By Tim Lambert

Before the Spanish arrived in Paraguay it was inhabited by people called the Guarani. They were farmers. The Spanish arrived in the region in the 16th century and the capital of Paraguay, Asuncion was founed in 1537.

Paraguay became independent of Spain in 1811 and Jose Gaspar Rodrigues Francis became the dictator. He was the first of a long line of dictators in Paraguay and he ruled until his death in 1840. He was followed by Carlos Antonio Lopez, who ruled Paraguay until 1862. He in turn was succeeded by his son Francisco Solan Lopez. In 1870 the War of the Triple Alliance began. Paraguay fought Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The war lasted until 1870 and it was an unmitigated disaster for Paraguay. Many of its citizens were killed and Paraguay lost much of its territory.

In the early 20th century Paraguay suffered from political instability with frequent changes of government. Then in 1932 Paraguay and Bolivia went to war. The Chaco war lasted until 1938.

In 1954 Alfredo Stroessner became dictator of Paraguay. He ruled until 1989. After that Paraguay became a democratic country. Today Paraguay is still a poor country but its economy is growing rapidly and there is reason to be optimistic. Today the population of Paraguay is 6.7 million.

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Last Revised 2015