About Bolivia

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Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia (Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, Quechua: Bulivya Mamallaqta, Aymara: Wuliwya Suyu), is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, Chile to the southwest(Dell D6400 battery), and Peru to the west.

Prior to European colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was a part of the Inca Empire – the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called Upper Peru and was under the administration of the Viceroyalty of Peru(Dell HF674 battery), which included most of Spain's South American colonies. After declaring independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolívar, on 6 August 1825. Bolivia has struggled through periods of political instability, dictatorships and economic woes(Dell N3010 battery).

Bolivia is a democratic republic that is divided into nine departments. Its geography is varied from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country, with a Medium Human Development Index score, and a poverty level of 53%.(Dell Inspiron N4010 battery) Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin.

The Bolivian population, estimated at 10 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, and Africans(Dell INSPIRON 1100 battery). The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common and all three, as well as 34 other indigenous languages, are official. The large number of different cultures within Bolivia has contributed greatly to a wide diversity in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music(Dell Inspiron 1200 battery).


Bolivia was named for Simón Bolívar, a leader in the Spanish American wars of independence.[13] Antonio José de Sucre had been given the option by Bolívar to either keep Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia) under the newly formed Republic of Peru, to unite with the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, or to formally declare its independence from the Viceroyalty of Peru that had dominated most of the region(Dell Inspiron 1420 battery). Sucre opted to create a new nation and, with local support, named it in honor of Simón Bolívar.[14]

However, the original name given to the newly formed country was Republic of Bolívar. The name would not change to Bolivia until some days later when congressman Manuel Martín Cruz proposed: "If from Romulus comes Rome, then from Bolívar comes Bolivia" (Spanish: Si de Rómulo Roma, de Bolívar Bolivia) (Dell Inspiron 1464 battery). The name stuck and was approved by the Republic on 3 October 1825.[15]

In 2009, a new constitution changed the country's name from the "Republic of Bolivia" to the "Plurinational State of Bolivia" in recognition of the multi-ethnic nature of the country and the enhanced position of Bolivia's indigenous peoples under the new constitution(Dell Inspiron 1564 battery).


Main article: History of Bolivia

Tiwanaku at its largest territorial extent, AD 950

The region that is now known as Bolivia has been occupied for over 2,000 years, when the Aymara arrived in the region. Present-day Aymara associate themselves with an advanced civilization situated at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates from as early as 1500 BC when it was a small agriculturally based village. (Dell Inspiron 1764 battery)

The community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. According to early estimates, at its maximum extent, the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometers, and had between 15,000 – 30,000 inhabitants(Dell Inspiron 1520 battery).[20] However, satellite imaging was used recently to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.[21]

Around AD 400, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state. Tiwanaku expanded its reaches into the Yungas and brought its culture and way of life to many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile(Dell Inspiron 1521 battery). However, Tiwanaku was not a violent culture in many respects. In order to expand its reach, Tiwanaku exercised great political astuteness, creating colonies, fostering trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependent), and instituting state cults. (Dell inspiron 1525 battery)

The empire continued to grow with no end in sight. William H. Isbell states that "Tiahuanaco underwent a dramatic transformation between AD 600 and 700 that established new monumental standards for civic architecture and greatly increased the resident population." (Dell inspiron 1526 battery) Tiwanaku continued to absorb cultures rather than eradicate them. Archaeologists note a dramatic adoption of Tiwanaku ceramics into the cultures which became part of the Tiwanaku empire. Tiwanaku's power was further solidified through the trade it implemented among the cities within its empire. (Dell Inspiron 1720 battery)

Tiwanaku's elites gained their status through the surplus food they controlled, collected from outlying regions and then redistributed to the general populace. Further, this elite's control of llama herds became a powerful control mechanism as llamas were essential for carrying goods between the civic centre and the periphery(Dell Inspiron 2000 battery). These herds also came to symbolize class distinctions between the commoners and the elites. Through this control and manipulation of surplus resources, the elite's power continued to grow until about AD 950. At this time a dramatic shift in climate occurred.(Dell INSPIRON 2600 battery)

There occurred a significant drop in precipitation in the Titicaca Basin. Some archaeologists venture to label this a major drought. As the rainfall decreased, many of the cities further away from Lake Titicaca began to tender less foodstuffs to the elites. As the surplus of food decreased, and thus the amount available to underpin their power(Dell INSPIRON 3800 battery), the control of the elites began to falter. The capital city became the last place viable place for food production due to the resiliency of the raised field method of agriculture. But, in the end, even this more productive design for food production was no match for the vagaries of the weather. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production(Dell INSPIRON 4000 battery), the main source of the power elite's control, dried up. The area remained uninhabited for centuries thereafter.[24]

Inca Expansion (1438–1527)

Between 1438 and 1527, the Inca empire, during its last great expansion, gained control over much of what is now western Bolivia. The Incas would not maintain control of the region for long however, as the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak. As such, the impending Spanish conquest would be remarkably easy(Dell Inspiron 5000 battery).

[edit]Colonial period

The Spanish conquest of the Inca empire began in 1524, and was mostly completed by 1533. The territory now called Bolivia was known as "Upper Peru", and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in Chuquisaca (La Plata—modern Sucre) (Dell INSPIRON 500M battery). Founded in 1545 as a mining town, Potosí soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming the largest city in the New World with a population exceeding 150,000 people.[25]

By the late 16th century Bolivian silver was an important source of revenue for the Spanish Empire.[26] A steady stream of natives served as labor force (the Spanish employed the pre-Columbian draft system called the mita) (Dell INSPIRON 5100 battery).[27] Upper Peru was bounded to Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776. Túpac Katari led the indigenous rebellion that laid siege to La Paz in March 1781, during which 20,000 people died.[28] As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew(Dell INSPIRON 510M battery).

[edit]Independence and subsequent wars

The struggle for independence started in the city of Sucre in 1809, with the Chuquisaca Revolution (Chuquisaca was then the name of the city). That revolution, which created a local government Junta, was followed by the La Paz revolution, during which Bolivia actually declared independence. Both revolutions were short-lived(Dell INSPIRON 6000 battery), and defeated by the Spanish authorities, but the following year the Spanish American wars of independence raged across the continent. Bolivia was captured and recaptured many times during the war by the royalists and patriots. Buenos Aires sent three military campaigns, all of which were defeated, and eventually limited itself to protecting the national borders at Salta(Dell INSPIRON 600M battery). Bolivia was finally freed of Royalist dominion by Antonio José de Sucre, with a military campaign coming from the North in support of the campaign of Simón Bolívar. After 16 years of war the Republic was proclaimed on 6 August 1825 and named Bolivia in honor of Bolívar(Dell Inspiron 6400 battery).

In 1836, Bolivia, under the rule of Marshal Andrés de Santa Cruz, invaded Peru to reinstall the deposed president, General Luis José de Orbegoso. Peru and Bolivia formed the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, with de Santa Cruz as the Supreme Protector. Following tension between the Confederation and Chile, Chile declared war on 28 December 1836. Argentina, Chile's ally(Dell INSPIRON 7000 battery), declared war on the Confederation on 9 May 1837. The Peruvian-Bolivian forces achieved several major victories during the War of the Confederation: the defeat of the Argentine expedition and the defeat of the first Chilean expedition on the fields of Paucarpata near the city of Arequipa(Dell INSPIRON 700M battery).

