Guairá Department

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Guairá Department
Departamento de Guairá
Villarrica's church
Villarrica's church
Flag of Guairá Department
Coat of arms of Guairá Department
Coat of arms
Guairá shown in red
Guairá shown in red
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country  Paraguay
Region Eastern Region
Established 1570
Capital Villarrica
Largest city Villarrica
 • Governor Gustavo Javier Alfonso (National Republican Association)
 • Total 3,846 km2 (1,485 sq mi)
Area rank 16
Population (2007)[1]
 • Total 190,035
 • Rank 9
 • Density 49/km2 (130/sq mi)
Time zone AST (UTC-04)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC-03)
ISO 3166 code PY-4
Number of Districts 17

Guairá (Spanish pronunciation: [gwajˈɾa]) is a department in Paraguay. The capital is the city of Villarrica.

It covers a surface of 3,846 km2 (1,485 sq mi), with a population of 178130 inhabitants (2002). You can get there through the Road nª8 Blas Garay. It was founded on May 14, 1570, by Ruiz Diaz de Melgarejo.


Until the 19th century (circa)it received the denomination of La Guayra o Guaira or also La Pineria (the last one for the forests of cury) the region was under the jurisdiction of Cabildo de Asunción on the east of the Paraguay river until the line of the Tratado de Tordesillas. This place was also site of the first great jesuists missions of Guayra, having the borders around the north limits, the Paranapanema river, or according to other versions, the Tiete river, and the Iguazu river on the south.

So, it used to be called Guayra o Guaira, to the big territory that nowadays corresponds to the state of Parana, around the 16th and 18th centuries, there were cities which were founded by Spanish people (Ontiveros, Ciudad Real del Guayra, Villa Rica del Espiritu Santo) and some reductions founded by Jesuits, also under the Spanish jurisdiction, such as San Ignacio Guazu, Santa Maria del Iguazu (actual Foz do Iguacu) Pirapo, Loreto,etc.

Such cities were devastated by the malocas of bandeirantes ensalveries from São Paulo, having to migrate great part of the population to the west of the Parana river (were Villa Rica was re founded-the actual Villarica-) or to the south of the Iguazu river (were San Ignacio was re founded-with the name of San Ignacio Mini- and Loreto among others).

The Salto del Guayra (or Salto Canendiyu-called by the Brazilians Salto das Sete Quedas, on the Paraná River, almost to the crossing with the parallel 24ªS, was the natural limit of the navegation of good depth of the river. Actually the Paraguayan city called Salto del Guaira, and the Brazilian Guaira, indicate approximately the place where such fall, beautiful and known, covered by the waters of the Itaipu Dam, since the 1980s.

The Brazilian occupation on the region of the Guaira was concentrated in 1870, at the end of the Paraguayan War, being later baptized with the name of Guaira, to the small department located in the center of the Oriental Region, in a territory which was not included in the original Guayra.


The departament is in the central area of the Oriental Region Guaira, which name comes from guai: boys and ra: place, is one of the richest departments of the country, very fertile. It limits to the north with the department of Caaguazu, to the east with Caaguazu and Caazapa, to the south with Caazapa and to the west with the department of Paraguari. A way to the hills of Caaguazu enters into the department, going from East to West, receiving the name of Monte Rosario. On the west extreme forms the hill of Villarica or Ybytyruzu. The department has 17 districts. The last one, Doctor Bottrell, was created in 1983.


The department is divided in the following 18 districts:


In the department we can notice three natural zones, very well differentiated. The first one near the hills of Villarica, or Ybyturuzu, with high lands, and forests. The second one the central west, with fertile lands. In the southwest part we can find the third zone, the most fertile and populated. Its low lands are good for cattle. Besides de Ybyturuzu, we can also find the Pelado hill, Polilla, Itape, Leon, Cerrito and Tres Kandú, with 848 m, the highest of the country. The Guaira is surrounded by the Tebicuary river and its affluents, the Tebicuari-mi with the streams Yhaca Guazu, Yhaca-mi, Aguapety, Guazu, Tacuaras. Also the Pirapo-guazu river and the Pirapo-mi stream are found in the area. In other zones of the department we can find the streams Bobo, Orory, Mitaì, Caundy, Doña Juana and Paso Pindo.


It has a benign and healthy weather, with a temperature of 21 degrees. In the summer, the maximum is 38 degrees, in winter, the temperature goes down to 1 degree. In the months of October and November it rains a lot. During the year there are 1537 millimetres of rain.


From a total of 161 991in- habitantes, 47 300 lived in the urban zone, and 114.691 in the rural areas.


