To this day, Paraguay remains the only country in the Americas where a majority of the population speaks one indigenous language: Guaraní. It is enshrined in the Constitution, officially giving it equal footing with the language of European conquest, Spanish. And in the streets, it is a source of national pride.
“Only 54 of nearly 12,000 schools teach Portuguese,” said Nancy Benítez, director of curriculum at the Ministry of Education, of the language of Brazil, the giant neighbor that dominates trade with Paraguay. “But every one of our schools teaches Guaraní.” …
In Paraguay, indigenous peoples account for less than 5 percent of the population. Yet Guaraní is spoken by an estimated 90 percent of Paraguayans, including many in the middle class, upper-crust presidential candidates, and even newer arrivals.
There’s a useful description of the history (“When Spain expelled the Jesuits in 1767, more than 100,000 Guaraní speakers spread throughout Paraguay”) and great quotes, some in Guaraní. I just wish I’d learned the language when I was living in Argentina and had access to native speakers. At least I have the grammar I bought in Asunción forty years ago. (Thanks, Eric and Mark!)