reports). The country gets its name from the Paraguay River that runs through the center of the country from north to south. This river splits the country in half. The eastern side consists of rolling, fertile farming land, and large grass lands(CIA world fact book). Along the Brazilian border, there are large wooded and jungle areas. The majority of Paraguay’s population lives in this area, about 97%. The western part of the country makes up about 2/3 of the country. This area is known as the Chaco (Paraguay). The western section of the country consists of low-lying plateaus covered with grassy meadows, bogs, spiny bushes, and a lot of trees. The Chaco lacks roads and navigable rivers. As a result of this, most of this region is considered to be inaccessible, with only about 3% of the country’s population living here (country reports). In the east is the capital Asuncion, which contains about 10% of the country’s population, and is located 177 feet about sea level. While the capital sits only 177 feet above sea level, the highest range of hills in the east sits about 2,000 feet about sea level. Paraguay is made of mainly land mass. The total area of Paraguay is about 406, 750 square kilometers. Land however, makes up about 397,300 square kilometers of that, and water only makes up about 9, 450 square kilometers (country reports).
Paraguay Map
Paraguay Map

Paraguay is located in the southern hemisphere, this means that the seasons there are opposite of the seasons here in the United States. This means that their summer months are from October to March. Summers in Paraguay can be very hot, with the average temperature being about 81 degrees Fahrenheit, but temperatures often exceed 100 degrees (CIA). Large rainstorms are also very common in the summer, raining mainly in the east, and not as much in the west. Due to this heavy rainfall, Paraguay is a very humid place in the summer (Paraguay). The winter months consist of June through August. Temperatures during the winter rarely reach the low forties and high thirties. Most days stay around the 70’s and 80’s during the winter. However, the record low in Asuncion is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (CIA). The weather in the winter is sometimes unpredictable, because it changes a lot. Rain is consistent year around, with the annual rain fall of about 59 inches. Torrential rains usually cause annual floods in riverside communities from overflowing rivers. The humidity ranges between 67 and 78% on a regular basis (country reports).
Paraguay as a whole is considered to be a very poor country. Its gross domestic product (GDP) is only $26.550 billion, and its GDP per capita is only about $4,000 (country reports). About 32% of the population is below the poverty line, and in rural areas, 41% percent of the population do not have a monthly income to cover the basic necessities. The top ten percent of society holds about 45% of the national income, while the lower ten percent of society only contains about 0.5% of the income (CIA). The unemployment rate in Paraguay is very high, at about 16% of the population. Paraguay is very dependent on their trade partners, like Argentina and Brazil. Because it is a landlocked country, 38% of the GDP comes from their imports and exports to and from Brazil and Argentina. Some of the main exports of the country are soybeans, cotton, meats, edible oils, electricity, wood, and leather (country reports). The production rate of this is about 3.4 %. Its main imports are road vehicles, consumer goods, tobacco, petroleum products, and electrical machinery. The southeastern border of Paraguay is formed by a river known as the Parana River. This river contains a large dam known as the Itaipu, which is shared with Brazil. This is currently the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, which generates all the electricity consumed by Paraguay (Paraguay).
Paraguay has a constitutional republic government, and its currency is called the guarani. The country achieved its independence on May 14, 1811. It was one of the first nations to gain its independence from Spain in South America. It was once considered to be the second most important nation to the Spanish dominions in South America behind Peru (Country reports). However, the nation failed because it could not produce gold or silver. The legal system in Paraguay is based on Argentine codes, Roman law, and French codes combined. In Paraguay, the president is considered head of state, and the head of the government (Paraguay). Paraguay has a very interesting flag, because it is the only flag in the world to have a different design on each side. In Paraguay, about 90% of the population is Roman Catholic. About 6% of the population is evangelical Christian, and another 1% is other Christian. Citizens of Paraguay have freedom of religion, and it is prohibited to discriminate against people for their religion (country reports). The people of Paraguay observe many different holidays that are not observed in the United States. Some of the holidays they celebrate include: Maundy (Holy) Thursday, Good Friday, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Christmas. The Catholic population of Paraguay also observes the death of Pope John Paul II (CIA).


