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South America Destination Guide

Bolivia

Bolivia officially Republic of Bolivia Country, western South America. Area: 424,164 sq mi (1,098,581 sq km). Population : 8,401,000. Capitals: LA PAz (administrative), SUCRE (judicial). The population consists of three principal groups: Indians, largely AYMARA and the QUECHUA; Indian-Spanish mestizos; and descendants of the Spanish. Languages: Spanish, Aymara, Quechua (all official). Religions: Roman Catholicism (official), vestiges of pre-Columbian religion. Currency: boliviano. Bolivia may be divided into three major regions.

bolivian map

The southwestern highlands, or Altiplano, where Lake TITICACA is located, extends through southwestern Bolivia. It is enclosed by the second region, the western and eastern branches of the ANDES MOUNTAINS. Much of the eastern branch is heavily forested terrain, with many deep river valleys; the western branch is a high plateau bordered by volcanoes, including the country's highest peak, Mount Sajama, which rises to 21,463 fir (6,542 m).

The third region is a lowland area that comprises the northern and eastern two-thirds of the country; its rivers include the Guapore, Mamore, BENI, and upper PILCOMAYO Bolivia has a developing mixed economy based on the production of natural gas and agricultural foodstuffs. It is a republic with two legislative houses; its head of state and government is the president. The Bolivian highlands were the location of die advanced Tiwanaku culture in the 7th-11th centuries and, with its passing, became the home of the Aymara, an Indian group conquered by the INCA in the 15th century. The Inca were overrun by the invading Spanish CONQUISTADOReS under FRANCISCO PIZARRO in the 1530s. By 1600 Spain had established the cities of Charcas (now Sucre), La Paz, Santa Cruz, and what would become COCHABAMBA and had begun to exploit the silver wealth of Potosi. Bolivia flourished in the 17th century, and for a time Potosi was the largest city in the Americas. By the end of the century, the mineral wealth had been depleted. Talk of independence began as early as 1809, but not until 1825 were Spanish forces finally defeated. Bolivia shrank in size when it lost Atacama province to Chile in 1884 at the end of the War of die PACIFIC and again in 1939 when it lost most of GRAN CHAco to Paraguay. One of South Americas poorest countries, Bolivia was plagued by governmental instability for much of the 20th century. By the 1990s it had become one of the world's largest producers of coca, from which the narcotic cocaine is derived. The government subsequently instituted a largely successful program to eradicate the crop, although such efforts were resisted by the many poor farmers who depended on the income derived from coca production.

The Republic of Bolivia is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil on the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina on the south, and Chile and Peru on the west. Bolivia's development problems are numerous. The nation's landlocked position inhibits international trade and communication with other nations. Bolivia has a history of political instability, and few elected leaders have been able to complete their terms. Internal cohesion is lacking. Moreover, many of the Indians (53 percent of the population) do not speak Spanish but continue using Quechua (the Inca language) or Aymara (spoken by a large group living around Lake Titicaca).

Bolivia's heartland is the dry Altiplano, a series of high intermontane basins flanked by ranges of the Andes. It was in this area that most of Bolivia's pre Columbian population lived, and it was here that the Spanish settled. The Spanish divided land among themselves in large estates and found large quantities of silver in the nearby hills and mountains. From colonial times to the present, minerals have made up the bulk of Bolivia's exports, Today, minerals make up over 80 percent of the nation's exports with tin accounting for nearly one half of the total exports. In this century the mining industry became concentrated in the hands of a very wealthy few. The condition of the miners and their families was wretched, while the owners lived in luxury outside the country.





Bolivia

One policy has been occupation of Bolivia's sparsely settled, eastern lowlands, both to relieve population pressures in the Altiplano and to mobilize the resources of the lowlands. Santa Cruz (200,000) is the urban center of the east and is growing at the rate of 5 percent yearly. La Paz (10,00,000) and Cochabamba (240,000) by comparison are growing at 2.5 and 3 percent, respectively. The presence of oil in the lowlands has long been known, and small quantities are produced for the national market. It is agriculture, however, that holds promise to employ large Lowland colonization is inhibited for three reasons. First, the potential migrants, the rural poor, are an extremely conservative group with strong family and local ties who migrate only when forced by dire need. Second, many Altiplano dwellers live at elevations of 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) or more. Over the centuries these Indians have developed large lung capacities; many are unable to adjust physically to the oxygen rich lowland air. They are also more susceptible to lung infections and diseases. Highland Indians throughout Latin America have long feared the lowlands, particularly the rainy tropics. From Mexico to Bolivia, the lowlands are often avoided. Third, many of the cultivation techniques and crops common to the highlands are inappropriate to lowland agriculture. New farming practices and new crops must be mastered. Unless adequate instruction is available, the migrants' crops produce poorly, and the land resources are destroyed.

Bolivia

Bolivia has a developing mixed economy based on the production of natural gas and agricultural foodstuffs. It is a republic with two legislative houses; its head of state and government is the president. The Bolivian highlands were the location of the advanced Tiwanaku culture in the 7th-11th centuries and, with its passing, became the home of the Aymara, an Indian group conquered by the INCA in the 15th century. The Inca were overrun by the invading Spanish conquistadores under Francisco PIZARRO in the 1530s. By 1600 Spain had established the cities of Charcas (now Sucre), La Paz, Santa Cruz, and what would become COCHABAMBA and had begun to exploit the silver wealth of Potosi. Bolivia flourished in the 17th century, and for a time Potosi was the largest city in the Americas. By the end of the century, the mineral wealth had been depleted. Talk of independence began as early as 1809, but not until 1825 were Spanish forces finally defeated. Bolivia shrank in size when it lost Atacama province to Chile in 1884 at the end of the War of the PACIFIC and again in 1939 when it lost most of GRAN CHACO to Paraguay. One of South America's poorest countries, Bolivia was plagued by governmental instability for much of the 20th century. By the 1990s it had become one of the world's largest producers of coca, from which the narcotic cocaine is derived. The government subsequently instituted a largely successful program to eradicate the crop, although such efforts were resisted by the many poor farmers who depended on the income derived from coca production.

Capital: La Paz (administrative) and Sucre (judicial);

Other Large Cities: Santa Cruz, Potosi;

Area: 1,098,581 sq.krn;

Population: 8.5 m.;

Language: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara;

Literacy:83%;

Religion: Christianity;

Currency: The Boliviano ($1=6.71);

Head of State & PM(President):
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

La Paz
The Cordillera and Yungas
Lake Titicaca
Uyuni
Tupiza
Tarija
Potosi
Sucre
Santa Cruz
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