Departments of Paraguay

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Update 3 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2011-02-28. It changes the status of Asunción from department to capital district.

I updated the 2002 population column to the latest figures from the DGEEC (Paraguay Statistics) website, presumably corrected. Thanks to Sorin Cosoveanu for collecting those numbers. I also added the postal code column to the main table.

The capital of San Pedro is familiarly called San Pedro. Its full name is sometimes spelled San Pedro del Ycuamandiyú and sometimes San Pedro del Ycuamandyyú, and Spanish Wikipedia (retrieved 2009-09-12) calls it San Pedro del Ykuamandyju, but the first version appears to be more standard. The capital of Presidente Hayes, by the way, has been moved back to Villa Hayes.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Paraguay, the draft standard showed nineteen departments and one city. The final standard shows seventeen departments and one city. The departments of Chaco and Nueva Asunción had been dropped. Change Notice 1 to FIPS PUB 10-4, dated December 1, 1998, shows the same change.

Country overview: 

Short namePARAGUAY
ISO codePY
LanguageSpanish (es)
Time zone-4~


The Gran Chaco was disputed between Paraguay and Bolivia for many years. Until 1932, it was divided along a line roughly from the split of the Pilcomayo River to Fuerte Olimpo. Then oil was discovered, and the Chaco War (1932-1935) broke out. In 1938-07, with the signing of a peace treaty, Paraguay expanded to its present limits.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Paraguay
  2. Dutch: Paraguay, Republiek Paraguay (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Paraguay (formal)
  4. Finnish: Paraguay
  5. French: Paraguay m
  6. German: Paraguay n
  7. Icelandic: Paragvæ
  8. Italian: Paraguay m
  9. Norwegian: Paraguay, Republikken Paraguay (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Paraguai, República f do Paraguai m (formal)
  11. Russian: Республика Парагвай (formal)
  12. Spanish: Paraguay, República f del Paraguay m (formal)
  13. Swedish: Paraguay
  14. Turkish: Paraguay Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Theory 1: Guaraní para: river + guaso: big; theory 2: Paragua (chief's name) + y: river

Primary subdivisions: 

Paraguay is divided into seventeen departamentos (departments) and one distrito capital (capital district).

Alto ParaguayPY.AG16PA2390-9211,58782,34931,795Fuerte Olimpo
Alto ParanáPY.AA10PA0170-77558,67214,8955,751Ciudad del Este
AmambayPY.AM13PA0285-86114,91712,9334,993Pedro Juan Caballero
CaaguazúPY.CG5PA0433-39435,35711,4744,430Coronel Oviedo
CanindeyúPY.CY14PA1978-79140,13714,6675,663Salto del Guairá
MisionesPY.MI8PA1247-49101,7839,5563,690San Juan Bautista (de las Misiones)
Presidente HayesPY.PH15PA1696-9982,49372,90728,150Villa Hayes
San PedroPY.SP2PA1780-84318,69820,0027,723San Pedro (del Ycuamandiyú)
18 divisions5,163,198406,752157,048
  • Department: except for Asunción, which is a capital district.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO standard 3166-2, issued December 15, 1998. For full identification in a global
    context, prefix "PY-" to the code (ex: PY-11 represents Central). Within Paraguay, the departments are
    referred to by numbers (usually expressed as Roman numerals or ordinals) which are the same as
    their ISO codes, except that Boquerón is number 17.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • Post: Paraguay uses four-digit postal codes. The first two digits usually indicate the department.
  • Population: 2002-08-28 census.


Note: In the book "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries", I used the spelling Canendiyú. The Paraguayan legislature initially enacted that spelling when the department was created, but later found it to be in error and changed it to Canindeyú.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Paraguay page.

The Paraguay River divides Paraguay into two provincias (provinces), named Occidente and Oriente (West and East, respectively). The provinces are further divided into the departments listed above. The only departments in Occidente are Alto Paraguay, Boquerón, Chaco, Nueva Asunción, and Presidente Hayes. The departments are subdivided into distritos or partidos, which are subdivided into compañías and municipios.

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Paraguay lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Alto Paraguay, Alto Paraná: Spanish alto: high, along the upper course of the Paraguay (respectively, Paraná) River in Paraguay
  2. Asunción: Originally Spanish Nuestra Señora de la Asunción: Our Lady of the Assumption. Founded on 1536-08-15, Assumption Day
  3. Chaco: from Guaraní chako: hunting ground
  4. Misiones: = Missions, for Jesuit missions to the natives
  5. Ñeembucú: local word for endless
  6. Nueva Asunción: Spanish nueva: new, named after the capital Asunción
  7. Presidente Hayes: named after U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes in gratitude for his favorable decision in arbitration of a border conflict

Change history: 

