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Bolivia

The Republic of Bolivia is a landlocked country in western South America. It
is bordered by Brazil in the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina in the
south, and Chile and Peru in the west.

                                       Official language Spanish, Quechua,
                                                         Aymara

History                                Capital           La Paz,
                                                         Sucre¹
                                       Largest City      La Paz
                                       President         Carlos Mesa
Bolivia has always been inhabited by
advanced cultures, the most important  Area              Ranked 27th
being the civilization of Tiahuanaco.  - Total          1,098,580 km2
It became part of the Inca empire in   - % water        1.4%
the 15th century. When the Spanish     Population        Ranked 85th
arrived in the 16th century, Bolivia,  - Total (2000)   8,300,463
rich in silver deposits, was           - Density        8/km²
incorporated in the Viceroyalty of     Independence      From Spain
Peru, and later that of La Plata.      - Date           August 6, 1825
Struggle for independence began in     Currency          Boliviano
1809, but it remained part of Spain    Time zone         UTC -4
until 1825, when it was liberated by
Simn Bolvar, for whom the nation was National anthem   Bolivianos, el
                                                         hado propicio
later named. After briefly being part
of a union with Peru, Bolivia became   Internet TLD      .BO
fully independent. In following years, Calling Code      591
Bolivia lost a lot of ground through
war and sales.                         (1) La Paz is the seat of
                                       government,
Faced with racial and cultural         Sucre the legal capital.
troubles, Bolivia has known revolution and military coups. A military junta
was overthrown in the early 1980s to reinstate democracy.

Politics

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.

Departments

Bolivia is divided into nine departments, or departamentos:

   * Beni
   * Chuquisaca
   * Cochabamba
   * Oruro
   * Pando
   * La Paz
   * Potosi
   * Santa Cruz
   * Tarija

Geography

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.

Major cities are La Paz, Sucre, Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba.

Economy

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 Snchez 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.

Demographics

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 Aymar, 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.

Culture

Bolivian culture has many Incan and other Indian influences in religion,
music and clothing, such as the well known bowler hats.
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