On the same field, the Chilean and Peruvian rebel army surrendered unconditionally and signed the Paucarpata Treaty. The treaty stipulated that Chile would withdraw from Peru-Bolivia, Chile would return captured Confederate ships, economic relations would be normalized, and the Confederation would pay Peruvian debt to Chile(Dell Inspiron 710m battery). In Chile, public outrage over the treaty forced the government to reject it. Chile organized a second attack on the Confederation and defeated it in the Battle of Yungay. After this defeat, Santa Cruz resigned and went to exile in Ecuador and then Paris, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation was dissolved(Dell INSPIRON 8200 battery).

Following the independence of Peru, Peruvian president General Agustín Gamarra invaded Bolivia. The Peruvian army was decisively defeated at the Battle of Ingavi on 20 November 1841 where Gamarra was killed. The Bolivian army under General José Ballivián then mounted a counter-offensive, capturing the Peruvian port of Arica(Dell INSPIRON 8600 battery). Later, both sides signed a peace treaty in 1842, putting a final end to the war.

[edit]Economic instability and continued wars

A period of political and economic instability in the early-to-mid-19th century weakened Bolivia. Then in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) against Chile, it lost its access to the sea and the adjoining rich salitre (saltpeter) fields, together with the port of Antofagasta(Dell INSPIRON 9100 battery).

Since independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries in wars and as a consequence of internal strife. [29] It also lost the state of Acre, in the Acre War; important because this region was known for its production of rubber. Peasants and the Bolivian army fought briefly but after a few victories(Dell INSPIRON 9200 battery), and facing the prospect of a total war against Brazil, it was forced to sign the Treaty of Petrópolis in 1903, in which Bolivia lost this rich territory. Popular myth has it that Bolivian president Mariano Melgarejo (1864–71) traded the land for what he called "a magnificent white horse" and Acre was subsequently flooded by Brazilians which ultimately led to confrontation and fear of war with Brazil(Dell INSPIRON 9300 battery).

In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of gold brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability. During the early 20th century, tin replaced gold as the country's most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled by the economic and social elite followed laissez-faire capitalist policies through the first thirty years of the 20th century. (Dell Inspiron 9400 battery)

Living conditions of the native people, who constitute most of the population, remained deplorable. With work opportunities limited to primitive conditions in the mines and in large estates having nearly feudal status, they had no access to education, economic opportunity, and political participation. Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932–35) (Dell Inspiron E1505 battery), where Bolivia lost a great part of the Gran Chaco region in dispute, marked a turning-point.

[edit]Nationalist Revolutionary Movement

A llama in the Laguna Colorada, a shallow salt lake in the southwestern Bolivian sector of the Altiplano.

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) The most historic political party, emerged as a broadly based party. Denied its victory in the 1951 presidential elections, the MNR led a successful revolution in 1952(Dell Inspiron E1705 battery). Under President Víctor Paz Estenssoro, the MNR, having strong popular pressure, introduced universal suffrage into his political platform and carried out a sweeping land-reform promoting rural education and nationalization of the country's largest tin mines.

12 years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided(Dell Inspiron Mini 9 battery). In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Estenssoro at the outset of his third term. The 1969 death of President René Barrientos Ortuño, a former member of the junta who was elected president in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. Alarmed by the rising Popular Assembly and the increase in the popularity of President Juan José Torres, the military(Dell Latitude D400 battery), the MNR, and others installed Colonel (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez as president in 1971.

Coming back to the presidency in 1985-1989; 1993-1997; and 2002-2003

[edit]CIA activities and leftist insurgency

Further information: CIA activities in Bolivia and Ñancahuazú Guerrilla

The CIA had been active in providing finances and training to the Bolivian military in 1960s. The revolutionary leader Che Guevara was killed by a team of CIA officers and members of the Bolivian Army on 9 October 1967, in Bolivia(Dell STUDIO 1450 battery). The CIA reported that Guevara was captured on 8 October as a result of the clash with the Cuban-led guerrillas. He had a wound in his leg, but was otherwise in fair condition. At 1150 hours on 9 October the Second Ranger Battalion received direct orders from Bolivian Army Headquarters in La Paz to kill Guevara(Dell Vostro 1400 battery). These orders were carried out at 1315 hours the same day with a burst of fire from an M-2 automatic rifle. Félix Rodríguez was a CIA officer on the team with the Bolivian Army that captured and shot Guevara.[34] Rodriguez said that after he received a Bolivian presidential execution order, he told "the soldier who pulled the trigger to aim carefully(Dell Vostro 1500 battery), to remain consistent with the Bolivian government's story that Che had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army." Rodriguez said the US government had wanted Che in Panama, and "I could have tried to falsify the command to the troops, and got Che to Panama as the US government said they had wanted", said Mr Rodriguez(Dell XPS M1210 battery), but he chose to "let history run its course" as desired by Bolivia."[35]

[edit]Military governments: García Meza and Siles Zuazo

Elections in 1979 and 1981 were inconclusive and marked by fraud. There were coups d'état, counter-coups, and caretaker governments. In 1980, General Luis García Meza Tejada carried out a ruthless and violent coup d'état that did not have popular support. He pacified the people by promising to remain in power only for one year(Dell XPS M1330 battery). (At the end of the year, he staged a televised rally to claim popular support and announced, "Bueno, me quedo", or, "All right; I'll stay [in office]."[36] He was deposed shortly thereafter.) His government was notorious for human-rights-abuses, drug-trafficking, and economic mismanagement; during his presidency(Dell XPS 1340 battery), the inflation that later crippled the Bolivian economy could already be felt. Later convicted in absentia for various crimes by attorney Juan del Granado, including murder, García Meza was extradited from Brazil and began serving a 30-year prison sentence in 1995(Dell XPS M1530 battery).

After a military rebellion forced out Meza in 1981, three other military governments in 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing problems. Unrest forced the military to convoke the Congress elected in 1980 and allow it to choose a new chief executive. In October 1982, Hernán Siles Zuazo again became president, 22 years after the end of his first term of office (1956–60) (Dell XPS M170 battery).

[edit]Sánchez de Lozada and Banzer: Liberalizing the economy

Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform agenda. The most dramatic reform was the "capitalization" program, under which investors, typically foreign, acquired 50% ownership and management control of public enterprises, such as the state petroleum corporation, telecommunications system(Dell XPS M1710 battery), airlines, railroads, and electric utilities, in return for agreed upon capital investments.

Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada

The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain segments of society, which instigated frequent and sometimes violent protests, particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994 through 1996(Dell XPS M1730 battery). The de Lozada government pursued a policy of offering monetary compensation for voluntary eradication of illegal coca by its growers in the Chapare region. The policy produced little net reduction in coca, and in the mid-1990s Bolivia accounted for about one-third of the world's coca that was being processed into cocaine(Dell XPS M2010 battery). The coca leaf has long been part of the Bolivian culture, as indigenous workers have traditionally used the leaf for its properties as a mild stimulant and appetite suppressant.

