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El Paraguay, Historia, Cultura y Tradiciones

 
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PARAGUAY
Heart of South America

MAPAS

Rutas y Atracciones Turísticas
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General information

Official Denomination:

Republica del Paraguay (Spanish)
Paraguáype teat (guaraní)
Republic of Paraguay (English)

Surface: 406,752 km ²

Population: 5.163.198 (Census 2002)

Geographic situation: it is a Mediterranean country, located in the center of South America.  This unfavorable situation is solved by means of the navigability of its two great rivers: Parana and Paraguay; the terrestrial and aerial routes allow the exit to the River of the Plata and to the Atlantic Ocean.
It limits the south and the west with Argentina; to the northwest with Bolivia and the east and the northeast with Brazil.

Astronomical position: the Paraguayan territory extends between the parallels 19°18' and 27°36' of SOUTH latitude and between the meridians 54°19' and 62°38' the West of Greenwich.  It is located in the South Hemisphere, in the subtropical zone (Geography of Paraguay - Hugo Ferreira Gubetich).

Climate: tropical to subtropical

Languages: (officials) Castilian and the Guaraní; (nonofficial) other indigenous languages are spoken.

Monetary unit: “Guaraní”

National symbols: the Pavilion of the Republic; National stamp and the National anthem.
Date of independence: 14 and 15 of May of 1811

Form of Government: it is a unitary, indivisible and decentralized republic, which adopts as government form the representative, participative and pluralist democracy, founded on the recognition of the human dignity.

Religion: the State guarantees the religious freedom, the one of cult and the ideological one, being the most spread catholic religion.  No confession will have official character (Constitution of Paraguay, 20 of June of 1992).

Administrative structure: 1 Capital district with seat in Asuncion and 17 departments, distributed in two natural regions (Eastern region and Occidental region or Paraguayan Chaco) separated by the Paraguay River.

Capital: Asuncion.  It was founded by the Spanish captain Juan de Salazar de Espinoza, the 15 of August of 1537, under the name of “Our Lady of Asuncion”.  By its privileged position, the times of the conquest and colonization, it became a strategic center and radiated, deserving titles like “Shelter and repairs of Conquista” and “Mother of Cities”, by to have left the same one the expedition that refund the city of Buenos Aires (1580) and those founded Santa Fe, Corrientes, Conception del Bermejo (Argentina), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) and Santiago de Jerez and Real City (Brazil).

The city of Asuncion is divided in five districts: San Roque, the Cathedral, the Incarnation, Santísima Trinidad and Recoleta, those that lodge more than sixty districts.

Economy: Paraguay is a farming and eminently forest country.  It has limited mineral resources but it has important hydric resources that allow him to cover all its necessities with electrical energy and to export to the neighboring countries.  ITAIPÚ, one of the greater plants of the world, executed on the course of river Parana (shared with Brazil), Yacyretá (with Argentina) and ACARAY, in the national territory, are the main hydroelectric complexes.

The manufacturing sector practically is dedicated to the agricultural product elaboration, including weaves and alcohol.

Problems: there is deforestation and contamination

Population: the great majority of the Paraguayan population is racially mixed, descending of guaraníes Indians and Spaniards.  Although Amerindian the pure ones is a little percentage, are projects of vindication of the history and the culture of the diverse guaraníes branches.  Around a fifth part of the Paraguayans lives in the outside, fundamentally for political-economic reasons.

HISTORICAL REVIEW

The first European that was above Paraguayan ground was Alejo Garcia (1524) arriving until the Parana river at the height from the Monday river, crossing the Chaco until arriving at the Alto Peru, staying as discoverer of Paraguay.  In 1526, the Venetian sailor Sebastian Gaboto, envoy of King Carlos V of Spain, explored part of the national territory, crossing the Parana Rivers and Paraguay, completing the discovery of Alejo Garcia.

The 15 of August of 1537 the Spanish captain Juan de Salazar de Espinoza founded a fort under the name of “Our Lady of the Asuncion”, that later would be the capital city.  The country was populated by guaraníes natives, who received the Spaniards in friendly form, which facilitated the later Guarani Hispanic amalgam, which would give rise to the appearance of the Paraguayan man.

During the Spanish colonization several governors appeared like also the migration of human contingents followed one another thus, which brought with himself their customs, laws, currencies, religion and culture; but like the Spanish era preferred a man of arms, conqueror of new earth for the King, the cultural work was in charge of the religious congregations: Dominican, Franciscans, Mercedario, Recoldos and Jesuits; these last ones organized to their proselytes in reductions or towns of Indians, where they received instruction, education of arts and offices, agriculture and crafts. 

The competition created when selling the agricultural products of the reductions displeased to the colons of Asuncion and other towns, which gave rise to hard confrontations in the call “Revolution of the Commoners”.  This movement that announced that “the power of the town, the “Common one”, was superior to the one of the King, and that the town had the right to admit the law or the governor who pleased resisting or obeying, if they did not agree”, represented one of the first passages towards American independence.

Nowadays still the tracks of the passage of the Jesuits by the country subsist; the calls Jesuitical Ruins continue astonishing, in spite of passing of the years. 

