Map of Paraguay
Paraguay, officially the Republic of Paraguay, is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Coraz¨®n de Am¨¦rica, or the Heart of America.
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As of 2009 the population was estimated at 6.3 million. The capital and largest city is Asuncion. The official languages are Spanish and Guarani, both being widely spoken in the country. Most of the population are mestizos.
The Guarani have been living in Paraguay since prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, when Paraguay became part of the Spanish colonial empire. Paraguay gained independence from Spain in 1811.
Paraguay is divided by the Rio Paraguay into the eastern region, called Eastern Paraguay (Paraguay Oriental) and known as the Parana region; and the western region, officially called Western Paraguay (Paraguay Occidental) and also known as the Chaco. The country lies between latitudes 19o and 28oS, and longitudes 54o and 63oW. The terrain consists of grassy plains and wooded hills in the east. To the west, there are mostly low, marshy plains.