Bolivia

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Posted by r2d2 04/09/2009 @ 06:12

Tags : bolivia, south america, americas, world

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Outrage at 'slavery' in Bolivia - BBC News
A senior UN official recently described as "unacceptable" the alleged forced labour of indigenous people by landowners in Bolivia. The BBC's Andres Schipani reports on the contentious issue of "slavery" from the eastern province of Santa Cruz....
Former Bolivian ministers seek asylum in Peru - AFP
LIMA (AFP) — Three ministers who served under exiled former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada have sought asylum in Peru, according to Lima's foreign minister. Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde said one Bolivian minister had been granted asylum...
Bolivia: UN experts concerned over mercenaries' alleged coup plot ... - RedBolivia.com
A group of United Nations independent experts on mercenaries today voiced their deep concern over reports that five people were involved in a plot to overthrow the Government of Bolivia. According to information available to date, the Bolivian police...
Vietnam Interested in Bolivian Oil - RedBolivia.com
Vietnamese authorities will arrive in La Paz on Wednesday to negotiate oil deals with Bolivia, Los Tiempos reported on Monday. The newspaper quoted state-run Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) CEO, Carlos Villegas, who highlighted the...
The Indypendent speaks with the Democracy Center in Bolivia - RedBolivia.com
Bolivia held a constitutional referendum January 25. The referendum was hotly contested, and the version put to ballots was considered watered down by many of the nation's indigenous groups who had pushed for stronger language addressing land...
Bolivian cardinal demands end to violence against Church - Catholic Culture
Cardinal Julio Terrazas of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, has demanded an end to attacks against church property, in response to the destruction of a parish church in the El Alto diocese. “We don't need to take up arms to defend ourselves," the cardinal said,...
Bolivia to increase natgas output - report - Reuters
LA PAZ, May 12 (Reuters) - Foreign energy companies operating in Bolivia have agreed to increase natural gas production by nearly 10 percent, the head of state-run energy company YPFB was quoted as saying by local media Tuesday....
Repsol, Bolivia In Talks To Boost Margarita Output - Wall Street Journal
By Bernd Radowitz MADRID (Dow Jones)--Spanish oil firm Repsol YPF SA (REP) is in talks with Bolivia to boost the output of the Margarita gas field sevenfold, Repsol's Exploration and Production Director Nemesio Fernandez Cuesta said....
Jindal affiliate finds natural gas in Bolivia - Forbes
AP , 05.11.09, 07:18 PM EDT A subsidiary of India's Jindal Power & Steel Ltd. says it has found new natural gas reserves in a well in eastern Bolivia. GTLI manager Luis Carlos Kinn tells The Associated Press that the find's estimated production will be...
Diplomacy Underground: Tunnel Proposed to Grant Bolivia Access to Sea - Toward Freedom
In the bloody War of the Pacific in 1879, Chile took away Bolivia's only access to the sea. Over a century later, demands from Bolivia for the recuperation of this land are louder than ever. The most recently proposed solution to this diplomatic crisis...

Bolivia

Map of Bolivia from the CIA World Factbook

Bolivia, officially The Republic of Bolivia (Spanish: República de Bolivia, Spanish pronunciation: ), is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west.

Prior to European colonzation, the Bolivian territory was a part of the Incan Empire, which was the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called "Upper Peru" or "Charcas" and was under the administration of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which included most of Spain's South American colonies. After declaring independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the republic, named for Simón Bolívar, on August 6, 1825. Bolivia has struggled through periods of political instability, dictatorships and economic woes.

Bolivia is a democratic republic, divided into 9 departments. Its geography is varied from the peaks of the Andes in the west, to the eastern lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country, with a medium Human Development Index score, and a poverty level around 60%. Its main economic activites include agriculture, forestry, and fishing, mining and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum.

The Bolivian population, estimated at 9 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common. The large number of different cultures within Bolivia has contributed greatly to a wide diversity in fields such as art, cuisine, literature and music.

The region that is now known as Bolivia has been constantly occupied for over 2000 years, when the Aymara arrived in the region, eventually settling in Western Bolivia, Southern Peru and Northern Chile. The Aymara associate themselves with an advanced civilization situated at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates as early as 1500 BC as a small agriculturally-based village. The community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. According to early estimates, at its maximum extent, the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometers, and had between 15,000 - 30,000 inhabitants. However, satellite imaging was used recently to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.

Around AD 400, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state. Tiwanaku expanded its reaches into the Yungas and brought its culture and way of life to many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. However, Tiwanaku was not a violent culture in many aspects. In order to expand its reach Tiwanaku became very political creating colonies, trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependant), and state cults.

