|National motto: None|
|Official language||Spanish, Quechua, Aymara|
|Capital||La Paz, Sucre¹|
|President||Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada|
- % water
|Ranked 27th |
- Total (2000)
August 6, 1825
|Time zone||UTC -4|
|National anthem||Bolivianos, El Hado Propicio[?]|
|(1) La Paz is the seat of government,|
Sucre the legal capital.
Bolivia became part of the Inca empire in the 13th century. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, Bolivia, rich in silver deposits, was incorporated in the Viceroyalty of Peru, and later that of La Plata.
Struggle for independence began in 1809, but it remained part of Spain until 1825, when it was liberated by Simon Bolivár, for whom the nation was later named. After briefly being part of a union with Peru, Bolivia became fully independent. In following years, Bolivia lost a lot of ground through war and sales.
The president, elected every five years, is head of state and head of government, and appoints a cabinet of ministers. The Bolivian parliament consists of two chambers, the Camara de Senadores, or Senator's Chamber, has 27 seats, and the Camara de Diputados, or Deputies' Chamber has 130.
Bolivia is divided into nine departments, or departamentos:
The west of Bolivia is situated in the Andes mountain range, with the highest peak, Nevado Sajama[?] at 6,542 m. The centre of the country is formed by a highland plateau, the Altiplano, where most of the Bolivians live. The east of the country is lowland, and covered by the Amazonian rainforests. Lake Titicaca is located on the border between Bolivia and Peru. In the west, in the department of Potosi, lies the Salar De Uyuni, the worlds largest salt flats.
Bolivia, long one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries, has made considerable progress toward the development of a market-oriented economy. Successes under President Sánchez de Lozada (1993-97) included the signing of a free trade agreement with Mexico and becoming an associate member of the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur[?]), as well as the privatisation of the state airline, telephone company, railroad, electric power company, and oil company.
Growth slowed in 1999, in part due to tight government budget policies, which limited needed appropriations for anti-poverty programs, and the fallout from the Asian financial crisis. In 2000, major civil disturbances in April, and again in September and October, held down overall growth to 2.5%. Bolivia's GDP failed to grow in 2001 due to the global slowdown and laggard domestic activity. Growth is expected to pick up in 2002, but the fiscal deficit and debt burden will remain high.
Many of the Bolivians are still of Indian ancestry, although a large group has mixed with the Europeans; they are called mestizos (about 30% of the population). Of the three official languages in Bolivia, two are indigenous: Quechua (the language of the Inca), and Aymará[?], a pre-Inca language. Spanish is the third language, spoken by about three-quarters of the population, mostly as a second language.
Virtually all Bolivians are Roman Catholic, although many elements of the indigenous religions have been incorporated.
Bolivian culture has many Incan and other Indian influences in religion, music and clothing, such as the well known bowler hats.
Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.