Paraguayan people

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Paraguay, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population. Paraguay’s population is distributed unevenly throughout the country. The vast majority of the people live in the eastern region, most within of Asunción, the capital and largest city faces Argentina to the south and west. The Gran Chaco, which accounts for about 60% of the territory, is home to less than 2% of the population. The Paraguay government encouraged massive settlement of the vast Gran Chaco. Ethnically, culturally, and socially, Paraguay has one of the most homogeneous populations in South America. About 95% of the people are mestizo (mixed Spanish and Guaraní Native American descent. Little trace is left of the original Guaraní culture except the language, which is spoken by 90% of the population. About 75% of all Paraguayans also speak Spanish. Guaraní and Spanish are official languages. Other demographers contend the total “mostly white” percentage has grown in the last century as a result of European immigration and “whites” are now estimated at 20% or one-fifth of the country’s population. Not completely homogeneous, Paraguay has a history of other settlement esp. in the 20th century: Germans, the majority are Mennonites with long-reigned dictator Alfredo Stroessner himself of German ancestry, Japanese with Okinawans, Koreans, ethnic Chinese, Arabs, Ukrainians, Southern Europeans, Jews, Brazilians, and Argentines are among those who have settled in Paraguay. There are also an estimated 63,000 Afro-Paraguayans, or 1% of the population. European and Middle Eastern immigrants began making their way to Paraguay in the decades following the Paraguayan War (1870 onward), in which aftermath only 28,000 men and 200,000 women had survived, the reason why Paraguay had since then a high rate of illegitimate births. The government pursued a pro-immigration policy in an effort to increase population. Government records indicated that approximately 12,000 immigrants entered the port of Asunción between 1882 and 1907, of that total, almost 9,000 came from Italy, Germany, France, and Spain. Migrants also arrived from neighboring Spanish American countries, especially Argentina. The immigrant ethnic groups kept their cultures and languages to some extent, especially Brazilians known as “brancos” which is also the nickname for Brazilians in Bolivia. In addition, official records gave an imprecise sense of the number of Brazilians who had come to the country. According to the 1982 census, there were 99,000 Brazilians residing in Paraguay. Most analysts discounted this figure, however, and contended that between 300,000 and 350,000 Brazilians lived in the eastern border region. Analysts also rejected government figures on the number of immigrants from South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The 1982 census reported that there were 2,700 Koreans in Paraguay, along with another 1,100 non-Japanese or non-Korean Asian immigrants. The actual number of Koreans and ethnic Chinese, however, was believed to be between 30,000 and 50,000. Virtually all Koreans and ethnic Chinese lived in Ciudad del Este or Asunción and played a major role in the importation and sale of electronic goods manufactured in Asia. Paraguay was the site of radical and progressive colonies by political thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A group of radical socialist Australians in the 1890s voluntarily went to create a failed master-planned community, known as Nueva (New) Australia; and Elisabeth Nietzsche, a German racial ideologist and sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche came to Paraguay in her attempt to build a colony, Nueva Germania (Neues Deutschland) devoted to a hypothetical pure white “Nordic” society in the 1890s.