Paraguay is a country of many cultures, which is reflected in its literature, art, music, cuisine and people. In fact, Paraguay claims 17 indigenous ethnic groups, as well as German, Japanese, Brazilian, Argentine and Bolivian communities. Paraguay offers two main regions that are rich in culture and attractions, divided by the Paraguay River: The Eastern Region features countryside with foothills, valleys, streams, lakes and forests. In addition, most of the country’s cities and towns, which date back to colonial times, are located here. The Western Region is less populous but offers expansive ecological and biological reserves in the Gran Chaco Americano Forest, the largest dry forest in South America, as well as farms and foreign colonies.
Indigenous art includes basketwork and feathered ornaments from the Guaraní peoples, as well as ceramics and wood carving. In addition, European influence has resulted in pieces like necklaces and ornaments made with glass beads. Visitors can see local handicrafts like these at various museums, including the Andrés Barbero Ethnographic Museum in Asunción.
Asunción, Paraguay’s capital city, features a historic downtown and architectural landmarks, such as the Riviera Block, which consists of the city’s oldest house, the Cathedral, López Palace, the Railroad, and the House of Independence, all located within one city block. In addition, Asuncion offers performances at the Lírico Theater, along with nightlife, shopping and dining. Paraguay’s other major cities include Encarnación, located less than an hour from the Jesuit Ruins of Jesús y Trinidad, a UNESCO Treasure of Humanity; Ciudad del Este, a commercial city located an hour from Iguazu Falls; and Villarrica, the “Cultured City.” Paraguay also has a wide variety of wildlife, including jaguar, deer, puma, blue macaw and great horned owl. In fact, Paraguay has approximately 40 protected wildlife areas, including the Champions (the largest) in Chaco National Park.
Local cuisine in Paraguay is largely defined by Guarani culture, with items like parrillada (grilled meat), mazamorroa (corn mush), sopa paraguaya (corn bread with cheese and onion) and bori-bori (chicken soup with cornmeal dumplings), which are served in a variety of restaurants and cafes.
Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion is served by six South American airlines. Local bus line 30-A connects the airport with the city center, but visitors also can rent a car or take a taxi into town. The city is small enough to navigate on foot, although taxis and buses are available in town.
Paraguay, which is located in the Southern Hemisphere at the Tropic of Capricorn, has a temperate to hot climate most of the year, with average daytime highs of about 75 degrees, although it can climb as high as 105 during summer (December through March). Winters are generally mild, making this season a good time to visit. Precipitation varies by region: the Eastern Region is more humid, and the Western Region is arid.