Boquerón Department

Boquerón Department

Boquerón is a department in the western region of Paraguay. It is the country's largest department, with an area of convert|91669|km2|sqmi|0|abbr=on, but its population is only 45,617 (2002 census). The department includes the Russian Mennonite colonies of Fernheim, Menno and its administrative center Loma Plata and Neuland. The capital is Filadelfia. Other towns are General Eugenio A. Garay, Doctor Pedro P. Peña and Mariscal Estigarribia.

The western region—Paraguay Occidental—with two percent of the Paraguayan population, produces nearly the 65% of the milk and meat of the country. High agricultural output is linked to the advanced technology and industry of the Mennonite settlements.

In 1992 the department Nueva Asunción was merged with Boquerón, effectively recreating the departement as of 1945 when it was split, and the capital was moved from Doctor Pedro P. Peña to Filadelfia.


It is located to the north in the Occidental Region of Paraguay, between parallels 20º 06’ and 23º 50’ of latitude South and meridians 50º 20’ and 62º 40’ of longitude West.


To the North: Alto Paraguay Department, from which is separated by an imaginary straight line that goes from Hito IV Fort Tte. G. Mendoza to Fort Madrejón; and also by the road of the railway from “km 220” to “km 160”.

To the South: Argentina, from which is separated by the Pilcomayo River, from Misión San Lorenzo to Hito I Esmeralda.

To the East: Presidente Hayes Department, separated by the road that communicates Misión San Lorenzo with Fort Gral. Díaz, Ávalos Sánchez, Zenteno, Dr. Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Boquerón, Isla Po’í and Casanillo; and from this point, by an imaginary straight line until “km 160”. It also limits with Alto Paraguay Department, separated from it by a straight imaginary line from Fort Madrejón to Fort Carlos Antonio López and from there by another line to Fort Montanía.

To the West: Bolivia, separated by an imaginary line from Hito I Esmeralda until HIto IV Fort Tte. Gabino Mendoza.

Natural environment

This is the most deserted region of Paraguay; it has some small streams, but with dry riverbeds. The rain is scarce but when it does rain, it causes inundations. It rains about 350 mm a year in the north of the department and 850 mm a year in the south.

The trees in the area are short and thorny; there are brushwood and cactus, dunes and small hills, especially in the north of the department. Some species of trees in this region are in danger of extinction; those are the urunde’y, white and red quebracho, samu’u also known as palo borracho and palo santo.


The average temperature is 25°C. The average of precipitation is 400 mm annually. Boquerón is also called Alto Chaco o Dry Chaco and in summer registers the highest temperatures in the country.


Boquerón is these days, the department with most population growth, about 12.4%. This department it is characteristic by its native population, the Menonita group, the Paraguayan, the Brazilian and other foreign resident in the country.

The National Census in 2002 registered 45.617 people living in Boquerón. Most of them are Native-Americans, which would be 43,7% (19.945), distributed in the following ethnics: Nivaclé, Manjui, Guarayos, Angaité, Ayoreos, Guaraní-Ñandéva, Tapieté and Toba-Maskóy. The mayority of native population of the country lives in this department.


The total Native population of the country is 87.099. The quantity in Chaco is 42.939.The total Boquerón population is 45.617, 19.945 are natives.Growth of the total population in Boquerón is 4,6% and in the Urban area alone is 12,4%.

*Filadelfia: 7.750 habitants

*Loma Plata: 6.500 habitants

*Yalve Sanga: 4.200 habitants

*Mariscal Estigarribia: 2.000 habitants

*Neu-Halbstadt: 720 habitants

*Choferes del Chaco: 600 habitants

District and departamental governments

The department is divided in 3 districts:

# Doctor Pedro P. Peña
# General Eugenio A. Garay
# Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia

Boquerón had only one district since December 18, 1944. In December of 2006, were added Filadelfia, which became the capital of the department by Law 71/92, and Loma Plata. Boquerón has nowadays 4 members in the executive government and 40 councilors.

The governor is David Sawtzky, the Major of Mariscal Estigarribia is Eladio Alcaraz, the Major of Filadelfia is Hermann Ratzlaff and the Mayor of Loma Plata is Ernst Giesbrecht.

