The territory was occupied by semi-nomadic Guarani peoples before Spanish rule was established in the 16th century. Paraguay achieved independence in 1811. It was devastated, losing more than half of its population, in war against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in 1865–70, but gained land in the Chaco War with Bolivia in 1932-5. The country was ruled by the military dictator Alfredo Stroessner (b.1912) from 1954 to 1989
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