The transition from an authoritarian to a democratic
regime with a new constitution in 1992 meant a strong
political commitment to the education system. Today, the
compulsory school comprises a primary cycle of 6 year
courses (6-12 years) and a three-year high school with
specialized subject studies. Less than half of the students
complete schooling. Quarter sitting is high, especially
among the poor. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Paraguay.
The secondary school consists of a basic stage of 3 years
(coinciding with the secondary school) and a differentiated
3-year upper stage, consisting of three lines, a general
education, an economic and a technical, all three leading to
a bachelor's degree. The first two qualify for
higher studies. A strong increase in the number of students
has led to poor quality of teaching and many study breaks.
The country has two universities, both in Asuncion.
Asunción, the capital of Paraguay; 1.1 million (2012), with suburbs 2.8
million. The city is located on a bay on the east bank of the Paraguay River
near the confluence of Pilcomayo and is the country's most dominant city,
economically, politically, administratively and in social and cultural life. Yet
it has been perceived as a stagnant provincial town after 35 years under the
dictatorship of President Alfredo Stroessner (1954-89).
The old town, closest to the river, still bears the impression of the Spanish
colonial era with its rectangular street network and Spanish-Moorish
colonial-style buildings, four-story houses on one or two floors.
The tropical climate characterizes the parks and boulevards: oranges, rubber
and various flowering trees. The newer neighborhoods have elements of modern
international architecture, but also large slums.
The industry processes the agricultural products of the upland: sugar cane,
cotton, grain, tobacco, cattle and wood.
The port, which is the country's most important, is located 1500 km from the
river's outlet in the Atlantic Ocean. It can be approached by ocean-going ships,
but has had a declining importance in the 1900's.
Most of the exports are sent by road to Argentina. However, wood, cotton and
soybeans are still being shipped along the river, as are most of the country's
oil imports coming this way.
The city was founded in 1537, originally as a military fort. Asuncion became
the center of all Spanish activity in the La Plata area from 1541, when the
residents of Buenos Aires fled to the Pampa Indians. In 1617, the city became
independent of Buenos Aires.
The area was difficult to control from Spain, and in 1721-35 the first
Paraguayan republic was attempted by the "comuneros" of Asunción. When Paraguay
declared itself independent of Spain in 1811, Asunción became the capital. The
city was occupied by Brazil during South America's bloodiest war, the
"Tripleallian War" 1865-70 between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay on the one hand
and Paraguay on the other.
During unusually heavy rains at the turn of the year 1997-98, parts of the
city were flooded and 25,000 people had to be evacuated.