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Paraguay

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Motto: Paz y justicia  “Peace and justice”
Anthem: Paraguayos, República o Muerte

Capital Asunción
Official languages Spanish, Guaraní
Demonym Paraguayan
Government Constitutional presidential republic
Independence from Spain – Declared, May 14, 1811
Area 406,752 km² (59th) / 157,048 sq mi
Population July 2005 estimate 6,158,000 (101st)
Currency Guaraní

[show-map id=’16’] Geography
California-sized Paraguay is surrounded by Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina in south-central South America. The greater part of the Chaco region to the west is covered with marshes, lagoons, dense forests, and jungles.  The southeastern border is formed by the Paraná River, containing the Itaipu dam shared with Brazil. It is currently the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world.  Because Paraguay co-owns Itaipu Dam, they have the right to use 50% of electricity generated. Because they use less than 10% of that electricity produced, they sell the rest back to Brazil.  Another large hydroelectric power plant on the Paraná River is Yacyretá, shared by Paraguay and Argentina. Paraguay is the world’s largest exporter of hydroelectric power.  Local climate ranges from subtropical to temperate, with substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, though becoming semi-arid in the far west.

Culture
With one of the most homogeneous populations in Latin America, Paraguayans’ cultural ancestry can be traced to the extensive intermarriage among the original male Spanish settlers and female indigenous, Guaraní, brides. Paraguayan culture therefore is a fusion of these two cultures and traditions.  A characteristic of this cultural fusion is the extensive bilingualism present to this day: more than 80% speak both Spanish and the indigenous language, Guaraní.   This cultural fusion is expressed in arts such as embroidery (ao po’í) and lace making (ñandutí). The music, which consists of lilting polkas, bouncy galopas, and languid guaranías is played on the native harp. Paraguay’s culinary heritage is also deeply influenced by this cultural fusion. Several popular dishes contain mandioca, a local staple crop similar to the yuca root.   Another notable food is chipa, a bagel-like bread made from cornmeal, mandioca and cheese. Social life revolves largely around an extended family of parents, children and blood relations as well as godparents. The Paraguayans’ chief loyalty is to their family, and it, in turn, is their haven and support.

*Content gathered from Wikipedia