Paraguay had a population of 6,943,739 in 2017. This means that there are approximately 17 inhabitants per km2, one of the lowest in South America. West of the Río Paraguay River is the Chaco, a barren area that covers 61% of the total area and is home to only about 4% of the population. The rest of the population, approximately 96%, lives in eastern Paraguay. The capital Asunción is by far the largest city in Paraguay with more than 800,000 inhabitants. In the urban agglomeration around Asunción live even more than three million inhabitants. Other large cities are Ciudad del Este (formerly Puerto Presidente Stroessner), Encarnación and Lambaré. In 2017, 62% of the population lived in the cities.
Compared to the La Plata countries Argentina and Uruguay, this is not so much. There, about 90% of the population lives in the cities. One of the reasons for this is that the rural population is self-sufficient. They try to sell what is left on the market. Even by South American standards, the level of prosperity is quite low. Infant mortality is quite high and life expectancy is quite low at an average of about 77 years; only Brazil, Bolivia and Guyana score lower. The average population growth rate is around 1.18% (2017). The population structure is typical for a country with a young population: a quarter consists of children aged 0-14.
For political and economic reasons, many Paraguayans live outside Paraguay. Between 1950 and 1970, for example, more than 350,000 Paraguayans sought work in Argentina. Many political refugees returned to Paraguay after the Stroessner era in 1989. 75% of Paraguayans are mestizos, of Spanish-Guaraní origin. About 20% of the population are descendants of European immigrants, mainly about 100,000 Germans but also Dutch, many of them Mennonites who settled in the central Chaco wasteland as farmers in the 1930s. However, there are constant conflicts between the Mennonites and Indian groups.
There is also a group of Japanese who have settled in eastern Paraguay as well as large numbers of Brazilians of mostly German origin (about 2% of the population). Koreans have settled in Asunción in recent years, mostly in the commercial sector. South Africans have settled in the department of Caaguazú since the abolition of apartheid. In the Chaco and throughout eastern Paraguay, small groups of indigenous Indians still live as hunters and gatherers. The largest groups are the Nivaclé and the Lengua, both consisting of approximately 10,000 people. Many of them work for the white farmers in the area. In total, indigenous Indians make up about 3% of the total population.
Bernhardson, W. / Argentina, Uruguay & Paraguay
Kleinpenning, J. / Paraguay
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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