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Wednesday, 21 December 2016



The first Europeans in the area that corresponds to modern day Paraguay were Spanish explorers in 1516. Ten years later Sebastian Cabot, the pilot-major of Charles V, Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain, explored up the rivers Paraná and Paraguay.

The Spanish explorer Juan de Salazar de Espinosa founded the settlement of Asunción on August 15, 1537. The city eventually became the center of a Spanish colonial province of Paraguay.

View of the city of Asunción during the 1864-70 Paraguayan War.

The Reduccion System was a resettlement policy employed by the Spaniards which was designed for a convenient administration of the colonies. Their strategy in South America was to gather native populations into centers called "Indian reductions" (reducciones de indios), in order to Christianize, tax, and govern them more efficiently. The Jesuit interpretation of this strategy was implemented primarily in an area that corresponds to modern-day Paraguay amongst the Tupi-Guarani peoples. There, a Jesuit utopia was founded in which their Spanish Jesuit overseers satisfied all the Indians' spiritual and material needs. Every day was a mixture of work, song and prayer and unlike other conquered parts of America where the Indians were kept as slaves, here all property was held in common.

The reducciones flourished in Eastern Paraguay for about 150 years, until the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Spanish Crown in 1767.

Paraguay overthrew the local Spanish administration on May 14, 1811. May 14th is now celebrated as the country's independence day.

Paraguay's first dictator was José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia who ruled Paraguay from 1814. For the next 24 years, until his death in 1840 he ran the country with the aid of only three other people, with very little outside contact or influence.

Francia intended to create a utopian society based on the French theorist Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract. He forbade colonial citizens from marrying one another and allowed them to marry only blacks, mulattoes or natives, in order to break the power of colonial-era elites and to create a mixed-race or mestizo society.

Francia is still considered a national hero, with a museum dedicated to his memory in Yaguarón.

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Paraguay's first dictator.

Francia imbued Paraguay with a tradition of autocratic rule that lasted, with only a few breaks, until 1989.

The flag of Paraguay was first adopted in 1842. Its design, a red–white–blue triband, was inspired by the colours of the French flag, believed to signify independence and liberty.

Paraguay is the only country in the world with a national flag that's not the same on both sides: the obverse of the flag shows the national coat of arms, and the reverse shows the seal of the treasury. It was revised in 2013 to bring the flag towards its original design.

Flag of Paraguay (obverse). 

In 1864 Francisco Solano López, the dictator of Paraguay, plunged his country into an ill-advised war with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. 90% of the men in Paraguay died in the War of the Triple Alliance, which took place over the next five years and the country suffered extensive territorial losses. It remains the bloodiest international conflict in Latin American history, and the real causes of this war are still highly debated. 

On February 3, 1989, a military coup headed by General Andrés Rodríguez assumed power. As president, Rodríguez instituted political, legal, and economic reforms and initiated a rapprochement with the international community.

Andrés Rodríguez Pedotti

In 1992, Paraguay adopted a new constitution, which limited the presidency to a single five-year term.


Paraguay is landlocked, being bordered to the North and East by Brazil, the West by Bolivia, and the South and Southeast by Argentina.

The ethnic makeup of the population is like the following: Mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) 80%, European 20%, unmixed Amerindian 1-3%, Asian 1-4%.

Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, is the dominant religion in Paraguay. According to the 2002 census, 89.9% of the population is Catholic.

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

In Paraguay, maracas are most commonly made from the porrongo gourd, and are only played by men.

Acne affects 79-95% of western adolescents, yet a study of non-westernized tribes in Paraguay found no cases of acne.

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