By: Emilie Gonzalez
November 9th, 2014
Paraguay Physical Map
Paraguay is divided into strikingly different eastern and western regions by the Rio Paraguay. The southeastern Paranena region can be generally described as consisting of an area of highlands that slopes toward the Rio Paraguay. The Chaco in the northwestern region is predominantly lowlands, also inclined toward the Rio Paraguay, that are alternately flooded and parched.
Paraguay Political Map
Paraguay Political map shows the international boundary, departments boundaries with their departments and the national capital.
Paraguay's flag was adopted in 1842. .Each side of the flag consists of three equal, horizontal bands: red, white, and blue, with an emblem centered in the white band. The emblem is the national coat of arms of Paraguay: a yellow five-pointed star surrounded by a green wreath capped by the words Republica del Paraguay or Republic of Paraguay. The emblem on the reverse side is the seal of the treasury (a yellow lion below a red Phrygian cap and the words Paz y Justicia or Peace and Justice.
Paraguay Physical Map
Paraguay Political Map
Spanish is spoken by about 87% of the population, while Guaraní is spoken by more than 90%, with about 4,650,000 speakers. 52% of rural Paraguayans are monolingual in Guaraní. 73% of the population is bilingual in both languages, while only 27% is monolingual either in Spanish or in Guaraní.
Customs and Traditions
Lace Making---The art of lace making, called "nanduti," clearly illustrates how the blending of Spanish and Guarani craft forms created a distinct Paraguayan culture. The wheel-based lace design, called "ruedas," originated in Spain and Portugal in the 1700s. The conquistadors and missionaries introduced this craft to South American countries, including Paraguay. Paraguayans in turn introduced their own lace design, called "nanduti," meaning spider web. As this craft evolved, the Paraguayans added palm leaf shapes to their lace design. The Paraguay town of Itaugua conducts a Nanduti festival in July, where visitors can watch the lace-making process and purchase lace products.
Music---In the middle of the 19th century, the people of Paraguay developed three types of polka music: the Galopa, the Krye’y and the Canción Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Song. Like most polka rhythms, the Galopa and the Kyre'y are lively and upbeat. In contrast, the Cancion Paraguaya has a slow and melancholic rhythm. In 1925, a musician named Jose Asuncion Flores developed a musical style called Guarania. Slow, soulful and full of emotional angst, this musical style was an immediate success. Encouraged, Flores went on to compose longer pieces, called symphonic guarania. In Asuncion, Teatro Municipal (teatromunicipal.com.py) is Paraguay's main venue for concerts, dance performances and theater.
Musical Instruments---Like other cultural forms in Paraguay, the choice of musical instruments shows influence from both Spanish and Guarani cultures. In rural sections of the country, people play the instruments of the indigenous people, including flutes composed of sugar cane and rattles made of gourds. The early conquistadors brought the Spanish guitar and Spanish harp to Paraguay. These two instruments continue to play a key role in modern Paraguayan musical forms. Paraguay's rock music culture takes its inspiration from Caribbean musical styles.
Ceramics---The Guaranis also specialized in ceramic designs, and created objects such as funerary urns and jugs used for drinking. In Asuncion, the Museo del Barro (museodelbarro.com) features an extensive collection of indigenous ceramic, glass and clay works of art. The clay exhibit also features a series of sculptures. Created in the 20th and 21st centuries, these sculptures resulted from new kiln techniques developed in Paraguay. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits ranging from plastic art to photography.
- In Paraguay the Sopa Paraguaya, the Mandioca, the Chipá Guazú and the Chipá are present in almost every lunch or dinner at least twice a week (sometimes more and especially if it involves a social gathering). However you may come across these other types of food that are typical of Paraguay:
- Arró Quesú - Paraguayan style rice, is similar to a cheese and milk risotto but it has to be made only with white rice and Quesú Paraguai (Paraguayan cheese - see below)
- Asado - literally barbecue though the Paraguayan Asado is often accompanied with Sopa Paraguaya or Chipá Guazu. Note, an asado has many types of meat, and LOTS of it! No scrawny hamburger patties here!
- Bifé Koygua - meat (steak) topped with fried onions and one or two fried eggs on top.
- Bori Bori - a thick soup to which dumplings (or small balls) of cornmeal and cheese and sometimes chicken are added.
