OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Bolivia
CAPITAL: Sucre (Judicial) La Paz (Administrative)
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 1,098,579 Sq KM (424,164 Sq ML)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 9,110,400
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Bolivia is a landlocked country
in the heart of South America. It is bound by Brazil to
the north and east, Peru to the northwest, Chile to the
southwest, Argentina to the south and Paraguay to the southeast.
The country can be divided into three topographical zones,
(1.) the Altiplano, which is a high plateau that crosses
the country from the northwest to the southeast and splits
the Andes into two mountain chains or cordilleras. The plateau
cradles the highest navigable lake in the world called Lake
Titicaca. (2.) The Yungas which are made up of sharply tilted
mountain valleys that separate the higher plateau from the
lowland plains. (3.) The Llanos which is the lowland plain
in the southern region and is also a highly developed agricultural
region, in addition to having Bolivia's major deposits of
oil, natural gas and iron ore. To the northeast of the Llanos
region, the plains form part of the Amazon River Basin containing
tropical forests and dense vegetation mixed with open savannah.
Several rivers including the Beni, the Itonomas and the
Paraguay flow from the Andes to meet the Guapore which follows
the frontier with Brazil. Major Cities (pop. est.); La Paz
711,000, Santa Cruz 695,000, El Alto 404,000, Cochabamba
404,000, Oruro 183,000 (1992). Land Use; forested 54%, pastures
24%, agricultural-cultivated 2%, other 20% (1993).
CLIMATE: Bolivia has a tropical climate, although the difference
in altitude produces a variety of different climatic conditions. Generally,
both temperature and rainfall increase from west to east. The Altiplano
is inhospitable for most of the year while the Yungas has a semitropical
climate and the Llanos becomes drier to the south. The wet season is from
December to January and because of the country's seasonal variations both
floods and droughts are common. The prevailing winds include the rain bearing
winds from the Amazon Basin and the Surazos which is a dust laden wind
that blow across the plains. Average temperature ranges in La Paz are from
1 to 17 degrees Celsius (34 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 6 to 19
degrees Celsius (43 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit) in November.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the AmerIndians who
account for around 42% of the population, of which 25% are Quechua and
17% are Aymara. In addition, 32% of the population are Mestizos who are
of mixed AmerIndian and Spanish descent while 15% are Whites mainly Spanish
and 2% are Black Africans.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 7 persons per sq km (18
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 51.1% urban, 48.9% rural (1989).
Sex Distribution; 49.3% male, 50.7% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
51.0 years male, 55.0 years female (1987). Age Breakdown; 41% under 15,
26% 15 to 29, 17% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1988).
Birth Rate; 43.0 per 1,000 (1987). Death Rate; 14.0 per 1,000 (1987). Increase
Rate; 29.0 per 1,000 (1987). Infant Mortality Rate; 102.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Roman Catholicism which accounts
for 93% of the population while around 2.6% are Baha'i.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Spanish, Aymara and Quechua,
although only 36% of the population speak Spanish as their native tongue.
The principal AmerIndian languages are Quechua, Aymara and Guarani
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
25.6%, some primary 23.2%, primary 23.5%, some secondary 7.0%, secondary
13.5%, higher 6.2%, unspecified 1.0% (1988). Literacy; literate population
aged 15 or over 77.5% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Great political disorder followed
Bolivia's defeat in the Chaco War with Paraguay from 1932 to 1935. From
1935 to 1952 Bolivia had 10 presidents as one political leader after the
other seized control of the government. Tin miners formed unions and held
strikes for better working conditions and the miners supported a political
party called National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) which backed their demands.
In 1952 the MNR overthrew the military rulers in power. During the 1960's
military uprisings forced a return to military rule in 1964. The government
changed hands repeatedly after revolts by rival military officers. The
military government violated civil rights and permitted no opposition to
their rule while they imprisoned their enemies. In the mid 1960's Ernesto
"Che" Guevara a communist leader from Cuba tried to stir up a
revolt in Bolivia and was subsequently shot dead in 1967. Numerous further
military coups took place over the next 13 years. In 1980 an election was
held for civilian government, however, before the new leader could be inaugurated
the military, led by Gen. Luis Garcia Meza, again took control of the government.
