Bolivia

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Plurinational State of Bolivia
Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia  Template:Langicon
Bulibya Mamallaqta  Template:Langicon
Wuliwya Suyu  Template:Langicon
Tetã Volívia  Template:Langicon
Flag of Bolivia Coat of arms of Bolivia
Motto"¡La unión es la fuerza!"  Template:Langicon
"Unity is strength!"
AnthemBolivianos, el hado propicio  Template:Langicon
CapitalLa Paz[1]
19°2′S 65°15′W / 19.033°S 65.25°W / -19.033; -65.25
Largest city Santa Cruz de la Sierra
17°48′S 63°10′W / 17.8°S 63.167°W / -17.8; -63.167
Official languages Spanish and 36 native languages[2]
Ethnic groups  31% Quechua, 30% Mestizo, 25% Aymara, 14% White[3]
Demonym Bolivian
Government Republic
 -  President Evo Morales
 -  Vice President Álvaro García
Independence
 -  from Spain August 6 1825 
Area
 -  Total 1,098,581 km2 (28th)
424,163 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.29
Population
 -  January 2009 estimate 9,863,000 (84th)
 -  2009 census 8,857,870 
 -  Density 8.4/km2 (210th)
21.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $43.570 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $4,345[4] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $16.602 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $1,655[4] 
Gini (2002) 60.1 (high
HDI (2006) 0.723 (medium) (111th)
Currency Boliviano (BOB)
Time zone (UTC-4)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .bo
Calling code +591

Bolivia, officially Plurinational State of Bolivia (Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia,[5] Spanish pronunciation: [esˈtaðo pluɾinasjoˈnal de βoˈliβja]), is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west.

Prior to European colonization, the Bolivian territory was a part of the Inca Empire, which was 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" or "Charcas" and was under the administration of the Viceroyalty of Peru, 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 August 6, 1825. Bolivia has struggled through periods of political instability, dictatorships and economic woes.

Bolivia is a democratic republic, 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 around 60%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry and 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 9 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans and to a lesser extent Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common. The large number of different cultures within Bolivia has contributed greatly to a wide diversity in fields such as art, cuisine, literature and music. There are two capitols of Bolivia, La Paz and Sucre.

Contents

History

File:Huari-with-tiahuanaco.png
Tiwanaku at its largest territorial extent, AD 950

The region that is now known as Bolivia has been constantly occupied for over 2000 years, when the Aymara arrived in the religion,civilization situated at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates as early as 1500 BC as a small agriculturally based village.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

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. However, Tiwanaku was not a violent culture in many aspects. In order to expand its reach Tiwanaku became very political creating colonies, trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependant), and state cults.[9]

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."[10] Tiwanaku continued to absorb cultures rather than eradicate them. Archaeologists have seen a dramatic adoption of Tiwanaku ceramics in the cultures who became part of the Tiwanaku empire. Tiwanaku gained its power through the trade it implemented between all of the cities within its empire.[9]

The elites gained their status by the surplus of food they gained from all of the regions and then by having the ability to redistribute the food among all the people. This is where the control of llama herds became very significant to Tiwanaku. The llama herds were essential for carrying goods back and forth between the center and the periphery as well as symbolizing the distance between the commoners and the elites. Their power continued to grow in this manner of a surplus of resources until about AD 950. At this time a dramatic shift in climate occurred.[11]

At this point in time there was a significant drop in precipitation for the Titicaca Basin. Some archaeologists even venture to say that a great drought occurred. As the rain became less and less many of the cities further away from Lake Titicaca began to produce fewer crops to give to the elites. As the surplus of food ran out for the elites their power began to fall. The capital city became the last place of production, due to the resiliency of the raised fields, but in the end even the intelligent design of the fields was no match for the weather. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production, their main source of power, dried up. The land was not inhabited for many years after that.[11]

Inca expansion (1438–1527)

Between 1438 and 1527, the Incan empire, on a mass expansion, acquired much of what is now western Bolivia. The Incans wouldn't maintain control of the region for long however, as the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak. As such, the Spanish conquest would be remarkably easy.

