Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Bolivia to the northwest, Brazil to the east and Argentina to the southwest. The Paraguay River runs across the center of the country.
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Paraguay is 406,752 sq km (157,048 sq mi) and has a population of 6.4 million people (2011 estimate). Its capital and largest city is Asunción. The country is a constitutional presidential republic. The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Guarani. Mestizos form the majority of the population.
Paraguay is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-4) and three hours in summer. The official currency is called Guaraní (PYG). Traffic is driven on the right here. The phone IDD code is +595. The electricity is 220V/50Hz using European plugs.
In 2008, Paraguay had an estimated GDP at purchasing power parity of $28.452 billion and a per capita GDP at purchasing power parity of $4,700. As such it is a medium developing country in terms of Human Development Index.
The arrival of Europeans in the 16th century led to the founding of Asunción in 1537. From the beginning the city was a center for Spanish colonial activities, being one of the early sites for Jesuit missions and settlements.
On 15 May, 1811, Paraguay overthrew its Spanish colonial masters and declared independence. What followed thereafter was a history of political instability and regular conflicts with its neighbors. It was defeated by the combined forces of Argentina, Brazil and Urugual in the War of Triple Alliance, one of the bloodiest battles in South American history. On the other hand it won the Chaco War against Bolivia in 1930.
The political landscape of Paraguay is one of tubulence. It had thirty-one presidents between 1904 and 1954, the majority overthrown. Between 1954 and 1989, Paraguay was under the iron fist of the dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who was also eventually overthrown.
Despite its wealth of natural resources, Paraguay remains today the second poorest country in South America.
The Silvio Pettirossi International Airport (ASU) in the Luque suburb of Asunción is the main international gateway to Paraguay. The only international flights with cities in neighboring countries including Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Montevideo and Lima.