During this time, the umbrella labor-organization of Bolivia, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), became increasingly unable to effectively challenge government policy. A teachers' strike in 1995 was defeated because the COB could not marshal the support of many of its members(Dell Latitude E5400 battery), including construction and factory workers. The state also used selective martial law to keep the disruptions caused by the teachers to a minimum. The teachers were led by Trotskyites, and were considered to be the most militant union in the COB. Their downfall was a major blow to the COB, which also became mired in internal corruption and infighting in 1996(Dell Latitude E5500 battery).

In the 1997 elections, General Hugo Banzer, leader of the Nationalist Democratic Action party (ADN) and former dictator (1971–78), won 22% of the vote, while the MNR candidate won 18%. General Banzer formed a coalition of the ADN, MIR, UCS, and CONDEPA parties, which held a majority of seats in the Bolivian Congress(Dell Latitude E6400 battery). The Congress elected him as president, and he was inaugurated on 6 August 1997. During the election campaign, Banzer had promised to suspend the privatization of the state-owned oil-company, YPFB. But this seemed unlikely to happen, considering Bolivia's weak position globally. The Banzer government basically continued the free-market and privatization-policies of its predecessor(Dell Latitude E6500 battery).

The relatively robust economic growth of the mid-1990s continued until about the third year of its term in office. After that, regional, global and domestic factors contributed to a decline in economic growth. Financial crises in Argentina and Brazil, lower world prices for export commodities, and reduced employment in the coca sector depressed the Bolivian economy(Dell Inspiron Mini 12 battery). The public also perceived a significant amount of public sector corruption. These factors contributed to increasing social protests during the second half of Banzer's term.[37]

At the outset of his government, President Banzer launched a policy of using special police-units to physically eradicate the illegal coca of the Chapare region. The policy produced a sudden and dramatic four-year decline in Bolivia's illegal coca crop, to the point that Bolivia became a relatively small supplier of coca for cocaine(Dell XPS M140 battery). Those left unemployed by coca eradication streamed into the cities, especially El Alto, the slum-neighborhood of La Paz. The MIR of Jaime Paz Zamora remained a coalition-partner throughout the Banzer government, supporting this policy (called the Dignity Plan). (Dell XPS 13 battery)

Between January 1999 and April 2000, large-scale protests erupted in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city, in response to the privatization of water resources by foreign companies and a subsequent doubling of water prices.

On 6 August 2001, Banzer resigned from office after being diagnosed with cancer. He died less than a year later. Vice President Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez completed the final year of his term(Dell XPS 16 battery).

In the June 2002 national elections, former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (MNR) placed first with 22.5% of the vote, followed by coca-advocate and native peasant-leader Evo Morales (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) with 20.9%. Morales edged out populist candidate Manfred Reyes Villa of the New Republican Force(Dell XPS 1640 battery) (NFR) by just 700 votes nationwide, earning a spot in the congressional run-off against Sánchez de Lozada on 4 August 2002.

A July agreement between the MNR and the fourth-place MIR, which had again been led in the election by former President Jaime Paz Zamora, virtually ensured the election of Sánchez de Lozada in the congressional run-off(Dell XPS 1645 battery), and on 6 August he was sworn in for the second time. The MNR platform featured three overarching objectives: economic reactivation (and job creation), anti-corruption, and social inclusion.

La Paz skyline. The city is the highest capital in the world.

In 2003 the Bolivian gas conflict broke out. On 12 October 2003 the government imposed martial law in El Alto after 16 people were shot by the police and several dozen wounded in violent clashes which erupted when a caravan of oil trucks escorted by police and soldiers deploying tanks and heavy-caliber machine guns tried to breach a barricade(Dell XPS 1647 battery). On 17 October 2003 Evo Morales' supporters from Cochabamba tried to march into Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the largest city of the eastern lowlands where support was strong for the president. They were turned back. Faced with the option of resigning or more bloodshed, Sanchez de Lozada offered his resignation in a letter to an emergency session of Congress(Dell Latitude 131L battery). After his resignation was accepted and his vice president, Carlos Mesa, invested, he left on a commercially scheduled flight for the United States.

In March 2004, the new president Carlos Mesa announced that his government would hold a series of rallies around the country, and at its embassies abroad, demanding that Chile return to Bolivia a stretch of seacoast that the country lost in 1884 after the end of the War of the Pacific. Chile has traditionally refused to negotiate on the issue(Dell Latitude C400 battery), but Mesa nonetheless made this policy a central point of his administration.

However, the country's internal situation became unfavorable for such political action on the international stage. After a resurgence of gas protests in 2005, Carlos Mesa attempted to resign in January 2005, but his offer was refused by Congress. On 22 March 2005(Dell Latitude C500 battery), after weeks of new street protests from organizations accusing Mesa of bowing to U.S. corporate interests, Mesa again offered his resignation to Congress, which was accepted on 10 June. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez, was sworn as interim president to succeed the outgoing Carlos Mesa(Dell Latitude C510 battery).

[edit]Plan de Todos

Mobilizing against neoliberalism as a common enemy of the people, the indigenous population of the Andean region was able to achieve widespread government reform.[39] Bolivia, in particular, was quite successful due to the prominence of an indigenous population and the persistence of reformist policies(Dell Latitude C540 battery). In 1993, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada ran for president in alliance with the Tupac Katari Revolutionary Liberation Movement, which inspired indigenous-sensitive and multicultural-aware policies.[40] Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (colloquially known as Goni) was able to shift Bolivian society by selling state firms and constitutionally acknowledging the existence of a multicultural and multiethnic population(Dell Latitude C600 battery). Current development has led to a neoliberal citizenship regime in which civil rights are expressed through private property ownership, formal democracy and representation, and an investment in the maintaining of infrastructure.

In the 1990s, Bolivia introduced, the Plan de Todos, which led to the decentralization of government(Dell Latitude C610 battery), introduction of intercultural bilingual education, implementation of agrarian legislation, and privatization of state owned businesses. The Plan de Todos main incentive was to encourage popular participation among the Bolivian people. The law recognizes the existence of barrios and rural communities as Territorially Based Organizations (TBOs) and has oversight boards known as rómiles de agilancia(Dell Latitude C640 battery), or vigilance committees, that are responsible for overseeing municipal governments and planning projects. The Plan formally acknowledged the existence of 311 municipalities, which benefited directly based on the size of their populations. The Plan de Todos inspired the development of a market democracy with minimally regulated capitalist economy(Dell Latitude C800 battery). The Plan explicitly stated that Bolivian citizens would own a minimum of 51% of enterprises; under the Plan, most state owned enterprises (SOEs), besides mines, were sold.[41] This privatization of SOEs led to innovative neoliberal structuring that acknowledged a diverse population within Bolivia. (Dell Latitude C810 battery)

The Law of Popular Participation[43] gave municipalities the responsibility of maintaining various infrastructures (and offering services): health, education, systems of irrigation, which stripped the responsibility away from the state. The state provides municipalities with twenty percent of federal tax revenue so that each municipality can adequately maintain these infrastructures(Dell Latitude C840 battery). The Law also redistributes political power to the local level.

