21 Amazing Paraguay Facts You Didn’t Know

Paraguay map

Paraguay is said to be the least-visited country in South America. The landlocked country is wedged between Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. This picturesque country may be slightly inaccessible for some tourists, but stunning waterfalls and sand dune islands await anyone who visits.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at curious facts about this South American country.

Facts About Paraguay You’ll Love

1. The World’s Largest Aquifer System

Paraguay has the world’s largest aquifer system known as the Guarani Aquifer. This huge underground reserve is tucked under the surfaces of Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It covers an area as large as the states of California and Texas combined.

Experts believe that the aquifer can sustain the entire population on earth for 200 years. This could mean that the Guarani Aquifer will play a pivotal role for millions of people in the future. However, the increased commercial interest in the water reservoir and political tensions between the four countries is threatening the resource.  

2. Asuncion: Home to a Once-Powerful Colonial Stronghold

Asuncion was founded in 1537 by the Spanish. It was said to be one of the most powerful colonial strongholds in the world. Several centuries later, Asuncion became the capital city of Paraguay. The city has several historical sights that provide a glimpse into the past. Tourists line up to see the aging colonial architecture in places such as Plaza de Los Heroes and Playa Uruguaya.

3. One of the World’s Largest Hydropower Plants in the World

The Itaipu Dam in Uruguay was the world’s largest hydroelectric power plant before China took over the #1 spot (in terms of energy production). Paraguay is one of the few countries in the world that generates all of its electricity needs from renewable energy resources. It produces a surplus of electricity, allowing it to export the leftover electricity to other countries for a decent chunk of change.

The Itaipu Dam is owned by both Paraguay and Brazil.

4. Very High Literacy Rate

Paraguay is said to have one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 94.5%. This is higher than that of the United States at 88%. All citizens above the age of 15 can read and write. This is a substantial improvement from 1870 when the landlocked country – devastated from a bloody war with Argentina – was struggling with a low literacy rate of 14%.

5. Iguazú Falls

Although the Iguazú Falls is located between Argentina and Brazil, it is very close to Paraguay’s eastern border from Ciudad del Este. The Iguazú Falls has 250 cascades and spectacular jungle-like pathways that will pique the interests of every budding adventurer.

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The waterfall is at a height of 262 feet and provides a convenient hiking trail nearby. There are plenty of Instagrammable moments to capture.

6. The Catastrophic Five Year War – the Triple Alliance

Like many colonial countries, Paraguay has a bloody history. The country lost two-thirds of its adult male population in the horrific five-year war of the Triple Alliance. It also never fully recovered from the cataclysmic conflict, with the effects of the war continuing to linger on.

It has the highest inequality of land ownership in the world and nearly 14% of Paraguayan land is owned by Brazilian farmers who wield enormous political and economic power.

7. Island Surrounded by Land

Although Paraguay is a landlocked country, most of its borders are formed by rivers, and nearly 40% of its geographic area is covered by extensive wetlands. Renowned Paraguayan novelist Augusto Roa Bastos is said to have described the country as ‘an island surrounded by land.’ This exotic description is unique to Paraguay.

8. Eco Reserva Mbatoví

Check out awesome views of cool creeks, deep forests, and rare plants on the verge of extinction by visiting the Eco Reserva Mbatoví. The tourism industry in this part of the world offers a lot to adrenaline junkies, from hanging bridges to rappelling adventures.

9. The World’s Most Homogeneous Population

The native people of Guarani lived in Paraguay long before the arrival of their Spanish invaders. Surveys show that about 70% of the population is Guarani, making Paraguay home to one of the world’s most homogenous populations. The country has a small population of Amerindians who mostly live in the Chaco region.

10. Everyone Speaks Guarani

Overview of Paraguay.

Interestingly, almost everyone in Paraguay speaks Guarani, regardless of their background and income. This unusual trait allows the population to be unified as one nation. Most words in Guarani imitate the sounds of animals and the surrounding environment. Paraguay is one of only a few South American countries to retain its native tongue while also speaking the language of its Spanish invaders.  

