There are around 5.7 million Catholics in Paraguay - approximately 89% of the total population. The country is divided into twelve dioceses including one archdiocese.
Evangelization of Paraguay began in 1542. The first diocese was erected in 1547, though not occupied till 1556. In 1609 the Jesuits came and devised the "reductions" system of evangelization, organizing Indians into communities where they learned agriculture, husbandry, and trades. The Spanish government was suspicious of these communities, fearing a threat to the colonial system, but they continued till 1768, when the Jesuits were expelled from Latin America. After independence in 1811, the government still tried to control the Church by nominating its leadership.