Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Paraguay. A South American republic, has Bolivia on the N. Brazil on the E., and the Argentine Republic on the S. On the W. is the country called "El Gran Chaco," and the boundary on this side is somewhat indefinite. Paraguay, which is divided into two parts by the river from which it is called, has an area of about 140,000 square miles. Discovered by Juan Diaz da Solis in 1515, it was further explored by Diego Garcia and Sebastian Cabot. The aborigines long resisted the Spanish, but by the middle of the 16th century Paraguay had become a province of the viceroyalty of Peru. Later the Jesuits arrived, and in the following century the whole administration of the country was given over to them, with the happiest results. In 1768, when they were expelled, Paraguay again came under the Spanish viceroys, until in 1810 it declared itself independent. From 1814 till 1840 the government was carried on by Dr. Francia (q.v.), and from 1844 to 1862 by his nephew, Don Carlos Lopez. The latter's son, Don Francisco, perished in 1870 in the disastrous war with Brazil and the neighbouring states, by which the population of Paraguay was decimated. The northern part of the country consists of grassy plains, on which are many palm-trees, alternating with low ridges. In the fertile south are savannahs and rich marsh land with some well-wooded hill country. The climate is temperate. In the north country grows the mate, or Paraguay tea-shrub; and indiarubber and dye-wood, oranges, several species of gums, cochineal, honey, and various medicinal plants are among the natural productions. Maize, tobacco, rice, coffee, cocoa, and the sugar-cane are cultivated; and valuable timber is obtained from the forests. The result of the war of 1865-70 was the formation of a national debt, chiefly due to English creditors. Though it was repudiated in 1874, a settlement was arrived at in 1885. Tanning and the pottery manufacture are carried on by the natives, but trade in the towns is in the hands of foreigners. The religion of the country is Roman Catholic. Although education is compulsory and gratuitous, but a small proportion of the Paraguayans can read and write. At the close of the war a new constitution was enacted, by which the executive was given to a president elected for four years, and the legislative power was vested in two houses. Asuncion, the capital, and Villa Rica are the only important towns. Immigration from Europe has repaired some of the losses caused by the war, and between 1880 and 1890 the commerce of the country doubled. The river Paraquay rises in the state of Matto Grosso in the west of Brazil, and thence flows southwards along the borders of Bolivia, through Paraguay, and into the Argentine Republic, where it becomes one with the Parana. It enters the sea at Buenos Ayres after a course of some 1,800 miles. The Paraguay was declared open to all nations in 1852, and is navigable by steamers as far as the mouth of the Cuyaba, one of its chief affluents.