The first inhabitants of modern day Paraguay were various Indian tribes that are seminomadic and have a warrior culture. By the early 16th century the Europeans arrived led by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salazar y Espinoza and established the Asuncion settlement on August 15, 1537. The settlement became a city and the center of the Spanish colonial authority. This was also the main site of the Jesuit settlements and missions that lasted for 150 years until the Spanish authorities expelled the religious order from the country in 1767. The country became independent on May 14, 1811 by ousting the Spanish colonial administration.
The Paraguayans then became involved in a series of fighting among themselves and with their neighbors, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. In the War of the Triple Alliance which lasted for five years, the republic fought and was defeated by its three neighbor countries 1870. It lost more than half of its population and substantial territories to Argentina and Brazil. Then in the 1930s it fought against Bolivia in the Chaco wars where it emerged victorious. The republic was able to reestablish its authority in the Chaco region but had to renounce additional territory gains as part of the peace settlement. The country from 1904 to 1954 saw 31 presidents each serving an average of more than a year and half. Most did not complete their term as they were forced out of office.
In 2008 former Bishop Fernando Lugo won by a comfortable majority the nation’s presidential election ending more than 60 years of consecutive rule by the conservative party.