History:

Ancient People:
Native to Paraguay are the Mestizos. They are a group of Indians that follow the Spanish culture/ religion but speak their native tongue which is Guarani (infoplease). Their numbers are thought to have been around 150,000 before the Spanish founded Paraguay (wikipedia). It is also believed that the Mestizos inhabited present day Paraguay for 1,000 years before the Spanish (countryreport.). Very little archeological digging/exploring has been conducted in Paraguay, but what is certain is that the ancient Mestizos were nomadic (able to pick up camp and move) and liked to hunt to gather their food (nationsencyclopedia). The Mestizos were known around South America for their fierce fighting style and skill as warriors (countryreports). Although, when the Spanish came over, the Mestizos welcomed the new arrivals and gradually accepted their customs/ holidays but kept their native language (countrystudies). Within the first couple years after the arrival of the Spanards, the first colony was set up, and then everything started to change (iexplore).

external image pa-map.gif
Spanish Conquering:
The first recorded explorer to reach Paraguay was an Italian by the name of Sabastian Cabot, who was sailing in the name of Spain at the time (nationalgeographic). He was recorded as arriving there from 1526-1530 and by 1537, the first Spanish colonists arrived (wikipedia). The colonists were mostly men with few women; many didn’t want to leave their homes in Spain to explore new lands (iexplore). Within in the first year of their arrival, the Spanish set up Nuestra Senora de la Asuncian, their capital colony (infoplease). The first governor of the newly found colony encouraged the new colonists to trade and merry with the Indians to take their minds off from returning to Spain. The nation's first dictator, Jose Gaspar Francia, intensified the efforts by forcing all of the elite upper class to take either Indian wives or husbands (nationsencyclopedia). The main purpose of discovering Paraguay was of course to rob it of its resources and its gold/silver (wikipedia). However, the country soon fell out of favor with the Spanish crown because it was not producing any gold or silver, and that’s when the republic of Paraguay decided to declare independence (countrystudies).
external image sebastian.jpg
Fight for Independence:
Paraguay started out as being the second most important South American colony to the Spanish right behind Peru (countryreports). As a lack of gold/silver was discovered, however, the republic fell out of favor with the Spanish monarchy. In 1811, Paraguay declared independence from Spain and was ready to become its own nation (wikipedia). Unfortunately, Paraguay is as accustomed to dictatorship and corrupt governments as America is to democracy (infoplease). Jose Gaspar Franica declared himself dictator for life and set forth to insure his countries independence. He did this by creating the world's first state socialism (countrystudies). He shut down boarders and poured all available resources into the countries defense. At the time, raiders from Brazil and other Indian tribes were attacking and killing large portions of the Paraguay inhabitants (iexplore). Dictators Carlos Antonio López and Francisco Solano López (father and son) succeeded Francia from 1841 to 1862 and 1862 to 1870. Solano brought the country into the War of Triple Alliance which almost destroyed the country of Paraguay and its inhabitants (wikipedia). After the war, the country turned democratic with the formation of the Colorado party, formed by the war hero General Alfredo Stroessner (nationsencyclopedia).
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Entertainment
Paraguay has many has many different forms of entertainment that its people enjoy. Some popular kinds of Arts and Entertainment in Paraguay include cinema, television, paintings, and restaurants. Sports such as soccer, volleyball, and basketball are some of the most popular forms of entertainment. Soccer is the most popular sport in Paraguay and is also their national sport (Paraguay sports). In the 2004 summer Olympics they won the silver medal. A majority of the people in Paraguay either plays soccer or watches the Paraguayan team on T.V. or listens to it on the radio. Volleyball and basketball are also popular sports in Paraguay. Their national basketball team has two second place finishes in the South American Basketball Championships in 1955 and 1960 (Paraguay sports). The national volleyball team won silver and a bronze medal in the 1950s at the South American Championship (Paraguay sports). Some of the most famous sports figures from Paraguay are Zenon Franco Ocampos, Rossana de los Rios, Hugo Chapacu, Arsenio Pastor Erico, Francisco Gonzales, Dionisio Arce, Arsenio Erico, Carlos Morales Santos, and Juan Vicente Lezcano (Paraguay sports).

