In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Paraguay. Know all about the country.
Capital: Asunción, Currency: Paraguayan guaraní, Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian) 95%, others 5%, Languages: Spanish (official), Guarani (official), Religions: Roman Catholic 89.6%, Protestant 6.2%, other Christian 1.1%, other or unspecified 1.9%, none 1.1% (2002 census)
National holidays include New Year’s Day, 3 February (Ban Blas, patron saint of the nation), 1 March (Heroes’ Day), Labour Day, 14-15 May (Independence Day), 12 June (Peace of Chaco), 15 August (Foundation of Asunción), 25 August (Constitution Day), 29 September (Battle of Boquerón, the anniversary of a key victory in the Chaco War), 12 October (Day of the Race, the anniversary of the discovery of America), 1 November (All Saints’ Day), 8 December (Immaculate Conception), and 25 December (Christmas).Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, and Corpus Christi are recognised as national holidays and are observed according to the religious calendar.
Food and Drink
The restaurant scene in Asunción has boomed in recent years with a wide selection of new eateries and different cuisines. Paraguayan beef is excellent and a variety of cuts are available; the bife de chorizo and tapa cuadril are some of the more popular cuts. The large Korean community in Paraguay means there is an abundance of authentic Korean food in Asunción.
Pizzerias are everywhere too and the availability of Mexican food is on the rise.
The sub-tropical climate offers a wide range of seasonal fruits. One fruit widely available to this area of South America is the Pomelo, a large citrus fruit with a sweet grapefruit-like taste ~ it is usually available from May to August.
Some of the specialities incude Chipa, Sopa paraguaya, Chipa Guazú, Soyo, Borí Borí con pollo, Mbejú, Payagua Mascada, Akangue Yvyguy, Lomitos and Milanesas.
About 600 Indians live in Paraguay, mainly in Ciudad del Este, a city in the south-east of Paraguay on the border with Brazil and Argentina. Roughly 200 of them are NRIs and the remaining are PIOs, who are in trading, wholesale and retail business. Most of them are of Gujarati and Sindhi origin.
Weather and climate
Subtropical with rapid changes in temperature throughout the year. Summer (December to March) can be very hot. Winter (June to September) is mild with few cold days. Rainfall is heaviest from December to March.
In the year 2016, there was marginal fall of 0.5% in total trade between both countries. India’s exports to Paraguay include organic chemicals, vehicles, auto parts, cosmetics, machinery, pharma, plastics, sound and image devices, aluminium and rubber products. India’s imports from Paraguay include soya oil (94% of imports) sunflower oil, leather and wood. Indian imports of soya and sunflower oil are expected to increase in the coming years, given the growing shortage of edible oil in India.
Other imports include resins for cosmetics, ferroalloys and vegetal coal. A joint venture plant, CARMENTA, between a Paraguayan firm, LML India and AlokMasterbatches was set up in Paraguay in January 2013 to produce masterbatches (plastic industry). Mahindra distributes its vehicles through distributorships in Paraguay. TCS is considering opening its operations in Paraguay shortly.
Requirements for Tourist visa are: Visa Application form must be fully completed and signed; Colour copy of passport (1,2 and last page) as well as all the copies of your previous Paraguay visas; The passport must have at least two blank pages and should have minimum validity of one year from the intended date of entry in to Paraguay; Round trip reservation or itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from Paraguay; Photo is to be attached with application; Current bank statement (preferably for the last 3 months); Covering letter by applicant stating the purpose of visit; Invitation Letter (if any); A reference letter from the Employer/Request Letter (Business-copy of company registration); and Police Clearance certificate Apostille by Ministry of External Affairs, India. The application must be submitted 30 days before travelling.
Jesus and Trinidad Jesuit Ruins: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these are two examples of small colonies established by Jesuit missionaries in Paraguay throughout the 17th and 18th century. They were built as miniature city-states that integrated the indigenous Guarani populations with Christian faith. The Jesuit Missions of Paraguay are considered some of the most impressive creations of the religious work of the Jesuit and are testimony of the historical richness of the country.
Palacio de López: The President of Paraguay’s official office is in the Lopez presidential palace, seat of the National government and one of the treasures of the Asunción’s cultural heritage. Lopez Palace is named after Francisco Solano Lopez, who was President of Paraguay at the end of the 19th century. Nowadays, it provides spectacular architectural lighting that is well worth seeing at night.
Itaipu Dam: Itaipu Dam was one of the seven Engineering Wonders of the World. Until China built a larger one, this was the biggest hydroelectric dam in the world. The enormous construction stretches across the Parana River to Brazil and is shared by the two countries. But it’s Paraguay that benefits the most from it.
Other exciting sightseeing is Iguazu Falls and Salto del Monday, National Pantheon of the Heroes, Ybycuí National Park, Yaguarón Church, Monumento Bertoni and Fortín
Compiled by Kunal Jain ([email protected])