- Chipa Guazú - basically a corn cake, made with cheese, fresh corn, eggs, oil and milk, and cooked in the Tatakua (a clay oven). It is similar to the Sopa Paraguaya which has corn flour instead of grains of corn.
- Empanadas - Pastries filled with different combinations, including, egg, meat, chicken, corn, cheese and ham. Paraguayan Empanadas are normally fried and not often made in the oven like the Chilean. Also Paraguayan empanadas are sometimes eaten between two pieces of bread like a sandwich, something people from other countries tend to notice when they see it.
- Guiso popó - A very traditional dish, similar to a stew that contains chicken and rice, pickled with sweet pepper and garlic. It also has some variations where the rice is replaced by pasta or potatoes.
- Mandioca - (also known as Yuka, Yuca or Cassava) which are similar to potatoes, are eaten with almost every meal as they are a native crop of Paraguay. In fact, it is so common there is a local expression, Más Paraguayo que la mandioca (More Paraguayan than the Mandioca).
- Milanesa - Even though this is not originally from Paraguay, the milanesa has become a staple part of Paraguayan cuisine. Milanesas are crumbed meat filets.
- Pastel mandi’o - Similar to empanadas except that the pastry (dough) is made from mandioca. Pastel mandi’o is usually filled with meat and is fried.
- Pira Caldo - Pira means fish in guaraní and caldo is a type of broth. This fish soup contains milk, Paraguayan cheese, onions, tomato and sunflower oil. It’s very high in calories and is believed that this soup can enhance a man’s sexual performance.
- Puchero - a traditional stew made with meat, vegetables (like carrot, pumpkin/squash and onions).
- Quesú Paraguái - Also know as Queso Paraguayo, this is typical cheese made by rural artisans.
- Sopa Paraguaya / Sopá Paraguaí - (Literally Paraguayan Soup). This is probably the world’s only “solid” soup. More than a soup, it is actually more like an open pie made of ground corn, cheese, eggs and milk.
- Sopa So’o - is a layer of ground beef / mince sandwiched between two layers of the Sopa Paraguaya cake.
MUSIC:Music is one of the single most identifiable expressions of Paraguay. This music came about as the creation of Paraguayan nationals, around the middle of the 19th Century. Polka, which adopted the name from a European beat, is the most typical type of music and has relatively different versions including the Galopa, the Krye’ÿ and the Canción Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Song. The first two are faster and more upbeat than the standard polka, and the third, a slight bit slower and melancholic. Other popular styles include the Purahéi Jahe’o and the Compuesto, which generally tell sad, epic or love stories.
Holidays and Festivals
Carnival(February)---This incredibly festival multi-day event takes place at the same as in other countries such as Brazil. Although not as famous as Rio de Janeiro, a good time is still guaranteed.
Holy Week Festival(March)---In gearing up for the Easter celebrations, Paraguay holds an annual week-long festival to set the pious mood for the coming events.
Cerro Cora(March 1st)---This national holiday commemorates the death of former president Francisco Solano Lopez with a ceremony in the capital.
Easter(April)---As in most other South American countries, Easter is celebrated with all the religious fervour you’d expect from a predominantly Catholic population.
Independence Day(May 15)---All over the country, events are held to celebrate Paraguay’s independence from Spain with parades, concerts and fireworks.
Verbena de San Juan(May 28 and 29)---This traditional festival is part religious, part cultural, and part bizarre, with events such as walking on hot embers taking center stage.
Dia de San Juan(June)---Another annual festival which has been happening for decades takes a more light-hearted look at Saint John with music, food and games around the country.
Nanduti Festival(last weekend in July)---This traditional folk festival in Itaugua showcases the region’s art, crafts, food and music with the amazing lace-making skills of the local women on display.
Dia de la Virgen de la Asuncion(August)---The Ascension of the Virgin Mary is the theme of this very important religious and cultural celebration which consists of processions and ceremonies.
Festival of Alfalfa(September)---As the name may imply, this is a harvest festival held in Sapucai to celebrate the end of another successful crop of Alfalfa with drinking, music and dancing.
Encuentro Internacional de Coros(October 4th)---One of Paraguay’s few performance arts festivals is the annual choir festival held in Encarnacion, where music overtakes the town for a few days.
Festival del Poyvi(November)---The town of Carapegua is the scene of this traditional art, crafts and music fair held each year to showcase the culture of this region of Paraguay.