The terrain consists of grassy plains and wooded hills in the east and mostly low, marshy plains in the west. The overall climate ranges from subtropical to temperate. Paraguay has only wet and dry periods. Winds play a major role in influencing Paraguay's weather: between October and March, warm winds blow from the Amazon Basin in the north, while the period between May and August brings cold winds from the Andes.
Between April and September, temperatures will sometimes drop below freezing in parts of the country. January is the hottest summer month, with an average daily temperature of 84 degrees F. Rainfall varies dramatically across the country, with substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, and semi-arid conditions in the far west. The far eastern forest belt receives an average of 67 inches of rain annually, while the western Chaco region typically averages no more than 20 inches a year.
The indigenous Guaraní had been living in Paraguay for at least a millennium before the Spanish conquered the territory in the 16th century. Following independence from Spain in 1811, Paraguay was ruled by a series of dictators who implemented isolationist and protectionist policies. In contrast to most Latin American nations, Paraguay's indigenous language and culture, Guaraní, remains highly influential.
German settlers founded several towns as Hohenau, Filadelfia, Neuland, Obligado, and Nueva Germania. Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, is the dominant religion in Paraguay. Spanish and Guarani are the offical languages of Paraguay. The Guaraní language is generally understood by 95% of the population; Spanish is understood by about 90% of the population.