Bolivia is a republic in the middle of South America. The country borders Peru and Chile in the west, Brazil in the north and east, and Paraguay and Argentina in the south.
Bolivia had a considerable coastline towards the Pacific Ocean, but lost it to war with Chile in 1884. The name Bolivia was a tribute to the liberation hero Simón Bolívar, who helped make the country independent from Spain in 1824.
Before colonial heard Highlands and the upland jungle valleys of the Inca Empire and was inhabited by inka- and Aymara -People. The jungle was inhabited by various ethnic groups with less contact with the outside world. With the arrival of the Spaniards, the Mistis, a mix of Indigenous and Europeans, became the largest demographic group.
Independence in 1824 only led to small changes for people other than the small power elite of military and landowners. The country has had a turbulent political history with many military coups and unrest. The revolution of 1952 gave more power to workers and peasants, but there are still great economic and cultural differences between the city and the country, poor and rich. In 2005, Evo created Morale’s history by becoming the first president in the country’s history to be a non-resident.
Bolivia is one of South America’s poorest countries despite large reserves of natural resources. Some of the causes of poverty are lack of access to ports, political instability and poor governance. The illegal production and trafficking of cocaine is to a very large extent and contributes to the large black economy in the country.
Geography and environment
Bolivia is characterized by a great variety of topography and nature. The westernmost part of the country’s geography is made up of the Andes, which has its greatest breadth in Bolivia. Between the main Andean mountains, the Altiplano high plateau is located at approximately 3600-4000 meters above sea level. Further east there are the valleys that make up the transition from high mountains to lowlands. Here are several of the largest cities, and agriculture is run. The eastern part of the country consists of plain landscapes that in the north overflow into the Amazon jungle.
The climate varies from constant heat in the jungle to winters with cold degrees on the high slopes and permanent snow on the high mountains. The plant life varies accordingly, with a huge species richness in the jungle, valleys with much agriculture and golden mountain landscape.
People and society
The population of Bolivia in 2010 was estimated to be 10.5 million. The largest cities were Santa Cruz with 1,616,000 inhabitants, El Alto with 953,000, La Paz with 835,000, Cochabamba with 618,000 and Sucre with 284,000 inhabitants. The majority of the population lives in the highlands.
About half of the population belongs to the indigenous population. The other half are descendants of Europeans and masters. Who belongs to which groups is not always easy to say since these divides often focus more on economy, culture and class than ethnicity. The word ‘ Native American ‘ has been widely used internationally about the indigenous people, although it is now on the rise and the Spanish ‘Indio’ / ‘India’ is considered to be greatly derogatory.
Both birth and death rates are high, including South America’s highest infant mortality rate, but statistics have moved far in the right direction over the last decades.
State and politics
The President of Bolivia is both the head of state and the head of government. The president appoints the government, is responsible for foreign policy, can issue decrees and also has certain legislative functions. The legislative assembly consists of a Senate with 36 members and a Chamber of Deputies with 130 members. Elections to the President and National Assembly are held every five years. There is a right to vote and a duty for anyone over the age of 18.
Politically, Bolivia has been one of Latin America’s most unstable states. Since the independence of 1824, the country has had 16 different constitutions and about 200 extra-constitutional changes of government.
Until 1952, politics was dominated by a small number of families and the military centers of power. An upheaval in 1952 partially ended the feudal conditions, but at the same time further destabilized society. The unions gradually gained more influence, and have played a very important role in recent times. They often use strikes, roadblocks and demonstrations to gain political influence.
Three to four parties or groupings; a center-right, a right-wing and a populist- oriented have dominated politics, but this changed with the election of Evo Morales as president. Party organizations, political alliances and movements are unstable and characterized by strong individuals. The tendency that movements are highly dependent on individuals is in Spanish known as caudillismo.
Bolivia was officially a Catholic country, but after the new constitution of 2009, Bolivia is now a secular state.
Bolivia is a member of the UN and UN special organizations, including the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, as well as the Organization of American States and the Latin American trade organization ALADI.
The area around Lake Titicaca and the valleys up to the Altiplano was part of the Incarct and is therefore historically linked to Peru and Ecuador. During the colonial period, the area was ruled by the Spanish king’s envoy in Lima and the area was therefore called Alto Peru, in Norwegian High Peru. The people of the lowlands were not part of the Incarct, and were bound together more by language and culture than by common political leaders.
The colonization gained momentum when rich silver deposits were found in Potosi, but farming partly by forced labor was also common. Spain’s independence first and foremost led to an improvement for the wealthy elite who no longer had to pay taxes to Spain. It was not until 1952 that the landowners’ land was returned to the local inhabitants.
Bolivia has been characterized by contradictions between various economic interests, regions and political ideologies. The biggest change in recent times is the election of Evo Morales as president.
Economy and business
Although Bolivia has rich access to natural resources and has experienced economic growth with increased commodity prices in the 2010s, the country is the poorest in South America. Gross domestic product, GDP, per capita was $ 7500 in 2017. Bolivia’s business sector is underdeveloped, and has been hampered by factors such as capital shortages, a domestic market without significant purchasing power and poorly developed infrastructure. Foreign investment in the country, on the other hand, is increasing, especially in the petroleum activities. Extraction of minerals and natural gas account for the bulk of the country’s official export earnings. In terms of employment, agriculture is the most important economic sector.
There is a significant illegal export of cocaine base and cocaine.
Knowledge and culture
Bolivia’s culture is the result of a mix between native indigenous culture and influence from Spain both during and after the colonial period. This can most clearly be seen in folk music where Spanish guitar, the guitar-like charango from the aymara and quechua cultures, pan flute and flute from before the colonial era, quena, are used together. Another place this blend is evident is in the carnival festival. There you can see long performances of people in colorful costumes dancing to music, where all the elements bear a distinctive character of both European and American customs.
Bolivian mass media that were subject to censorship during the dictatorship today expresses voices from various parts of the political landscape.
The educational system in Bolivia is in principle open to all, but access is limited in practice by the family economy.