[edit]The Plurinational State of Bolivia

Main article: Presidency of Evo Morales

Evo Morales' inauguration as President

The two main candidates for the 2005 Bolivian presidential election held on 18 December 2005 were Juan Evo Morales Ayma of the MAS Party and Jorge Quiroga, leader of the Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS) Party and former head of the Acción Democrática Nacionalista (ADN) Party(Dell Latitude CPI battery). Morales won the election with 53.7% of the votes, an absolute majority, unusual in Bolivian elections. He was sworn in on 22 January 2006, for a five-year term. Prior to his official inauguration in La Paz, he was inaugurated in an Aymara ritual at the archeological site of Tiwanaku before a crowd of thousands of Aymara people and representatives of leftist movements from across Latin America(Dell Latitude CPX battery). Though highly symbolic, this ritual was not historically based and primarily represented native Aymaras — not the main Quechua-speaking population. Since the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century, this region of South America, where there is a majority native population, has been ruled mostly by descendants of European immigrants(Dell Latitude D410 battery).

On 1 May 2006, Morales caused controversy when he announced his intent to re-nationalize Bolivian hydrocarbon assets. While stating that the initiative would not be an expropriation, Morales sent Bolivian troops to occupy 56 gas installations simultaneously, including the two Petrobras-owned refineries which provide over 90% of Bolivia's refining-capacity(Dell Latitude D420 battery). All foreign energy firms were required to sign new contracts within 180 days giving Bolivia majority ownership, and up to 82% of revenues for the largest natural gas fields. All such firms signed contracts. Reports from the Bolivian government and the companies involved are contradictory as to plans for future investment. (Dell Latitude D430 battery)

By far the biggest customer for Bolivian hydrocarbons has been Brazil, which imports two-thirds of Bolivia's natural gas via pipelines operated by the semi-private Petrobras. Since gas can only be exported from landlocked Bolivia via Petrobras' large (and expensive) pipelines, the supplier and customer are strongly linked(Dell Latitude D500 battery). Petrobras has announced plans to produce enough natural gas by 2011 to replace that now supplied by Bolivia. Bolivia's position is strengthened by the knowledge that hydrocarbon reserves are more highly valued now than at the times of previous nationalizations, and by the pledged support of fellow leftist, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela(Dell Latitude D505 battery).

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Morales opened on 6 August 2006, the Bolivian Constituent Assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority.[44] Problems immediately arose when, unable to garner the two-thirds majority needed to include controversial provisions in the constitutional draft(Dell Latitude D510 battery), Morales' party announced that only a simple majority would be needed to draft individual articles while two-thirds majority would be needed to pass the document in full. Violent protests arose in December 2006 in parts of the country for both two-thirds and departmental autonomy, mostly in the eastern third of the country, where much of the hydrocarbon wealth is located(Dell Latitude D520 battery). MAS and its supports believed two-thirds voting rules would give an effective veto for all constitutional changes to the conservative minority.

In August 2007, more conflicts arose in Sucre, as the city demanded the discussion of the seat of government inside the assembly, hoping the executive and legislative branches could return to the city, but assembly and the government said this demand was overwhelmingly impractical and politically undesirable(Dell Latitude D600 battery). The conflict turned into violence, and the assembly was moved to a military area in Oruro. Although the main opposition party boycotted the session, a constitutional draft was approved on 24 November.

In May 2008, Evo Morales was a signatory to the UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. Bolivia has ratified the treaty(Dell Latitude D610 battery).

In the 2009 national general elections, Evo Morales was re-elected with 64.22% of the vote. His party, Movement for Socialism, also won a two-thirds majority in both houses of the National Congress.

[edit]Administrative divisions

Main articles: Departments of Bolivia, Provinces of Bolivia, Municipalities of Bolivia, Cantons of Bolivia, and Native Community Lands(Dell Latitude D620 battery)

Bolivia is divided into nine departments, further subdivided into 112 provinces and these ones into 339 municipalities and into native community lands.[45]

According to what is established by the Bolivian Political Constitution, the Law of Autonomies and Decentralization regulates de procedure for the elaboration of Statutes of Autonomy, the transfer and distribution of direct competences between the central government and the autonomous entities(Dell Latitude D630 battery).[46] There are four levels of decentralization:

Departmental Government

Constituted by the Departmental Assembly, with rights over the legislation of the department. The governor is chosen by universal suffrage.

Municipal Government

Constituted by a Municipal Council, with rights over the legislation of the municipality. The mayor is chosen by universal suffrage.

Regional Government

Conformed by several provinces or municipalities of geographical continuity within a department. It is constituted by a Regional Assembly(Dell Latitude D800 battery).

Original Indigenous Government

Self-governance of original indigenous people on the ancient territories where they live.

Territorial limits

Bolivia's limits on the north and east are with the Federative Republic of Brazil, on the east and southeast with the Republic of Paraguay, on the south with the Argentine Republic, on the southwest with the Republic of Chile and on the west with the Republic of Peru. The total perimeter of the boundaries is 6.834 kilometers(Dell Latitude D810 battery).

Limits with Argentina: This international limit starts at the Zapalari mountain and ends in Esmeralda, Tarija Department (which is a triple boundary point between Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay). The main boundary points are the Panizo mountain, the Malpaso mountain, the towns of Villazón, Bermejo, Fortín Campero, Yacuiba and Fortín D'Orbigny over the Pilcomayo River(Dell Latitude D820 battery).

Limits with Brazil: This international limit is the most extensive. It starts in the town of Bolbepra and ends on Bahía Negra ("Black Bay"), which is a triple boundary between Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The main boundary points are Brasiléia, located in front of Cobija), the towns of Fortín Manoa (close to the Madeira River) (Dell Latitude D830 battery), Villa Bella, Cerro Cuatro Hermanos, San Matías, the La Gaiba Lake, the Mandioré Lake, the Cáceres Lake and the Gutiérrez Guerra Port in the Paraguay River.

Limits with Chile: The current limit between Bolivia and Chile was agreed with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1904. This document allowed the surrender of the Bolivian littoral zone and coasts in the Pacific Ocean(Dell Latitude 2100 battery), making Bolivia a landlocked country. The limits start at Visviri (the boundary point for Bolivia, Chile and Peru) and ends at the Zapaleri mountain, which is a triple boundary point for Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. The main points of the boundary are the Licancabur and Ollagüe volcanos and the Payachata mountains(Dell Latitude 2110 battery).

Limits with Paraguay: It starts in Esmeralda and ends on Bahía Negra, on the Black River. The main boundary points are the Ustares mountain, Palmar de las Islas, Hito Chovoreca and the Jara mountain.

Limits with Peru: The boundary starts at the town of Bolbepra (the triple boundary point for Bolivia, Peru and Brazil) and ends on Choquecota and Visviri(Dell Latitude E4300 battery). The most important points in the international boundary are the Heath Port on the Madre de Dios River, the Apolobamba mountain range and Puerto Acosta, where the division of the Titicaca Lake starts.

[edit]Maritime claims and rights

Despite losing its maritime coast, the so-called Littoral Department, after the War of the Pacific, Bolivia has historically maintained, as a state policy, a maritime claim to Chile; the claim asks for sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean and its maritime space(Dell Vostro 1310 battery). The Political Constitution of 2009 established that Bolivia declares its right to access to the sea, and that its objective is to solve the problem peacefully.

