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 The earliest settlers in Paraguay were the Guaraní indians, who occupied the lands between Paraguay and the Paraná rivers. They are thought to have been living on that land since about 2000-1000 BC. The Guaraní were a Tupian-speaking people, and their customs resembled those of other indigenous groups in the tropical areas. Many women cultivated corn, cassava, and sweet potatoes, while the men hunted and fished.

The Europeans first arrived in Paraguay around 1516 with the failed expedition of Juan Diaz de Solís to the estuary of the Río de la Plata.  The first European known to have explored Paraguay was the Italian Sabastian Cabot in 1526.

The next the two centuries of Paraguay's history were dominated by the Jesuit missionaries seeking to protect the Amerindians from Portuguese slave traders and Spanish colonists. The missionaries taught the Amerindians trades, methods of cultivation and fine arts. They were granted an education that served to protect them from exploitation from the Spanish colonists.

At one point, the King of Spain became disenfranchised with the growing popularity of the Jesuit missionaries and expelled them from Paraguay.

To achieve independence, Paraguay first battled Argentina. While they both sought independence, Paraguayans rejected the Argentine-led movement. The Argentines were defeated, and from there Paraguay had the motivation to continue forth to independence from Spain. By 1811, the last of the Spanish royal governors were deposed. 

Paraguayan politics has continued to fluctuate through turmoil, seeing various dictatorships, or near dictatorships, dominate the public sphere. Indeed, finally with the 2003 election, Paraguayan political leaders are beginning to tackle inherent corruption and development, seeking to modernize the state into a regional strength.


Updated: 17 June 2008


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