The World Factbook (1990)/Paraguay

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World Factbook (1990) Paraguay.jpg

See regional map IV


Total area: 406,750 km²; land area: 397,300 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than California

Land boundaries: 3,920 km total; Argentina 1,880 km, Bolivia 750 km, Brazil 1,290km

Coastline: none—landlocked

Maritime claims: none—landlocked

Disputes: short section of the boundary with Brazil (just west of Guaíra Falls on the Rio Paraná) is in dispute

Climate: varies from temperate in east to semiarid in far west

Terrain: grassy plains and wooded hills east of Río Paraguay; Gran Chaco region west of Río Paraguay mostly low, marshy plain near the river, and dry forest and thorny scrub elsewhere

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

Land use: 20% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 39% meadows and pastures; 35% forest and woodland; 5% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: local flooding in southeast (early September to June); poorly drained plains may become boggy (early October to June)

Note: landlocked; buffer between Argentina and Brazil


Population: 4,660,270 (July 1990), growth rate 3.0% (1990)

Birth rate: 36 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: NEGL migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 48 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 67 years male, 72 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Paraguayan(s); adjective—Paraguayan

Ethnic divisions: 95% mestizo (Spanish and Indian), 5% white and Indian

Religion: 90% Roman Catholic; Mennonite and other Protestant denominations

Language: Spanish (official) and Guarani

Literacy: 81%

Labor force: 1,300,000; 44% agriculture, 34% industry and commerce, 18% services, 4% government (1986)

Organized labor: about 2% of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Paraguay

Type: republic

Capital: Asunción

Administrative divisions: 19 departments (departamentos, singular—departamento); Alto Paraguay, Alto Paraná, Amambay, Boquerón, Caaguazú, Caazapá, Canendiyú, Central, Chaco, Concepción, Cordillera, Guairá, Itapúa, Misiones, Neembucú, Nueva Asunción, Paraguari, Presidente Hayes, San Pedro

Independence: 14 May 1811 (from Spain)

Constitution: 25 August 1967

Legal system: based on Argentine codes, Roman law, and French codes; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court of Justice; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Days, 14-15 May (1811)

Executive branch: president, Council of Ministers (cabinet), Council of State

Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress (Congreso Nacional) consists of an upper chamber or Senate and a lower chamber or Chamber of Deputies

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Gen. Andres RODRIGUEZ Pedotti (since 15 May 1989)

Political parties and leaders: Colorado Party, Juan Ramon Chaves; Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), Domingo Laino; Christian Democratic Party (PDC), Jorge Dario Cristaldo; Febrerista Revolutionary Party (PRF), Euclides Acevedo; Liberal Party (PL), Reinaldo Odone; Popular Colorado Movement (MOPOCO), Miguel Angel Gonzalez Casabianca; Radical Liberal Party (PLR), Emilio Forestieri; Popular Democratic Movement (MDP)

Suffrage: universal and compulsory at age 18 and up to age 60

Elections: President—last held 1 May 1989 (next to be held February 1993); results—Gen. Rodriguez 75.8%, Domingo Laino 19.4%;

Senate—last held 1 May 1989 (next to be held by May 1993); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(36 total) Colorado Party 24, PLRA 10, PLR 1, PRF 1;

Chamber of Deputies—last held on 1 May 1989 (next to be held by May 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(72 total) Colorado Party 48, PLRA 19, PRF 2, PDC 1, PL 1, PLR 1

Communists: Oscar Creydt faction and Miguel Angel Soler faction (both illegal); 3,000 to 4,000 (est.) party members and sympathizers in Paraguay, very few are hard core; party beginning to return from exile is small and deeply divided

Other political or pressure groups: Febrerista; Authentic Radical Liberal; Christian Democratic Parties; Confederation of Workers (CUT); Roman Catholic Church


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Marcos MARTINEZ MENDIETA; Chancery at 2400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 483-6960 through 6962; there are Paraguayan Consulates General in New Orleans and New York, and a Consulate in Houston; US—Ambassador Timothy L. TOWELL; Embassy at 1776 Avenida Mariscal Lopez, Asunción (mailing address is C. P. 402, Asunción, or APO Miami 34036-0001); telephone [595](21) 201-041 or 049

