Paraguay. Asunción

Population: 6,8 millions.
Capital city: Asunción.
People: 95% Mestizo.
Language: Officially Spanish, but Guaraní is widely spoken.
Religion: 97% roman catholic, 3% mennonite and other protestants.

The country has a relaxed riverside capital, impressive Jesuit missions, several national parks and the vast, arid Chaco - one of South America's great wilderness areas. Paraguay is a landlocked country surrounded by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. The country is divided into two unequal portions by the Río Paraguay, the third largest river in the western hemisphere. To the west of the river is the Chaco, a largely infertile and sparsely populated tract of land standing for around 60% of the country's area. To the east, where almost all the population is concentrated, is a well-watered, elevated plateau of grasslands, with patches of subtropical forest stretching all the way to the Río Paraná on the Brazilian and Argentinean borders. Wildlife is diverse and includes a number of birds such as the parrot and parakeet, wood stork, hyacinth macaw and the once-thought-to-be-extinct Chaco peccary, plus large reptiles such as caiman, anaconda and the boa constrictor. However, due to the dense human population of rural eastern Paraguay, mammals such as the giant anteater, manned wolf, Brazilian tapir and jaguar are fast disappearing. The climate in eastern Paraguay is humid, with rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Temperatures are almost universally hot in summer (January to March), averaging 35ºC (95ºF), but can drop as low as 5ºC (41ºF) in winter (July to September). Frosts at this time are not uncommon, but there is little or no snowfall. Temperatures are higher in the Chaco and rainfalls are more erratic.