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 speakplautdietsch (Platonic).
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.
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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.