Colonial period

The Spanish conquest began in 1524 and was mostly completed by 1533. The territory now called Bolivia was then 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). Founded in 1545 as a mining town, Potosí soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming largest city in the New World with a population exceeding 150,000 people.[12]

By the late 16th century Bolivian silver was an important source of revenue for the Spanish Empire.[13] A steady stream of natives served as labor force (the Spanish employed the pre-Columbian draft system called the mita).[14] 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 of 1781, during which 20,000 people died.[15] As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew.

Independence and subsequent wars

The struggle for independence started in 1809, and after 16 years of war the republic was proclaimed on August 6, 1825, named for Simón Bolívar.

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 December 28, 1836. Argentina, Chile's ally, declared war on the Confederation on May 9, 1837. The Peruvian-Bolivian forces achieved several major victories during the War of the Confederation: the defeat of the Argentinian expedition and the defeat of the first Chilean expedition on the fields of Paucarpata near the city of Arequipa.

On the same field the Paucarpata Treaty was signed with the unconditional surrender of the Chilean and Peruvian rebel army. The treaty stipulated that Chile withdraw from Peru-Bolivia, return captured Confederate ships, economic relations would be normalized, and the Confederation would pay Peruvian debt to 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 fled to Ecuador, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation was dissolved.

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

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 ("Chile Saltpeter") fields, together with the port of Antofagasta. Since its independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries in wars. It also lost the state of Acre (known for its production of rubber) when Brazil persuaded the state of Acre to secede from Bolivia in 1903.

In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability. During the early 20th century, tin replaced silver 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.[citation needed]

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) marked a turning-point.[16][17][18]

Nationalist Revolutionary Movement

File:Llama en la laguna Colorada Potosí Bolivia.jpg
The llama is one of the icons of the Bolivian altiplano.

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) emerged as a broadly based party. Denied its victory in the 1951 presidential elections, the MNR led a successful revolution in 1952. 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.

Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. 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 elected president in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. Alarmed by public disorder and the rising Popular Assembly, the military, the MNR, and others installed Colonel (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez as president in 1971.

Banzer ruled with MNR support from 1971 to 1974. Then, impatient with schisms in the coalition, he replaced civilians with members of the armed forces and suspended political activities. The economy grew impressively during most of Banzer's presidency, but human rights violations and eventual fiscal crises undercut his support. He was forced to call elections in 1978, and Bolivia again entered a period of political turmoil.

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. (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]."[19] He was deposed shortly thereafter.) His government was notorious for human-rights-abuses, narcotics-trafficking, and economic mismanagement; during his presidency, the inflation that later crippled the Bolivian economy could already be felt. Later convicted in absentia for various crimes, including murder, García Meza was extradited from Brazil and began serving a 30-year sentence in 1995.

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).

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 oil corporation, telecommunications system, airlines, railroads, and electric utilities, in return for agreed upon capital investments.

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. 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. 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, 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.

In the 1997 elections, General Hugo Banzer, leader of the Nationalist Democratic Action party (ADN) and former dictator (1971-1978), 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. The Congress elected him as president, and he was inaugurated on August 6, 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.

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. 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.[citation needed]

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. 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).[citation needed]

On August 6, 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.

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 (NFR) by just 700 votes nationwide, earning a spot in the congressional run-off against Sánchez de Lozada on August 4, 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, and on August 6 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.

In 2003 the Bolivian gas conflict broke out. On October 12, 2003 the government imposed martial law in El Alto after sixteen 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. 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. 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, 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 March 22, 2005, 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 June 10. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez, was sworn as interim president to succeed the outgoing Carlos Mesa.

Bolivia under the Morales administration

The 2005 Bolivian presidential election was held on December 18, 2005. The two main candidates 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.

