Paraguay has an average population density of 17
residents per km2. According to
Countryaah, the country is very unevenly
populated with a strong concentration to the area east of
the Paraguay River. In the northwest region, Chaco, which
occupies 60 percent of the country's area, lives only 4
percent. In 2019, 61 percent of the population lived in
cities, of which the capital Asuncion with the three suburbs
of San Lorenzo, Lambaré and Fernando de la Mora as well as
the cities of Caaguazú, Ciudad del Este and Pedro Juan
Caballero are the largest.
On paper, Paraguay has the most homogeneous population in
South America: miseries, descendants of Spaniards and
Guarani Indians, constitute around 95 percent. The rest of
the population consists of whites, mainly descendants of
Europeans, as well as close to twenty Native people (a total
of 1.7 percent of the population). These largely belong to
three language families: Tupí-Guarani-speaking people, for
example. kaiwá (11,000), ava (3,000) and chiripá (6,500) in
the south and southeast, mataco-guaicurú people, such as
chulupi (nivaclé; 12,300), lengua (vowak; 9,500) mak'á and
kasnatan (sanapaná; 4,100) in the north-west and zamuco
people like chamacoco (1,000) and ayoreo (700) in the north.
The figures given are very approximate as the Paraguayan
authorities do not take ethnicity into account in their
censuses. The largest non-Native American minority is German
speaking, a large proportion of whom are Mennonites who
Nearly all minority people, including non-Guaranese
indigenous people, live in the Chaco area of the
northwest. Paraguay's indigenous peoples have repeatedly
been forced to relocate, and only the most remote people
have been able to live in their original territories.
Official languages are Spanish and the country-specific
variant of Guaraní. Spanish is used in education and
administration and is widely spoken especially in the
capital Asuncion and other cities. Guaraní is commonly
spoken by the vast majority of the population and is also
used to some extent in books and newspapers. In the northern
part of the country you will also find another twenty Native
American languages belonging to the linguistic families
maskoy, mataco-guaicurú and zamuco.
During the colonial period, the Jesuits promoted Native
American village collectives, reducciones, with
self-management and without forced labor. After
independence, various Protestant groups immigrated. 96% of
the population are Catholics, 2% Protestants, 0.2% Orthodox
and 0.2% Anglicans. Mennonites came as refugees from Russia.
The Stroessner dictatorship (1954–89) was supported by the
hierarchy of the Catholic Church, but resistance was strong
among priests and members of the church community.
Ecumenical cooperation takes place with Protestants in the
fight against poverty and for human rights.