|Ciudad del Este|
View of Ciudad del Este skyline
|Founded||February 3, 1957|
|- Intendente Municipal||Sandra Mac Leod de Zacarias|
|- City||104 km2 (40.2 sq mi)|
|Time zone||-4 GMT|
|Area code(s)||(595) (61)|
Founded in 1957, it was originally called Puerto Flor de Lis (Port Fleurdelis), then until 1989 Puerto Presidente Stroessner (Port President Stroessner), after Alfredo Stroessner. It is part of a triangle known as the Triple Frontera (Triple border), or Tríplice Fronteira in Portuguese. It is linked to the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu by the Friendship Bridge; Puente de la Amistad in Spanish, Ponte da Amizade in Portuguese. The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ciudad del Este.
It is the second largest city in Paraguay, with a population estimated at 320,782 in 2008.
The city has a large Asian-born population, specifically Taiwanese, Koreans, Arabs and Iranians, evident in the city's mosque and pagodas. The Taiwanese government paid for the construction of the city's town hall in exchange for Paraguayan support in the United Nations, hence the Taiwanese flag that flies on the building.
Ciudad del Este generates about 60% of Paraguay's GDP. It is the third largest free-tax commerce zone in the world, after Miami and Hong Kong, and — together with Foz do Iguaçu — it is the headquarters of the company that operates the nearby Itaipu dam. The city's economy (and Paraguay's economy as well) relies heavily on the mood of the Brazilian economy, as 95% of Paraguay's share of the energy generated by the Itaipu Dam is sold to Brazil (for US$300 million), and that every day many Brazilians cross the border to buy less-expensive products (US$1.2 billion, mostly electronics). Smuggling is a major occupation in the city, with some estimates putting the value of this black market at five times the national economy. Indeed, evidence indicates that some of the revenue generated by smuggling may support criminal organizations based outside the region, including terrorist organizations.
Guarani International Airport, located in the suburb city of Minga Guazú, connects the city with other South American destinations.
Ciudad del Este is a city in Paraguay. It is mainly a shopping destination for Brazilians and Argentinians. Apart from that the city is not very attractive.
The bus terminal is located in the southern part of the city, a bit hidden behind the stadium.
If you are transiting Paraguay (i.e. not coming back across the same border the same day), you will have to go to the Paraguayan customs office just past the bridge. Citizens of Mercosul are granted entry just with their ID, others need a passport. The stories of bribings and scams in the Paraguayan customs offices are frequent. Make sure you get everything you're supposed to get when they check your passport and/or ID. Those that handle them the ID should receive back, along with the ID, a formulary with the arrival stamp in it. If you're with the passport, you'll only receive the usual stamp on the page.
A common trick is not handing the stamped paper back with the ID; that way you cannot prove having legally entered the country. If so you'll certainly be asked for money for the exit to be granted.
If you arrive with your own car make sure you find a parking lot (usually the local touts will lead you to one. However, if you do not feel comfortable with the situation you still can research a parking lot in advance as some of them have websites on the Internet.
Shopping is the main business of the visitors. The main shopping streets are Av. San Blas and Camilo Recalde, where you can buy about anything and everything. Many people come for electronics.
A WARNING: If you want to buy electronics such as cellphones or cameras, the procedure shall be as follows:
Ask to test the device, if it works DO NOT give it back to the shopkeeper/assistant as some of them exchange them with faulty versions or hand the box back filled with paper or other but certainly not with what you just bought.
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