Population: around 80,000
The Guarani indians belong to the group of Tupi people in South America. This tribe was one of the first to be discovered by the Europeans when they arrived in South America around 500 years ago. In Paraguay live around 40,000 Guarani, where Guarani is an official language along with Spanish and in Brazil, there are around 30,000 Guarani, making them the country's most numerous tribe. The others live in neighbouring countries Bolivia and Argentina.
The Guarani are known for their spirituality. Besides all the different sub-groups, they all have one thing in common. Their land is the most important above everything else. It is the origin of all life and is the gift of the 'great father', ande Ru. Every group has a prayer house and a religious leader, the cacique. Every Guarani believes that the 'land without evil' is the resting place of the soul after death.
The Guarani indians in Brazil are suffering heavily from the theft of almost all their land. According to them it's an offence against their religion as well as a destruction of their way of life. They now have to live close together on very tiny plots of land, which are continously going smaller as a result of expanding ranches and plantations. Because the land is not enough for them to support themselves as before through hunting, fishing and farming, they have no choice than being exploited as cheap labour by the ranchers and plantation owners.
Especially the Guarani-Kaiowa in Brazil have suffered from this. Many of them got severely depressed with the result of about 320 committing suicide between 1986 and the beginning of 2000, the youngest suicide being only 9 years old