Friday, 12 July 2013


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Coordinates: 16°42′43″S 64°39′58″W / 16.712°S 64.666°W / -16.712; -64.666

Plurinational State of Bolivia Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia  (Spanish) Bulivya Mamallaqta  (Quechua) Wuliwya Suyu  (Aymara) Tetã Volívia  (Guaraní) Flag Coat of arms Motto: "¡La unión es la fuerza!" (Spanish) "Unity is Strength!" Anthem: Himno Nacional de Bolivia  (Spanish) (also known as Bolivianos: el hado) Wiphala of Qollasuyu Capital La Paz (governmental) Sucre (constitutional)a Largest city Santa Cruz de la Sierra 17°48′S 63°10′W / 17.800°S 63.167°W / -17.800; -63.167 Official languages Spanish Quechua Aymara Guaraní and 34 other native languages Ethnic groups (2010) 55% Amerindianb 30% Mestizo 15% White Demonym Bolivian Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic  -  President Evo Morales  -  Vice President Álvaro García Linera Legislature Plurinational Legislative Assembly  -  Upper house Senate  -  Lower house Chamber of Deputies Independence from Spain  -  Declared 6 August 1825   -  Recognized 21 July 1847   -  Current constitution 7 February 2009  Area  -  Total 1,098,581 km2 (28th) 424,163 sq mi   -  Water (%) 1.29 Population  -  2012 estimate 10,389,913 (83rd)  -  Density 9/km2 (221st) 23/sq mi GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate  -  Total $55.229 billion  -  Per capita $5,099 GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate  -  Total $27.429 billion  -  Per capita $2,532 Gini (2010) 53 high HDI (2013)  0.675 medium · 108th Currency Boliviano (BOB) Time zone BOT (UTC−4) Drives on the right Calling code +591 ISO 3166 code BO Internet TLD .bo a. See below. b. Quechua, Aymara and 34 other ethnic groups.

Bolivia (i/bəˈlɪviə/, Spanish: ), officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia locally: , Quechua: Bulivya Mamallaqta, Aymara: Wuliwya Suyu), is a landlocked country located in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, Chile to the southwest, 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 conquistadors took control of the region in the 16th century. During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was known as Upper Peru and was under the administration of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which included most of Spain's South American colonies, although the area enjoyed substantial autonomy under the jurisdiction of the Royal Court of Charcas. After its first call for freedom 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 and economic woes.

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%. 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. Bolivia has gained global attention for its 'Law of the Rights of Mother Earth', one of the unique laws in the world that accord nature the same rights as humans.

The Bolivian population, estimated at 10 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Guarani, Aymara and Quechua languages are also common and all four, 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.


Bolivia was named after Simón Bolívar, a leader in the Spanish American wars of independence. 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. Sucre opted to create a new nation and, with local support, named it in honor of Simón Bolívar.

The original name given to the newly formed country was Republic of Bolívar. Some days later congressman Manuel Martín Cruz proposed: "If from Romulus comes Rome, then from Bolívar comes Bolivia" (Spanish: Si de Rómulo Roma, de Bolívar Bolivia). The name stuck and was approved by the Republic on 3 October 1825.

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.


Main article: History of Bolivia Pre-Colonial Tiwanaku at its largest territorial extent, AD 950

The region now known as Bolivia had 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.

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 the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometers at its maximum extent, and had between 15,000 – 30,000 inhabitants. In 1996 satellite imaging was used to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus (flooded raised fields) across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.

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. 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.

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." 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.

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. 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, causing a significant drop in precipitation in the Titicaca Basin, believed by archaeologists to have been on the scale of 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, the control of the elites began to falter. The capital city became the last place viable for food production due to the resiliency of the raised field method of agriculture. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production, the main source of the power elite's control, dried up. The area remained uninhabited for centuries thereafter.

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, as the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak.

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). 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.

By the late 16th century Bolivian silver was an important source of revenue for the Spanish Empire. A steady stream of natives served as labor force under the brutal, slave conditions of the Spanish version of the pre-Columbian draft system called the mita. 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. As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew.

