As of 2009 the population was estimated at 6.3 million. The capital and largest city is Asunción. The official languages are Spanish and Guaraní, both being widely spoken in the country. Most of the population are mestizos.
The Guaraní have been living in Paraguay since prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, when Paraguay became part of the Spanish colonial empire. Paraguay gained independence from Spain in 1811.
The Chaco War (1932–1935) was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over control of the northern part of the Gran Chaco region (the Chaco Boreal) of South America, which was incorrectly thought to be rich in oil. It is also known as La Guerra de la Sed (Spanish for "War of Thirst") for being fought in the semi-arid Chaco. It was the bloodiest military conflict fought in South America during the 20th century. The war pitted two of South America's poorest countries both having previously lost territories to neighbors in 19th century wars. During the war both countries faced difficulties in obtaining arms and other supplies since their landlocked situation made their foreign trade and arms purchases dependent on the willingness of neighboring countries to let them pass by. In Particular Bolivia faced external trade problems coupled with poor internal communications. While Bolivia had income from lucrative mining and a better equipped and larger army than Paraguay, a series of factors turned the tide in favour of Paraguay which came by the end of the war to control most of the disputed zone, and was finally also granted the largest portion of the disputed territories in the peace treaties.
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia B. (1766-01-06)January 6, 1766 – d. September 20, 1840(1840-09-20) (aged 74)
Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (January 6, 1766 – September 20, 1840) was the first leader of Paraguay following its independence from Spain. He ran the country with no outside interference and little outside influence from 1814 to 1840.
Although his father, a native of São Paulo, was simply García Rodríguez Francia, the dictator inserted de to style himself "Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco". He is often referred to simply as "Dr. Francia".