Paraguay, officially the Republic of Paraguay (República del Paraguay), is a landlocked country in central South America, bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. It lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica (“Heart of South America”). The nation is one of two landlocked countries (the other is Bolivia) outside Afro-Eurasia, and is the smallest landlocked country in the Americas.
Between 1970 and 2013, the country had the highest economic growth rate in South America with an average rate of 7.2% per year.
In 2010 and 2013, Paraguay experienced the greatest economic expansion within South America, with a GDP growth rate of 14.5% and 13.6% respectively.
The nation is the sixth-largest soybean producer in the world, second-largest producer of stevia, second-largest producer of tung oil, sixth-largest exporter of corn, tenth-largest exporter of wheat and 8th largest exporter of beef.
The market economy is distinguished by a large informal sector, featuring re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Nonetheless, over the last 10 years the Paraguayan economy diversified dramatically, with the energy, auto parts and clothing industries leading the way. The country also enjoys clean and renewable energy production of 8,700 MW (current domestic demand 2,300 MW).
The country boasts the third most important free commercial zone in the world: Ciudad del Este, trailing behind Miami and Hong Kong. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. The economy grew rapidly between 2003 and 2013 as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather supported Paraguay’s commodity-based export expansion.
In 2012, the government introduced the MERCOSUR (FOCEM) system in order to stimulate the economy and job growth through a partnership with Brazil and Argentina.