Morales won the election with 53.7% of the votes, an absolute majority, unusual in Bolivian elections. He was sworn in on January 22, 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. Though highly symbolic, this ritual was not historically based and primarily represented native Aymaras — not the main Quechua-speaking population. It is worth noting that since the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century, this region of South America -with a majority native population- has been ruled mostly by descendants of European immigrants.

On May 1, 2006, Morales 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. Troops were also sent to the two Petrobras-owned refineries in Bolivia, which provide over 90% of Bolivia's refining-capacity. A deadline of 180 days was announced, by which all foreign energy firms were required to sign new contracts giving Bolivia majority ownership and as much as 82% of revenues (the latter 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.

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. 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 President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Morales opened on August 6, 2006, the Bolivian Constituent Assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority.[20] Problems immediately arose when, unable to garner the two-thirds votes needed to include controversial provisions in the constitutional draft, Morales' party announced that only a simple majority would be needed to draft individual articles while two-thirds 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. 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 branch could return to the city, but assembly and the government said this demand was overwhelmingly impractical and politically undesirable. 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 November 24. Subsequent riots left three dead.

Geography

At 1,098,580 square kilometres (424,160 sq mi), Bolivia is the world's 28th-largest country.[21]

Bolivia has been a landlocked nation since 1879, when it lost its coastal department of Litoral to Chile in the War of the Pacific. However, it does have access to the Atlantic via the Paraguay River.

Many ecological zones are represented within Bolivia's territory. The western highlands of the country are situated in the Andes Mountains and include the Bolivian Altiplano. The eastern lowlands include large sections of Amazonian rainforests and the Chaco Plain. The highest peak is Nevado Sajama at 6,542 metres (21,460 ft) located in the Oruro Department. Lake Titicaca is located on the border between Bolivia and Peru. The Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, lies in the southwest corner of the country, in the department of Potosí.

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

Departments and provinces

File:Bolivia departments named.png
Map of the departments of Bolivia

Bolivia is divided into nine departments (departamentos); capitals in parentheses:

Additionally, the departments are further divided into 100 provinces (provincias), and the provinces are each divided into municipalities (municipios) and cantons (cantones), which handle local affairs.

Climate

The weather in Bolivia can vary drastically from one climatic zone to another. The summer months in Bolivia are November through March. The weather is typically warmer and wetter during these months. April through October, the winter months, are typically colder and drier.

In the highlands, the weather can be very cold and temperatures frequently go below zero at night, especially on the Altiplano. Snow is common in Potosi during the winter months and sometimes also falls on La Paz and Oruro. In contrast, winter in Sucre, Cochabamba and Tarija on the Cordillera Real is a time of blue skies and comfortable temperatures.

The weather in the rainforest is usually very hot and is often very wet. The drier period of the year is May to October. The section of the rainforest that borders the Cordillera Real of the Andes Mountains is a bit cooler, but still very wet. As altitude declines, the temperature rises.

Economy

Bolivia has the lowest GDP per capita in South America. However, the country is rich in natural resources.

Bolivia's 2002 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled USD $7.9 billion. Economic growth is about 2.5% per year, and inflation was expected to be between 3% and 4% in 2002 (it was under 2% in 2001).

Bolivia’s current lackluster economic situation 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.[22] 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, 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, and foreign ownership of companies enjoys virtually no restrictions in Bolivia.[citation needed]

File:Banco Central de Bolivia.png
The Central Bank of Bolivia

Bolivia has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America.[23] 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.

In April 2000, Bechtel signed a contract with Hugo Banzer, the former President of Bolivia, to privatize 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. Drawing water from community wells or gathering rainwater was made illegal.[24][25] 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 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.

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.

The United States remains Bolivia's largest trading partner. In 2002, the United States exported $283 million of merchandise to Bolivia and imported $162 million.

