The Republic of Paraguay is a land locked country in the center of South America, which is bordered by Brazil to the east and northeast, and Argentina to the south and southeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country from north to south. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazon de America (Heart of America). The Guarani have been living in Paraguay since before the Europeans arrived in South America in the 16th century, when Paraguay was forced to become a part of the Spanish colonial empire.
Following there independence from Spain in 1811, Paraguay did not start out with anything close to democracy. They were unfortunately ruled by a series of dictators the ruled the country with a iron hand. Their leaders kept the people isolated and protected from outside influences as much as possible. The Paraguay people suffered a devastating war from (1864-1870), the country lost 60% to 70% of its population and large amounts of their countries territory, and it took a long time for the people to recover from this. Alfredo Stroessner, who held office for the majority of the 20th century, was South America’s longest-lived military dictator.
In 1989 Stroessner was thrown out of office when the country held free elections in 1993. The following year, Paraguay joined Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay to found Mercosur. The purpose of this was to promote free trade with the surrounding countries of the Union of South American Nations. Paraguay’s largest city and capital is called Asuncion, and the majority of Paraguayans are called Mestizo. As of 2009, Paraguay’s population was estimated to be around 6. 5 million, most of whom are concentrated in the southeast of the country. The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Guarani, 92% of the opulation speaks Spanish, and 98% of the population speaks Guarani. Paraguay has always been one of the region’s poorest, least developed, most isolated country in comparison with their neighbors. The countries terrain consists of grassy plains and wooded hills in the east, and to the west, there are mostly low and marshy plains. The climate ranges from subtropical to temperate, and averages 75 degrees. Paraguay has only a wet and dry period, and winds play a major part in Paraguay’s weather. In Paraguay’s early history, their people were made up of semi-nomadic tribes.
They were well organized, and stayed true to there warrior traditions. Later, when the Europeans first arrived in South America it was the year 1516. The settlement of Asuncion was founded on August 15, 1537, by the Spanish Juan de Salazar de Espinosa, nearly 21yrs after their arrival. The city soon became the center of a Spanish colonial province, as well as the primary site of the Jesuit missions and settlement in South America in the 18th century. Paraguay was finally able to overthrow the local Spanish administration on May 15, 1811. Paraguay’s first ruler after the Spanish was the dictator Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Frencia.
He ruled from 1814, until his death in 1840. The Paraguayan war commenced in 1864, and was fought against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, and was defeated in 1870. The war lasted for nearly five years, and was considered the bloodiest war in South America. The Charo war was fought with Bolivia in the 1930’s, and Bolivia was soon defeated. Between 1904 and 1954, Paraguay had thirty-one presidents, most of who were removed from there office by force by the people. After WWII the politics of the country became unstable, political parties fighting for power in the late 40’s.
Stroessner and the Colorado party ruled the country from 1954 to 1989. The religion of the country is mostly Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, and is the dominant religion in Paraguay. 30% to 50% of the population is very poor. Considering how poor the population is, their life expectancy is rather good at the age of 75 years and sometimes longer. Most Paraguayan people are literate, but the average person only finishes the 5th grade. The national University of Asuncion was founded in 1889. Football is he most popular sport, as well as rugby, volleyball, basketball and tennis.