The history of the department is intimately linked to the foundation and history of its main city, Villarrica. The city of Villarrica del Espiritu Santo was founded by Ruy Diaz de Melgarejo on May 14, 1570 in the ancient Guaira, today Brazilian territory. After being persecuted and the attacked by the Bandeirantes, the city suffered a migratory process which took it to occupy seven different sites, before finally being established in 1682 near the Ybyturuzu, where it is currently located.

The Franciscan missionaries helped with the process of consolidation, founding in 1686 a guarani reduction in the zone of Itape. In 1906 the 5th department was created, formed besides Villarica by Itape, Hiaty, Mbocayaty and Yataity. During the 20th century, exploitation of the forest as well as the Yerba mate in the zone, closely linked to the rich region of Caaguazú Department, and taking into account the great importance of the urban center of Villarrica, the train crosses from East to West a great part of the departmental territory, contributing this way of communication to the development of the department.


It is divided in two horizontal zones of similar dimensions. The above one, light blue, in relation with the water and the sky; the one below, red, symbolizing the grapes. Also reconfirming the range and category of the supreme hierarchies of the Catholic Church.


The shield is divided in four, where you can see a typical house with colonial aspect, a natural landscape of the zone, where you can see the Ybyturuzu mountains, grapes and the sugar cane plant, as well as a book, where you can see in Roman numbers the one corresponding to the department of Guaira. Also you can see in the shield shapes referring to the natural. In the center of it you can see the synthesis of a butterfly, a reference to panambi. At the bottom of it the saying " Tradition Culture ".


Guairá is a predominantly agricultural department. It is the most important producer of sugar cane in the country, with 41% of the national output; it is also the main producer of Paraguayan wine. Other crops include cotton, soybean, maize, vegetables and fruits. The indiscriminate felling of the forests has reduced the forest activity, nevertheless, the department possesses sawmills and factories for cabinet-making etc. The industrial activity is marked by the existence of factories of wines, mills, distilleries of alcohol, footwear, industries and tanneries.

Communication ways

The Departament has the road nª 8 Blas Garay, which starts in Coronel Oviedo from the road nª2 and 7, paved until Caazapa. From the district of Ñumi, another way totally paved uniting it with San Juan Nepomuceno. It also has other paved roads: Villarica–Paraguari, through Felix Perez Cardozo and Coronel Martinez, Mbocayati-Independencia, with an extension of 50 km, and other way that unites the road 7, through Natalicio Talavera, Troche and Colonia Blas Garay. Guaira also has air communication, telephones and telegraphs. There are also a lot of roads crossing the territory in all directions.


From the beginning of the city of Villarrica del Espíritu Santo, the education work began a special way which hasn't stopped since then. Starting in 1585 the Franciscans opened a convent in the city of Santa Barbara, with an annex of elementary and secondary schools. In the 17th century, the province of Paraguay had in Asunción and Villarica free courses of Grammar, Philosophy and Sanctity, under the direction of the Franciscan, Dominicans, merced, and Jesuit priests.

The first teaching center sustained by the state of Villarica is in 1859, named Escuela Patria. Nowadays, the superior education in the department is represented by the Catholica University, the National and the Norte Universities. In Guaira there are also many schools and institutes, private as well as public, such as Colegio Nacional, Colegio Ortiz Guerrero, Colegio Tecnico Vocacional, Seminario Diocesano, Escuela Regional de Agricultura, Instituto Professional Femenino, Escuela de Artes y Oficios Pio XII.

There are also various cultural centers of Initial Education (pre-school ) and Humanistic High schools as well as Technical ones. Some of them also have the Institute of Guaraní Linguistics, Idelguap, which takes care of teaching the language, literature, and guarani folk. Also, with similar goals, the Ateneo of Guaraní Language and Culture and Guaraní Roga.

Art and Culture

The main guaireña city, Villarrica, is considered as the second city of the country. Among the social entities, cultural and sport ones, we can mention: " The Porvenir Guaireño,, " El Centro Español", " El Club de Leones", " Instituto de Cultura Hispánica", " Teatro Municipal" " Orquesta de Cámara" " Escuela Municipal de Danzas, Declamación, Oratoria, guitar", " Asociación de Productores de Caña de Azúcar", " Liga Guaireña de Fútbol" y " Liga Guaireña de Basquetbol".

In 1970 the Socioeconomical Development Center of Guaira was created, with a volunteer carácter, and formed by people and public and private entibies, which have the idea to support the economical, social and cultural development of the Department. The foundation Ybyturuzu, of environmental characteristics, has the objective the conscientization of the population of Guaira, in order to keep, protect and defend the important ecosystem where they live.

In the city there are a few radio stations, closed circuit of television, cable TV and channel 8. As an intangible culture, the guireños keep the repertoire of different popular miths and leyends, such as pora, pombero, jasy jatere, kurupi, urutau,karau, jakare, among others. Among the European traditions, they have the patronal parties, day of the cross, corridas de toros, horse races, riñas de gallos.


