From the vast river” is how the name of Paraguay is translated from the language of the Guaraní Indians. In this country in the heart of South America everything revolves around reservoirs in one way or another: the Paraguay River divides the country into arid plains (Chacos) in the west and fertile Eldorado in the east, the full-flowing Parana provides fresh water to residents, and tourists come on small group tours to see one of the main attractions – the giant Itaipu Dam.
Despite being overshadowed by big-name countries like Brazil and Argentina, tour to Paraguay is still a popular with tourists who come to enjoy the tropics and subtropics in the vast national parks, discover the fusion of Spanish and Native American cultures and appreciate the contrasts of the country: palaces and palaces next to shanties, crafts shops next to malls, cathedrals next to shaman shacks.
The capital is Asuncion. Major cities are Ciudad del Este and Encarnación.
Seven Things to Do in Paraguay
- Stroll the broad avenues of Asuncion, admiring the grandeur of the colonial mansions.
- Ride in a jeep through the desolate edge of the chacos.
- See the largest dam in the world, Itaipu.
- Spend time relaxing on the shores of Lake Iparacay and buying ceramics made by local craftsmen.
- Try the real mate.
- Find yourself in the heart of a relict rainforest in Ibike National Park.
- Add color to your life with a local ‘ao pooja’ t-shirt.
The indigenous people of Paraguay are the Guaraní Indians. Spanish colonizers arrived in 1525; a decade later Asuncion was founded. The Jesuit friars played an influential role in the country’s history: in the 16th-18th centuries, they founded colonial settlements and actively cultivated the Indians, without forcing them to abandon their traditions, so that bloody conflicts characteristic of Spanish colonization were avoided in Paraguay.
At the end of the 18th century, Paraguay briefly remained under Argentine rule until it gained independence in 1811. In the 19th century, the country was both the richest on the continent and virtually ruined by wars with Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. After World War II, Paraguay received many migrants from European countries. Of course, it was not without dictators and coups d’etat, which, however, have provided the current population of the country a decent standard of living by the standards of the region.
Geography of Paraguay
The River Paraguay (vertical) and the Tropic of Capricorn (horizontal), crossing each other, divide the country into 4 parts.
West of Paraguay stretches 60% of its territory in the semi-desert plain region of the Chacos, the Gran Chaco. The High Chaco, at the foot of the Andes, is hot, windy, and bare of vegetation. In contrast, the Lower Chaco, closer to the Paraguayan coast, is moderately green and humid with grass, shrubs, and the region’s typical québracho trees.
South Paraná is the area between the Paraguay and Paraná rivers. This is where the capital of the country is located and where most of the population lives. North Paranhena is visited to see the colorful colonial town of Concepción. It is also visited to walk through the mate herb plantations, and, if desired, to enter Brazil through the border town of Bella Vista Norte.
And finally, the Paraná Plateau – tropical forested hills along the river of the same name. The capital of the region is Ciudad del Este, the second-largest city in the country.
Paraguay is located below the equator, so summers and winters correspond to those in Russia, exactly the opposite.
While the eastern part of the country has a tropical climate, the western part has a subtropical climate. There are hot days in the plains Chakos up to +45°C in January (in the middle of Paraguay’s summer). In July the thermometer shows +20 … +25°C during the day and +14 … +16°C at night, but the weather is unstable: warm Atlantic winds collide with cold air streams of Antarctica so that the temperature is unpredictable: sometimes it is +5°C, sometimes it is +35°C. Here is the weather forecast for major cities in Paraguay for the next few days.