Paraguay is a quiet, isolated country that is often overlooked by tourists. However, nature lovers, bird watchers and those interested in Amerindian cultures will be delighted by this small, friendly, landlocked nation. Asunción was the first major capital in the River Plate Region after the arrival of the Spanish and remains a relaxed, riverside capital. The arid Chaco region is home to the majority of the indigenous population, the Guarani people. The other ecosystems include marshland, savanna, subtropical farms, ranches and rainforest.

After decades of dictatorships and tremendous blows from two wars, The 1865-1870 War of the Triple Alliance and the 1930s Chaco War, Paraguay has adopted democracy and free trade and has peacefully opened itself to the outside world.

Some highlights not to miss in Paraguay:

Once bigger than Buenos Aires, Asuncion is over 450 years old and known as the Mother of Cities. With a population of just over one million citizens today, the city is peaceful as far as Latin American capital cities go and offers decent shopping and some interesting historical spots like the Palacio del Gobierno (Government Palace), which is in the style of the Louvre in Paris.

The Iguazú Falls are not in Paraguay but are easily reached from the Ciudad del Este over the 90 m (300 ft) Puente de Amistad. The falls are made up of 475 cascades over 3 km (almost 2 mi) and are best seen from the Devil’s Throat on the Argentine side to the south.

Reached by riverboat trip from Asunción, Concepción (pop. 25,000) is worth a visit only if you have a week to spare and are looking for an adventure. The weeklong roundtrip cruise from Asunción is truly the attraction more than the destination in this small town 210 km (130 mi) north of the capital.

All information for this page was researched and written by Dawn Wohlfarth.