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When the first Spanish explorers reached the region of Paraguay, a semi-nomadic population with warrior traditions had already lived in the area. Also known as the Guarani indigenous population, the tribes had lived in Paraguay for at least a millennium before Spanish explorers arrived in 1516. The first Spaniard to build a town was Juan de Salazar de Espinosa, who built the settlement of Asuncion in 1537.
In 1864, the Paraguayan War began, which brought the country tremendous loss. Fighting with Argentina and Brazil, Paraguay lost about 60-70% of its population due to war and disease, and lost over 100,000 square kilometers of its land to both countries. Lasting until 1870, the War became the bloodiest in the history of South America.
After the War, the country was ruled by a succession of dictatorships. The last Paraguayan dictator was Alfredo Stroessner, whose regime from 1954 to 1989 became the longest dictatorship in the country's history. His regime ended in 1989 due to a military coup.
The country's first free multi-party elections were held in 1993.
Paraguay is a landlocked country located in central South America. Its borders are Argentina to its south, Brazil to its east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest.
The Paraguay River runs through the center of the country, from north to south, dividing the land between 2 regions. Landscape in the east consists of wooded hills and grassy plains while the west consists of low, marshy plains.
Paraguay is also nicknamed, "Corazon de America," which means "Heart of America," due to its central geographical location in South America.
Paraguay is a presidential representative democracy, with the President as Head of State and Head of Government. The President is elected to a 5-year term, and is responsible for the appointment of the Cabinet members.
Legislative power is exercised by the National Congress while Judiciary power is exercised by the Tribunals and the Courts of Civil Law, as well as the 9-member Supreme Court of Justice.
The post of First Lady in Paraguay is an official government position - the title of First Lady of the Nation is given to the spouse of the President. The position mainly focuses on social and health affairs.
Paraguay is not a very popular popular travel destination in South America. In fact, it is one of the most isolated and smallest countries in the continent, but also considered as a hidden gem.
The most popular city to visit is Asuncion, which is the capital city. It is the main point of entry for most tourists and a significant starting point for many of the country's other tourist destinations. It is known for its colonial architecture, as well as its good number of museums such as the Visual Arts Museum. Its Villa Moro district is excellent for shopping, its small cafes, and restaurants.
San Bernardino is a popular summer destination for young travelers. It was originally settled by German immigrants and evidence of their domination are still found. The popular Lago Ypacarai is famous for being the playground of water sports enthusiasts.
Aregua is Paraguay's artist city - filled with artists and writers with their very own museums and galleries. A former summer destination for Asuncion's rich families, Aregua has a laid back feel with a popular open market for excellent local shopping. It's filled with preserved colonial houses and perfect for travelers who want to enjoy Paraguay's old colonial culture.
Education was not valued in Paraguay during the regime of Alfredo Stroessner. The 1992 constitution attempted to remedy the country's neglect in its education system by building 10 universities across the country. Only 2 national universities were serving the country before the 1990's.
Literacy rate in the country is at 94%. Primary education is free and mandatory in Paraguay, with attendance of children ages 6-12 at 98%. However, dropout rate is fairly high.
- Paraguay has the world's largest drinking water reservoir underneath its soil, which is the Guarani Aquifer.
- The country is also home to Itaipu Dam - which is the world's largest producer of hydroelectric power.
- They are also the world's 5th largest exporter of soy beans.
- Though Paraguay is rich with natural resources, they are also one of the poorest countries in the world.
Last Updated : May 13, 2015