Yerba Mate or Green Gold?
Yerba Mate is a “green gold” that contains even more minerals and vitamins than green tea. But mate is more than Paraguay’s natural drink - it’s already a ritual. And it’s not uncommon to see people carrying it on their own thermos. In the Summer (when temperatures may be as high as 40ºC) they turn to the cold version of it, tereré.
The largest navy of any landlocked country.
We’re not really sure why, but Paraguay has the largest navy of any landlocked country. It’s true that the country has impressive water reservoirs: after all, it shares the Itaipu dam with Brazil. The dam is the world’s biggest working hydroelectric power plant and it generates electricity for all Paraguay - but it still doesn’t explain why the country needs a… coast guard. The navy also features naval aviation and river defence corps.
In fact, Paraguay is a bit obsessed with being landlocked.
It hosted the first ever conference of landlocked nations, where more than 30 states took part. However, few landlocked countries have connections to the sea as good as Paraguay’s. The country has access to 2 wide and navigable rivers, Paraguay and Parana, which lead directly to the ocean.
Spanish isn’t the only official language.
Most Paraguayans are bilingual. It’s the only country in South America where the majority of the population speaks an indigenous language, Guaraní. Around 95% of the population understands Guaraní and 90% understands Spanish. Guaraní has 12 vowels and is an onomatopoeic language, which means many of its words imitate the sounds of animals and nature.
It’s also a huge testimony of the assimilation of indigenous peoples. It’s the only country in the Americas that didn’t shift towards European languages, which were often associated with a higher social stand. Paraguay has enjoyed more social mobility than any other South American country and there are very few aristocratic families.
The world’s largest storks!
An area called "Chaco" covers about 2/3 of Paraguay's territory. It’s a semi-arid region where only about 3% of the population lives, but a home to many exotic and tropical species. The Jaribu, the world’s largest stork, has its natural habitat here.
By the way, did we forget to tell you about the giant “cats”?
Paraguay’s jaguars are the world’s biggest felines. They can grow up to 1.85m! You can see these beauties at the Antiguy refuge or in Asunción’s Zoo.
No, Paraguay’s spiders don’t cob purple webs! But the iconic embroidered lace of the country is called “nanduti”, which means spiderweb. Nandutis are famous for its intricate geometric designs and for being colorful.