Independence and subsequent wars One of the first coins produced in Bolivia after the Declaration of Independence in 1825

The struggle for independence started in the city of Sucre on the 25 May 1809, with the first cry of Freedom in Latin America. 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, 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. 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.

The first coat of arms of Bolivia, formerly named as the Republic of Bolívar in honor of 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 28 December 1836. Argentina, Chile's ally, 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.

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. 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.

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. Later, both sides signed a peace treaty in 1842, putting a final end to the war.

A period of political and economic instability in the early-to-mid-19th century weakened Bolivia. In addition, during the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile occupied vast territories rich in natural resources south west of Bolivia, including the Bolivian coast. Chile took control of today's Chuquicamata area, the adjoining rich salitre (saltpeter) fields, and the port of Antofagasta among other Bolivian territories.

Thus, since independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries. 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, 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. In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability.

20th century

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.

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), where Bolivia lost a great part of the Gran Chaco region in dispute, marked a turning-point.

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), the most historic political party, emerged as a broad-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.

12 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 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, the MNR, and others installed Colonel (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez as president in 1971. He returned to the presidency in 1985–1989, 1993–1997, and 2002–2003.

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. Félix Rodríguez was a CIA officer on the team with the Bolivian Army that captured and shot Guevara. Rodriguez said that after he received a Bolivian presidential execution order, he told "the soldier who pulled the trigger to aim carefully, 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, but he chose to "let history run its course" as desired by Bolivia."

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 ." 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).

Democratic transition Main article: History of Bolivia (1982–present) Former President, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada

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 in return for agreed upon capital investments.

In 1993, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada ran for president in alliance with the Tupac Katari Revolutionary Liberation Movement, which inspired indigenous-sensitive and multicultural-aware policies. In the 1993, Sanchez de Lozada introduced, the Plan de Todos, which led to the decentralization of government, introduction of intercultural bilingual education, implementation of agrarian legislation, and privatization of state owned businesses. 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. This privatization of SOEs led to innovative neoliberal structuring that acknowledged a diverse population within Bolivia.

The Law of Popular Participation 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 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. 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.

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%. 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 MIR of Jaime Paz Zamora remained a coalition-partner throughout the Banzer government, supporting this policy (called the Dignity Plan). 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.

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.

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%. 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 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.

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. 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.

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, 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.

Mobilizing against neoliberalism as an enemy of socialism, the indigenous population of the Andean region was not able to benefit from government reforms.

Evo Morales' inauguration as President

Evo Morales won the 2005 presidential election with 53.7% of the votes, an absolute majority, unusual in Bolivian elections On 1 May 2006, Morales caused controversy when he announced his intent to re-nationalize Bolivian hydrocarbon assets. Fulfilling a campaign promise, on 6 August 2006, Morales opened the Bolivian Constituent Assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority.

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 the assembly and the government said this demand was overwhelmingly impractical and politically undesirable. In May 2008, Evo Morales was a signatory to the UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. 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.


Main article: Geography of Bolivia Satellite 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. 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, 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. Despite this great geographic contrast, Bolivia has remained a landlocked country since the War of the Pacific.

Bolivia can be divided into three physiographic regions. The Andean Region in the southwest 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, 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, and also the largest lake in South America, shared with Peru. Also in this region are the Altiplano and the Salar de Uyuni, which is the largest salt flat of the world and an important source of lithium. The Sub-Andean region in the center and south is 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. The Llanos region in the northeast 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.

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, 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. The most important lakes are the Rogaguado Lake, the Rogagua Lake and the Jara 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. The Central Basin, which is an endorrheic basin (145,081 km² / 13% of the territory). The Altiplano has large numbers 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; 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 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 elementally, 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.

Climate Los Yungas, La Paz

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, with rains that often modify temperatures, humidity, winds, atmospheric pressure and evaporation, giving place to very different climates. When the climatological phenomenon known as El Niño takes place, it provokes great alterations in the weather. Winters are very cold in the west, and it snows around the mountain ranges, 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. 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. 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. Biodiversity

Bolivia is part of the "Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries", 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. 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.

