Population: 5.8 million (UN, 2003)
Year of Independence: 1811, from Spain
Type of Government: Constitutional Republic
GNP: $26.2 billion (2001 est.)
Natural Resources: hydropower, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone
Political Parties: Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA); Christian Democratic Party (PDC); Febrerista Revolutionary Party (PRF); National Encounter Party (PEN); National Republican Association (Colorado Party)
Paraguay has a large mestizo population that depends, along with the country, on agriculture and forestry to support its economy. Paraguay’s large informal economy, comprised of reexports and microenterprises, gives it an important financial boost. A lack of economic development has left the country population foundering in debt. A coup in 1989 overthrew a 35-year presidential dictatorship. From 1996 to 1999, further power struggles led to the death of a vice president, the impeachment of the president, and an attempted coup of the current government, headed by Luis González Macchi. The election of the Vice President Julio César Franco in 2000 brought the liberal party into play for the first time since 1947. Widespread structural corruption and the need for reform give rise to political unrest.