Paraguay a republic of South America, which, as represented on most maps, is confined to the peninsula between the rivers Paraguay and Parana, as far north as about the parallel of 21° 30', but which actually, by recent treaties with neighboring states, has so considerably enlarged that it now embraces an extensive region called the Chaco, west of the Paraguay, and as far south as the river Vermejo, and west as the meridian of 61° 20', and a tract lying between the Parana and the Uraguay. The whole area, according to official statistics, is in round numbers 348,000 square miles, of which 131,000 square miles are comprised between the rivers Paraguay and Parana, 196,000 square miles are west of the Paraguay, and upwards of 21,000 square miles are between the Parana and Uraguay. The peninsula between the rivers is still the important part of Paraguay. A mountain-chain called Sierra Anambahy, which traverses it from north to south, and bifurcates to the east and west towards the southern extremity, under the name of Sierra Maracaju, divides the tributaries of the Parana from those of the Paraguay, none of which are very considerable, although they are liable to frequent and destructive overflows. As regards its physical character, the northern portion of the country is mountainous, especially towards the east. The southern portion is one of the most fertile districts of South America, consisting of hills and gentle slopes richly wooded, of wide savannas, which afford excellent pasture-ground, and of rich alluvial plains, some of which, indeed, are marshy, or covered with shallow pools of water (only one lake, that of Ypao, deserving special notice), but a large proportion of the land is of extraordinary fertility and highly cultivated. The banks of the rivers Parana and Paraguay are occasionally belted with forest; but, in general, the low lands are destitute of trees. The climate, for a tropical country, is temperate, the thermometer occasionally rising to 100° in summer, but in winter being usually about 45°. The natural productions are very varied, although they do not include the precious metals or other minerals common in South America. Much excellent timber is found in the forests. Several trees yield valuable juices, as the India-rubber and its cognate trees; and an especially useful shrub is the Mate, or Paraguay tea- tree, which forms one of the chief articles of commerce, being in general use throughout La Plata, Chili, Peru, and other parts of South America. The tree grows wild in the north-eastern districts, and the gathering of its leaves gives employment in the season to a large number of the native population. Wax and honey are collected in abundance, as is also cochineal, and the medicinal plants are very numerous. The chief cultivated crops are maize, rice, coffee, cocoa, indigo, mandioc, tobacco, sugar-cane, and cotton.
One half of the land is national property, consisting partly of the lands formerly held by the Jesuit missions, or by other religious corporations, partly of lands never assigned to individuals, partly of lands confiscated in the course of the revolutionary ordeal through which the country has been passing. The, national estates have, for the most part, been let out in small tenements, at moderate rents, the condition of the tenure being that they shall be properly cultivated. Agriculture, though it has in recent years made considerable progress; nevertheless is still far from the standard of European progress. Only about 30,000 square miles of the whole territory are in cultivation. There are few manufactures — sugar, rum, cotton and woollen cloths, and leather being the only industrial productions. Indeed, the commerce of the country is chiefly in the hands of the government, which holds a monopoly of the export of the Paraguay tea, and in great part of the timber trade. The population consists of whites of Spanish descent, native Indians, negroes, and a mixture of these several races, who call themselves "Paraguayos," but are usually called "Pardos." The Indians are most numerous. They are mostly of the friendly tribe Guaranis, whose language is also the language of the country. By a census which was taken in 1857, the population was reported at 1,33,1, but the inaccuracy of this census is now generally conceded, and the population of Paraguay, considerably reduced in recent times by war with Brazil and internal strife (see below), is now generally estimated to be about 1,000,000.
