Asunción (Spanish pronunciation: [asun'sjon]; Guaraní: Paraguay) is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.
The "Ciudad de Asunción" is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora, Lambaré, Luque, Mariano Roque Alonso, Ñemby, San Antonio, Limpio, Capiatá and Villa Elisa, which are part of the Central Department. The Asunción metropolitan area has more than 2 million inhabitants. Asunción is located at 25°16'S 57°40'W (-25.2667, -57.6667). The Municipality of Asunción is listed on the Asunción Stock Exchange, as BVPASA: MUA, a unique feature of any city.
It is the home of the national government, principal port, and the chief industrial and cultural centre of the country. Local manufacturing production includes footwear, textiles, and tobacco products.
Asunción is one of the oldest cities in South America and the longest continually inhabited area in the River Plate Basin; for this reason that it is known as "Mother of Cities". It was from here that the colonial expeditions departed to found other cities, including the second foundation of Buenos Aires and of other important cities such as Villarrica, Corrientes, Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
The site of the city may have been first visited by Spanish conqueror Juan de Ayolas, on his way north, up the Paraguay River, looking for a passage to the mines of Alto Perú (present-day Bolivia). Later, Juan de Salazar y Espinosa and Gonzalo de Mendoza, relative of Pedro de Mendoza, were sent in search of Ayolas, but were unable to find him. On his way up and then down the river, de Salazar stopped briefly at a bay in the left bank to resupply his ships. He found the natives friendly, and decided to found a fort there, in August, 1537. As customary, he named it Asunción.
In 1541, natives destroyed Buenos Aires, and the Spaniards fled to Asunción. Thus, the city became the center of a large Spanish colonial province comprising part of Brazil, present-day Paraguay and northeastern Argentina: the Giant Province of the Indies. In 1603 Asunción was the seat of the First Synod of Asunción, which set guidelines for the evangelization of the natives in their lingua franca, Guaraní.
Asunción. The stamp is Scott no. 711
In 1731, an uprising under José de Antequera y Castro was one of the first rebellions pene against Spanish colonial rule. The uprising failed, but it was the first sign of the independent spirit that was growing among the criollos, mestizos and natives of Paraguay. The event influenced the independence of Paraguay, which then materialised in 1811. The secret reunions between the independence leaders to plan an ambush against the Spanish Governor in Paraguay Bernardo de Velasco were held at the home of Juana María de Lara, in downtown Asunción. On the night of May 14 and May 15 the rebels succeeded and were able to force governor Velasco to surrender. Today, Lara's home is known as Casa de la Independencia (House of the Independence) and serves as a museum and historical building.
After Paraguay became independent, there was significant change in Asunción. Under the presidency of Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia roads were built throughout the city and the streets were named. However, it was during the presidency of Carlos Antonio López that Asunción (and Paraguay) progressed, as the new president implemented new economic policies. More than 400 schools, metallurgic factories and the first railroad service in South America were built during the López presidency. After López died, his son Francisco Solano López became the new president and led the country through the disastrous War of the Triple Alliance that lasted for five years. After the War of the Triple Alliance (1865–70), Asunción was occupied by Brazilian troops until 1876.
Many historians have claimed that this war provoked a steady downfall of the city and country, since it massacred two thirds of the country's population. Progress slowed down greatly afterwards, and the economy remained stagnated.
After the War of the Triple Alliance, Asunción began a slow recovery attempt. Towards the end of the 19th Century and during the early years of the 20th Century, a flow of immigrants from Europe and the Ottoman Empire came to the city. This led to a change in the appearance of the city as many new buildings were built and Asunción went through an era more prosperous than any since the war.