Literature is another popular form of entertainment in Paraguay. There were many different famous Paraguayan writers who wrote in one of two of the countries native languages, the most popular being the
Guarani
language. Some of them one awards and other accolades for their great writings. Paraguayan writers typically wrote in three different categories: indigenous literature, folk literature and refined literature (Paraguay.com).

Music is very popular in Paraguay as well.
Polka, which got its name from a European beat, is the most popular type of music and has different versions such as Galopa, the Krye’and the Canción Paraguaya, also known as Paraguayan Song (Paraguay.com). Galopa and the Krye’are faster and more upbeat than regular polka, and Canción Paraguaya is slower and melancholic. Other popular styles include the Purahéi Jahe’o and the Compuesto, which generally tell sad, epic or love stories. Guarania is the second most popular style of music in Paraguayan and was created by the great musician José Asunción Flores in 1925. It has a slower beat that expresses the melancholy mood of this Paraguayan man (Paraguay.com). The Paraguayan harp is a commonly used instrument in Paraguayan music, as well as the guitar.

There are many different forms of art in Paraguay. Some of the indigenous art of Paraguay include basketwork and feathered ornaments, which represent the oldest esthetic forms of the Guaraní peoples. Wickerwork, similar to the indigenous weaving, includes a wide selection of baskets and bags. Indigenous feather art comes from different ethnicities, such as the Guaraní who use the “jeguaka” also known as an adorning headdress for special ceremonies, or the Nivaclé that wear plumes made with colorful feathers (Paraguay.com). In addition to collars, bracelets and anklets from different indigenous groups, one of the most notable feather art creations are the elaborately detailed cloaks made of feathers, which were once reserved only for Guaraní shamans (Paraguay.com). They also have wood carving, which ranges from masks used for ethnic rituals, pipes, apyká or small chairs, to a variety of animal and human-like figures (Paraguay.com).

Paraguayan theater was strongly influenced by Spain. Paraguayan theater started to show signs of individuality in the beginning of the 20th Century, with some people that gave a strong advance to this form of expression, people like Josefina Plá, Roque Centurión Miranda, Fernando Oca del Valle, Manuel Ortiz Guerrero and Julio Correa, who was also one of the creators of Theater in Guaraní. The Paraguayan Comedic Company and the Athenæum Company were formed in 1940, and the Municipal School for the Performing Arts in 1948 (Paraguay.com). Independent Theater arrived in the 60s and 70s and renewed Paraguayan.

In 1925, Paraguayans Agustín Carrón Quell and his uncle Hipólito Jorge Carrón made “Paraguayan Soul”, the first locally produced film (Paraguay.com). It documented a pilgrimage to Caacupe. Carrón and his nephew created different movies documentaries that showed pictures of places like the Guazú Market, or of pictures of patriotic parades with celebrities and dignitaries of the times. Some of their other films were “The Catastrophe of Encarnación”, that showed the rigorous damage from the cyclone that hit that city, and the filming of the burial of Eligio Ayala, the president of Paraguayan that was assassinated in 1930. Almost all of these films were filmed in black and white, silent, and recorded in 35 millimeter (Paraguay.com).


Cuisine
When in a kitchen, in the country of Paraguay, you often feel a strong cultural vibe of the native people. Even after conquest, many kitchens, restaurants and families have chosen to stick to the foundations and roots of their ancestors when it comes to cooking. ("Paraguayan gastronomy")Most foods in Paraguay have one of the two following bases Cassava and/or Corn. ("Paraguayan gastronomy")

Corn is widely used as well, in such dishes as Bori Bori Soup. This is one of the most popular and available soups in all Paraguay ("Paraguayan gastronomy"). Other common ingredients include yams, beans, squash, peanuts and coconuts, as well as fowl and wild game” ("Paraguayan gastronomy").
external image 4580cuisine.jpg
Paraguayan Specialties (All from (Hamre))

