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Paraguay Country Information

Background:
In the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70), Paraguay lost two-thirds of all adult males and much of its territory. It stagnated economically for the next half century. In the Chaco War of 1932-35, large, economically important areas were won from Bolivia. The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo STROESSNER was overthrown in 1989, and, despite a marked increase in political infighting in recent years, relatively free and regular presidential elections have been held since then.

Geography
Location: Central South America, northeast of Argentina

Area: total: 406,750 sq km
Water: 9,450 sq km
Land: 397,300 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than California

Border countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil

Climate: subtropical to temperate; substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, becoming semiarid in the far west
Terrain: grassy plains and wooded hills east of Rio Paraguay; Gran Chaco region west of Rio Paraguay mostly low, marshy plain near the river, and dry forest and thorny scrub elsewhere

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: junction of Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana 46 m
Highest point: Cerro Pero (Cerro Tres Kandu) 842 m

Natural resources: hydropower, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone

People
Population: 6,191,368
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 1,201,459; female 1,162,954)
15-64 years: 57% (male 1,773,151; female 1,758,323)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 136,376; female 159,105) (2004 est.)
Median age: 21.1 years
Population growth rate: 2.51%
Life expectancy at birth: male: 72.12 years
female: 77.29 years (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Mennonite, and other Protestant

Languages: Spanish (official), Guarani (official)
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 94%

Government
Country name: Republic of Paraguay
Government type: constitutional republic
Capital: Asuncion
Independence: 14 May 1811 (from Spain)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory up to age 75

Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicanor DUARTE Frutos (since 15 August 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch: bicameral Congress or Congreso consists of the Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (45 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (80 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges appointed on the proposal of the Counsel of Magistrates or Consejo de la Magistratura)

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador James SPALDING Hellmers consulate(s) general: Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York
FAX: [1] (202) 234-4508
telephone: [1] (202) 483-6960

Embassy: 1776 Avenida Mariscal Lopez, Casilla Postal 402, Asuncion
mailing address: Unit 4711, APO AA 34036-0001
telephone: [595] (21) 213-715
FAX: [595] (21) 213-728

Economy
Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector. The informal sector features both reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. A large percentage of the population derives their living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. The formal economy grew by an average of about 3% annually in 1995-97; but GDP declined slightly in 1998, 1999, and 2000, rose slightly in 2001, only to fall again in 2002. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, lack of progress on structural reform, substantial internal and external debt, and deficient infrastructure.

Population below poverty line: 36% (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 45%
Unemployment rate: 18.5% (2004 est.)

Agriculture - products: cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber

Industries: sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, electric power

Exports - commodities: soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood, leather

Currency: guarani (PYG)

Communications
Telephone system: general assessment: meager telephone service; principal switching center is Asuncion
international: country code - 595



All information on this page provided by The World Factbook. See http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html.
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