According to TOEFL Test Centers, Paraguay is an internal state of South America which takes its name from the great river, a tributary of the Paraná (see plata, río de la), which crosses it from north to south. It borders for a thousand km. with Brazil (for a stretch the border is marked by Paraná) and for 1100 km. with Argentina (Paraná, Paraguay and Pilcomayo rivers); with Bolivia the border has not yet been fixed, because the possession of the Chaco Boreal is in dispute. In the map of the International Atlas of the Italian Touring Club the borders marked in the Chaco (650 km.) Delimit the territory already recognized by Bolivia to Paraguay (see below: History); within these borders Paraguay would have an area of about 292,000 square kilometers (only 18,000 square kilometers smaller than Italy), of which 162,000 would be given by the territory that stretches between the Paraná and Paraguay rivers, and 130,000 by the Chaco. The official surface area is 460,507 sq km. Among the ten South American republics, Paraguay ranks next to last in terms of surface area. Crossed by the Tropic of Capricorn, it is between 19 ° 40 ‘and 27 ° 30’ lat. S., and between 54 ° 20 ‘and 60 ° 30’ long.
Communications. – Overall they lack. The ordinary roads are mostly simple tracks of difficult transit; the best ones, which still date back to the colonial period, are covered by stagecoach services and autoservices. Among the 20 Latin American republics only Nicaragua has fewer vehicles than Paraguay, which is about 1800. The railways have a development of only 1070 km., 438 of which are given by the Asunción-Encarnación line (Ferrocarril central del Paraguay), which continues in Argentine territory to Buenos Aires and was begun in 1854 (the first section was opened to traffic in 1861). The journey from Asunción to Buenos Aires takes approximately 50 hours. Other lines to remember are the Concepción-Horqueta and the Puerto Ibapobó-Tacuatí. In the Chaco there are various trunks used for forest exploitation, usually several tens of km long. and which end on the Paraguay River. Navigation on Paraná and above all on Paraguay is very active; the two rivers offer the country 1500 km. of navigable course.
The maritime trade of the country is served by foreign lines; the river services are carried out by the “Compañía Argentina de Navigación” between Buenos Aires, Asunción and Corumbá, and by the “Lloyd Brasileiro” between Montevideo, Asunción and Corumbá. There is some shipyard for a small boat; one of them launched, in 1932, the largest ship ever built in Paraguay: tonn. 92½. The port of Asunción is the most important; it was rebuilt and modernized, equipped with mechanical equipment and connected to the main railway network on the basis of a contract between the government and the American firm Asunción Port Concession Corporation, to which the former still owes $ 2½ million (1934). When the debt is paid, the management of the port will pass to the government.
For nine months of the year, from October to June, only ships with less than 2.60 meters of draft can reach the port of Asunción. In 1931 3535 ships (392,000 tonnes) entered that port and 3864 (386,000 tonnes) left; the Paraguayan and Argentine flags prevail, followed at a great distance by the Brazilian, Uruguayan and Bolivian flags. In addition to Asunción, Encarnación and Concepción have a fair movement, especially export.
Paraguay has belonged to the Universal Postal Union since 1884. There are 257 post offices, 110 telegraph offices and 5 radiotelegraph stations.
Trade. – Foreign trade is mainly exercised with Argentina, which is followed at a great distance by the United States and England. For the most part the trade balance is active, and in fact in the five-year period 1927-1931 the average value of exports was 14.1 million pesos – gold (the Paraguayan weight – gold is worth about Lit. 18; the paper weight, Lit. 0.40), and that of imports of about 13 million.
Argentina usually absorbs over 90% of the value of exports; and this is easily explained by thinking that it is the only country with which Paraguay has relatively easy and rapid rail and river communications. One third of the imports come from Argentina. In 1931 in export (which is given for 40% of the value from livestock products, such as meat and skins, for 35% from forest products, quebracho, quebracho extract and mate; and for 25% from agricultural products, especially tobacco, cotton, cottonseed and fruit) 11.8 million pesos – gold were represented by goods bound for Argentina; in imports (textiles, wheat, flour, oil, etc.) 2.9 million were given by Argentine goods, 1.6 from the United States and 1.4 from the UK. It should be noted, however, that a considerable part of the goods destined for Argentina are re-exported. Trade with Italy is of little importance: it imports from Paraguay for a value that fluctuates between 2 and 7% of the total annual imports, especially cottons, hats, wines and chemicals, and exports for about 1% of the total export value.