· Bori-Bori Soup: A beef or chicken soup with cornmeal dumplings
· Mbaipy-he-é: A traditional desert made from Corn, Milk and Molasses.
· Chipa: Commonly served at breakfast, Chipa is Cassava Flat Bread with egg and cheese. I would compare it to an egg Mc’Muffin or breakfast sandwich.
· Surbi: A fish found throughout the rivers of Paraguay.
Paraguayan Drinks
· Yerba Mate: A tea like beverage
· Moto: A juice made from Sugar
· Cana: An alcoholic beverage distilled from honey and sugar
Eating Out
Like in many Countries in the 21st century, people in Paraguay find themselves eating out more and more often. Other than street venders, there are quite a lot of Restaurants, Bars and Cafes throughout Paraguay. Most Bars and Cafes serve a variety of foods. Most food though, is either fried or precooked to present a sense of urgency to the customer. The two main foods are the Empanada and Milanesa (“Food and Dinning in Paraguay”). Both of which are fried served quickly. Empanadas are a pastry filled with either meats and vegetables or desert. (“Food and Dinning in Paraguay”) Whereas Milanesa is “slices of battered beef, chicken or pork.” (“Food and Dinning in Paraguay”)similar to Chicken fingers in America.
Night life in Paraguay is popular as well. There are all kinds of open air restaurants and discos that most locals attend on occasion. Dinner generally starts around 9:00 and 10:00 Pm and goes until around midnight.
Lunch is the main meal of the day. Both school and work stops for lunch. Everyone either returns home or meets to eat lunch with family and friends
(“Food and Dinning in Paraguay”)

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Works Cited:
"Assumption of Mary." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 29 April 2009 17:18 UTC. 29 April 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Assumption_of_Mary&oldid=287673529>

"Paraguay." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 29 April 2009. 02:22 UTC. 29 April 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paraguay&oldid=287564954>

"Paraguay." CIA World Fact Book. 23 April 2009. Central Intelligence Agency. 1 May 2009 <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pa.html>.

Countryreports.org 2009 Edition. Published by CountryReports.org <4/15/09>. <http://www.countryreports.org>.

History Works Cited:

"Paraguay History." Paraguay. 3 May 2009 http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107879.html

"Paraguay and Independence." Paraguay. Web.3 May 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraguay>.

"Jose Gaspar Rodriguez." Leaders and Presidents. Web.3 May 2009. http://www.countryreports.org/Paraguay.aspx.
"Fight for Independence." Paraguay. Web.3 May 2009. <http://countrystudies.us/paraguay/2.html>.

"Map of Colonies." Paraguay Map. Web.3 May 2009. <http://www.iexplore.com/dmap/Paraguay/History>.


Cuisine Works Cited:


O'Hair, Stephen. "Cassava." Purdue Center for New Crops and Plant Products. 02 February 1998. Purdue University. 1 May 2009 <http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/cassava.html>.
"What is Cassava?." Indies. 01 January 2008. Hanimex Company. 3 May 2009 <http://www.cassavachips.com/english.htm>.
Joseph, Armstrong. "Cassava." Economic Botany. 01 January 2008. School of Biological Studies at Illinios State University. 3 May 2009 <http://www.bio.ilstu.edu/Armstrong/syllabi/cassava/cassava.htm>.
"Paraguayan gastronomy." Paraguay. 01 January 2009. Chena Ventures. 3 May 2009 <http://www.paraguay.com/arts_and_culture/paraguayan_gastronomy.php>.
"How to Use Yerba Mate." Yerba Mate. 01 January 2004. Nativa. 3 May 2009 <http://www.noborders.net/mate/how.html>.
"Chipa." A tast of the world. World Press. 3 May 2009 <http://atasteoftheworld.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/chipa-and-sopa-paraguaya/>.
"Food and Dinning in Paraguay." Allo Expat. 01 December 2006. Allo Expat. 3 May 2009 <http://www.alloexpat.com/paraguay_expat_forum/food-dining-in-paraguay-paraguay-dining-guide-t3041.html>.