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Holidays in Paraguay

Understanding Paraguay

Colonized for 3 centuries by the Spanish, since the 1500s, Paraguay has managed to keep a lot of its indigenous character and identity Nowadays, the mestizos Spanish + Amerindian account for more than 90% of the country's 6 million inhabitants and Guarani is, side by side with Spanish, the country's official language

In the past, Franciscan and Jesuit missions mingled with the Guaranis' dream of Yvy maraë´y, a land without evil, and produced singular societies The ruins of the Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana and Jesus de Tavarangue, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and several villages throughout the country, are witnesses to that peaceful past

But Paraguay also has a history of blood and tears In the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance 1865-70, waged by the allied forces of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, the country lost two-thirds of all adult males and much of its territory It stagnated economically for the next half century In the Chaco War of 1932-35, large, economically important areas were won from Bolivia The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner was overthrown in 1989, and, despite a marked increase in political infighting in recent years, democratic governors have been in power since then

  • National holiday: Independence Day, 15 May 1811


With an area of about 406000 sq km, Paraguay is divided between the East and West Chaco regions by the Paraguay River Despite being landlocked, the country is bordered and criss-crossed by navigable rivers

The Tropic of Capricorn also crosses the country from East to West and determines a more tropical climate to the North and subtropical to temperate climate to the South


Paraguay has been recently ranked by several research studies as the cheapest country in the world, measured through Purchasing Power Parity Prices, measured in dollars, euros or British pounds are very low

Economy - overview 
Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector The informal sector features both reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain A large percentage of the population derives their living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis The formal economy grew by an average of about 3% annually in 1995-97, but GDP declined slightly in 1998, 1999, and 2000 On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, lack of progress on structural reform, substantial internal and foreign debt, and deficient infrastructure
purchasing power parity - $262 billion 2001 est
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $4,600 2001 est

Talking in Paraguay

Both Spanish and Guaraní are official Most people in Paraguay speak Spanish and use of English is very limited Outside of Asuncion and big cities Guarani is all you will hear Due to the extensive use of Guarani, even those who have managed to learn Spanish do not always speak it very well

In Paraguay, Guarani is almost always spoken as a mix of Guarani and Spanish, known as Jopara, meaning "mixed" in Guarani The number system in Guarani is rarely used, and is almost always replaced with the Spanish number system

Some basic greetings in Guarani include:

Mba'eichapa? = How are you?

Iporã = Good

ha nde? = and you?

iporã avei = good as well

In Paraguay Vos is used instead of Tu There is a slight change in conjugation but not big enough that you won't be understood using Tu This Vos is NOT the same as Vosotros Tienes changes to tenés, puedes changes to podés, but usually you can get by with changing tu to vos

In the northern, and eastern parts of Paraguay, Portuguese is spoken widely In some places, Nueva Esperanza 80% portuguese speaking, Katuetè 60% the majority speak Portuguese, almost always the result of Paraguayan born, or first generation Brazilian immigrants There are many cases of Paraguayans, who were born during the era of Brazilian immigration who speak only Portuguese at home, although also fluent Guarani, but very little or no Spanish

What to see in Paraguay

There is a well in the city of Santani San Pedro that does not go dry The town's museum also contains a large snakeskin

Buying stuff in Paraguay

The currency is the guarani PYG As of January 2010, the current exchange rate is 4,575 Guaranies for 1 US Dollar, and 6,461 Guaranies for €1 Always check the exchange rate quotations on the internet or several major newspapers before exchanging money

Prices in Paraguay are very low and a budget traveller will be able to get by on as little as £7/$14 a day and even less if camping A clean, single hotel room out of Asuncion should not cost more than $10

Food and eating in Paraguay

You'll find much of the standard South American cuisine here with some Brazilian influence as well Also highly popular are empanadas meat/egg stuffed in a pastry and baked and milanesa breaded and fried chicken/beef/fish - these are considered fast food, and are also found in other countries in the region If you order a hamburger at a restaurant, expect it to come topped with a fried egg Asado BBQ is great, and prices are quite reasonable - 20000 Guaranis $400 US will get you an all-you-can-eat buffet at many nice places 5000 Guarani is enough to pay for a hamburger Paraguayan food isn't particularly spicy, so those who can't tolerate spices won't have problems here There is a lot of traditional food Chipa-a bread baked in an outdoor oven or "tatacua", usually made out of mandioca manioc flour Mandioca is often substituted for potatoes Sopa Paraguaya is a form of corn bread are two of the most well known Mandioca, or Mandi´o in Guarani It is similar to a potato, and is normally eaten boiled but can be fried It is eaten almost everyday by Paraguayans, and many have it growing on their land Tortillas in Paraguay are different than in other places in Latin America It is more like a fried dough made with Paraguayan cheese Try Tortilla So'o if you get the chance--it is Paraguayan Tortilla with bits of pieces of meat often marinated with garlic and lime

Drinking in Paraguay

Tap water in Asuncion, and possibly Ciudad del Este, is potable Tap water in the rest of Paraguay should be treated to make it safe for drinking There have been efforts by PLAN International to bring safe, potable water to communities in rural areas if there is such water available, it is safe to drink Ask before drinking water in rural areas however--many Paraguayans will claim their water is safe to drink even if it's not purified