Since the foundation of the United Nations in 1945, Bolivia has requested the General Assembly to consider its petition for sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. The issue has also been presented before the Organization of American States(Dell Vostro 1320 battery); in 1979, the OAS passed the 426 Resolution,[48] which declared that the Bolivian problem is a hemispheric problem. Chile has tried to assist in the matter, but without yielding any of its sovereign territory.

Access to the Pacific Ocean by Chile. On April 4, 1884, a truce was signed with Chile, whereby Chile gave facilities of access to Bolivian products through Antofagasta(Dell Vostro 1510 battery), and freed the payment of export rights in the port of Arica. In October 1904, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed, and Chile agreed to build a railway between Arica and La Paz, to improve access of Bolivian products to the ports.

Access to the Pacific Ocean by Peru. The Special Economical Zone for Bolivia in Ilo (ZEEBI) is a special economic area of 5 km of maritime coast, and a total extension of 358 hectares(Dell Vostro 1520 battery), called Mar Bolivia ("Sea Bolivia"), where Bolivia may maintain a free port near Ilo, Peru under its administration and operation[49] for a period of 99 years starting on 1992; once the time has passed, all the construction and territory go back to the Peruvian government.

Access to the Atlantic Ocean by Argentina. Since 1964, Bolivia has had its own port facilities in the Bolivian Free Port in Rosario(Dell Vostro 2510 battery), Argentina. This port is located on the Paraná River, which is directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean.


Main article: Geography of Bolivia

Satellital image of Bolivia

Bolivia is located in the central zone of South America, between the meridians 57° 26´ and 69° 38´ longitude west of the Prime Meridian, and the parallels 9° 38´ and 22° 53´ of southern latitude. At 1,098,580 square kilometres (424,160 sq mi), Bolivia is the world's 28th-largest country. (Dell Vostro 1014 battery) Its surface extends from the Central Andes, going partially through the Gran Chaco, as far as the Amazon. The geographic center of the country is the so-called Puerto Estrella ("Star Port") on the Río Grande, in Ñuflo de Chávez Province, Santa Cruz Department.

The geographic location of the country comprises a great variety of terrains and climates. Bolivia has a huge degree of biodiversity(Dell Inspiron 1410 battery), considered one of the greatest in the world; as well as several ecoregions with such ecological subunits as the Altiplano, tropical rainforests (including Amazon rainforest), dry valleys, and the Chiquitania, which is a tropical savanna. All of these feature enormous variations in altitude, from an elevation of 6.542 meters above sea level in Nevado Sajama, to nearly 70 meters along the Paraguay River(Dell Vostro 1014N battery). Despite this great geographic contrast, Bolivia has remained a landlocked country since the War of the Pacific.

[edit]Land relief

Contrast of the land relief forms of Bolivia, from an elevation of 4.000 meters in the Andean region (altiplano) to 2.500 meters in the Sub-Andean region (valleys) and to 400 meters in Los Llanos region (savanna) (Dell Vostro 1015 battery).

Bolivia can be divided into three physiographic regions:

Andean Region: in the southwest; it spans 28% of the national territory, extending over 307.603 km². This area is located above 3000 meters altitude, and is located between two big Andean chains: the Cordillera Occidental ("western range") and the Cordillera Central ("central range"), with some of the highest spots in the Americas(Dell Vostro 1015N battery), such as the Nevado Sajama, with 6,542 meters, and the Illimani with 6,462 meters. Here also is located Lake Titicaca, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world,[51] and also the largest lake in South America,[52][53] shared with Peru. Also in this region is the Altiplano and the Salar de Uyuni, which is the largest salt flat of the world and an important source of lithium(Dell Inspiron 1088 battery).

Sub-Andean region: in the center and south; an intermediate region between the Altiplano and the eastern llanos, it comprises 13% of the territory, extending over 142.815 km². It encompasses the Bolivian valleys and the Yungas region. It is distinguished by its farming activities and its temperate climate(Dell Inspiron 1088N battery).

Llanos region: in the northeast; it comprises 59% of the territory with 648.163 km². It is located to the north of the Cordillera Central; it extends from the Andean foothills to the Paraguay River. It is a region of flatland and small plateaus, all covered by extensive rainforests with enormous biodiversity. The region is located below 400 meters above sea level(Dell Vostro A840 battery).


Bolivia has three drainage basins that flow into the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.

Amazon Basin, also called the North Basin (724.000 km² / 66% of the territory). The rivers of this basin generally have big meanders, thereby forming lakes such as the Murillo Lake in Pando Department. The main Bolivian tributary to the Amazon basin is the Mamoré River(Dell Vostro A860 battery), with a length of 2000 km running north to the confluence with the Beni River, 1,113 km of length and the second most important river of the country. The Beni River, along with the Madeira River, forms the main tributary of the Amazon River. From east to west, the basin is formed by other important rivers such as the Madre de Dios River, Orthon River, Abuna River, Yata River and the Guaporé River(Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 battery). The most important lakes are the Rogaguado Lake and the Rogagua Lake.

Rio de la Plata Basin, also called the South Basin (229.500 km² / 21% of the territory). The tributaries are in general less abundant than the ones forming the Amazon basin. It is mainly formed by the Paraguay River, Pilcomayo River and Bermejo River. The most important lakes are the Uberaba Lake and the Mandioré Lake, both located in the Bolivian marshland(SONY PCG-5G2L battery).

The Central Basin, which is an endorrheic basin (145.081 km² / 13% of the territory). The Altiplano has large amounts of lakes and rivers that do not run into any ocean, as they are enclosed by the Andean mountains. The most important river is the Desaguadero River, with a length of 436 km, the longest river of the Altiplano(SONY PCG-5G3L battery); it begins in Lake Titicaca and then runs in a southeast direction to the Poopó Lake. The basin is then formed by the Lake Titicaca, Lake Poopó, the Desaguadero River and great salt flats as the Salar de Uyuni and the Coipasa Lake.


The climate of Bolivia varies drastically from one ecoregion to the other, from the tropics in the eastern llanos to polar climates in the western Andes. The summers are warm, humid in the east and dry in the west(SONY PCG-F305 battery), with rains that often modify temperatures, humidity, winds, atmospheric pressure and evaporation, giving place to very different climates. When the climatological phenomenon known asEl Niño[54][55] takes place, it provokes great alterations in the weather. Winters are very cold in the west, and it snows around the mountain ranges(SONY PCG-5J1L battery), while in the western regions, windy days are more usual. The autumn is dry in the non-tropical regions.

Llanos. A humid tropical climate with an average temperature of 30°C. The wind coming from the Amazon rainforest causes significant rainfall. Starting in May, there is low precipitation because of dry winds, and most days have clear skies. Even so, winds from the south, called surazos, can bring cooler temperatures lasting several days(SONY PCG-5J2L battery).

Altiplano. Desert-Polar climates, with strong and cold winds. The average temperature ranges from 15 to 20°C. At night, temperatures descend drastically to slightly above 0°C, while during the day, the weather is dry and solar radiation is high. Ground frosts occur every month, and snow is frequent(SONY PCG-5K2L battery).

