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Guarani: the Population, Language and Currency used in Paraguay

Updated on September 20, 2011

Its not that often that many people visit Paraguay. It is isolated and a remote country in the heart of South America. The Economics of this very sparsely populated country is mainly oriented from Paraguay’s neighbors, Argentina brazil and Bolivia. This greatly influences the fluctuation of the national currency.

The Currency of Paraguay is Guarani. Guarani is named after a local tribe that in habits large swaths of the country. Paraguayans speak mainly Spanish and Guarani. Although, the Guarani language is hardly ever used while conducting any type of business trade or agreements, but, is often used in money legends. The letters in Guaraní are the same as Spanish ones. So many people who speak Spanish often wonder why is there a Su Guaraní (translated as “your Guarani” in Spanish) inscription on the 100 Guarani bill. In Guaraní language “Su” often means thousand.

However after havening been to Paraguay and stayed for a bit, you might not ever see any type of local currency or bank notes. Why is it that these notes are so invisible? First, it’s a known fact that Guarani is a very unstable currency and its rates per banknote often drop. That is the main reason along with coins you will not see the inflation of the currency has no need to make coins any longer.

Secondly, There is one thing that brings very lucrative profits to Paraguay and that is the fact that it has long announced its territory a free trade zone. So being in the center of South America countries from all around it Brazil, Argentina Bolivia all come here to buy and sell goods. When these countries bring there good here they are bought and sold at a much lower price than in their home countries. They of course are aware of the local currency and try to trade with foreign currency. Some of the foreign currency used here is American dollars, Argentina pesos, and Brazilian real’s. All these currencies are in a much better position then the local currency. Then after the monetary reforms held by Paraguay’s neighbors the Brazilian real became the unstable currency then the dollar. So it fluctuates with what is better at the time and what currencies are more stable.

Current 100,000 guarani banknote.
Current 100,000 guarani banknote.


Paraguayan citizens prefer the use of foreign currencies to the local one thanks to the lack of monetary control over their own currency. So it leaves wide open the choices for them to pay in any currency that they feel comfortable using. In the eastern parts of the country Guarani have become so rare that only if you ask the local shop keepers or banks they may be able to find a couple in a drawer some where locked away. As for the country capitol the use of foreign currency is the same and widespread there as well. But there are parts of Paraguay that the visitors often do not visit so the currency is still more widely used in these locations instead.

But since there are so many different types of currency in use in this country the use of currency exchange is not often found. You will only need to use the exchange if you have something of exotic currency here like the pound or ruble which is not common at all. You will need to exchange the currency in the local backs of the capitol which are more in touch with the exchange rates then most shop keepers who will not exchange it for you.

Paraguay’s banks close in the early evening. The common schedule for most banks and shops is 10am – 4pm except for Saturdays and Sundays. If you find yourself in the second largest Paraguayan city, Ciudad del Este, Then just jump across the local bridge into the Brazilian territory where you can find the exchange a little easier to do. Their offices there usually work late to accommodate those coming over the border.

Just remember though that Paraguay is the cash country. Things like credit cards and checks are not accepted. Most of the major cities will accommodate credit cards but make sure you do carry some cash when going out of the way.

These are just a few of the insights in Paraguay and what to expect when you visit. There are many more things to learn explore and see. If you would like some additional information on Paraguay pease visit my website at


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