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Transportation in Paraguay


Inadequate transportation facilities have been a major impediment to Paraguay's development. For a long time, some 3,100 km of domestic waterways provided the chief means of transportation, with most vessels owned by Argentine interests. Hampered by the high costs and slow service of Argentine riverboats transporting cargo to and from Buenos Aires, the Paraguayan government put its own fleet of riverboats in operation. This remedy, however, did not solve the underlying problems of Paraguayan transport. Drought conditions frequently affect navigation, and while the Paraguay is open to river traffic as far as Concepción (about 290 km north of Asunción), passage is sometimes hazardous to vessels of even medium draft. The inland waterways and the Rio de la Plata handle more than half of Paraguay's foreign trade with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe, Japan and the US.

Asunción, the chief port, and Concepción can accommodate ocean-going vessels. In 2010, Paraguay had 19 merchant vessels. In addition, Paraguay has been given free port privileges at Santos and Paranaguá, Brazil. More than 90% of Paraguay's foreign trade passes to Asunción through ports in Argentina and Uruguay. A four-year project begun in 1967 substantially improved Asunción's cargo-handling capacity.

Road construction is another critical focus of development. In 2010, highways totalled an estimated 32,059 km; of these roads, however, only 4,860 km were paved. Two major road projects of the 1960s were the Friendship Bridge on the Brazilian border in the Iguaçu Falls area, inaugurated in 1961, and the 770-km all-weather Trans-Chaco Road, which extends from Asunción to Bolivia. The Friendship Bridge permits highway travel from Asunción to the Brazilian Atlantic port of Paranaguá. A bridge over the Paraguay River, linking the western and eastern parts of the country, was inaugurated in 1978. All-weather roads connecting Asunción with Buenos Aires and Puerto Presidente Stroessner with Paranaguá have also been completed. In 2000, 71,600 passenger cars and 77,300 commercial vehicles were in use.

The government owns the country’s sole railway company, including a 438-km line from Asunción to Encarnación. An effort to privatise the company in 2002 failed when no buyer could be secured because of the steep investment required to make the line profitable. Currently, only a small section of the line is open. It is used for tourist traffic.

In 2013, there were 799 airports and airfields, only 15 of which had paved runways. Silvio Pettirossi International Airport is the principal airport at Asunción.


Airports : 799 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways : total: 15

over 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 7

914 to 1,523 m: 5 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways : total: 784

1,524 to 2,437 m: 23

914 to 1,523 m: 290

under 914 m:

471 (2013)
Railways : total: 36 km

standard gauge: 36 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
Roadways : total: 32,059 km

paved: 4,860 km

unpaved: 27,199 km (2010)
Waterways : 3,100 km (primarily on the Paraguay and Paraná river systems) (2012)
Merchant marine : total: 19

by type: cargo 13, container 3, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1

foreign-owned: 6 (Argentina 5, Netherlands 1) (2010)
Ports and terminals : river port(s): Asuncion, Villeta, San Antonio, Encarnacion (Parana)






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