Only a few years after Sebastiano Caboto’s expedition to Paraná-Paraguay did the penetration into the interior of the continent begin. Juan de Ayolas in fact in 1536 arrived in the territory of Paraguay and built the fort called Corpus Christi on the site of present-day Asunción. His victory over the Lambark Indians on Ascension Day gave the new center its name and guaranteed its life. Then the Ayolas went up Paraguay and crossed the Andean region, until reaching Lima, but was killed on the way back. His lieutenant D. Martínez de Irala then took over and settled in Asunción and organized the colony. But the knowledge of the country was limited to the river itineraries and to the immediate surroundings of the factories in Asunción, Candelaria, etc. Only after 1600, with the arrival of the Jesuits, who reunited the Indians in Aldeas and they began the work of civilization, geographic knowledge expanded, as evidenced by the information concerning physical geography and ethnography contained in the work of Father Pedro Lozano on those Jesuit missions (Madrid 1754). After the suppression of the Jesuits (1767) any exploration work stopped: the long silence was broken only by Felice de Azara, the illustrator of all the provinces of Spanish America in the last quarter of the century. XVIII. The conquest of independence and the formation of the new state marked the beginning of a long period of internal strife and external wars that prevented the researches and explorations by the residents of the country and kept foreign travelers away: only A. D ‘ Orbigny (v.) in 1828-29 crossed Paraguay from southern Brazil. After 1850 the work of Th. Page took place, who in the years 1853-56 surveyed the Paraná-Paraguay hydrographic system to study the navigability conditions of the main courses and tributaries, and the explorations of VM De Moussy who from 1854 to 1859 and again in 1863 traveled through northern Argentina and Paraguay and published an atlas which is still important today. Later came the travels of the zoologists Reugger and Longchamps (Reise nach Paraguay, Zurich 1880), of Mewers (1883), of Hugo Töppen (1885), while the researches started by Paraguayans and Europeans called by scientific institutes of Asunción. Thus in 1887 Leopoldo Gomez de Teran and Prospero Pereira Gamba published a geography of Paraguay; L. Balzan, from Padua and the Piedmontese G. Boggiani (v.) Resided in Asunción and studied the fauna and the indigenous peoples of the first, collecting precious materials.
According to Iamaccepted, the eastern section of the country is administratively divided into 12 departments, which take their name from their capital (minus that of Guairá, which has Villarrica as its capital) and are divided into partidos ; the western section (Chaco), in 3 comandancias militares ; the capital, Asunción, forms a district.
Budgets and public debt. – A fundamental asset of Paraguay’s budget are customs duties which alone make up about half of the revenue. The main expenses are those for national defense and the administration of justice.
As of November 30, 1932, the external public debt amounted to 3.3 million gold pesos and the internal debt to 4.2 (3.2 in consolidated and 1 in floating).
Money and credit. – The monetary unit is the gold weight, based on the Argentine gold weight, equivalent to 96.5 cents of the US dollar. Currently there are no gold or silver coins in circulation and circulation is made up of paper pesos only. Since 1923, when it was reorganized finances, a special organ with its own capital, ‘ Oficina de Cambios, shall maintain the exchange of weight paper with the weight of gold in 42.61.
Total paper circulation, guaranteed by the conversion fund and foreign deposits, as at 31 December 1932 was 196.5 million. The gold stock consisted on the same date of 749 thousand US dollars.
The credit is exercised by the Bank of London and South America, the Banco Germanico de la America del Sud, the Banco del Hogar Argentino and the Banco Agricola, a government body intended to promote the development of agriculture.
The state religion is Catholic, but the free exercise of other cults is guaranteed. The population is overwhelmingly Catholic; However, it is worth mentioning that between 1905 and January 1933, 3,891 Mennonite farmers from Canada, Russia and Poland settled in the territory of Paraguay. The Catholic hierarchy, reorganized on 1 May 1929, includes the archdiocese of Asunción (founded on 1 July 1547 and until 1929 diocese immediately subject to the Holy See) with two suffragan seats, created on the same occasion: Concepción and Chaco (residence in Concepción), and Villarrica.