11. Duels are Legal in Paraguay

Duels have been outlawed in most countries around the world, but Paraguay continues to honor the tradition of the past. Duels are legal in Paraguay, but they come with a catch – participants must be registered blood donors. They must also have professional medics on standby in case things go south.

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12. The Largest Landlocked Navy

Despite not having a coastline, Paraguay is said to have the world’s largest landlocked navy. The country maintains twelve bases in Asuncion, Salto del Guaira, Encarnacino, and Ciudad del Este. A quick peek into the history of Paraguay tradition shows a rich naval tradition, partly because of convenient access to the Atlantic Ocean through the Parana Rivers.

13. One of the Most Biodiverse Countries in the World

Paraguay is home to a range of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It has a rich diversity of exotic creatures, from large predators such as jaguars and pumas to herbivores such as tapirs and deer. In total, they have nearly 1000 types of birds.

There are hundreds of snake species, most of them are not harmful to humans. Paraguay’s national animal is the Pampas Fox. You can find plenty of parakeets and monkeys too.  Wildlife enthusiasts often frequent places such as the Atlantic Forest, the Pentanal, and the Mesopotamian Grasslands.

14. The World’s Finest Lacework

Paraguayan government headquarter

The Paraguayan people are said to make one of the world’s finest lacework known as “Nanduti.” The lace is found in circular designs and created in a range of colors, mostly rainbow. Paraguay’s contemporary folk art exhibits Guarani tradition that includes handmade works such as embroidered cloth, gorgeous clay work, and beautiful silver jewelry.

15. Yerba Mate is their National Drink

The national beverage of Paraguay is the ‘yerba mate.’ It is pronounced as ‘mahtay’ and is mostly served hot. Mate can be served chilled, but it is known as ‘terere’. A metal straw known as ‘bombilla’ is used to draw the beverage in. Yerba mate is very similar to holly and is grown on various plantations throughout Paraguay.

16. The World’s Largest Rodent: Capybara

Paraguay has the world’s largest population of the Capybara, a giant rodent that can weigh up to 150 lbs. and grow up to 25 inches in size. The capybaras are relatively easy to domesticate due to their friendliness and familiarity with human contact.

17. Eye Contact is Important in Paraguay

Eye contact is an important part of conversations in Paraguayan culture. It demonstrates mutual respect and trust between the two individuals engaging in conversation. Maintaining eye contact isn’t always seen in other nations. Some cultures go so far as to condemn eye contact as disrespectful.

18. One of the Longest Rivers in South America

The Paraguay River is one of the largest rivers in South America. It covers a distance of 2.6 kilometers and flows through Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.  

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19. The Origins of the Name “Paraguay”

It is believed that the name Paraguay may have come from the earliest Jesuit priests in the country. As the story goes, a parrot, named Frank, befriended the priests. Unfortunately, he became dinner for the priests. It’s unclear if the story is true or not, but Paraguay was labeled as “Parrots” in 16th maps.

20. The World’s Largest Grilling Record

Waterfall in Paragua

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Paraguay hosted the world’s largest barbecue event in 2008 that was attended by over 30,000 people. In total, 28 tons of meat was consumed over the course of six hours in the Marian Roque Alonso.

21. Most Paraguayan Homes Do Not Have Doorbells

The Paraguayans traditionally don’t keep a doorbell. Visitors announce their arrival by clapping their hands. Claps can be easily overheard because the windows are kept open in the hot climate.  

Facts You Should Know About Paraguay

In this brief video, you will learn little known facts about Paraguay. The information covers the devastating War of the Triple Alliance that left hundreds of thousands dead along with other interesting tidbits.

Summary

Paraguay leads the world in terms of biodiversity, delicious food, and architectural marvels. It has a lot to offer if you’re a tourist seeking adventure. We hope these Paraguay facts helped you learn more about the country. Stay tuned to this space for more Paraguay facts.

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