Flag: three equal, horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue with an emblem centered in the white band; unusual flag in that the emblem is different on each side; the obverse (hoist side at the left) bears the national coat of arms (a yellow five-pointed star within a green wreath capped by the words REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY, all within two circles); the reverse (hoist side at the right) bears the seal of the treasury (a yellow lion below a red Cap of Liberty and the words Paz y Justica (Peace and Justice) capped by the words REPUBLICA DEL PARAGUAY, all within two circles)


Overview: The economy is predominantly agricultural. Agriculture, including forestry, accounts for about 25% of GNP, employs about 45% of the labor force, and provides the bulk of exports. Paraguay has no known significant mineral or petroleum resources, but does have a large hydro-power potential. Since 1981 economic performance has declined compared with the boom period of 1976-81, when real GDP grew at an average annual rate of nearly 11%. During 1982-86 real GDP fell three out of five years, inflation jumped to an annual rate of 32%, and foreign debt rose. Factors responsible for the erratic behavior of the economy were the completion of the Itaipu hydroelectric dam, bad weather for crops, and weak international commodity prices for agricultural exports. In 1987 the economy experienced a modest recovery because of improved weather conditions and stronger international prices for key agricultural exports. The recovery continued through 1988, with a bumper soybean crop and record cotton production. The government, however, must follow through on promises of reforms needed to deal with large fiscal deficits, growing debt arrearages, and falling reserves.

GDP: $8.9 billion, per capita $1,970; real growth rate 5.2% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 30% (1989 est.)

Unemployment rate: 12% (1989 est.)

Budget: revenues $609 million; expenditures $909 million, including capital expenditures of $401 million (1988)

Exports: $1,020 million (registered f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—cotton, soybean, timber, vegetable oils, coffee, tung oil, meat products; partners—EC 37%, Brazil 25%, Argentina 10%, Chile 6%, US 6%

Imports: $1,010 million (registered c.i.f., 1989 est.); commodities—capital goods 35%, consumer goods 20%, fuels and lubricants 19%, raw materials 16%, foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco 10%; partners—Brazil 30%, EC 20%, US 18%, Argentina 8%, Japan 7%

External debt: $2.9 billion (1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 2% (1987)

Electricity: 5,169,000 kW capacity; 15,140 million kWh produced, 3,350 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: meat packing, oilseed crushing, milling, brewing, textiles, other light consumer goods, cement, construction

Agriculture: accounts for 25% of GDP and 50% of labor force; cash crops—cotton, sugarcane; other crops—corn, wheat, tobacco, soybeans, cassava, fruits, and vegetables; animal products—beef, pork, eggs, milk; surplus producer of timber; self-sufficient in most foods

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade with an estimated 300 hectares cultivated in 1988; important transshipment point for Bolivian cocaine headed for the US and Europe

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $168 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $994 million

Currency: guarani (plural—guaranies); 1 guarani (₲) = 100 céntimos

Exchange rates: guaranies (₲) per US$1—1,200.20 (November 1989; floated in February 1989), 550.00 (fixed rate 1986-February 1989), 339.17 (1986), 306.67 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 970 km total; 440 km 1.435-meter standard gauge, 60 km 1.000-meter gauge, 470 km various narrow gauge (privately owned)

Highways: 21,960 km total; 1,788 km paved, 474 km gravel, and 19,698 km earth

Inland waterways: 3,100 km

Ports: Asuncion

Merchant marine: 15 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 20,735 GRT/26,043 DWT; includes 13 cargo, 2 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker; note 1 naval cargo ship is sometimes used commercially

Civil air: 4 major transport aircraft

Airports: 873 total, 753 usable; 6 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 52 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: principal center in Asunción; fair intercity microwave net; 78,300 telephones; stations—40 AM, no FM, 5 TV, 7 shortwave; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Paraguayan Army, Paraguayan Navy, Paraguayan Air Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 1,096,227; 798,750 fit for military service; 49,791 reach military age (17) annually

Defense expenditures: NA