Valleys and Yungas. Temperate climate. The humid northeastern winds are pushed to the mountains, making this region very humid and rainy. Temperatures are cooler at higher elevations. Snow occurs at altitudes of 2000 meters.

Chaco. Subtropical Semi-arid climate. Rain and humidity in January and the rest of the year, with warm days and cool nights(SONY PCG-5L1L battery).


Bolivia is part of the "Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries",[56] and has an enormous variety of organisms and ecosystems.

Bolivia's variable altitudes, ranging from 90 to 6,542 meters above sea level, allow for a vast biologic diversity. The territory of Bolivia comprises 4 types of biomes, 32 ecological regions, and 199 ecosystems(SONY PCG-6S2L battery). Within this geographic area there are several natural parks and reserves, such as the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, the Madidi National Park, the Tunari National Park, the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, and the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area, among others(SONY PCG-6S3L battery).

The biodiversity of species may be divided into:

Plants: Bolivia boasts over 200,000 species of seeds, including over 1,200 species of fern, 1,500 species of marchantiophyta and moss, and at least 800 species of fungus. In addition, there are more than 3,000 species of medicinal plants. Bolivia is considered the place of origin for such species as peppers and chilli peppers(SONY PCG-6V1L battery), the peanut, the common bean, the yucca, and several species of palm. Bolivia also naturally produces over 4,000 kinds of potato.

Vertebrates: Bolivia has more than 2,900 species, including 398 mammals, over 1,400 birds (70% of birds known in the world, being the sixth most diverse country [57]), 204 amphibians, 277 reptiles, and 635 fresh water fish (as Bolivia is a landlocked country) (SONY PCG-6W1L battery). In addition, there are more than 3,000 types of butterfly, and more than 60 domestic animals.


Main article: Geology of Bolivia

The geology of Bolivia comprises a variety of different lithologies as well as tectonic and sedimentary environments. On a synoptic scale, geological units coincide with topographical units. Most elemental

ly, the country is divided into a mountainous western area affected by the subduction processes in the Pacific and an eastern lowlands of stable platforms and shields(SONY PCG-7111L battery).

The Central Bank of Bolivia



Main article: Economy of Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America, despite being rich in natural resources. Bolivia's 2002 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled USD $7.9 billion. Economic growth was about 2.5% per year, and inflation was between 3% and 4% in 2002 (it was under 2% in 2001) (SONY PCG-71511M battery). Bolivia was rated 'Repressed' by the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom.[58] However, despite a series of mostly political setbacks, between 2006 and 2009 the Morales administration has spurred growth higher than at any point in the preceding 30 years. The growth was accompanied by a moderate decrease in inequality. (SONY PCG-6W3L battery)

Bolivia's current economic situation remains lackluster, a factor that can be linked to several factors from the past three decades. The first major blow to the Bolivian economy came with a dramatic fall in the price of tin during the early 1980s, which impacted one of Bolivia's main sources of income and one of its major mining-industries. (SONY PCG-7113L battery) The second major economic blow came at the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s as economic aid was withdrawn by western countries who had previously tried to keep a market-liberal regime in power through financial support.

Since 1985, the government of Bolivia has implemented a far-reaching program of macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform aimed at maintaining price stability, creating conditions for sustained growth(SONY PCG-7133L battery), and alleviating scarcity. A major reform of the customs service in recent years has significantly improved transparency in this area. Parallel legislative reforms have locked into place market-liberal policies, especially in the hydrocarbon and telecommunication sectors, that have encouraged private investment. Foreign investors are accorded national treatment(SONY PCG-7Z1L battery), and foreign ownership of companies enjoys virtually no restrictions in Bolivia.[61]

Bolivia has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America.[62] The government has a long-term sales-agreement to sell natural gas to Brazil through 2019. The government held a binding referendum in 2005 on the Hydrocarbon Law(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery)         .

The US Geological Service estimates that Bolivia has 5.4 million cubic tonnes of lithium which represents 50%–70% of world reserves. The light metal is used to make high-capacity batteries used in electric cars and such. The spinoff effect of lithium mining could cause Bolivia to become the "Saudi Arabia of the Green World." (SONY PCG-8Y1L battery)However, to mine for it would involve disturbing the country's salt flats (called Salar de Uyuni), an important natural feature which boosts tourism in the region. The government does not want to destroy this unique natural landscape, to meet the rising world demand for lithium.[63]

A Uro woman on a floating islet on Lake Titicaca(SONY PCG-8Y2L battery)

In April 2000, Hugo Banzer, the former President of Bolivia, signed a contract with Aguas del Tunari, a private consortium, to operate and improve the water supply in Bolivia's third-largest city, Cochabamba. Shortly thereafter, the company tripled the water rates in that city, an action which resulted in protests and rioting among those who could no longer afford clean water.(SONY PCG-8Z2L battery) Amidst Bolivia's nationwide economic collapse and growing national unrest over the state of the economy, the Bolivian government was forced to withdraw the water contract.

Bolivian commercial exports were $1.3 billion in 2002, from a low of $652 million in 1991. Imports were $1.7 billion in 2002. Bolivian tariffs are a uniformly low 10%, with capital equipment charged only 5%. Bolivia's trade-deficit was $460 million in 2002(SONY PCG-8Z1L battery).

Bolivia's trade with neighboring countries is growing, in part because of several regional preferential trade agreements it has negotiated. Bolivia is a member of the Andean Community of Nations and enjoys nominally free trade with other member countries(SONY PCG-7112L battery).

The United States remains Bolivia's largest trading partner (excepting natural resources, such as natural gas). In 2002, the United States exported $283 million of merchandise to Bolivia and imported $162 million.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of Bolivia's GDP. Soybeans are the major cash crop, sold into the Andean Community market. Bolivian coca growing is both economically and political important(SONY PCG-6W2L battery).

Bolivia's government remains heavily dependent on foreign assistance to finance development projects. At the end of 2002, the government owed $4.5 billion to its foreign creditors, with $1.6 billion of this amount owed to other governments and most of the balance owed to multilateral development banks(SONY PCG-5K1L battery). Most payments to other governments have been rescheduled on several occasions since 1987 through the Paris Club mechanism. External creditors have been willing to do this because the Bolivian government has generally achieved the monetary and fiscal targets set by IMF programs since 1987, though economic crises in recent years have undercut Bolivia's normally good record(SONY PCGA-BP2E battery).

The rescheduling of agreements granted by the Paris Club has allowed the individual creditor countries to apply very soft terms to the rescheduled debt. As a result, some countries have forgiven substantial amounts of Bolivia's bilateral debt. The U.S. government reached an agreement at the Paris Club meeting in December 1995 that reduced by 67% Bolivia's existing debt stock(SONY VGP-BPL2 battery). The Bolivian government continues to pay its debts to the multilateral development banks on time. Bolivia is a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC debt relief programs, which by agreement restricts Bolivia's access to new soft loans.

The income from tourism becomes increasingly important. Bolivia's tourist industry has grown gradually since about 1990(SONY VGP-BPL4 battery).

