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History[edit | edit source]
The sovereign state of Bolivia is a constitutionally unitary state, divided into nine departments. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is bordered to the north and east by Brazil, to the southeast by Paraguay, to the south by Argentina, to the southwest by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. One-third of the country is within the Andean mountain range. With 424,164 sq miles of area, Bolivia is the fifth largest country in South America and the 27th largest in the world.
The country's population, estimated at 11 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The racial and social segregation that arose from Spanish colonialism has continued to the modern era. Spanish is the official and predominant language, although 36 indigenous languages also have official status, of which the most commonly spoken are Guarani, Aymara and Quechua languages.
The Andean region of Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire, while the northern and eastern lowlands were inhabited by independent tribes. Spanish conquistadors arriving from Cuzco and Asunción took control of the region in the 16th century. During the Spanish colonial period Bolivia was administered by the Royal Audiencia of Charcas. After the first call for independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolívar.
Bolivia declared independence from Spanish dominion on 6 August 1825. Over the next 80 years, Bolivia and neighboring countries fought for control of various resources and territory. The current boundaries of Bolivia were more or less established in the early 20th century, after a war with Chile. Over the course of the 19th and early 20th century Bolivia lost control of several peripheral territories to neighboring countries including the seizure of its coastline by Chile in 1879. Bolivia remained relatively politically stable until 1971, when Hugo Banzer led a coup d'état which replaced the socialist government of Juan José Torres with a military dictatorship headed by Banzer.
Bolivia remains one of the poorest countries in South America. It is a developing country, with a medium ranking in the Human Development Index, a poverty level of 38.6%, and it has one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1524 - 1533 - The Spanish conquest of the Inca empire
1545 - A mining town, Potosí soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming the largest city in the New World with a population exceeding 150,000 people
1809 - The struggle for independence started in the city of Sucre and the Chuquisaca Revolution is known as the first cry of Freedom in Latin America
1809 - That revolution was followed by the La Paz revolution. The La Paz revolution marked a complete split with the Spanish government
1825 - The name Bolivia was approved by the Republic
1879 - 1883 - War of the Pacific was a period of political and economic instability in the early-to-mid-19th century that weakened Bolivia
1932–1935 - Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War, where Bolivia lost a great part of the Gran Chaco region in dispute
2009 - A new constitution changed the country's official name to Plurinational State of Bolivia in recognition of the multi-ethnic nature of the country
Online Resources[edit | edit source]
- English wiki entry on Bolivia's history
- Spanish wiki entry on Bolivia's history
- Nation's Online project: Bolivia
- Historias breve de los departamentos de Bolivia
- Una historia extensa de Bolivia
- "Nuevo Compendio de la Historia de Bolivia," a Google eBook, published in 1921
- "Bolivia: The Central Highway of South America, a Land of Rich Resources and Varied Interest," a Google eBook, published in 1907
- "Historia de Bolivia," a Google eBook, published in 1899