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Geography of Paraguay


One of South America's two landlocked countries, Paraguay has a total area of 406,750 km² (157,047 mi²). Comparatively, the area occupied by Paraguay is slightly smaller than the state of California, USA. The western 246,925 km² (95,338 mi²) of the country constitute a dry, sparsely populated region known as the Chaco, while the remaining 159,827 km² (61,709 mi²) lie in the more verdant east. Paraguay extends 992 km (616 mi) south-southeast to north-northwesy and 491 km (305 mi) east-northeast to west-southwest. Bounded on the northeast and east by Brazil, on the southeast, south and west by Argentina, and on the northwest and north by Bolivia, Paraguay has a total boundary length of 3,920 km (2,436 mi). Paraguay's capital city, Asunción, is located in the southwestern part of the country.

The eastern part of Paraguay contains luxuriant hills, meadows and forests. The western three-fifths is a waterless prairie covered with dry grass and sparsely dotted with shadeless trees. The southward-flowing Paraguay River, the nation's most important waterway, divides the two sections; this river, which for a long time was Paraguay's principal contact with the outside world, rises in southwestern Brazil and extends for a total length of 2,549 km (1,584 mi). The Pilcomayo River, which rises in the mountains of southern Bolivia and extends about 1,600 km (1,000 mi), flows southeast, forming the southwestern border between Argentina and Paraguay, and joins the Paraguay near Asunción.

The eastern sector of Paraguay comprises the western part of the great Paraná Plateau, varying from 300 to 610 m (1,000 to 2,000 ft) in altitude. The Paraná River flows southward from south-central Brazil through the centre of the plateau, dropping in the Guairá Falls at the easternmost point in the Paraguay-Brazil frontier. Between the Guairá Falls and the confluence with the Paraguay River at the southwestern tip of the country, the Paraná passes through a deep canyon that forms the eastern and southern frontier with Argentina.

Just west of the plateau is an area of gently rounded hills descending to the low plains that stretch westward to the Paraguay River. These hills occur in two series, one extending northwestward to the Paraguay River just north of Concepción, and the other meeting the river at Asunción. The remaining territory east of the Paraguay River is composed of lowland plain, much of it subject to annual floods.

West of the Paraguay River is the Chaco, part of the larger Gran Chaco, which includes portions of Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. The Gran Chaco, a vast alluvial plain composed of unconsolidated sands and clays, is crossed by the Pilcomayo and Bermejo rivers, but over much of the area there are no surface streams. The water table, however, is only a few feet below the surface, and patches of alkali frequently appear during the long dry season. In many places the groundwater is salty.

Two-thirds of Paraguay is within the temperate zone, one-third in the tropical zone. The climate varies from mild to subtropical. During the winter months (roughly May through August), temperatures generally range from 16° to 21°C (60° to 70° F); nights are occasionally colder. During the summer (October through March), temperatures range from about 25° to 38°C (77° to 100° F), with extremes of 43°C (109° F) and above in the west. Paraguay is open to dry, cold polar winds from the south and to hot, humid north winds from southwestern Brazil; sudden sharp drops in temperatures are not uncommon. Rainfall averages about 152 cm (60 in) a year along the eastern frontier with Brazil, gradually diminishing toward the west to an average of 127 cm (50 in) along the Paraguay River and 76 cm (30 in) in the Chaco. Asunción has an annual average of about 130 cm (50 in), which is moderate for its latitude. There is no definite rainy season, although violent thunderstorms sometimes occur in the summer.


Location : Central South America, northeast of Argentina
Geographic coordinates : 23 00 S, 58 00 W
Map references : South America
Area : total: 406,752 sq km

land: 397,302 sq km

water: 9,450 sq km
Area - comparative : slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries : total: 3,995 km

border countries: Argentina 1,880 km, Bolivia 750 km, Brazil 1,365 km
Coastline : 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims : none (landlocked)
Climate : subtropical to temperate; substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, becoming semiarid in the far west
Terrain : grassy plains and wooded hills east of Rio Paraguay; Gran Chaco region west of Rio Paraguay mostly low, marshy plain near the river, and dry forest and thorny scrub elsewhere
Elevation extremes : lowest point: junction of Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana 46 m

highest point: Cerro Pero 842 m
Natural resources : hydro power, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone
Land use : arable land: 9.59%

permanent crops: 0.22%

other: 90.19% (2011)
Irrigated land : 670 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources : 336 cu km (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) : total: 0.49 cu km/yr (20%/8%/71%)

per capita: 80 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards : local flooding in southeast (early September to June); poorly drained plains may become boggy (early October to June)
Environment - current issues : deforestation; water pollution; inadequate means for waste disposal pose health risks for many urban residents; loss of wetlands
Environment - international agreements : party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note : landlocked; lies between Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil; population concentrated in southern part of country






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