People in La Paz city centre

Festival in Sucre

Young miners at work in Potosí


Main article: Demographics of Bolivia

Bolivia's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 30% Quechua-speaking and 25% Aymara-speaking. The largest of the approximately three dozen native groups are the Quechuas (2.5 million), Aymaras (2 million), then Chiquitano (180,000), and Guaraní (125,000). So the full Amerindian population is at 55%; the remaining 30% is mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), and around 15% are white. (SONY VGP-BPL5A battery)

The white population consists mostly of criollos, which in turn consist of families of relatively unmixed Spanish ancestry, descended from the early Spanish colonists. These have formed much of the aristocracy since independence. Other smaller groups within the white population are Germans(SONY VGP-BPS2 battery), who founded the former national airline Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, as well as Italians, Basques, Croats, Russians, Poles and other minorities, many of whose members descend from families that have lived in Bolivia for several generations. Some 40,000 German-speaking Mennonites live in eastern Bolivia. (SONY VGP-BPS3 battery)

The Afro Bolivian community numbers more than 0.5% of the population, descended from African slaves that were transported to work in Brazil and then migrated westward into Bolivia. They are mostly concentrated in the Yungas region (Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas provinces) in the department of La Paz(SONY VGP-BPS4 battery). There are also Japanese who are concentrated mostly in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Middle Easterners who became prosperous in commerce.

Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in poverty. Population density ranges from less than one person per square kilometre in the southeastern plains to about ten per square kilometre (25 per sq. mi) in the central highlands(SONY VGP-BPS5 battery). As of 2006, the population is increasing about 1.45% per year.[68]

Major cities are La Paz (administrative capital), Sucre (constitutional capital), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (largest population), El Alto, Oruro and Cochabamba.


Main article: Health in Bolivia

In 2006, life expectancy at birth was 64 for males and 67 for females.[10] A study by UN Development Programme and UNICEF reported that over 230 babies in Bolivia died per day through lack of proper care. The majority of the population has no health insurance.[70] A significant part of the population has no access to healthcare(SONY VGP-BPS5A battery).[70] Demographic and Health Surveys has completed five surveys in Bolivia since 1989 on a wide range of topics.[71]


Main article: Religion in Bolivia

Aymara woman praying

Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba, a symbol of Catholic influence in Bolivia

Although the great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic, Protestant denominations and traditional ethnic Inca religion[72][73] are expanding rapidly.[68] According to a 2001 survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute(SONY VGP-BPS8 battery), 78% of the population is Roman Catholic, 16% is Protestant and 3% follow other Christian denominations.[74] According to adherents.com, 3.25% of Bolivians follow the Bahá'í Faith which is the largest proportion of any country on a continental mainland.[75] Islam is practiced by the descendants of Arabs and local converts(SONY VGP-BPS8A battery), constituting a small minority of just over 2000 adherents. There is also a small Jewish community that is almost all Ashkenazim in origin. The state has no official religion.

There are colonies of Mennonites in the Santa Cruz Department.[76] Many Native communities interweave pre-Columbia and Christian symbols in their worship(SONY VGP-BPL8 battery).


Main article: Languages of Bolivia

Spanish 60.7% (official), Quechua 21.2% (official), Aymara 14.6% (official) and additionally 34 languages are official languages. Foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2% (2001 census according to CIA Factbook). According to Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia 28.1% of the population of Bolivia spoke an indigenous language as a first language in 2007(SONY VGP-BPS9 battery). This had increased to 29.4% in 2008. Approximately 90% of the children attend primary-school but often for a year or less. Until the 2001 census the literacy rate was low in many rural areas, but, according to the CIA, the literacy rate was 87% nationwide, which is similar to Brazil's but below the South American average. Nevertheless in 2008 after the campaign "Yes I can"(SONY VGP-BPS9/S battery), Bolivia was declared illiteracy-free under the UNESCO standards.[77]

[edit]Politics and government

Main articles: Politics of Bolivia and Foreign relations of Bolivia

The government building of the National Congress of Bolivia at the Plaza Murillo in central La Paz.

Bolivia has been governed by democratically elected governments since 1982, when a long string of military coups came to an end. Presidents Hernán Siles Zuazo (1982–85) and Víctor Paz Estenssoro (1985–89) began a tradition of ceding power peacefully which has continued(SONY VGP-BPS9A battery), although two presidents have stepped down in the face of popular protests: Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003 and Carlos Mesa in 2005. Bolivia's multiparty democracy has seen a wide variety of parties in the presidency and parliament, although the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, National Democratic Action(SONY VGP-BPS9A/B battery), and the Revolutionary Left Movement predominated from 1985 to 2005. The current president is Evo Morales, the first indigenous Bolivian to serve as head of state. Morales' Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples party was the first to win an outright presidential majority in four decades, doing so both in 2005 and 2009(SONY VGP-BPS9/B battery).

The constitution, drafted in 2006-07 and approved in 2009, provides for balanced executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral powers, as well as several levels of autonomy. The traditionally strong executive branch tends to overshadow the Congress, whose role is generally limited to debating and approving legislation initiated by the executive(SONY VGP-BPS9A/S battery). The judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court and departmental and lower courts, has long been riddled with corruption and inefficiency. Through revisions to the constitution in 1994, and subsequent laws, the government has initiated potentially far-reaching reforms in the judicial system as well as increasing decentralizing powers to departments(SONY VGP-BPL9 battery), municipalities, and indigenous territories.


Bolivia has its constitutionally recognized capital in Sucre, while La Paz is the seat of government, and is regularly described as the country's de facto capital. La Plata (now Sucre) was proclaimed provisional capital of the newly independent Alto Peru (later, Bolivia) on 1 July 1826.[78] On 12 July 1839(SONY VGP-BPS10 battery), President José Miguel de Velasco proclaimed a law naming the city as the capital of Bolivia, and renaming it in honor of the revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre.[78] The Bolivian seat of government moved to La Paz at the turn of the twentieth century, as a consequence of Sucre's relative remoteness from economic activity after the decline of Potosí and its silver industry and of the Liberal Party in the War of 1899(SONY VGP-BPL10 battery).

The 2009 Constitution assigns the role of national capital to Sucre, not referring to La Paz in the text.[79] Nonetheless, the Palacio Quemado (the Presidential Palace and seat of Bolivian executive power) is located in La Paz, as are the National Congress and Plurinational Electoral Organ(SONY VGP-BPS11 battery). La Paz thus continues to be the seat of government and de facto administrative capital.

[edit]Executive branch

Further information: Cabinet of Bolivia

The executive branch is headed by a President and Vice President, and consists of a variable number (currently, 20) of government ministries. The president is elected to a five-year term by popular vote, and governs from the Presidential Palace (popularly called the Burnt Palace, Palacio Quemado) in La Paz(SONY VGP-BPL11 battery). In the case that no candidate receives an absolute majority of the popular vote or more than 40% of the vote with an advantage of more than 10% over the second place finisher, a run-off is to be held among the two candidates most voted.[80]


There are 53 prisons in Bolivia which incarcerate around 8,700 people as of 2010. The prisons are managed by the Penitentiary Regime Directorate (Spanish(SONY VGP-BPL12 battery): Dirección de Régimen Penintenciario). There are 17 prisons in departmental capital cities and 36 provincial prisons.