File:Camino a Samaipata Santa Cruz Bolivia.jpg
Camino a Samaipata Santa Cruz Bolivia

Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of Bolivia's GDP. Soybeans are the major cash crop, sold into the Andean Community market.

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. 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.

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. 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.

Demographics

File:Centro de La Paz en Bolivia.JPG
People in La Paz city centre
File:Cristo de la Concordia 02.jpg
Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba, one of the most visual examples of cultural colonisation and religious imposition.

Bolivia's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 30% Quechua-speaking and 25% Aymara-speaking Amerindians. 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 European), and around 15% are whites.[26]

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, who founded the 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.[27]

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. 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 kilometer in the southeastern plains to about ten per square kilometer (twenty-five per sq. mi) in the central highlands. As of 2006, the population is increasing about 1.45% per year.[28]

Religion

The great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic, although Protestant denominations are expanding rapidly.[28] According to a 2001 survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute, 78% of the population is Roman Catholic, 16% is Protestant and 3% follow other religions of Christian origin.[29] Islam practiced by the descendants of Middle Easterners is almost nonexistent. There is also a small Jewish community that is almost all Ashkenazi in origin. The state has no official religion.

There are colonies of Mennonites in the Santa Cruz Department.[30] Many Native communities interweave pre-Columbian and Christian symbols in their worship.

Language

About 80% of the people speak Spanish as their first language, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common. Approximately 90% of the children attend primary-school but often for a year or less. The literacy rate is low in many rural areas, but, according to the CIA, the literacy rate is 87% nationwide, a rate similar to Brazil's but below the South American average.

Politics

The 1967 constitution, amended in 1994, provides for balanced executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The traditionally strong executive branch tends to overshadow the Congress, whose role is generally limited to debating and approving legislation initiated by the executive. 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 and processes.

Bolivia's nine departments received greater autonomy under the Administrative Decentralization law of 1995. Departmental autonomy further increased with the first popular elections for departmental governors (prefectos) on 18 December 2005, after long protests by pro-autonomy leader department of Santa Cruz.

Bolivian cities and towns are governed by directly elected mayors and councils. Municipal elections were held on 5 December 2004, with councils elected to five year terms. The Popular Participation Law of April 1994, which distributes a significant portion of national revenues to municipalities for discretionary use, has enabled previously neglected communities to make striking improvements in their facilities and services.

The departments of Tarija, Beni, Pando and Santa Cruz are sometimes known as the "half moon" because of the crescent shape of the departments when looked at together in the east of the country. They also have in common conservative politics and rich fossil fuel deposits.

Legislative branch

File:LaPaz Plaza Pedro Di Murillo 10.2004.jpg
The government building of the National Congress of Bolivia at the Plaza Murillo in central La Paz

Bolivia's government is a republic. The Congreso Nacional (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) and sixty by proportional representation. The Cámara de Senadores (Chamber of Senators) has twenty-seven members (three per department), elected to five year terms.

Bolivia has had a total of 193 coups d'état from independence until 1981, thereby averaging a change of government once every ten months. Credit for the past quarter century of relative political stability is largely attributed to President Víctor Paz Estenssoro, who ceded power peacefully after cutting hyperinflation which reached as high as 14,000 percent.[31]

Military

The Bolivian military comprises three branches: an Army, Navy and Air Force. The legal age for voluntary admissions is 18; however, when the numbers are small the government recruits anyone as young as 14.[32] It is estimated that 20% of the Bolivian army is between the ages 14 and 16 while another 20% is from 16 to 18. The tour of duty is generally 12 months. The Bolivian government annually spends $130 million on defense.[33]

Culture

Bolivian culture has been heavily influenced by the Quechua, the Aymara, as well as by the popular cultures of Latin America as a whole.

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. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and have seen little archaeological exploration.[28]

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, 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.[28]

Bolivian artists of stature in the twentieth century include Guzmán de Rojas, Arturo Borda, María Luisa Pacheco, Roberto Mamani Mamani, Alejandro Mario Yllanes, and Marina Núñez del Prado.

