Landlocked Paraguay is at the heart of South America, surrounded by Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil.
Political unrest, corruption and chronic economic problems have plagued the country’s fragile democracy since it emerged from the 35-year dictatorship of the late Gen Alfredo Stroessner in 1989.
It remains one of the region’s poorest countries, with over 40% of its people living in poverty. Much of the land is in the hands of a tiny elite and successive governments have been slow to implement land reform.
Its economy is reliant on agriculture and hydroelectric power. Unlike its neighbours, Paraguay has evaded mass tourism.
Most of the population is of mixed Spanish and Guarani descent, known as mestizos, and speak the indigenous language Guarani as well as Spanish.
The Triple Frontier region, where Paraguay meets Argentina and Brazil, has long been associated with drug-smuggling and other contraband trade.
- Republic of Paraguay
- Capital: Asuncion
- Population 6.7 million
- Area 406,752 sq km (157,048 sq miles)
- Major languagesSpanish, Guarani
- Main religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 71 years (men), 75 years (women)
- Currency guarani