The two official languages of Paraguay are Spanish as well as Guarani, the indigenous language of Paraguay that is spoken by about 90 percent of the population. Of Paraguay's population of about 6.7 million people, about 95 percent are mestizo (mixed Spanish and indigenous), further reflecting the blended nature of the nation's culture. The Guarani are the earliest inhabitants of the country, inhabiting the region east of the Rio Paraguay. The western region was inhabited by the more reclusive and warlike Chaco tribesmen.
The majority of the population in Paraguay follows a form of Christianity, with almost 90 percent Roman Catholic, followed by Protestant groups with a significant minority of Muslims and Mennonites.
The richness of the Paraguayan culture can be found also in the embracing of new technologies. Though, the latest techniques have been adopted, the roots have never been neglected by the Paraguay people. The mixture of the old and new have contributed profusely to the rich production of the arts and crafts of Paraguay.
Paraguayan embroidery, lace making, and local music are representations of the cultural fusion. Food is an important part of the cultural ethos of any country, and in Paraguay, cottage cheese, cornmeal, milk, butter, eggs and fresh corn kernels are some of the major dishes.
Sports are an important cultural aspect of Paraguay, which excels in football (soccer), as well as rugby, volleyball, and tennis.
Cassava is a root vegetable, also known as Yuca or manioc, and is used to make breads and cakes called chipa.
Corn is another important ingredient in the food of Paraguay, used to make dishes like Paraguayan soup. Bori bori is one of the signature soups of Paraguay, usually made with chicken and cornmeal dumplings. The meat dishes are mainly prepared from chicken, pork as well as lamb.
Some of the other renowned Paraguay foods include:
Paraguay, despite being a small and isolated Latin American country, has produced many famous personalities over the years who have contributed in various spheres of human activities in highly meaningful and significant ways. The famous people from Paraguay are recognized, not only within Paraguay, but all around the world. They vary from politicians to writers of literature, from human rights activists to musicians and from sports players to social reformers.
Paraguay stands witness to a long and eventful history, therefore it comes as no surprise that a number of great politicians and social reformers have graced its history at various points of time, who have influenced the country and the world through their thoughts and actions.
Pedro Juan Caballero was the main figure in Paraguay's War for Independence, which eventually was declared on May 15, 1811. Jose Gasper Rodriguez de Francia was the first president of Paraguay, and is one of the most famous people from Paraguay.
Francisco Solano Lopez, Carlos Antonio Lopez, Raul Cunas Grau and Luis Gonzalez Macchi were all presidents of Paraguay in history, famous for their political contribution to the country. Other major politicians of the country include:
- Luis Maria Argana
- Mario Paz Castaing
- Lino Oviedo
Festivals in Paraguay
A large number of tourists visit Paraguay to witness the colorful festivals.
Some of the most important festivals in Paraguay include:
San Blas Fiestas: This Paraguay festival is held in February, which is time for Carnival. It is celebrated nationally in almost all major towns and cities of Paraguay with great pomp and enthusiasm. However, the Nirgen de la Candelaria in Puno is the biggest celebration for carnival.
Semana Santa: Held in March, this popular festival is religious in nature. This Holy Week is celebrated with great solemnity.
Festival de San Juan: The festival of San Juan is a major festival in Paraguay. Held around the country on June 24, this festival is best observed in the national capital of Asuncion. The nature of celebration for this festival varies from city to city. However, fire walking on hot coals and embers and the burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot remain common rituals. Great food almost invariably accompanies the celebrations.
Paraguayan dances have a rich history and heritage and are among the most popular cultural activities. There are various forms of dance in Paraguay, which have developed out of the influence of the Spanish dances. There are also several traditional dances of Paraguay, which are practiced even today. Most of these traditional forms of dance emerged out of ballroom dances, which were performed by the early Paraguayan aristocrats.
Paraguayan dances remained confined within the traditional and classical styles in the earlier parts of the twentieth century. However, during the 1980s, European influence came to Paraguay.
Some of the major dance forms of Paraguay are as follows:
Paraguay music is overtly European in nature. Both the structure and the instrumentations employed in tradition Paraguayan music have clearly exhibit the strong European influences exerted on the indigenous culture of the land. However, it should be remembered that the people of Paraguay are largely Spanish mestizos, and are typically proud of their indigenous identities. Thus, it may come as a surprise to many that the European musical structures are so faithfully adhered to in the music of Paraguay. Therefore, despite all the similarities there are certain distinctive features to distinguish it from identical forms as practised in Europe. One such is the characteristic usage of Guarina in place of the official Spanish as the language for the songs.
Last Updated On : December 18, 2012