Paraguay (Paragway' or Paragwi), an important river of South America, an affluent of the Parana (q.v.), rises in the Brazilian state of Matto Grosso, pursues a generally southward course of about 1800 miles through plains, swamps, and forests in Brazil, between Brazil and Bolivia, and then through Paraguay to its junction with the Parana, a few miles above Corrientes. Its chief affluents are the Cuyaba, Tacuary, Mondego, and Apa on the left, and the Jauru, Pilcomayo, and Vermejo on the right. It is navigable for steamers to the mouth of the Cuyaba.
Paraguay, an inland republic of South America, divided into two distinct portions by the Paraguay River. Eastern Paraguay, or Paraguay proper, is a parallelogram between the Paraguay and Parana rivers, and is bordered by the Brazilian and Argentine republics. Western Paraguay, or the Chaco (see Gran Chaco), the smaller part, lies mainly between the Paraguay and its tributary the Pilcomayo. The total area of Paraguay is estimated at about 142,000 sq. m. - a territory considerably larger than Great Britain and Ireland. The population of Paraguay is composed of whites of Spanish descent, Indians, a few negroes, and a mixture of these several races, and in 1905 was estimated at 535,000, exclusive of the Indians in the Chaco. The northern portion of Paraguay is in general undulating, covered by low, gently-swelling ridges, separated by large grass plains, dotted with palms. There are mountains in the north-east and north-west corners. The southern portion is one of the most fertile districts of South America, consisting of hills and gentle slopes richly wooded, of wide savannahs, which afford excellent pasture-ground, and of rich alluvial plains, some of which are marshy, but a large proportion are of extraordinary fertility and highly cultivated. The banks of the rivers Parana and Paraguay are occasionally belted with forest; but in general the lowlands are destitute of trees. The temperature occasionally rises to 100° in summer, but in winter is usually about 45°. The natural productions are very varied, although they do not include the precious metals or other minerals. Much valuable timber is found in the forests, also dye-woods, india-rubber, orange-trees, gum-yielding trees, the mate, or Paraguay tea shrub (growing wild in the NE.), which yields one of the chief articles of commerce. Wax and honey are collected, as is also cochineal, and the medicinal plants are very numerous. The chief cultivated crops are maize, rice, coffee, cocoa, indigo, manioc, tobacco, and sugar-cane. Tapirs, jaguars, pumas, ant-eaters, wild-boars, peccaries, and deer abound; birds are innumerable; the rivers teem with fish, and their banks are the resort of alligators and coypus. Snakes, including enormous boas, are numerous, but very few of them are venomous. The commerce of the country has greatly increased since 1880. In 1880 the value of exports was £252,000, that of imports less; in'! 1903 their respective values were £850,350 and £710,360. The chief exports are yerba-mate, tobacco, hides, oranges, timber, bark for tanning, and lace; the imports, cotton goods, hardware, wine, grain, rice, linen, silk, petroleum, etc. - 32 per cent. of the imports being from Britain, mostly passing through Brazil and the Argentine Republic. There are no direct exports to Britain. The revenue fluctuates much - from about $9,000,000 to $15,000,000; the expenditure generally exceeds the revenue. The foreign debt is about £6,500.000, the interest of which is sometimes seriously in arrears or unpaid. Trade in the towns is almost wholly in the hands of Italians, French, and Germans. The military force consists of 1500 men. The established religion is the Roman Catholic. Education is free and compulsory; but of the adult Paraguayans only one in five can read and write. Paraguay was discovered by Juan Diaz de Solis in 1515, and settled as a province of the viceroyalty of Peru in 1535. The warlike Guaranis long successfully resisted the Spanish arms. In the 17th century the home government placed in the Jesuits' hands the entire administration, civil as well as religious. From this time forward the progress of civilisation as well as of Christianity was rapid. On the expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay in 1768, the province was again made subject to the Spanish viceroys. In 1810 Paraguay joined with the other states in declaring its independence. In 1814 Dr Francia was proclaimed dictator, and exercised absolute power till his death in 1840. In 1865-70 the Paraguayans made a heroic but unavailing fight against the combined forces of Brazil, the Argentine Confederation, and Uruguay, closed by the defeat and death of the president Lopez at the battle of Aquidaban, March 1, 1870. The results of the war may be read in the returns of the pop. - (1857) 1,337,439; (1873) 221,079, including only 28,746 men and 106,254 women over fifteen years of age. Of late the country has made considerable progress. In 1870 a new constitution was adopted. It is modelled on that of the Argentine Confederation. Asuncion (the capital) has a pop. of 53,000, and is connected by railway (92 miles) with Villa Rica. See works by Robertson (1840), Mansfield (1856), Page (New York, 1867), Kennedy (1869), Masterman (1869), Thompson (New York, 1869), Washburn (Boston, 1871), and Mulhall (1885).