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State structure

Paraguay is a presidential republic with a 1992 constitution. This constitution is based on the principle of separate powers and provides for a president, a bicameral Congress and an independent judiciary. It also provides that the president is elected by the people for a period of five years. The vice-president is elected at the same time. The President has a great deal of power, for example he appoints the Council of Ministers, which may remain in office for seven years; together they form the executive. The Congress, the legislative power, consists of the Senate (Senado), which has 45 members, and a kind of Second Chamber (Cámara de Diputados) consisting of 80 members, who are elected for five years. The Senate is elected at the same time as the President. All citizens aged 18 and over are required to vote.

The 45 senators of the Senate are elected through national elections while the 80 members of the Cámara de Diputados are elected by department. Political decentralisation allows departments to elect their own governor. Despite these positive developments on the democratic front, the threat of a military coup remains ever-present in this country with its traditionally authoritarian society. For example, in 1999, Vice-President Argaña was assassinated and President Cubas resigned for allegedly plotting the attack! The whole period after World War II was dominated until 1989 by dictators who often led a very corrupt government and parliament.

Traditionally, two factions, both of which organised themselves as political parties in 1870, have dominated Paraguay's political scene: the Asociación Nacional Republicana (ANR), better known as the Colorado Party, which has been in power since 1940, and the Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico, also known as Blancos.

Paraguay is administratively divided into 17 departments. The capital Asunción has a separate administrative status. Fourteen of these departments are located in the eastern part of Paraguay, four in the west. These departments are further subdivided into 212 municipios and compañias. For the current political situation see chapter history.


Basic education is free in Paraguay and compulsory from age 7 to 14.

10% of the population is officially illiterate, the highest percentage compared to the other La Plata countries Uruguay and Argentina, but lower than Andean countries like Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

igher education is available at the Universidad Nacional and the Universidad Católica in Asunción. Both have departments spread throughout the country.


Bernhardson, W. / Argentina, Uruguay & Paraguay
Lonely Planet

Kleinpenning, J. / Paraguay
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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