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Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
The Plurinational State of Bolivia

President: Evo Morales (2006)
Historic and Judicial Capital: Sucre
Administrative Capital: La Paz
Monetary Unit: Boliviano
Total Land Area: 424,164 sq mi
Population (2012): 9,947,418
Most Populous Cities: La Paz 1,642,100, Santa Cruz 1,584,000, Cochabamba 815,800, El Alto 728, 800, Sucre 281,000
Ethnicity/Race: Quechua 30%, Mestizo 30%, Aymara 25%, White 15%
Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Religion: Roman Catholic 95% (no national religion.
Life Expectancy: 67.2
Literacy Rate: 86.7% (2011)
Fun Facts:

  • Lake Titicaca, at an altitude of 12,507 ft., is the highest commercially navigable body of water in the world
  • 60% of Bolivia is Amazonian jungle.
  • La Paz, at an altitude of 11,910 ft is the highest administrative capital in the world.
  • Bolivia is the largest exporter of quinoa.

History

Bolivia was once a part of the ancient Inca Empire and was occupied by various Amerindian tribes, the largest being the Aymara, the Quechua, and the Guarani. After being conquered by Spain the country won its independence in 1825 and was name after Simon Bolivar, the famous liberator. In an attempt for the descendants of the conquistadores and the indigenous nations of Bolivia to live together, a plurinational state was found. This means that all the nations living together in Bolivia are recognized as having equal status, by agreeing to create a state that represents and expresses the different identities in all public and private institutions.

Size and Location

The Plurinational State of Bolivia is the fifth largest country in South America and the 28th largest country in the world. It is equal in size to California and Texas combined. Landlocked, Bolivia shares its borders with Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, Chile to the southwest, and Peru to the west. It is among the most geographically diverse countries in Latin America. The towering Andes Mountains, the high-altitude desert plains known as the Altiplano, the Savannah lowlands and the Amazon make up the rich topography of this nation.

People and Culture

Over 60 percent of Bolivia’s people are indigenous, mostly Quechua or Aymara. European colonization and subsequent immigration created the multicultural society that exists today including Mestizos, Europeans, Asians, and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Guarani, Aymara, and Quechua languages are very common and all four as well as 34 other indigenous languages, are official. The mix of different cultures within Bolivia has contributed greatly to diversity in art, cuisine, literature, and music.

Government and Economy

Bolivia is a democratic republic, divided into nine autonomous regions called departments: La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Tarija, Pando, Beni, and Santa Cruz. Its main economic activities include natural gas, refined petroleum, agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, and refined metals. Although Bolivia is blessed with abundant natural resources, it remains the poorest country in South America and the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Fifty-four percent of the population lives below poverty line, and the unemployment rate stands at 8.3%.