In 1982 the military removed Meza and allowed the return of civilian government
under Siles Suazo. The 1980's saw many problems for Bolivia. Major debt,
increases in inflation, droughts and floods which caused severe food shortages
as well as workers repeatedly going on strike formed the basis of their
problems. In 1985 elections were won by Paz Estonssoro until 1989 when
Jaime Paz Zamora was elected by the Congress as President of a coalition
government. In 1990 the main thrust of economic policy was to increase
investment in the private sector and many investment projects were approved,
mainly for mining. In Feb. 1991 relations with the US soured when Col.
Faustino Rico Toro, a former commander of military intelligence during
the Meza regime, was appointed as head of the anti-narcotics police. In
March 1991, Rico Toro, Police Chief Felipe Carvajal and Interior Minister
Guillermo Capobianco resigned after US newspapers accused them of involvement
in the cocaine trade. In Apr. 1991 a new mining law was approved which
allowed local firms to establish joint ventures with foreign companies.
In Aug. 1991 Pres. Zamora reshuffled his cabinet replacing 8 of the 17
ministers and the government embarked on a program of privatization of
state owned enterprises. In Dec. 1991 municipal elections were announced
as the "cleanest on record". Also during 1991 the US sent 56
military advisors to train two Bolivian Army battalions to support the
anti-narcotics police which provoked fierce protest from the political,
labor and church organizations. On Jan. 2, 1992 a national strike led by
the Confederation of Bolivian Workers protested the government's privatization
program, although the government continued with its plan with most interest
shown in the energy sector. On Jan. 24, 1992 Pres. Paz and Peruvian Pres.
Alberto Fujimori signed an agreement granting Bolivia access to the Pacific
while in return Bolivia promised to help Peru gain access to the Atlantic
through Brazil via Puerto Suarez. During 1992 relations with the US again
soured as a result of rumors that US soldiers were building a secret Drug
Enforcement Agency base in the Beni district while the joint US-Bolivian
operations to eradicate 7,000 ha (17,290 ac) of coca crops resulted in
the destruction of only 1,000 ha by May 1992. On Mar. 1, 1993 members of
the Bolivian Labor Federation began a hunger strike and general strike
aimed at wage increases. In April 1993, Gen. Luis Garcia Meza who as dictator
in 1980 had been associated with drug trafficking was sentenced to 30 years
in jail. In June 1993 presidential elections were won by Gonzalo Sanchez
de Lozada of the NRM, although his party fell short of the number of seat
required for an absolute majority in the Congress. In 1993 the cocaine
trade continued to be a major contributor to the economy, although joint
US-Bolivian operations announced some success in limiting the cultivation
and illegal export of coca paste and cocaine. Also during 1993, Pres. Sanchez
de Lozada announced a plan for capitalization by selling a 49% stake in
state enterprises, rather than privatization.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Boliviano (Bs) divided
into 100 Centavos.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $5,472,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $3,687,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $1,205,900,000 (1993). Exports;
USD $754,500,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $115,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; USD $ - 89,300,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 2,530,409
or 33.6% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 2.5% (1992).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Argentina,
Brazil, the USA, the UK and Japan.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Alpacas, Antimony, Barley, Bismuth, Cassava,
Coffee, Copper, Cotton, Gold, Iron Ore, Lead, Llamas, Maize,, Natural Gas,
Oil, Potatoes, Quinol, Rice, Silver, Sugar Beets, Sugar Cane, Sulfur, Tin,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Cement, Food Processing, Handicrafts, Mining and
Smelting, Oil and Gas Production, Plastics, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Antimony, Coffee, Lead, Natural Gas, Petroleum, Silver,
Tin, Tungsten, Zinc.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 3,652 km (2,269 mi) (1989),
passenger-km 381,600,000 (237,115,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km
512,600,000 (351,080,000 short ton-mi) (1989). Roads; length 40,987 km
(25,468 mi) (1984). Vehicles; cars 83,741 (1988), trucks and buses 150,898
(1988). Merchant Marine; vessels 1 (1990), deadweight tonnage 15,765 (1990).
Air Transport; passenger-km 1,280,000,000 (795,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990),
cargo ton-km 31,968,000 (21,895,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 16 with a total circulation
of 390,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 4,250,000 (1994). Television; receivers
775,000 (1992). Telephones; units 234,400 (1993).
MILITARY: 33,500 (1994) total active duty personnel with 74.6%
army, 13.4% navy and 12.0% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 2.4% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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