  1. 1906: The first law on territorial division of the republic (1906) divided the country into two secciones (sections): Oriental and Occidental. Oriental was subdivided into twelve departments and a federal district, Occidental into military commandancies (source [1]).
  2. 1935: The division of Paraguay at the end of the Chaco War was:
DepartmentNo.PopulationArea(km.²)CapitalApproximate equivalent
Concepción143,95332,569ConcepciónConcepción; Amambay (part)
Federal District 154,923632AsunciónAsunción
Paraguarí1088,7692,836ParaguaríParaguarí (part)
Pilar1231,1448,632PilarÑeembucú (part)
Quyyndy948,1396,768QuyyndyParaguarí (part)
Región Occidental 45,860230,000Villa HayesBoquerón, Olimpo, Presidente Hayes
San Ignacio850,3517,648San IgnacioMisiones
San Pedro235,90735,633San PedroSan Pedro; Amambay, Caaguazú, Alto Paraná (parts)
Villeta1157,3414,496VilletaCentral; Ñeembucú (part)
Yhú555,78314,882YhúCaaguazú, Alto Paraná (parts)
14 departments951,341389,832
  • Population: 1936 incomplete census results (include some duplicate counts)
  • Approximate equivalent: departments covering this area after the reorganization
  1. 1945-07-10: Occidental was reorganized into three departments: Presidente Hayes, Boquerón, and Olimpo. By Decree No. 9,848, Amambay department was split from San Pedro. The name of Caraguatay was changed to Cordillera. Caaguazú department was created by annexing part of San Pedro to Yhú. The name of San Ignacio was changed to Misiones, and its capital moved from San Ignacio to San Juan Bautista. The name of Encarnación was changed to Itapúa. Quyyndy department merged with Paraguarí. Alto Paraná department was created from parts of San Pedro and Encarnación. The resulting division consisted of the sixteen departments of Alto Paraná (capital Hernandarias), Amambay (Pedro Juan Caballero), Boquerón (Mariscal Estigarribia), Caaguazú (Coronel Oviedo), Caazapá (Caazapá), Central (Asunción), Concepción (Concepción), Cordillera (Caacupé), Guairá (Villarrica), Itapúa (Encarnación), Misiones (San Juan Bautista), Ñeembucú (Pilar), Olimpo (Fuerte Olimpo), Paraguarí (Paraguarí), Presidente Hayes (Villa Hayes), and San Pedro (San Pedro), and the capital district, Distrito Capital.
  2. 1973-12-07: Law No. 426 divided the country into 19 departments, of which fourteen were in Oriental region and five in Occidental. The latter were Alto Paraguay (capital Fuerte Olimpo), Boquerón (Doctor Pedro P. Peña), Chaco (Mayor Pablo Lagerenza), Nueva Asunción (General Eugenio A. Garay), and Presidente Hayes (Villa Hayes) in the Occidental region. Occidental was released from military control. Canendiyú department was formed from parts of Alto Paraná and Caaguazú. Some other borders were changed. Capital of Alto Paraná moved from Hernandarias (alternate name Tacurupucú) to Puerto Presidente Stroessner.
  3. The name of Canendiyú was later changed to Canindeyú, to correct a toponymic error.
  4. ~1988: Capital of Presidente Hayes moved from Villa Hayes to Pozo Colorado.
  5. 1989-08-11: Name of capital of Alto Paraná department changed from Puerto Presidente Stroessner to Ciudad del Este.
  6. 1992-11-06: Law No. 71 merged Nueva Asunción department with Boquerón, and Chaco with Alto Paraguay, leaving Occidental with the same territorial divisions as in 1945. [My other sources indicate that the boundaries of the three new departments were significantly different from the former configuration.] Capital of Boquerón department moved from Doctor Pedro P. Peña to Filadelfia.
  7. 1993-07-02: By law No. 201, Areguá became capital of Central department. The department was administered from Asunción before that date, although some older sources list Limpio and Ypacaraí as the capital of Central.
  8. 2001-06-06: Capital of Presidente Hayes moved back to Villa Hayes from Pozo Colorado, by Law No. 1,716.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Asunción: Assomption (French-variant); Assunção (Portuguese); Distrito Capital, Distrito Federal (variant)
  2. Canindeyú: Canendiyú (frequent mistake, found even in some official Paraguayan sources)
  3. Cordillera: Caraguatay (obsolete); Las Cordilleras, La Cordillera (variant)
  4. Guairá: Villarrica (obsolete)
  5. Itapúa: Encarnación (obsolete); Itapua, Itapuá (variant)
  6. Misiones: Las Misiones (variant); San Ignacio (obsolete)
  7. Ñeembucú: Neembucú (variant)
  8. Nueva Asunción: Nova Assunção (Portuguese)

Population history:

Alto Paraguay2,7053,8545,3669,02112,15611,587
Alto Paraná9,53124,06788,607199,644406,584558,672
Canindeyú   66,409103,785140,137
Presidente Hayes23,49029,87038,43933,02164,41782,493
San Pedro64,53491,804138,018191,002280,336318,698


Note: The 1950 total includes 79,948 people not enumerated by department. (Sources [2], [3], [4]).


  1. [1] Departamentos del Paraguay (, dead link, retrieved 2003-07-06), a page on the Paraguayan governmental Website.
  2. [2] 2002 census data retrieved from Dirección General de Estadística, Encuestas y Censos  (DGEEC).
  3. [3] Atlas Censal de Paraguay  has all six censuses.
  4. [4] 1992 census data: Spreadsheet download  from DGEEC site, retrieved 2009-09-19.
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