History. — The history of Paraguay is highly interesting. The country was discovered by Sebastian Cabot in 1526; but the first colony was settled in 1535 by Pedro de Mendoza, who founded the city of Assuncion, and established Paraguay as a province of the vice-royalty of Peru. The warlike native Guaranis, a people who possessed a certain degree of civilization, and professed a dualistic religion, for a long time, however, successfully resisted the Spanish arms, and refused to receive either the religion or the social usages of the invaders. In the latter half of the 16th century (since 1586) the Jesuit missionaries were sent to the aid of the first preachers of Christianity in Paraguay (who had labored since 1537); but for a long time the Jesuits also were almost entirely unsuccessful, the effect of their preaching being in a great degree marred by the profligate and cruel conduct of the Spanish adventurers who formed the staple of the early colonial population. The Jesuits, however, did not hopelessly abandon their task, as had the Franciscans, who had preceded them. With their indomitable will and keen judgment of human nature, the Jesuits were probably the only Christians who could succeed. Finding that the obstacles were almost insurmountable, they concentrated their strength on the province of Guayra, and there succeeded in winning the confidence of the natives, whom they united in settlements (Reductiones), and taught there not only religion, but agriculture, arts, and industries. But even these settlements failed for a long time to bring about the much-desired change. There were constant quarrels and much fighting, and as late as 1610 several settlements had to be abandoned. The Jesuits finally determined to secure the reins of government in the entire country, to bring about such a change as they had hoped for, but had found it impossible to secure, so long as they did not themselves possess the civil control. In the 17th century the home government consented to place in their hands the entire administration, civil as well as religious, of two provinces, which, not possessing any of the precious metals, were of little value as a source of revenue; and, in order to guard the natives against the evil influences of the bad example of European Christians, gave to the Jesuits the right to exclude all other Europeans from these colonies. From this time forward the progress of civilization as well as of Christianity was rapid. The legislation, the administration, and the social organization of the settlement were shaped according to the model of a primitive Christian community, or rather of many communities under one administration; and the accounts which have been preserved of its condition appear to present a realization of the ideal of a Christian Utopia. A careful inquiry into the history of the territory so ruled by the Jesuits reveals, however, that the natives had been made by them altogether helpless. True, the Jesuits were kind to their subjects, and gave them a quasindependence in what they called a Christian republican government, but they did everything in such a guardian-like manner that the natives lost the little qualification they once possessed for independent enterprise. Besides, the great power and accumulating wealth of the Jesuits provoked envy, and finally resulted in much opposition to the Jesuits; and when in 1750 they opposed the disposition of some of their territory to Portugal, and armed the natives for defense of the land against the Spanish government, the total expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay resulted in 1768. The province was again made subject to the Spanish viceroys. For a time the fruits of the older civilization maintained themselves; but as the ancient organization fell to the ground, much of the work of so many years was undone; the communities lapsed into disorganization, and by degrees much of the old barbarism returned, and that in a more aggravated form. In. 1776, Paraguay was transferred to the newly formed vice-royalty of Rio de la Plata; and in 1810 it joined with the other states in declaring its independence of the mother kingdom of Spain, which, owing to its isolated position, it was the earliest of them all to establish completely. In 1814 Dr. Francia, originally a lawyer, and the secretary of the first revolutionary junta, was proclaimed dictator for three years; and in 1817 his term of the office was made perpetual. He continued to hold it till his death in 1840; and although many of his measures tended to improve the condition of the country and to develop its internal resources, yet his rule was arbitrary and despotic in the highest degree; and his attempt to isolate the territory from commercial intercourse with the rest of the world was attended with a complete stagnation of commerce and the enterprise to which it leads. On his death the government was vested in consuls, and in 1844 a new constitution was proclaimed, and Don Carlos Antonio Lopez elected in that year. He held the government until his death in 1870. The condition of the country was little changed under his administration. Though he was a man of extraordinary character, he was so largely controlled by the restless and roving spirit of the white population of Paraguay that he was forced into a war with Brazil and the La Plata estates, which brought the country to the very verge of destruction. It barely escaped utter ruin. A provisional government conducted the affairs of Paraguay, independent of Brazil, after the re-establishment of peace in 1870, until the people had time to elect Riverola as their president. In December, 1871, Salvador Jovellanos became president. Under his administration the country was slowly recovering from the dreadful desvastations in which the war had resulted, when a rebellion broke out (1874), which has only been suppressed very recently. The arbitrary measures which the unsettled condition of the country forced the government to adopt have resulted in driving many whites into the Argentine territory and the Brazilian provinces. In the spring of 1876 the most heartrending condition prevailed. Little was produced by the farmers, and the principal staple of food, maize, sold at famine prices.
The republic is divided into twenty-five departments. The central department, in which the capital, Assuncion, is situated, contained in 1857 398,698, or nearly one third of the whole inhabitants, and the capital itself 48,000. The inhabitants of the towns consist chiefly of whites, or of half- breeds (mestizos), who closely resemble whites; the language commonly spoken, besides that of the native Indian, the Guaranis, is the Spanish. The established religion is the Roman Catholic, the ecclesiastical head of which is the bishop of Assuncion. Education is pretty well diffused, much more than is usually the case in countries so long ruled by the Jesuits. See Muratori, Christianesimo felice nelle missione nel Paraguai (Ven. 1713); Ibafiez, Regno da. Soced. d. J. etc. (Lisbon, 1770); Charlevoix, Gesch. v. Paraguay u. den Missionen der Jesuiten (Nuremb. 1764); Dugraty, La republique de Parag. (Brussels, 1864); Masterman, Seven Years in Paraguay (Lond. 1869); and especially Washburn, History of Paraguay (Bost. 1871). See also Harper's Monthly, vol. 18 and 40.