Paraguay has long been one of the more politically and geographically isolated countries in South America. But now the government has opened up to the outside world and tourists and visitors are starting to flock to experience the sumptuous mix of colonial buildings, the exotic and beautiful scenery and native Indian tribes. The people warmly welcome strangers inside with a courtesy and hospitality surpassed only by their passion for football.
Geographically, Paraguay is located in the middle of South America between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. The country is crossed by the river Rio Paraguay, and west of the river one finds the warm barren plain known as Gran Chaco, which is sparsely inhabited and less explored than the Amazon. Instead, 98% of the population lives in the greener eastern half of Paraguay.
Although the country was once a Spanish colony, Paraguayans are more fluent in Guarani, the local language, than they are in Spanish. Recently, however, Paraguay has begun to shake off its introversion, and the capital Asunción is modernizing. The city is one of South America’s most charming capitals, where the neoclassical facades, small cozy squares and boulevards in the shade of the trees are still characterized by street vendors, who offer both feathered headgear as well as bows and arrows.
- CAPITAL CITY: Asuncion
- LANGUAGE: Spanish & Guarani
- CURRENCY: Guarani (PYG)
- AREA: 406,752 km2
- POPULATION: 6,783,272
People and community
Most people in Paraguay are of mixed European and Indian descent, and most are also bilingual and speak Spanish and Guarani. Paraguayans are very hospitable and enjoy a peaceful life at a leisurely pace. Paraguayan traditions hold proudly of its native arts, crafts, music, instruments and dance. Families are the center of Paraguayan society. You will probably come to live in a small town with easy access to larger cities. Families are often very traditional and protective of the children, especially daughters. Most social activities, such as holidays and weekends, are family events.
You will probably go to a private school or high school with a focus on business, accounting, administration, social sciences or natural sciences. According to TopSchoolsintheUSA, the school day usually lasts until 15:00. In public schools, the school day runs in two shifts: from 07:00 until noon and again from 13: 30-18: 30. Students in Paraguay wear school uniforms.
There are two official languages in Paraguay: Spanish and Guarani. Although not everyone speaks both languages, most Paraguayans understand them both. AFS Paraguay will provide an online language course with Rosetta Stone, which will help you learn the language and prepare you for your time in Paraguay.
An essential part of the Paraguayan diet is meat, which is produced locally in large quantities. Corn, rice, potatoes and wheat are important elements, as are seasonal fruits. The most traditional dish is Sopa Paraguaya , which is a corn cookie made with eggs, milk, cheese and onions.
Meals are time for family and socializing, especially on Sundays.