The government of the department administrates two high schools, one agriculture school, a hospital and the Hydric Resources Direction (DRH for its initials in Spanish), that belongs to the Agriculture and Cattle Ministry. In addition, it has a Health and Education Secretary, a Natural Environment Secretary, a Secretary for Native-American Related Affairs, Public Constructions, Women Related Affairs, Childhood and Youth Secretaries.


The department has 160 educational institutions with 9.000 students and more than 450 teachers. These numbers include the private institutions and the one that provide professional skills education. The literacy instruction reaches the 80% according to the Census of 2002.

Distance is the main problem that affects students and teachers, it is hard sometimes to get to the educational institutions and form that comes desertion. There are some marginal areas with curricular norms well elaborated according to exigencies of the Occidental Region that has to deal with not having enough teachers for the classes.

The total of registered students is 8.932, in the elementary school 6.689, and in high school 2.243 for a total of 103 schools. A total of 384 registered teachers.

The literate population of 15 years and more is 21.482.


This department has 4 private hospitals and there is the 17th Sanitary Region assisted by the Public Health and Social Wellbeing Ministry as regional hospital in Mariscal Estigarribia; and the government of the assists the Maternal and Childhood Center in Villa Choferes del Chaco. More than half the population is assisted in Filadelfia, Loma Plata, Yalve Sanga and Colonia Neuland.

The natives received health assistance from the private sector. Some of them have Social Security, but not all. In this department are 23 health centers and 8,8 number of beds for every one of the 10.000 inhabitants of the area.

Mennonites have private medical secure and are very well organized in that sector. The health system is a basic necessity and is the one that needs more attention, considering that 22% of the population in the area lives in poverty.


Cattle are the activity that generates the greater income, with the dairy products and meat that are exported. There are 4,500 owners of 900,000 cows. The dairy production is about 450,000 to 500,000 liters of milk in a day, 70% of this industrialized in Chaco Central.

It is noticeable the work of saddlery and shoe confection. In agriculture, the common products are: bananas, lemons, sweet and sour oranges, tangerines, beans, sweet potatoes, onions, pumpkins, corn, peanuts and sorghum.


Boquerón has 120 kilometers of paved roads, but also has many that are not paved, which makes travel difficult in the rainy and dry seasons.

Traveling to this region has its inconveniences, people that do it must to foresee the logistic aspects such as taking with them drinkable water, food, enough fuel and an emergency kit.

The labor of the Mennonites is remarkable, because they maintain the roads they use by themselves with their own resources, those would be about 3.800 kilometers of road every year. They also know the region very well.

The Mariscal Estigarribia district has a runway used by all kinds of planes.

In some districts, they have available modern technology such as television, internet and cell phones. Nevertheless there are places where communication is impossible because of the characteristics of the land. In addition most of the Ayoreo natives that still live in the wild have not yet adapted to civilization.

Radio stations a fundamental role as a means of communication. La Voz del Chaco Paraguayo AM, broadcasts to the entire Occidental Region, reaching to places where communication is usually an issue.

There is another radio station, Radio Médano, which broadcasts in FM.

There are two community radio stations: one in Mariscal Estigarribia and another in Dr. Pedro P. Peña.


Rural and ecological tourism has become very popular in the Chaco Central, where people can watch the life and process of adaptation of the colonial immigrants. Many tourists and students visit the native villages and colonies that dedicate to cattle and some other industries, most of them leave very pleased by the experience.

The Forts Boquerón, Toledo and Isla Po’í are much visited, in these places remain the traces of the Chaco War, an important part of Paraguayan history.


Boquerón has its own flag and badge and the musical theme “Chaco Boreal” that was declared Anthem of the department.

These symbols were presented in public on September 29 1995 in Fort Toledo, in the presence of 200 students of the area.


* Geografía del Paraguay - Editorial Hispana Paraguay S.R.L.- 1a. Edición 1999 - Asunción Paraguay
* Geografía Ilustrada del Paraguay - ISBN 99925-68-04-06 - Distribuidora Arami S.R.L.
* La Magia de nuestra tierra. Fundación en Alianza. Asunción. 2007.
* EVP - Wikipedia
* [ Enciclopedia Virtual Paraguaya - Portal]

External links

* [ ABC Color]
* [ Secretaria Nacional de Turismo]

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