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.[28] 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 national sport, as well as table football, which is played on street corners by both children and adults.

Education

A major part of the population, particularly females, are illiterate. Many children belonging to Indigenous peoples of the Americas receive less schooling than average. Bolivia has universities, such as Universidad de De SAn Andres, San Simon & Universidad Catolica.

See also

References

  1. "Artículo 6. I. La Paz es la Capital de Bolivia." (Article 6. I. La Paz is the capital of Bolivia.) Constitution of Bolivia
  2. Bolivian Constitution, Article 5-I: Son idiomas oficiales del Estado el castellano y todos los idiomas de las naciones y pueblos indígena originario campesinos, que son el aymara, araona, baure, bésiro, canichana, cavineño, cayubaba, chácobo, chimán, ese ejja, guaraní, guarasu’we, guarayu, itonama, leco, machajuyai-kallawaya, machineri, maropa, mojeño-trinitario, mojeño-ignaciano, moré, mosetén, movima, pacawara, puquina, quechua, sirionó, tacana, tapieté, toromona, uru-chipaya, weenhayek, yawanawa, Template:Dn, yuracaré y zamuco.
  3. CIA - The World Factbook – Bolivia, accessed on February 8, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Bolivia". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=218&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=54&pr.y=12. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  5. Decreto supremo Nº 0048 del 18 de marzo de 2009
  6. Fagan, Brian M. 'The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World: Unlocking the Secrets of Past Civilizations'. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001.
  7. Kolata, Alan L. 'The Tiwankau: Portrait of an Andean Civilization'. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, 1993. p. 145
  8. Kolata, Alan L. Valley of the Spirits: A Journey into the Lost Realm of the Aymara. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, 1996.
  9. 9.0 9.1 McAndrews, Timothy L. et al. 'Regional Settlement Patterns in the Tiwanaku Valley of Bolivia'. Journal of Field Archaeology 24 (1997): 67-83.
  10. Isbell, William H. 'Wari and Tiwanaku: International Identities in the Central Andean Middle Horizon'. 731-751.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Kolata, Alan L. 'The Tiwankau: Portrait of an Andean Civilization'. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, 1993.
  12. The High Place: Potosi. John Demos.
  13. MSN Encarta, Conquest in the Americas.
  14. Bolivia - Ethnic Groups
  15. Rebellions. History Department, Duke University.
  16. Harold Osborne (1954). Bolivia: A Land Divided. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs. 
  17. History World (2004). "History of Bolivia". National Grid for Learning. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ac11. 
  18. Juan Forero (2006). "History Helps Explain Bolivia's New Boldness". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/weekinreview/07forero.html.  (PDF), University of Wisconsin–Madison, Department of Geography
  19. Ireland.com - Astroturfing all the way to No 1
  20. BBC News - Push for new Bolivia constitution
  21. CIA World Factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2147rank.html.
  22. Crabtree, J.; Buffy, G.; Pearce, J. (1988). "The Great Tin Crash: Bolivia and the World Tin Market". Bulletin of Latin American Research 7 (1): 174–175. doi:10.2307/3338459. 
  23. Anti-Morales protests hit Bolivia
  24. Jennifer Hattam, ""Who Owns Water?" Sierra, September 2001, v.86, iss.5, p.16.
  25. PBS Frontline/World "Leasing the Rain", Video, June 2002
  26. Bolivian people
  27. Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite Frontier. The New York Times. December 21, 2006.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 "Background Note: Bolivia". United States Department of State. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35751.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  29. Bolivia religion
  30. Sally Bowen (January 1999). "Brazil Wants What Bolivia Has". Latin Trade. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BEK/is_1_7/ai_54759942. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  31. Bolivia: National History. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
  32. CIA -The World Factbook - Bolivia
  33. "Bolivia Military Profile 2006". 2006. http://indexmundi.com/bolivia/military_profile.html. 

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