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, the peanut, the common bean, the yucca, and several species of palm. Bolivia also naturally produces over 4,000 kinds of potato.

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 ), 204 amphibians, 277 reptiles, and 635 fresh water fish (as Bolivia is a landlocked country). In addition, there are more than 3,000 types of butterfly, and more than 60 domestic animals.

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, 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, 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.

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. 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, municipalities, and indigenous territories.

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. 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.

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, 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.

The Supreme Court Building in the capital of Bolivia, Sucre

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal, the Judiciary Council, Agrarian and Environmental Tribunal, and District (departmental) and lower courts. In October 2011, Bolivia held its first judicial elections to choose members of the national courts by popular vote, a reform brought about by Evo Morales.

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, the nine Departmental Electoral Tribunals, Electoral Judges, the anonymously selected Juries at Election Tables, and Electoral Notaries. 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). The Organ's first elections were the country's first judicial election in October 2011, and five municipal special elections held in 2011.

Capital File:Sucre Panorama.jpg Panorama of the capital, Sucre

Bolivia has its constitutionally recognized capital in Sucre, while La Paz is the seat of government. La Plata (now Sucre) was proclaimed provisional capital of the newly independent Alto Peru (later, Bolivia) on 1 July 1826. On 12 July 1839, 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. 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.

The 2009 Constitution assigns the role of national capital to Sucre, not referring to La Paz in the text. In addition to being the constitutional capital, the Supreme Court of Bolivia is located in Sucre, making it the judicial capital. 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. La Paz thus continues to be the seat of government.

Law and crime

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: Dirección de Régimen Penintenciario). There are 17 prisons in departmental capital cities and 36 provincial prisons.

Foreign relations

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. The issue has also been presented before the Organization of American States; in 1979, the OAS passed the 426 Resolution, which declared that the Bolivian problem is a hemispheric problem. On 4 April 1884, a truce was signed with Chile, whereby Chile gave facilities of access to Bolivian products through Antofagasta, 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. 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, called Mar Bolivia ("Sea Bolivia"), where Bolivia may maintain a free port near Ilo, Peru under its administration and operation 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. Since 1964, Bolivia has had its own port facilities in the Bolivian Free Port in Rosario, Argentina. This port is located on the Paraná River, which is directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean.

Military Two Lockheed T-33s in formation – Bolivian Air Force.

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. The tour of duty is generally 12 months. The Bolivian government annually spends $130 million on defense.

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.

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.

Administrative divisions

Main articles: Departments of Bolivia, Provinces of Bolivia, Municipalities of Bolivia, Cantons of Bolivia, and Native Community Lands

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

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.

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, formed by several provinces or municipalities of geographical continuity within a department. It is constituted by a Regional Assembly. Original indigenous government, self-governance of original indigenous people on the ancient territories where they live.

No. Department Capital Territorial division of Bolivia 1 Pando Cobija 2 La Paz La Paz 3 Beni Trinidad 4 Oruro Oruro 5 Cochabamba Cochabamba 6 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz de la Sierra 7 Potosi Potosí 8 Chuquisaca Sucre 9 Tarija Tarija


Main article: Economy of Bolivia Graphical depiction of Bolivia's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

Bolivia’s estimated 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $23.3 billion. Economic growth was estimated at about 5.1%, and inflation was estimated at about 6.9%. Bolivia was rated 'Repressed' by the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. 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.

A 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. 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 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.

Young miners at work in Potosí

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. 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.

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

The US Geological Service estimates that Bolivia has 5.4 million cubic tonnes of lithium which represents 50%–70% of world reserves. 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.

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 have undercut Bolivia's normally good record.

The income from tourism becomes increasingly important. Bolivia's tourist industry has grown gradually since about 1990.

Transport 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), and two commercial air transport services TAM and TAB.

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. 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, using smaller planes than TAM.

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. 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.