Located in the center of the vast continent of South America, Paraguay is often called “Corazón de América” (i.e. the Heart of America). And truth be told, that is a title that the country justifies really well.
Having spent decades as one of the world’s most geographically and politically isolated countries, the country is now beginning to open up the larger world – and tourism sector – and how! Belying its rather obscure status, the country, despite its largely undeveloped tourism infrastructure, is attracting travelers from far and wide and rewarding them with positive experiences.
The natural beauty of Paraguay is quite the spectacle. The most prominent of them is the Chaco region – wild and untouched and home to most of the indigenous population, who continue to live the age old traditions their ancestors followed centuries ago.
The capital, Asuncion is usually the place where most tourists begin their exploration of Paraguay. Colored deeply by its colonial past, the charming capital is characterized by a façade of neoclassicalism complete with cobbled, crumpling street, old Jesuit missions, and tree-lined boulevards. Much like the surroundings, the locals, are traditional and feisty, yet unerringly polite and very open to outsiders.
Inequality and paradox is one of the most striking things about Paraguay – it is not uncommon to find, for example, an expensive sport car buzzing along an old, cobbled streets, or street vendors going about their trade not too far from glitzy shopping malls.
A famous saying in Paraguay is that any person who visits here cries twice –when they arrive and when they leave. And both the people who live here and the travelers who have lived that experience will tell you that the saying couldn’t be truer.
Some facts about Paraguay:
- Paraguay is one of the two landlocked countries in South America; the other is Bolivia.
- The people of Paraguay are known for producing some of the finest lacework in the world. One example of this is the Nanduti (literally meaning “spiderweb”) – lacework that is created in circular designs in a rainbow formation with several colors
- Paraguay is the only country in the world to have a national flag that has two emblems – one on each side. The front side displays the Coat of Arms while the back has the country’s motto, ‘Paz y Justica’ (Peace and Justice) on display.
- The Capybara – the world’s largest rodent lives in Paraguay.
- Paraguay is the only country in the world where dueling is legal. Although, to qualify, participants need to be registered blood donors.