Freed from the Kingdom of Spain, at night of the 14 of May of 1811 and in the morning of the 15, where they demoted to the Spanish governor Don Bernardo de Velasco, Paraguay obtained the sovereignty after long years of economic, social and political delay of the native Creoles, crossbreeding and diverse independent governments were tried, appeared the Triumvirate, the Governmental Superior Meeting and the First Consulate, until the coming of the Doctor Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, which lead with iron and safe hand the destinies of the country until year 1840.  In order to assure national independence, he isolated to the country of all foreign interference, fomenting the economic self-supplying and the scholastic instruction. 

A consular government succeeded him and, later, First President Constitutional Don Carlos Antonio Lopez (1844-1862) who opened the borders to the commerce and to the outer relations in general, reorganized the internal administration, justice, the property, were constructed public works, distributed earth, properties and tools to the poor Indians and farmers, organized navy, commanded to construct an arsenal in Asuncion, appeared the first currency of national die, fomented the public instruction founding 435 schools, sent 16 young people to Europe to study, founded newspapers; he put into operation the Iron Smelting of Ybycuí, and the country counted on the services of the railroad, of the telegraph and a modern merchant fleet.

As for international politics, Paraguay defended the free navigation of the rivers, the self-determination of the people and the need for maintaining the balance of Cuenca del Plata, like condition peace and progress.

With the death of Don Carlos Antonio López (1862) his son Francisco Solano López assumed the presidency in difficult circumstances.  Problems of limits with Argentina and Brazil, his conviction of political and economic independence and the defense of the principles for the stability of Cuenca del Plata were important causes for the war devastator of triple Alliance (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) in March of 1870, day when the death of the national hero Marshal Francisco Solano López would put an end to this tragic fight.

The country, plunged in economic misery, with its decimated population and its plundered territory, remained between the hands of few survivors, including sacrificed women, who helped with value with the national rebuilding.

The posterior treaties peace and limits obliged in Paraguay to support impotent the dismemberment of their territory by Argentina and Brazil.  Several governments followed one another which tried hardly to reorganize the fatherland.  In this time the traditional political parties of the country appeared: the Liberal Party (founded on July 10 of 1887) and the Red Party or National Association Republican (founded on September 11, 1887), principal protagonists of the national political events since then.

The Red Party, whose more important representative then was General Bernardino Caballero, stayed in the government until 1904, date in which the Pact of the Pilcomayo was signed, by which gave the power to the Liberal Party that it was in the government until the 17 of February of 1936, when was overthrown as well by the revolution that would give origin to the Party Revolutionary Febrerista, that would last in the power until the 13 August of 1937.

After frequent political armed struggles, on August 15, 1924 it assumed the presidency of the country the Doctor Eligio Ayala, who initiated a new epoch of civic, economic and military progress.

The shade of a new war was hovering on the horizon of the homeland. This time the conflict would be with Bolivia, country that had lost his seaside in a previous war with Chile and Peru, who needing a route of access for his exterior, fixed commerce his interests on the Paraguayan Chaco, looking for the shores of the river Paraguay.

With the occupation of the Paraguayan bunkers, the first confrontations began.  The fight, which lasted from year 1932 to 1935, devastated again to the country, but it did not intimidate the Guaraní soldier, organized in army under the direction of General Jose Felix Estigarribia, and was in the presidency of the Republic, the Doctor Eusebio Ayala.

In 1938, once signed the treaty of Peace, Friendship and Limits definitively limit with Bolivia, paying attention the limits between both countries, obtaining Paraguay, great part of the disputed territory, and was left the question of the Chaco resolute.

Because of unstable internal political events, later to this conflagration, several presidents in short periods followed one another, but the Paraguayan town, customary to the hard work, did not let advance, hoping to see resurge to the Mother country of its ashes.

The 15 of August of 194, assumed like President Constitutional, General Alfredo Stroessner, supported by the Red Party (Republican National Association (A.N.R.) being overthrown, after thirty five years in the Power, by a military coup, between 2 and 3 of February of 1989.

The General Andrés Rodriguez, creator of this event, occupied the presidency provisorily. Summoned the town to national elections 1º of May of 1989, with the participation of all the political parties, ratified the decision of which it completed period 1988-1993.

In 1992, Paraguay signed with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay an agreement for the constitution of a common market, the MERCOSUR that entered use three years later.

In 1993, the elections gave the power to the engineering Juan Carlos Wasmosy Monti, who fomented the free trade, completing presidential period 1993-1998.

In 1998, the engineering Raul Alberto Cubas Grau was chosen president for the period August 1998-2003, after the general Lino Oviedo, the original candidate, outside jailed, after being accused to have commanded an internal one of coup d’état, against president Wasmosy in 1996, vice-president Doctor Luis Maria Argaña was assassinated, the Paraguayans were united and forced President Cubas to resign the 28 of March of 1999, in that the “Government of the National Unit” settled: the Doctor Luis Angel González Machi who was President of the Senate, assumed the first magistrature, until completing the vacant constitutional period.

The elections of May of 2003 gave the victory to pro-government candidate Doctor Nicanor Duarte Frutos for the period August 2003-2008, receiving the assignment to make a significant change in the political structure of the country.

The 20 of April of 2008, in general elections, were chosen president for period 2008-2012, Mr. Fernando Lugo Méndez, ex- bishop of the diocese of San Pedro, with the support of several parties, political alliances and movements, defeating the pro-government candidates of the Red Party, after sixty one years of permanence in the power.