Dictators, Wars and Contraband.
Along with one of its neighbours, Bolivia, Paraguay is the other landlocked country in South America. Best recognised for conforming to the stereotype of an inward looking Latin American country with bizarre tales and fierce and eccentric authoritarian dictators, Paraguay has in the last couple of decades started to open up to tourism and political reform. With a population of just over six million, most of whom can be found in the major urban areas in and around the capital of Asuncion and the commercial hub of the Ciudad del Este, Paraguay’s territory plays host to vast cattle fincas, the enormous Chaco wasteland, jungles in the north and the beautiful ruins of the Jesuit Missions. Paraguay has had a chequered history of nobly fought wars - and it can be argued that they were on the losing side in each one – ranging from the War of the Triple Alliance versus Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay supposedly encouraged by the then Dictator Francisco Solano Lopez’s Irish courtesan from Paris, Eliza Lynch. Paraguay later launched into a profitless War of the Chaco against Bolivia over territory when it was wrongly announced there to be oil in the area. Agriculture and contraband are the main driving forces in the economy. Electronic goods and knock off brands of alcohol are routinely exported to the neighbouring countries of Brazil and Argentina with the Ciudad del Este being the hub. Shirking off a dictatorial past, Paraguay enjoyed its first democratic elections in 1989.