Paraguay (US , UK ), officially the Republic of Paraguay (Guaraní: Tetã Paraguái ), is a landlocked country in South America bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de América ("Heart of America").
The Guaraní have been living in Paraguay since before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, when Paraguay became part of the Spanish colonial empire. Following independence from Spain in 1811, Paraguay was ruled by a series of dictators who followed isolationist and protectionist policies. This development was truncated by the disastrous Paraguayan War (1864–1870) in which the country lost 60% to 70% of its population and large amounts of territory. During a large part of the 20th century, Paraguay was ruled by Alfredo Stroessner, who led one of South America's longest lived military dictatorships. In 1989 Stroessner was toppled and free elections were celebrated in 1993. A year later, Paraguay joined Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to found Mercosur.
As of 2009, Paraguay's population was estimated to be at around 6.5 million, most of whom are concentrated in the southeast of the country. The capital and largest city is Asunción, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly a third of the population. In contrast to most Latin American countries, the indigenous language and culture remain widespread, and the majority of Paraguayans are mestizo. The official languages are Spanish and Guaraní, both of which are widely spoken in the country, with around 92% of the general population speaking Spanish and 98% speaking Guaraní.
Paraguay has long been one of the region's poorest, least-developed, and most isolated countries. In 2010, the economy grew by 14.5%, the largest economic expansion in Latin America, and the third fastest in the world (after Qatar and Singapore). By 2011, economic growth had slowed to 6.4%, still far higher than the global average.
How places in Paraguay are organized
All places in Paraguay
Further information on historical place organization in Paraguay