Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Paraguay is divided through the Paraguay River into two different natural regions, East and West Paraguay.
Eastern Paraguay is the smaller part and is a continuation to the south of the Brazilian highlands. There are several smaller mountain routes such as the Amambay Mountains and the Mbaracayú Mountains. At the far east, in the north-south direction, the upper valley of the Paraná River descends and inside is the Paraná Plateau. West of the altitude area of eastern Paraguay, the broad river valley of the Paraguay River is spreading with large swamps.
Western Paraguay is part of Gran Chaco which continues both into Argentina in the south and Bolivia in the north. It is a hot plain and, farthest to the west, a plateau region without any major terrain forms. It covers two thirds of the entire country and is called Chaco Boreal. Pilcomayo, the largest river in this region, flows into the Paraguay River before it in turn joins the main river Paraná. Together with the Monkey River in the north, these rivers form four-fifths of the country’s borders.
A deep weathering soil covers most of the bedrock, which is largely sandstone. Fertile soil from weathered basalt also occurs mainly in the east, as does sand and clay transported down from Bolivia’s highlands.
In Western Paraguay, the climate is tropical with temperatures between 40 °C in summer (October – March) and 20 °C in winter. In eastern Paraguay, the climate is subtropical with temperatures of 25 °C in summer and 10 °C in winter. However, frost occurs, mainly on the Paraná plateau. According to BRIDGAT, the rainfall varies between 1,700 mm per year in the south-east and 600 mm in the far west, with a maximum in the summer.
In eastern Paraguay there are grassy plains but also dense mixed forests with deciduous and evergreen trees, eg. genera Anno’na, hollies, Jacara’nda and Albi’zzia. The lowland plain along the Paraguay River is sometimes flooded, but this area is also largely forested.
Partly marshy, grassy plain with shrub vegetation and gallery forests along the rivers spread from the Paraguay River west towards the Andean slopes. In this plain is the known quebra tree. One of the most well-known tree species would otherwise be the holly species whose dried leaves are used for herbal tea mate.
There are about 150 species of mammals in Paraguay. In the Chaco area there are ten species of belts as well as jaguars, giant ant cape, male wolf and the late-discovered chacopekari (Catagoʹnus wagneʹri) discovered in 1975. Capable and marshmallows occur in more humid areas.
Bird life is rich in Chaco’s lush parts, with ibis, egrets, toucans and parrots, and here are also South American lungfish. In drier parts of Chaco, the ostrich bird is common nandu.
The eastern, more wooded parts of Paraguay have a fauna that shows great similarities to those of southern Brazil. Here you will find lowland tapestries, jaguars and five species of monkeys, i.e. nattapa. At the far north-east, towards Pantanal in Brazil, wildlife is rich. Among the reptiles here are the glasses cage and anaconda.
In 2010, Paraguay had 16 national parks, of which the two largest were Defensores del Chaco (7,800 km2) and Médanos del Chaco (5 142 km2). Together with some nature reserves, about 4% of the country’s area enjoyed nature conservation.