Paraguay is a completely landlocked country with a representative democratic republic, although sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. Paraguay has been through a lot in its long history, including a military dictatorship that lasted 35 long years.
The capital of Paraguay is Asuncion, which sits along the Paraguay River. As the capital, it’s fitting that Asuncion is the largest city in the country, and it’s also one of the oldest cities on the continent.
Thanks to its location and age, it’s known in South America as the “mother of cities” and it has a population of around half a million. Asuncion has an interesting if bloody history, as most cities in South America do, thanks to battles between the Spanish and the indigenous throughout the years.
Where is the Capital of Paraguay Located?
Asuncion is located at the corner of the 90° angle that forms Paraguay’s southwest border. The city sits on the banks of the Paraguay River and the Bay of Asuncion. It’s very close to the Pilcomayo River as well.
Being on the southwest border, Asuncion is a stone’s throw away from the border with Argentina. It’s northeast of Formosa, a city in Argentina, and northwest of Posadas. The bulk of the country of Paraguay is to the north.
It’s also one of the largest cities in all of Paraguay, with half a million residents in a country of 6.8 million.
Brief History of Asuncion
Asuncion served as one of the major focal points throughout the Spanish conquest and colonial exploration. It is thought that the original settler was a man by the name of Juan de Ayolas. However, the city was actually founded by Juan de Salazar.
It wasn’t always just Asuncion either. When Juan de Salazar founded the city, it was originally named Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. After the Spanish completed their colonization efforts, Asuncion remained in a relative state of peace for a long time.
That came to a violent end in 1731 as the people rose up against Spanish rule, led by Jose de Antequera y Castro. It was not a successful uprising but it was only the beginning. The uprising was largely composed of indigenous peoples that lived on the continent long before the Spanish arrived.
It wasn’t until 1811 that the rebellion finally paid off. This time, the leader was Juana Maria de Lara and he led an ambush against the Spanish governor, Bernardo de Velasco, who succeeded at the governor’s home. He was forced to surrender and Asuncion, along with the whole of Paraguay became independent.
Asuncion was the source of the first railroad service on the continent, thanks to the extraordinary economic leadership of president Carlos Antonio Lopez. As president, he was responsible for the addition of over 400 schools and Paraguay’s own industrial revolution.
Unfortunately, the War of the Triple Alliance followed Carlos Antonio Lopez’s death, as his son, Solano Lopez took the reins of power. When the dust settled, the city of Asuncion was occupied by Brazilians.
Since this period of progress, the city of Asuncion has never again risen to economic prosperity, or at least not to the same degree that it did under the leadership of Carlos Antonio Lopez.
When Did Asuncion Become the Capital of Paraguay?
Asuncion officially became the capital of Paraguay on May 14, 1811, even though it was founded in 1537. Though Asuncion is the economic, cultural, and social hub of Paraguay, the rise of Buenos Aires in Argentina relegated Asuncion to “middle of the road” status in the 18th century.
The vast majority of Paraguay’s commerce flows through Asuncion. Its strategic location on the banks of the Paraguay River enabled Asuncion to become a major port for the entire country. However, Paraguay is limited by its landlocked status and the enormous economic success of nearby Buenos Aires.
Since Buenos Aires is located next to the Paraguay River as well and its harbor feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, the primary trade on the entire east coast of South America flows through Buenos Aires first, relegating Asuncion to a secondary port of lesser consequence.
When Brazil occupied the city in the mid to late 1800s, they ransacked it, burned it, and pillaged it. Much of the wealth that Asuncion accrued under the economic prosperity of Carlos Antonio Lopez, was transferred to Buenos Aires in yet another of the many advantages the latter city took over the former.
Why is Asuncion the Capital of Paraguay?
A large part of the reason that Asuncion was chosen as the capital of Paraguay is that its the hub of economic, cultural, social, and religious belief throughout the region. It’s also the central focus point of most of the history of the area.
The city itself holds a population of around half a million but if you add in the suburban areas, the population swells to nearly three million. Business is also starting to boom in Asuncion again, as it has several times throughout the centuries.
The climate and weather are generally ideal for the area. It’s considered a subtropical climate with an average temperature of 84°F in the middle of the summer.
Best Place to Visit in Asuncion
Asuncion is home to centuries of history between the old Spanish empire and the indigenous peoples of South America.
For a taste of the former, you can visit the Museo del Barro, a museum that is rife with pottery and artisanal cookware, much of which was designed by the original inhabitants of the area.
The Palacio de Lopez is a fantastic place to visit at night-time. It’s considered to be one of the most impressive buildings in the area. However, the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción may have something to say about that.
Asuncion is the capital of Paraguay since it was established in 1811. It is the center of religious, social, cultural, and economic leadership throughout the country. Despite a brief but powerful economic surge in the 1800s, Asuncion has forever existed in the shadow of Buenos Aires.