The South American country is known to have swamp lands, savannas, subtropical forests and wildernesses.
1. Western Paraguay has a region called El Chaco which makes for 60% of the country’s land but is inhabited by only 3% of the population. It is one of the toughest regions to live in, in South America. South America’s longest war was between Paraguay and its neighbour, Bolivia between the years 1932-1935. The war occurred in this same region.
2. There grew a misconception that pistol duelling is allowed as long as both participants have been registered as blood donors. However, the government quickly shot this down as incorrect. But I must say whoever started that rumour has quite the vivid imagination!
3. While it gained independence as early as 1811, it happened to fall under the control of 3 dictators following that and such was the regime for the first 60 years subsequent to its independence.
4. However, Alfredo Stroessne was South America’s longest dictator. Between 1954 to 1989 Paraguay again saw a dictatorial regime under him wherein the country became a safe space for Nazi war criminals. He was referred to as “El Rubio”, the blonde guy.
5. If you wake up thinking “Ek Garam Chai Ki Pyaali Ho”, then brace yourself because on account of its perpetually hot weather, Paraguayans actually have cold tea, ice cold tea.
6. Although the country is practically landlocked, it has a large navy. In fact, amongst landlocked countries it has the largest naval fleet, however, they would have to access the waters via Argentinian territory.
7. Maintaining eye contact is a sign of mutual respect and trust. Not doing so is considered disrespectful. Tahir Shah’s “Eye to Eye” plays somewhere!
8. The world’s largest rodent is the capybara which can be found in Paraguay. It is 4 ft tall and can weigh approximately 66kgs! And honestly, who knew rodents can be this cute?? I mean look at them!
9. Guarani is an onomatopoeic language, so, a number of the words imitate the natural sound of animals, the environment, etc. Can you imagine talking like that?
10. In the 1800s it became the first South American country to get a railway. The Asunción-Encarnación railway line was constructed by British engineers in 1858-1861.
11. “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”, well, in this country it is also customary to announce your arrival by clapping. Now that’s a cheerful entry! One that is particularly done when people leave their house doors open due to the heat.
12. Paraguayan traditional music takes great pride in the instrument called the harp. The 38-string instrument is key to their authentic music. And they also build some of the best ones there.
13. 3 countries share a tri border intersection called the Triple Frontier of South America between Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. Between 1864-1870 the tragic battle of Triple Alliance took place in which unfortunately half the male population was lost.
14. Paraguay too sees an extreme case of wealth distribution with 161 people being responsible for 90% of the wealth and only 2.5% of the population owning 80% of the country’s land!
15. In the native Guarani language, the name Paraguay was made up with the words for water and palm crown, i.e., crowned river, which former President Juan Natalicio Gonzalez stated signified “river of the habitants of the sea”. Meanwhile, its location has led it to be nicknamed as “the heart of America”.
Trip Leader Niyati’s Recommendations:
1. While a capital doesn’t often seem as interesting, Paraguay’s Asuncion has historical sites and mansions, a river side and a lot more to see for you to understand the country. For museum nerds such as myself there’s Mueso Del Barro with ancient remains.
2. Eco Reserve Mbatovi offers not one but multiple adventurous activities such as hiking, rappelling, swinging across bridges and even a 105 metres long zip line!
3. The Cerro Cara National Park also makes for a simple and laidback visit with its number of trees and riverside to see.
4. The UNESCO sites of La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná and Ruinas Jesuiticas de Jesús de Tavarangué are a chance to explore the 17th century ruins and relics of the Jesuit colonies.
5. Howdy folks? Feel like having a true-blue ranch experience? Well, when in Paraguay you can experience that at Estancia Aventura.
6. The gushing Iguazu Falls lay between Argentina and Brazil and are one of the top attractions in both countries. However, you can take the Paraguayan route to make a short visit and see the falls too. While paperwork will certainly be involved, the falls are a thing of beauty and if waterfalls make your heart sing, you may not want to miss out on this!
How to Reach:
Catch a flight with two or more layovers Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sao Paulo or Rio De Janerio.