macrohistory & world report

Republic of Paraguay

Map of Paraguay

Paraguay (capital Asuncion) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2013: "Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy distinguished by a large informal sector, featuring re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. The economy grew rapidly between 2003 and 2008 as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion. Paraguay is the sixth largest soy producer in the world. Drought hit in 2008, reducing agricultural exports and slowing the economy even before the onset of the global recession. The economy fell 3.8% in 2009, as lower world demand and commodity prices caused exports to contract. The government reacted by introducing fiscal and monetary stimulus packages. Growth resumed at a 13% level in 2010, the highest in South America, but slowed in 2011-12 as the stimulus subsided and severe drought and outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease led to a drop in beef and other agricultural exports. The economy took another leap in 2013, largely due to strong export growth. Political uncertainty, corruption, limited progress on structural reform, and deficient infrastructure are the main obstacles to long-term growth."

Economic growth rate
2011: 6.4%
2010: 15%
2009: minus 3.8%

Unemployment rate
2011: 6.6%
2010: 7%

Public debt
2011: 17.4%

According to BBC News in 2012, in Paraguay "a small fraction of the population owns about 80% of the land."

Exports commodities
Soybeans, feed, cotton, meat, edible oils, electricity, wood, leather

Export partners
2010: Uruguay 16.2%, Brazil 12.8%, Chile 10%, Argentina 8.1%, Italy 5%, Netherlands 4.4%, Spain 4.3%, Turkey 4.2%, Germany 4.2%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $9.756 billion, imports $12.06 billion

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 15th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 7.1% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 61%

Net migration rate
2012: Net loss of 0.08 per 1,000 population per year

Ethnic groups
mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%, other 5%

2002 census: Roman Catholic 89.6%, Protestant 6.2%, other Christian 1.1%, other or unspecified 1.9%, none 1.1%

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2003: males 94.9%, females 93%


Southeast of Bolivia and between Argentina and Brazil. Landlocked. Slightly smaller than California.


Constitutional republic. Capital: Asunción.


World Factbook: "Paraguay achieved its independence from Spain in 1811. In the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) - between Paraguay and Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay - Paraguay lost two-thirds of all adult males and much of its territory. The country stagnated economically for the next half century. Following the Chaco War of 1932-35 with Bolivia, Paraguay gained a large part of the Chaco lowland region."

The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner ended with his overthrow in 1989. Since then presidential elections have been regular and relatively free.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.