Paraguay, known as the heart of South America, because it is located in the centre of South America, is a country landlocked between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. It has a population of 6 million who are majorly Roman Catholics. Its official languages are Spanish and Paraguayan Guaraní. Its capital and largest city is Asunción.
Asunción is home to several tourist attractions such as the Cabildo de Asunción, a museum, the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes, a monument where most of the national heroes are entombed, the Casa de la Independencia Museum, and the Museo del Barro, displaying pre-Columbian art and Nandutí lacework.
Paraguay is divided into two regions by the Paraguay River – the Paranena region (eastern Paraguay) and the Chaco (western Paraguay).
The Paranaense region has a humid climate with abundant rainfall and the Chaco has a tropical wet-and-dry climate with light rainfall. Light clothing is recommended for the day and a sweater or jacket for the evening.
Paraguay experiences a lot of sunlight, so sunscreen is recommended. Insect repellents are also recommended as the region is endemic to dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Corn and cassava are staples in Paraguay. A popular meal, Chipa is made with cassava and cheese baked to form a thick bread.
Taxis are the most efficient means of getting around in Paraguay, although buses, called colectivo by locals are the most common.
Paraguay has maintained its indigenous roots, and many of Paraguay’s festivals have a unique mix of cultural and religious celebrations. Some of them are:
- Dia de San Blas: held in February, in honour of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of Paraguay, which features walking on hot coals and embers.
- Carnival: the largest festival held in Paraguay each year. It features parades and pageants
- Verbena de San Juan: held in honour of Saint John.
- Independence Day (Día de la Independencia): Paraguay celebrates its independence from Spain on May 15.
- Nanduti Festival: held in the last weekend of July, features displays of Paraguayan arts and craft.
For a country with a number of cultural centres and national parks, there are plenty of interesting places worth visiting, such as:
- Museo de la Estacion Central del Ferrocarril Carlos Antonio Lopez: an old railway station, now a museum, it offers tourist rides to the neighbouring city of Aregua.
- Teatro Municipal: a municipal theatre in Asuncion where you can catch regular shows and performances.
- Cerro Cora National Park: one of Paraguay’s national parks. It is the largest in Paraguay and you can hike here or explore the diverse species.
- The Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue: These UNESCO World Heritage sites were built by missionaries in the 17th century.
- Ybycuí National Park: probably the most visited of Paraguay’s national parks, it has an iron foundry and museum, reminiscent of Paraguay’s arms industry. The park also has a waterfall where you can swim in the pool.