1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Asunción

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ASUNCIÓN (Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), a city and port of Paraguay, and capital of the republic, on the left bank of the Paraguay river in 25° 16′ 04″ S., 57° 42′ 40″ W., and 970 m. above Buenos Aires. Pop. (est. in 1900) 52,000. The port is connected with Buenos Aires and Montevideo by regular lines of river steamers, which are its only means of trade communication with the outer world, and with the inland town of Villa Rica (95 m.) by a railway worked by an English company. The city faces upon a curve in the river bank forming what is called the Bay of Asunción, and is built on a low sandy plain, rising to pretty hillsides overlooking the bay and the low, wooded country of the Chaco on the opposite shore. The general elevation is only 253 ft. above sea-level. Asunción is laid out on a regular plan, the credit for which is largely due to Dictator Francia; the principal streets are paved and lighted by gas and electricity; and telephone and street-car services are maintained. The climate is hot but healthful, the mean annual temperature being about 72° F. The city is the seat of a bishopric dating from 1547, and contains a large number of religious edifices. It has a national college and public library, but no great progress in education has been made. The most prominent edifice in the city is the palace begun by the younger Lopez, which is now occupied by a bank. There are some business edifices and residences of considerable architectural merit, but the greater part are small and inconspicuous, a majority of the residences being thatched, mud-walled cabins. Considerable progress was made during the last two decades of the 19th century, however, notwithstanding misgovernment and the extreme poverty of the people. Asunción was founded by Ayolas in 1535, and is the oldest permanent Spanish settlement on the La Plata. It was for a long time the seat of Spanish rule in this region, and later the scene of a bitter struggle between the church authorities and Jesuits. Soon after the declaration of independence in 1811, the city fell under the despotic rule of Dr Francia, and then under that of the elder and younger Lopez, through which its development was greatly impeded. It was captured and plundered by the Brazilians in 1869, and has been the theatre of several revolutionary outbreaks since then, one of which (1905) resulted in a blockade of several months’ duration.  (A. J. L.)