Asunción, Paraguay, the nation's largest city and its capital. Asunción lies on low hills along the Paraguay River, about 645 miles (1,040 km) north of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nearly all of Paraguay's manufacturing is here. The chief products include processed food, clothing, and household articles. Asunción is on a branch of the Pan American Highway and is served by several other roads and a railway. Its river port handles most of the import and export trade. A modern airport accommodates international and domestic flights.
Asunción is the seat of the National University. The National Library, the Ethnographic Museum (displaying aboriginal art), and the Godoy Museum (fine arts and history) are also here. Notable buildings include the Government Palace, which is modeled after the Louvre in Paris; the Congressional Palace; and the Pantheon of Heroes, burial place of several famous Paraguayans. A zoological garden is on the city's outskirts.
Asunción, named for the Feast of the Assumption, was founded in 1537 by Spanish explorers in search of a land route to Peru. The settlement grew as a trading outpost and became the administrative center for all Spanish-held territories of southeastern South America. In the 17th century, after Buenos Aires began to flourish, Asunción declined as the region's leading town. In 1811, when Paraguay gained independence, the city became the national capital.