Bolivia is a country near the center of South America . It lacks a seacoast and has great natural barriers to transportation.
Bolivia is rich in natural resources and is the leading producer of tin . However , frequent wars , revolutions and a series of unstable governments have hampered the countrys economic growth . As a result , Bolivia remains a developing country with one of the lowest standards of living in the western hemisphere .
Bolivia has two capitals . Sucre , where supreme court meets , is the official capatol . However , most government offices are in La Paz , the actual capatial and Bolivia's largest city .
Bolivia has a population of about 8 million . About half of those people live in rural areas . The rest live in big citys or small towns . About 977,000 people live in La Paz .
LANGUAGE . Bolivia has three official languages one of which is Spanish . The other are Indian languages one is called Aymara and the other is called Quechua . About one third of the people speak Spanish . But , most natural born Bolivians speak either of the two orignal native languages .
For thousands of years , the Indians of Bolivia have made fine jewelry , pottery , and colorful rugs and shawls . The Tiahuanaco Indians , who lived near lake titicaca from about100 to 1200 A.D. , produced impressive statues and monuments . The Spanish colonists in Bolivia built many beautiful stone curches during the 1500's to the 1600's . Indian craftworkers , hired by the Spanish , carved bold designs into the out side walls of the curches .
Bolivia is a developing country . However , it has the wealth of natural resources that are not being fully used and which could provide for economic growth . These resources include plentiful minerals , pasture land , timber , and fertile soil .
American Indians lived in what is now Bolivia as long as 10,000 years ago . About A.D. 100 , a major indian civilization developed in the Tiahuanaco regionnaer lake titicaca . The Tiahuanaco Indians built gigantic monuments and carved statues out of stone . Thier civilization declined rapidly during the1200's . By the late 1300's a war like tribe called the Aymara controled much of the western portion of Bolivia at that time . But , in the 1400's the Incas defeated the rule of the Aymara civilization . The incas forced their religion , costoms , and language , Quechua , on the Bolivian indians .
During the 1800's Simon Bolivar , The Liberator , organized an army to defeat the spanish rule . In 1824 Bolivar sent one of his generals , Antonio Jose de Surce , to free Bolivia . Dictators ruled Bolivia untill the late 1800's . Many rebelions were led against them .
National Government. Bolivia has had 16 constitutions, since
then it has become independent (1825). Most of the constitutions
called for a freely elected government. However, dictators ussualy
ruled the country.
Bolivias present constitution dates from 1967. Under it, the people elect a president and the members of the national legislature, called congress, to four year terms. the president may not be elected to two terms in a row. the supreme court is Bolivias highest court. Congress apoints the courts justices.
Local Government. Bolivia is divided into nine departments for purposes of Local Government. The departments are divided into 94 provinces, which are further divided into 1272 cantons. Appointed officials govern all of the polirical units. In general, they have little independence from the national government.
Politics. Bolivia has many political parties. Miners unions and the millitary have great influence on the nations politics. Married Bolivians who are at least eighteen are allowed to vote. Unmarried Bolivians must be tweenty-one to vote.
The armed forces. Bolivia has an army of 30,000, as well as a small navy which guards the inland waters and patrols the coast and a small airforce. All Bolivians 18 or older may be drafted .
Simon Bolivar (1783-1830). Was one of South Americas greatest generals. His victories over the spaniards won independence for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Bolivar is called El Liberator (the Liberator) and the "George Washington of South America.
The Revolution of 1952. Great political problems followed Bolivias defeat in the Chaco War. From 1936-1952 Bolivia had 10 presidents as one leader after another gained control of the government. Six of the presidents were millitary officers supported by the army. Mean while, Bolivias tin miners formed unions and held strikes for better working conditions. The miners supported a political party called the National Revolutionary Movement, which backed there demands. In 1952, the Revolutionary Movement overthrew the millitary rulers then in power. Victor Paz Eestenssoro , an economistand party leader , became president .
Under Paz, the Bolivian Government took over the biggest tin mines. The government also broke up large estates and gave the land to Indian farmers. Paz served as president untill 1956. Under the constitution he could not serve more than one term in a row. Another leader in the movement, Hernan Siles Zuazo, was then elected president. He served untill 1960.