Paraguay History

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History[edit | edit source]

Spanish conquistadores arrived in 1524 after navigating northwards from the Río de la Plata to the Paraná River, and finally up the Paraguay River. In 1537, they established the city of Asunción, which was the first capital of the Governorate of Paraguay and Río de la Plata. Paraguay was the epicenter of the Jesuit Missions, where the Guaraní people were educated and introduced to Christianity and European culture under the direction of the Society of Jesus in Jesuit reductions, mainly during the 17th century.

After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish territories in 1767, Paraguay increasingly became a peripheral colony, with few urban centers and settlers. Following independence from Spain at the beginning of the 19th century, Paraguay was ruled by a series of authoritarian governments who generally implemented nationalist, isolationist and protectionist policies. This period ended with the disastrous Paraguayan War, during which Paraguay lost at least 50% of its prewar population and around 25–33% of its territory to the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. In the 20th century, Paraguay faced another major international conflict – the Chaco War – against Bolivia, from which the Paraguayans emerged victorious.

The Guarani culture is very influential and more than 90% of the people speak different forms of the Guarani language. Paraguayans are known for being a very happy and easy-living people and many times the country topped the world's happiest place charts because of the positive experiences lived and expressed by the population.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1516 - The first Europeans in the area were Spanish explorers
1767 - A Jesuit reduction was a type of settlement for indigenous people in North and South America established by the Jesuit Order from the 16th to the 18th centuries and flourished in eastern Paraguay for about 150 years
1814 - 1840 New laws were established that greatly reduced the powers of the Catholic church. Catholicism was then an established state religion
1864 - 1870 The Brazilian Empire invaded the Republic of Uruguay in order to overthrow the Government of that time and Paraguay lost around 25 - 33% of its territory to Argentina and Brazil but the worst consequence of the war was the catastrophic loss of population. At least 50% of the Paraguayans died during the conflict
1904 - 1954 The Liberal rule started a period of great political instability and between 1904 and 1954 Paraguay had thirty-one presidents, most of whom were removed from office by force. Conflicts between the factions of the ruling Liberal party led to the Paraguayan Civil War of 1922