Rio Parana in Paraguay
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Rio Parana in Paraguay

© Creative Commons / pulguita

Paraguay Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

406,752 sq km (157,048 sq miles).

Population

6.6 million (2013).

Population density

16.3 per sq km.

Capital

Asunción.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1811.

Head of state

President Horacio Cartes since 2013.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.

There’s a saying in Paraguay that people who visit always cry twice – once when they arrive and once when they leave. And you can see why emotions might run high in this lesser-travelled South American nation, whose beautiful, beguiling and baffling character is made all the more alluring by its relative obscurity.

After years in the wilderness – Paraguay has long been politically as well as geographically isolated – the country is gradually opening up to the outside world. Its tourism infrastructure remains undeveloped, but patient and pioneering travellers are rewarded for their endeavours.

Boasting an intoxicating blend of crumbling colonial cities, exotic natural wonders and indigenous tribes, visitors to Paraguay can also expect a warm welcome from the locals, who are unerringly polite, interested in outsiders and liberal with their dinner invitations (expect football chat to be on the menu).

Most travellers begin their Paraguayan adventure in the capital, Asuncion. A charming, colonial city, it’s one of South America’s more endearing capitals and is blessed with neoclassical façades, pretty piazzas and tree-lined boulevards.

It is also a place of contradictions; expensive sports cars whizz along crumbling cobbled streets, while traditional street vendors ply their trade in the shadows of modern shopping malls. Inequality is hard to ignore.

Outside the capital, Paraguay’s true beauty is revealed. The east is characterised by sweeping savannahs and dense forests, which are peppered with sleepy colonial towns barely changed since the turn of the 20th century.

Crumbling Jesuit missions and yerba maté plantations can be found in the southeast corner, while the largely unexplored northern region is blanketed by steamy marshes, shimmering lagoons and dense rainforests, which harbour exotic species such as the elusive puma.

And then there’s the wild, western region of Chaco; one of South America's great wilderness areas, it is home for many of Paraguay’s indigenous people, who live largely traditional lives amongst a myriad of spectacular flora and fauna.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 21 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

A small number of British tourists visit Paraguay every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but violent crime is increasing.

The British Embassy in Paraguay opened on 2 October 2013.

There are multiple outbreaks of dengue fever in Paraguay. You should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

There is a general threat from terrorism.

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