Etiquette in Paraguay

Paraguay, a landlocked country in South America, has a population of over 6.6 million people.

The official languages are Spanish and Guaraní. Most writing is done in Spanish.

Paraguay is a representative democratic republic, with a multi-party system and separation of powers in three branches. The President is head of state and head of government.

Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in Paraguay, with close to 90% of the the population following Catholicism. 6.2% is evangelical Christian, 1.1% identify with other Christian sects, and 0.6% practice indigenous religions.

The currency is Guaraní (sign: ₲).

Greetings & Gesture Etiquette

It is traditional to greet everyone with a firm handshake. Close male friends may embrace, men may kiss a woman and female close friends usually kiss each other upon arrival.

Close friends of either sex may walk arm in arm.

There are several gestures that are important to be aware of when visiting Paraguay:

  • The U.S. “O.K.” sign  (thumb and forefinger in a circle) should be avoided. This gesture with a bent wrist is considered obscene.
  • The U.S. “thumbs up” means “O.K.”
  • Winking has sexual connotations.
  • Tapping your chin with the top of your index finger indicates that you don’t know something.
  • Tilting your head backwards means “I forgot”.

Sit only on chairs, not ledges, tables, or other things and only place feet on footstools or rails. Posture is also very important so remember not to slump.

As in much of Latin America, conversations occur in much closer quarters than in the U.S. Even though you may feel as though your personal space is being invaded, avoid backing away.