Bolivia

About Bolivia

Geography
History
Economy
Culture
Political system
Headings
Geography
History
Economy
National Institutions
National Congress
Preseident and Vicepresident
Ministry of Economic Development
(Temporary unavailable)

Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
General Direction for Social Communication
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
La Paz Municipality
Union of the Chiquitania region National Dounce
Bublic Info Agency
National Bank
Central Contraloria
mine corporation
Register of deeds Direction of funds
Development fund for the finance system and sectror productivity support
National fund for social productivity investments
Juridical Power
State Portal
Presidency (Temp Unavailable)
Constitucional Tribunal
Environmental Information system
National Geological Service
State-owned geological service bureau
National Tax Service
Protegered Areas National Service
Meteorology and Hydrology National Service
Intelectual Property National Service
State Contracts Information System
Chief Commisariat of Banks And Financial Institutions
Commisariat of electrification
Cmmisariat of the activities of the pension, stock, and insurance sectors
Commisariat for sector regulation
Commisariat of telecomunicatios
Commisariat of transport
General Commisariat of sector regulation
Public investment and external finance Viceministry
Urban life and wellfare Viceministry
Bolivia -- Geography --

Official Name: Republica de Bolivia
Capital City: La Paz
Languages: Spanish - 60,7% (official), Kechua - 21.2% (official), Aymara - 14,6% (official), Feoreign Langiages - 2,4%, others - 1,2%
Official Currency: Boliviano
Religions: Catholics - 95%, Protestants - 5%
Population: 9,247,816
Land Area: Overall - 1,098,580 sq m(land: 1,084,390 sq m, water: 14,190 sq m)
Landforms: rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin.
Land Divisions: 9 departments


Bolivia -- History --

The Andean region probably has been inhabited for some 20,000 years. Beginning about the 2d century B.C., the Tiwanakan culture developed at the southern end of Lake Titicaca. This culture, centered around and named for the great city of Tiwanaku, developed advanced architectural and agricultural techniques before it disappeared around 1200 A.D., probably because of extended drought. Roughly contemporaneous with the Tiwanakan culture, the Moxos in the eastern lowlands and the Mollos north of present-day La Paz also developed advanced agricultural societies that had dissipated by the 13th century of our era. In about 1450, the Quechua-speaking Incas entered the area of modern highland Bolivia and added it to their empire. They controlled the area until the Spanish conquest in 1525.
As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew. Independence was proclaimed in 1809, but 16 years of struggle followed before the establishment of the republic, named for Simon Bolivar, on August 6, 1825.
Independence did not bring stability. For nearly 60 years, coups and short-lived constitutions dominated Bolivian politics. Bolivia's weakness was demonstrated during the War of the Pacific (1879-83), when it lost its seacoast and the adjoining rich nitrate fields to Chile.
An increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia a measure of relative prosperity and political stability in the late 1800s. During the early part of the 20th century, tin replaced silver as the country's most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled by the economic and social elites followed laissez-faire capitalist policies through the first third of the century.
Bolivia's defeat by Bolivia in the Chaco War (1932-35) marked a turning point. Great loss of life and territory discredited the traditional ruling classes, while service in the army produced stirrings of political awareness among the indigenous people. From the end of the Chaco War until the 1952 revolution, the emergence of contending ideologies and the demands of new groups convulsed Bolivian politics.
Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Paz Estenssoro at the outset of his third term. The 1969 death of President Rene Barrientos, a former member of the junta elected President in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. Alarmed by public disorder, the military, the MNR, and others installed Col. (later General) Hugo Banzer Suarez as President in 1971. Banzer ruled with MNR support from 1971 to 1974. Then, impatient with schisms in the coalition, he replaced civilians with members of the armed forces and suspended political activities. The economy grew impressively during most of Banzer's presidency, but human rights violations and eventual fiscal crises undercut his support. He was forced to call elections in 1978, and Bolivia again entered a period of political turmoil.
Elections in 1978, 1979, and 1980 were inconclusive and marked by fraud. There were coups, counter-coups, and caretaker governments. In 1980, Gen. Luis Garcia Meza carried out a ruthless and violent coup. His government was notorious for human rights abuses, narcotics trafficking, and economic mismanagement. Later convicted in absentia for crimes, including murder, Garcia Meza was extradited from Brazil and began serving a 30-year sentence in 1995.
After a military rebellion forced out Garcia Meza in 1981, three other military governments in 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing problems.
In the 1985 elections, the Nationalist Democratic Action Party (ADN) of Gen. Banzer won a plurality of the popular vote (33%), followed by former President Paz Estenssoro's MNR (30%) and former Vice President Jaime Paz Zamora's Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR, at 10%). But in the congressional run-off, the MIR sided with MNR, and Paz Estenssoro was chosen for the fourth time as president. (Hyperinflation had reached an annual rate of 24,000%.)
In 4 years, Paz Estenssoro's administration achieved economic and social stability. The military stayed out of politics, and all major political parties publicly and institutionally committed themselves to democracy. Human rights violations, which badly tainted some governments earlier in the decade, were not a problem.
In the June 2002 national elections, former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (MNR) placed first with 22.5% of the vote, followed by illegal-coca agitator Evo Morales (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) with 20.9%.
On December, 18, 2005 new elections were held. They were won by Evo Morales with 54%