The national beverage in Paraguay is a tea called mate served hot or terere served cold and is made from the yerba mate plant It is served in guampas, which can be made out of wood or of hallow bull horns, and is drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla The tea is prepared by pouring dry yerba into the cup, then adding water: hot water version is known as mate while the cold water version is known as tereré Mate is usually enjoyed in the early mornings and late evenings year-round, or during especially cold days during the winter Terere is enjoyed year-round as well, though not during the times one would drink mate early mornings/late evenings Often, herbs are added to the tereré water locally called 'remedios' or different herbs to cure different ailments For example, adding coconut to one's mate is supposed to help with headaches The taste is best described as earthy, like a bitter green tea, and it will take getting used to before you can enjoy it Drinking mate or tereré is most definitely one of the social customs of Paraguay Shops will close around noon for a siesta and for a round of mate/tereré with friends If you can get used to the taste and participate, locals will be appreciative This drink is also found in other South American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil

Beer is widely available, as are many liquors The local beer is Brahma or Pilsen Hard liquors are similar to rum

Accommodation in Paraguay

Good accommodation will certainly not be hard to find in major towns, and will seem reasonably cheap if the parameter is the dollar or the euro The exception, however, is Ciudad del Este Cheap accommodation is easy to find, but if you're after something of higher quality you'll have a better chance in the Argentinian Puerto Iguazu or the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu

Working in Paraguay

Most people who live in the rural areas of Paraguay are subsistence famers Other people who live in urban areas are marketeers They sell fish, fruit and vegetables, and other products

Cities in Paraguay

abai  acahay  alberdi  altos  alto vera  antequera  aregua  arroyos y esteros  asuncion  atyra  ayolas  belen  bella vista  bella vista  benjamin aceval  borja  buena vista  caacupe  caaguazu  caapucu  caazapa  cambyreta  capiata  capiibary  capitan bado  capitan meza  capitan miranda  caraguatay  carapegua  carayao  carlos antonio lopez  carmen del parana  cerrito  chore  concepcion  coronel bogado  coronel martinez  coronel oviedo  corpus christi  curuguaty  desmochados  doctor botrell  doctor cecilio baez  doctor juan leon mallorquin  doctor juan manuel frutos  doctor pedro p. pena  edelira  emboscada  encarnacion  escobar  eusebio ayala  felix perez cardozo  fernando de la mora  filadelfia  fram  fuerte olimpo  general artigas  general delgado  general elizardo aquino  general higinio morinigo  general jose eduvigis diaz  guarambare  hohenau  horqueta  humaita  independencia  isla pucu  isla umbu  itacurubi de la cordillera  itacurubi del rosario  ita  itanara  itape  itapua poty  itaquyry  itaugua  iturbe  jesus  juan de mena  la colmena  lambare  la paz  laureles  leandro oviedo  lima  limpio  loma grande  los cedrales  luque  maciel  mariano roque alonso  mayor pablo lagerenza  mbocayaty  mbutuy  mbuyapey  nacunday  naranjal  natalicio talavera  natalio  nemby  nueva alborada  nueva colombia  nueva germania  nueva italia  nueva londres  numi  obligado  paraguari  paso de patria  pedro juan caballero  pilar  pirapo  pirayu  piribebuy  pozo colorado  presidente franco  primero de marzo  puerto pinasco  quiindy  quyquyho  repatriacion  salto del guaira  san alberto  san antonio  san bernardino  san carlos  san cosme y damian  san cristobal  san estanislao  san joaquin  san jose de los arroyos  san jose obrero  san juan bautista de neembucu  san juan bautista  san juan del parana  san juan nepomuceno  san lazaro  san lorenzo  san miguel  san patricio  san pedro del parana  san pedro de ycuamandiyu  san rafael del parana  san salvador  santa elena  santa maria  santa rita  santa rosa  santiago  sapucai  tacuaras  tacuati  tavai  tobati  trinidad  union  valenzuela  veinticinco de diciembre  villa elisa  villa florida  villa franca  villa hayes  villalbin  villa oliva  villarrica  villeta  yabebyry  yaguaron  yataity del norte  yataity  ybycui  ybytimi  yegros  ygatimi  yhu  ypacarai  ypane  yuty  

What do you think about Paraguay?

How expensive is Paraguay?
(1 PYG = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant23.27 PYG
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)110.2 PYG
McDonalds meal22.56 PYG
Local beer (0.5 draft)6.64 PYG
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 7.71 PYG
Cappuccino8 PYG
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)4.4 PYG
Water (0.33 bottle)1.84 PYG
Milk (1l)3.76 PYG
Fresh bread (500g)3.31 PYG
White Rice (1kg)4.43 PYG
Eggs (12) 6.44 PYG
Local Cheese (1kg) 30.03 PYG
Chicken Breast (1kg) 25.51 PYG
Apples (1kg) 11.09 PYG
Oranges (1kg) 2.94 PYG
Tomato (1kg) 7.72 PYG
Potato (1kg) 5.55 PYG
Lettuce (1 head) 0.97 PYG
Water (1.5l)4.42 PYG
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 26.57 PYG
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)5.46 PYG
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 7.75 PYG
Cigarettes5.46 PYG
One way local bus ticket2.21 PYG
Monthly pass for bus27.6 PYG
Taxi start5.54 PYG
Taxi 1km6.64 PYG
Taxi 1hour waiting45.12 PYG
Gasoline (1 liter) 6.62 PYG
Utilities for a "normal" apartment260.36 PYG
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 44.28 PYG
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 827.52 PYG, your travel companion

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