Paraguay: Guaraní culture and hydroelectric resources

Paraguay is one of the only two landlocked countries in South America. It is bordered by Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. The country is home to the Paraguay River, one of the most important waterways in South America, which flows through Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina. The river divides the country into two very different geographical regions. Paraguay consists mostly of grassy plains and wooded hills in the eastern region and low, marshy plains in the western region. Because of the absence of mountain ranges to provide a natural barrier, winds can reach speeds as high as 100 mph. This can significantly impact changes in temperature within a short span of time.

With an estimated population of seven million people, Paraguay is one of the few countries that has retained the culture and language of its original inhabitants, the Guaraní people. The country has two official languages — Guaraní and Spanish — yet 95 percent of the population speaks Guarani, surpassing Spanish speakers by five percent. Guaraní is the only indigenous language in the Americas to include a large proportion of speakers who are non-indigenous people. There are several other indigenous languages spoken in rural areas, but Spanish is the official language for business.

Paraguay is among the top-five producers of soybeans worldwide. The country is also considered one the world’s largest exporters of hydroelectric power, thanks to the Itaipu Dam housed in the Parana River, bordering Brazil. Both countries co-own the dam, which is the second-largest operating hydroelectric facility in the world, in terms of annual energy generation. The structure was named one of the Wonders of the Modern World in 1994 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Did you know…? Paraguay has the world’s largest drinking water reservoir underneath its soil, which is the Guaraní Aquifer. Paraguay’s population is of the most homogeneous in Latin America. About 95% of the country is mestizo, a mixture of Spanish and Amerindian.

This is the seventeenth in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.