[edit]Legislative branch

The Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional (Plurinational Legislative Assembly or National Congress) has two chambers. The Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) has 130 members elected to five year terms, seventy from single-member districts (circunscripciones), sixty by proportional representation(SONY VGP-BPS12 battery), and seven by the minority indigenous peoples of seven departments. The Cámara de Senadores (Chamber of Senators) has 36 members (four per department). Members of the Assembly are elected to five year terms. The body has its headquarters on the Plaza Murillo in La Paz, but also holds honorary sessions elsewhere in Bolivia. The Vice President serves as titular head of the combined Assembly(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery).

[edit]Judicial branch

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal, the Judiciary Council, Agrarian and Environmental Tribunal, and District (departmental) and lower courts.

Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (Spanish: Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional) — rules on the constitutionality of government or court actions(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery)

Supreme Court or Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Spanish: Tribunal Supremo de Justicia)

Agrarian and Environmental Tribunal (Spanish: Tribunal Agroambiental) — highest court authority in matters of agriculture and the environment

Judiciary Council (Spanish: Consejo de la Magistratura) — oversees the conduct of courts and judges, including misconduct and ethical violations(SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery)

District Courts (one in each department)

Provincial and local courts

In October 2011, Bolivia will hold its first judicial elections to choose members of the national courts by popular vote.

[edit]Electoral branch

The electoral branch of Bolivia's government, formally the Plurinational Electoral Organ, is an independent branch of government which replaced the National Electoral Court in 2010. The branch consists of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery), the nine Departmental Electoral Tribunals, Electoral Judges, the anonymously selected Juries at Election Tables, and Electoral Notaries.[81] Wilfredo Ovando presides over the seven-member Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Its operations are mandated by the Constitution and regulated by the Electoral Regime Law (Law 026, passed 2010) (SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery). The Organ's first elections were the country's first judicial election in October 2011, and five municipal special elections held in 2011.


An SK-105, the main battle tank of the Bolivian army.

The Bolivian military comprises three branches: Ejército (Army), Naval (Navy) and Fuerza Aérea (Air Force). The legal age for voluntary admissions is 18; however, when the numbers are small the government recruits anyone as young as 14.[82] The tour of duty is generally 12 months(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery). The Bolivian government annually spends $130 million on defense.[83]

The Bolivian Army has around 31,500 men. There are six military regions (regiones militares—RMs) in the army. The Army is organized into ten divisions.

Though it is landlocked Bolivia keeps a navy. The Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana in Spanish) is a naval force about 5,000 strong in 2008. (SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery)

The Bolivian Air Force ('Fuerza Aérea Boliviana' or 'FAB') has nine air bases, located at La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Puerto Suárez, Tarija, Villamontes, Cobija, Riberalta, and Roboré.

[edit]Civil aviation

See also: List of airlines of Bolivia and List of airports in Bolivia

The General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil—DGAC) formerly part of the FAB, administers a civil aeronautics school called the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (Instituto Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil—INAC) (SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery), and two commercial air transport services TAM and TAB.

[edit]TAM (Transporte Aéreo Militar)

'TAM – Transporte Aéreo Militar (the Bolivian Military Airline) is an airline based in La Paz, Bolivia. It is the civilian wing of the 'Fuerza Aérea Boliviana' (the Bolivian Air Force), operating passenger services to remote towns and communities in the North and Northeast of Bolivia(SONY VGP-BPS21B battery). TAM (a.k.a. TAM Group 71) has been a part of the FAB since 1945.

A similar airline serving the Beni Department with small planes is Línea Aérea Amaszonas,[85] using smaller planes than TAM.

[edit]TAB (Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos)

Although a civil transport airline, TAB – Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos, was created as a subsidiary company of the FAB in 1977. It is subordinate to the Air Transport Management (Gerencia de Transportes Aéreos) and is headed by an FAB general(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery). TAB, a charter heavy cargo airline, links Bolivia with most countries of the Western Hemisphere; its inventory included a fleet of Hercules C130 aircraft. TAB was headquartered adjacent to El Alto International Airport. TAB also flew to Miami and Houston, with stops in Panama.


Main article: Culture of Bolivia

See also: Music of Bolivia and Public holidays in Bolivia

Bolivian children playing tarka

Bolivian culture has been heavily influenced by the Quechua, the Aymara, as well as by the popular cultures of Latin America as a whole(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery).

The cultural development is divided into three distinct periods: precolumbian, colonial, and republican. Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important pre-Columbian cultures. Major ruins include Tiwanaku, El Fuerte de Samaipata, Incallajta, and Iskanawaya(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery). The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and have seen little archaeological exploration.[68]

The Diablada, dance primeval, typical and main of Carnival of Oruro a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2001 in Bolivia (File: Fraternidad Artística y Cultural "La Diablada"(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery).

The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local native and mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque". The colonial period produced not only the paintings of Pérez de Holguín, Flores, Bitti(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery), and others but also the works of skilled but unknown stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of Native Baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery).[68]

Bolivian artists of stature in the 20th century include Guzmán de Rojas, Arturo Borda, María Luisa Pacheco, Roberto Mamani Mamani, Alejandro Mario Yllanes, Alfredo Da Silva, and Marina Núñez del Prado, William Vega.

Bolivia has a rich folklore. Its regional folk music is distinctive and varied. The "devil dances" at the annual carnival of Oruro are one of the great folkloric events of South America, as is the lesser known carnival at Tarabuco(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery).[68] The best known of the various festivals found in the country is the "Carnaval de Oruro", which was among the first 19 "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", as proclaimed by the UNESCO in May 2001.

Entertainment includes football, which is the most popular sport, as well as table football, which is played on street corners by both children and adults(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery).

Literacy class in the El Alto section of La Paz


Main article: Education in Bolivia

Under UNESCO standards, Bolivia has been declared free of illiteracy in 2008, making it the fourth country in Latin America with this status.[77]

Bolivia has a wide variety of public and private universities. Among them: Universidad San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca USFX – Sucre, founded in 1624; Universidad Mayor de San Andres UMSA – La Paz, founded in 1830(SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery); Universidad Mayor de San Simon UMSS – Cochabamba, founded in 1832; Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno UAGRM – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, founded in 1880; Universidad Tecnica de Oruro UTO – Oruro, founded in 1892; Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías UATF – Potosi, founded in 1892; Universidad Juan Misael Saracho UJMS – Tarija, founded in 1946(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery); Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo UCB, founded in 1966; Universidad Técnica del Beni UTB – Trinidad, founded in 1967; Universidad Nur NUR, founded in 1982; Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra UPSA – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, founded in 1984; Universidad Nacional Siglo XX UNSXX – Llallagua, founded in 1986(SONY VGP-BPS14B battery); Universidad del Valle UNIVALLE -Cochabamba, founded in 1988; Universidad Privada Boliviana UPB, founded in 1993; Universidad Privada Franz Tamayo UPFT, founded in 1993 and Universidad Amazónica de Pando UAP – Cobija, founded in 1993.

For the first time in Bolivian history, three indigenous universities were created: Universidad Aymara Tupac Katari UATK – La Paz, founded in 2009(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery); Universidad Quechua Casmiro Huanca UQCH – Cochabamba, founded in 2009 and Universidad Boliviana Guaraní y Pueblos de Tierras Bajas UGPTB – Chuquisaca, founded in 2009.

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