Guairá has one of the most emblematic and representative cities of the Paraguayan culture: Villarica.

In Villarica, the nature is a friend and a confident of the human beings who live there, or the ones who are attracted by its fame of a paradise place, who decide to wander about its geography, to know its history and to drink from its culture. One of the most widely visited places in the city is the Park Manuel Ortiz Guerrero, before 1936, Ycua Pyta. As no other place in the city, here you can feel the soul of Villarica. The calm nature of the place helps to forget from the difficult activities of daily life. It is an ideal place, for the soul and the body. The park Manuel Oritz Guerrero is located in the northeast area of the city, between the neighborhoods of Ybaroty and San Miguel.

At the beginning of the 60's a sculpture was made commemorating the Villariquean poet. The artistic work belongs to Javier Baez Rolon. On May 8, 1983, for the 50th anniversary of his death, his ashes were moved to the park, fulfilling an ancient dream of the citizens. From that day on, under the shadow of a tree, the poet rests in peace in the land of his soul.

His poetry still vibrates under the look of his beloved Ybytyruzu. Other cultural centers that one must visit are the Museum and the Library Maestro Fermin Lopez, where you can find personal belongings of Natalicio Talavera, Fermin Lopez, Manuel Ortiz, as well as weapons from the Chaco War, a collection of coins and Paraguayan bills, and arrows and axes made by the Indians. In the museum we can see among others, very old objects, old furniture, old machines, paintings, photographs, and different sacred art donated by the church of Villarica. In the district of Itape there is a sacred place denominated "Paso de la Virgen", which festivity is celebrated on December 18. Its sanctuary, by the side of the Tebicuary-mi river, is visited by thousands of pilgrims during the year.

Other touristic attractions are the region of the Salto Cristal, of 43 mts high. In the hole where the water falls you can see many fish of different colors as well as a beautiful forest surrounding it. In the hill Tororo we can see the runics inscriptions, said to be from the Vikings during the pre colombine times. The lovers of the ao poi embroideries can enjoy beautiful samples in the districts of Mbocayaty and Yataity.

Notable residents

Ruy Díaz de Guzmán (1554–1629) Bold conqueror. Son of the province of Guaira. Founder of towns. Considered the first national historian. Grandson of Don Domingo Martínez de Irala, first governor of Paraguay. Representative of the joining of two civilizations; the Spanish and the guarani.

Manuel Ortiz Guerrero (1899–1933) The biggest and most widely known of the guaireños poets. He was born, lived, and died as a poet. He made the petry the reason of his life. His poetry have entered to the depths of the national soul. The guaireñan land put its aroma and charm, and he gave back his poetry, transformed into light. His life was an example of dignity, fight and correction.

Natalicio de María Talavera (1839–1867) Initial figure of the Paraguayan parnassus. He was a representative of the true intellectuals in moments when the poetry in Paraguay was just beginning. His work is presented under the form of scattered fragments. The Paraguayan War ate up a great part of it. Talavera was not a poet with an easy and simple life. He lived the tragedy of the nation, and sang to it with a great feeling and depth.

Ramón Indalecio Cardozo (1877–1943) Master and support of a new educational system, where the children were formed in a truthful environment. He was also a support for the School Nueva Era. Between 1921–1934, and as a recognition of his sacrifice and work towards the teaching in his native town Villarica, he finally occupies the Presidency of the National Council of Education and the General Direction of Schools.

Efraím Cardozo (1909–1973) He was known as the richest and most systematic Paraguayan historian. He was a journalist, writer, professor and politician. He represented Paraguay in key moments of its history, such as the signing of the treaty of Peace and borders with Bolivia. He published many books on Paraguayan history.

Félix Pérez Cardozo (1908–1953) He was born in the town of Yhaty, today known as Felix Perez Cardozo, as an homage to the important Harps player. He learned to play the harp from anonimus old harpists from the region. His special quality in playing the instrument, together with his strong personality gave him the chance to visit and conquer cultural centers from different countries: Argentina, Uruguay, Chile. He was considered the richest composer in Paraguay. We can count 87 musical compositions, among polcas, guaranias, songs, galopas, milongas, zambas, cuecas, boleros, tangos and chacareras.


  • Geografía Ilustrada del Paraguay. Tercera Edición. Distribuidora Quevedo de Ediciones. Buenos Aires.1998.
  • Atlas y Geografía de Paraguay y el Mundo. Ediciones India Guapa. Asunción. 1997.
  • Atlas Paraguay. Cartografía Didáctica. Fausto Cultural Ediciones. Enero 2000.
  • Franco Preda, Artemio. El Guairá y su aporte a la cultura paraguaya. Editora Litocolor S.R.L. Villarrica,2003


External links