пятница, 20 июня 2008 г.

PARAGUAY

Information and maps from the Dorling Kindersley World Reference Atlos (30), available from all good bookshops.

Official name: Republic of Paraguay Capital: Asuncion Population: 4.5 million Currency: Guarani Official language: Spanish and Guarani

Land-locked in central South America and a Spanish possession until 1811, Paraguay won large tracts of land from Bolivia in 1835. From then until the overthrow in 1989 of General Stroessner, South America's longest surviving dictator, it experienced periods of anarchy and military rule. The dyer Paraguay divides the eastern hills and fertile plains, where 90 per cent of people live, from the almost uninhabited Chaco region in the west. CLIMATE

Paraguay has a subtropical climate. All parts experience floods and droughts, but the Chaco is generally drier and hotter. Temperatures peak at about 35 degrees Celsius in January. COMMUNICATIONS

Approximately 320,000 passengers pass through Asuncion's Silvio Pettirossi International airport annually. Foreign investment is sought to upgrade the country's roads and antiquated railways. TOURISM

Tourism is at a low level, except for the cross-border day trippers from Brazil and Argentina who come to buy cheap, Far Eastern electrical goods. PEOPLE

Population density: 11 people per square kilometre

Urban/rural population split: 49 per cent/51 per cent

Ethnic make-up: Most Paraguayans are of combined Spanish and native Guarani origin and are bilingual, except in more rural areas where Guarani is spoken almost exclusively. Two thirds of the country's indigenous Indians live in the vast, almost empty Chaco region. POLITICS

In 1993 Paraguay held its first free elections in sixty years of military rule, following a coup led by General Rodriguez in 1989. The old Colorado Party, led by General Stroessner, still received sufficient support to win both congressional and presidential elections. But the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, led by businessman and free-marketeer Guillermo Cabellero Vargas did well in Asuncion and have high hopes for the next elections. WORLD AFFAIRS

Paraguay's main aims are to join the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) and improve relations with the USA. AID

The World Bank and IMF are the chief providers of Paraguay's aid receipts, which total about $99 million. Non-governmental charities run small programmes in rural areas. DEFENCE

High ranking military personnel still control Paraguay's political and economic life and so defence budgets are high, currently over $60 million. ECONOMICS

GNP: $6.3 billion

GNP per capita: $1,400

Balance of payments: $622 million deficit

Inflation: 14.6 per cent

Strengths: Earning from electricity exports cover oil imports. Self-sufficiency in wheat and other staple foodstuffs.

Weaknesses: Agriculture alone accounts for 30 per cent of GDP, 90 per cent of exports and 45 per cent of the labour force. Land-locked and remote, the country is dependent on growth in neighbouring countries. RESOURCES

Electricity generation: The joint Paraguay-Brazil itaipu hydroelectric power project has the world's largest generating capacity

Oil production: Paraguay is not an oil producer but refines 7,500 barrels per day

Livestock: Includes cattle, pigs and sheep

Mineral reserves: Iron and manganese ENVIRONMENT

Apart from the destruction of forests for farming, the chief ecological worry is the smuggling of endangered species abroad. However, the Government has no environmental safeguard policies as yet. MEDIA

The Paraguayan press is theoretically free, but most media is sponsored by one of the political parties. It flourished after the fall of Stroessner, but there is less investigative reporting now. CRIME

Paraguay is the contraband capital of Latin America, with trade in everything from cars to cocaine. Jungle airstrips near Brazil provide a route for drugs. EDUCATION

Literacy rate: 90 per cent Provision is limited in remote rural areas and overall, although an estimated 93 per cent of children attend primary school, only 24 per cent attend secondary school. HEALTH

Doctor/population ratio: 1 per 1,610 people

Only a third of the population has safe drinking water. Half of country's hospital beds are located in Asuncion. WEALTH

After 60 years of monopolising lucrative state contracts, the top ranks of the military still control the country's wealth. Only 2.7 per cent of the population own a telephone.

WORLD BANKING Position in World (91 countries)

Life expentancy 94 Infant mortality 97 GDP per capita 106 Daily calorie intake 93 Literacy 79 School index 90 Educational rank 86 Human dev. index 102

MAP: Paraguay

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