Paraguay in Depth History
Paraguay’s tumultuous history is one defined by isolation and conflict. A long history of strong-arm rule generated a passiveness amongst the country’s citizens who, in many instances, found dictatorships to be more stable and prosperous than democratic government. Only recently has the military ceased to be the predominant player in Paraguay’s political scene. Since colonial times the nation has struggled to maintain its ground against larger and more powerful neighbors. The country was limited by its isolation, lack of sea access, and a small under-educated population. This resulted in conflictive, and mostly unbalanced, relationships with neighboring Brazil and Argentina, a trend that continues to this day. Over the course of its existence, first as a Spanish colony and then as an independent nation, Paraguay’s resources have slowly been chipped away by internal warfare and its corrupt regimes. Despite being the constant underdog, Paraguay has kept itself from being engulfed by its neighbors, maintaining a strong national identity and culture.
Sidebar: At the time of independence, Paraguay consisted of an area of 653,500 square kilometers. Today Paraguay is 406,750 square kilometers. That’s almost the size of the state of California.
The Guarani natives were the most significant indigenous group to inhabit pre-Hispanic Paraguay. The Guarani were part of a larger tribe known as the Tupf Guarani, whose disperse population extended from the Caribbean and Northeastern tip of South America to points as far west as Brazil and as south as Uruguay. According to legend, the nomadic tribe was ruled by two brothers, Tupf and Guarani, who parted ways after a family dispute. Tupf led his followers east to Brazil while Guarani and his followers continued west to present day Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Argentina. The Guarani inhabited what is now eastern Paraguay, living as semi-nomadic hunters who also practiced subsistence agriculture. Though they did not leave any large ruins or monuments behind, many traces of their culture, from language to religious rituals, remain today.
The Paraguayan Chaco was home to a diverse group of indigenous tribes including the Guaycuru, and Payagua, who survived in the harsh environment by hunting, gathering, and fishing.
The lives of all of Paraguay’s indigenous inhabitants changed tremendously when European explorers entered their territory in the sixteenth century.
Sidebar: Paraguay in Photos – For a wide variety of old photos of Paraguay check out: www.meucat.com/ album. html
Yaguarón Map Photo Gallery
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