Bolivia -- Economy --

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 poverty. A major reform of the customs service in recent years has significantly improved transparency in this area. The most important structural changes in the Bolivian economy have involved the capitalization of numerous public sector enterprises. (Capitalization in the Bolivian context is a form of privatization where investors acquire a 50% share and management control of public enterprises by agreeing to invest directly into the enterprise over several years rather than paying cash to the government).
Parallel legislative reforms have locked into place market-oriented 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. While the capitalization program was successful in vastly boosting foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bolivia ($1.7 billion in stock during 1996-2002), FDI flows have subsided in recent years as investors complete their capitalization contract obligations.
The government held a binding referendum in 2004 on plans to export natural gas and on hydrocarbons law reform. Protest and wide-spread opposition to exporting gas through Chile led to the resignation of President Sanchez de Lozada in October 2003. By May 2005, the hydrocarbons law draft was being considered by the Senate.
In April 2000, violent protests over plans to privatize the water utility in the city of Cochabamba led to nationwide disturbances. The government eventually cancelled the contract without compensation to the investors, returning the utility to public control. The foreign investors in this project continue to pursue an investment dispute case against Bolivia for its actions. A similar situation occurred in 2005 in the cities of El Alto and La Paz.
Bolivia's trade deficit was $460 million.It's trade with neighboring countries is growing, in part because of several regional preferential trade agreements it has negotiated. Bolivia is a member of the Andean Community and enjoys nominally free trade with other member countries (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela). The U.S. Andean Trade Preference and Drug Enforcement Act (ATPDEA) allows numerous Bolivian products to enter the United States free of duty on a unilateral basis, including alpaca and llama products and, subject to a quota, cotton textiles.
The United States remains Bolivia's largest trading partner. Bolivia's major exports to the United States are tin, gold, jewelry, and wood products. Its major imports from the United States are computers, vehicles, wheat, and machinery. Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of Bolivia's GDP. The amount of land cultivated by modern farming techniques is increasing rapidly in the Santa Cruz area, where weather allows for two crops a year. Soybeans are the major cash crop, sold into the Andean Community market. The extraction of minerals and hydrocarbons accounts for another 10% of GDP and manufacturing less than 17%.
The Government of Bolivia 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 faget targets set by IMF programs since 1987, though economic crises in recent years have undercut Bolivia's normally good track record. Rescheduling agreements granted by the Paris Club have allowed the individual creditor countries to apply very soft terms to the rescheduled debt. As a result, some countries have forgiven substantial amounts of Bolivia's bilateral debt. The U.S. Government reached an agreement at the Paris Club meeting in December 1995 that reduced by 67% Bolivia's existing debt stock. The Bolivian Government continues to pay its debts to the multilateral development banks on time Bolivia is a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC debt relief programs, which by agreement restricts Bolivia's access to new soft loans.


Bolivia -- Culture --

Bolivian culture has been heavily influenced by the Quechua, the Aymara, as well as by the popular cultures of Latin America as a whole.
The cultural development of what is present-day Bolivia is divided into three distinct periods: pre-Columbian, colonial, and republican. Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important pre-Columbian cultures. Major ruins include Tiwanaku, Samaipata, Incallajta, and Iskanawaya. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and have seen little archaeological exploration.
The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local native and mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque". The colonial period produced not only the paintings of Perez de Holguin, Flores, Bitti, and others but also the works of skilled but unknown stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of native baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994.
Bolivian artists of stature in the twentieth century include Guzman de Rojas, Arturo Borda, Maria Luisa Pacheco, and Marina Nunez del Prado.
Bolivia has a rich folklore. Its regional folk music is distinctive and varied. The "devil dances" at the annual carnival of Oruro are one of the great folkloric events of South America, as is the lesser known carnival at Tarabuco.
The best known of the various festivals found in the country is the "Carnaval de Oruro", which was among the first 19 "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity," as proclaimed by the UNESCO in May of 2001.


Bolivia -- Political system --

The 1967 constitution, amended in 1994, provides for balanced executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The traditionally strong executive, however, 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 and processes. Bolivia's nine departments received greater autonomy under the Administrative Decentralization law of 1995. Departmental autonomy further increased with the first popular elections for departmental governors (prefectos) on 18 December 2005, after long protests by pro-autonomy-leader department of Santa Cruz. Bolivian cities and towns are governed by directly elected mayors and councils. Municipal elections were held on 5 December 2004, with councils elected to five-year terms. The Popular Participation Law of April 1994, which distributes a significant portion of national revenues to municipalities for discretionary use, has enabled previously neglected communities to make striking improvements in their facilities and services. The departments of Tarija, Beni, Pando and Santa Cruz are sometimes known as the "half moon" due to the crescent shape of the departments when looked at together in the East of the country. They also have in common conservative politics and rich fossil fuel deposits. The president is elected to a five-year term by popular vote. Elected president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned in October 2003, and was substituted by Vice-president Carlos Mesa. Mesa was in turn replaced by chief justice of the Supreme Court Eduardo Rodriguez in June 2005. Six months later, on December 18, 2005, the Socialist native leader, Evo Morales, was elected president. Bolivia's government is a republic. The Congreso Nacional (National Congress) has two chambers. The Camara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) has 130 members elected to five-year terms, seventy from single-member districts (circunscripciones) and sixty by proportional representation. The Camara de Senadores (Chamber of Senators) has twenty-seven members (three per department), elected to five-year terms. Bolivia has had a total of 193 coups d'etat from independence until 1981, thereby averaging a change of government once every ten months. Credit for the past quarter century of relative political stability is largely attributed to President Victor Paz Estenssoro, who ceded power peacefully after cutting hyperinflation which reached as high as 14,000 percent

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