The empire continued to grow with no end in sight. William H. Isbell states that "Tiahuanaco underwent a dramatic transformation between AD 600 and 700 that established new monumental standards for civic architecture and greatly increased the resident population." Tiwanaku continued to absorb cultures rather than eradicate them. Archaeologists have seen a dramatic adoption of Tiwanaku ceramics in the cultures who became part of the Tiwanaku empire. Tiwanaku gained its power through the trade it implemented between all of the cities within its empire. The elites gained their status by the surplus of food they gained from all of the regions and then by having the ability to redistribute the food among all the people. This is where the control of llama herds became very significant to Tiwanaku. The llama herds were essential for carrying goods back and forth between the center and the periphery as well as symbolizing the distance between the commoners and the elites. Their power continued to grow in this manner of a surplus of resources until about AD 950. At this time a dramatic shift in climate occurred.

At this point in time there was a significant drop in precipitation for the Titicaca Basin. Some archaeologists even venture to say that a great drought occurred. As the rain became less and less many of the cities further away from Lake Titicaca began to produce less crops to give to the elites. As the surplus of food ran out for the elites their power began to fall. The capital city became the last place of production, due to the resiliency of the raised fields, but in the end even the intelligent design of the fields was no match for the weather. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production, their main source of power, dried up. The land was not inhabited for many years after that.

Between 1438 and 1527, the Incan empire, on a mass expansion, acquired much of what is now western Bolivia. The Incans wouldn't maintain control of the region for long however, as the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak. As such, the Spanish conquest would be remarkably easy.

The Spanish conquest began in 1524 and was mostly completed by 1533. The territory now called Bolivia was then known as "Upper Peru" and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in Chuquisaca (La Plata—modern Sucre). By the late 16th century Bolivian silver was an important source of revenue for the Spanish empire. A steady stream of natives served as labor force (the Spanish employed the pre-Columbian draft system called the mita). As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew.

The struggle for independence started in 1809, and after 16 years of war the republic was proclaimed on August 6, 1825, named for Simón Bolívar.

In 1836, Bolivia, under the rule of Marshal Andres de Santa Cruz, invaded Peru to reinstall the deposed president, General Luis Orbegoso. Peru and Bolivia formed the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, with de Santa Cruz as the Supreme Protector. Following tension between the Confederation and Chile, Chile declared war on December 28, 1836. Argentina, Chile's ally, declared war on the Confederation on May 9, 1837. The Peruvian-Bolivian forces achieved several major victories during the War of the Confederation: the defeat of the Argentinian expedition and the defeat of the first Chilean expedition on the fields of Paucarpata near the city of Arequipa.

On the same field the Paucarpata Treaty was signed with the unconditional surrender of the Chilean and Peruvian rebel army. The treaty stipulated that Chile withdraw from Peru-Bolivia, return captured Confederate ships, economic relations would be normalized, and the Confederation would pay Peruvian debt to Chile. Public outrage over the treaty forced the government to reject it. Chile organized a second attack on the Confederation and defeated it in the Battle of Yungay. After this defeat, Santa Cruz fled to Ecuador, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation was dissolved.

Following the independence of Peru, Peruvian president General Agustín Gamarra invaded Bolivia. The Peruvian army was decisively defeated at the Battle of Ingaví on November 20, 1841, where Gamarra was killed. The Bolivian army under General José Ballivián then mounted a counter-offensive managing to capture the Peruvian port of Arica. Later, both sides signed a peace treaty in 1842 putting a final end to the war.

A period of political and economic instability in the early to mid-19th century weakened Bolivia. Then in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) against Chile, it lost its access to the sea and the adjoining rich Salitre ("Chile Saltpeter") fields, together with the port of Antofagasta. Since its independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries in wars. It also lost the state of Acre (known for its production of rubber) when Brazil persuaded the state of Acre to secede from Bolivia in 1903.

In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability. During the early 20th century, tin replaced silver as the country's most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled by the economic and social elite followed laissez-faire capitalist policies through the first thirty years of the 20th century.

Living conditions of the native people, who constitute most of the population, remained deplorable. With work opportunities limited to primitive conditions in the mines and in large estates having nearly feudal status, they had no access to education, economic opportunity, and political participation. Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932–35) marked a turning-point.

The Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) emerged as a broadly based party. Denied its victory in the 1951 presidential elections, the MNR led a successful revolution in 1952. Under President Víctor Paz Estenssoro, the MNR, having strong popular pressure, introduced universal suffrage into his political platform and carried out a sweeping land-reform promoting rural education and nationalization of the country's largest tin mines.

Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Estenssoro at the outset of his third term. The 1969 death of President René Barrientos Ortuño, a former member of the junta elected president in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. Alarmed by public disorder and the rising Popular Assembly, the military, the MNR, and others installed Colonel (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez 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 1979 and 1981 were inconclusive and marked by fraud. There were coups d'état, counter-coups, and caretaker governments. In 1980, General Luis García Meza Tejada carried out a ruthless and violent coup d'état that did not have popular support. He pacified the people by promising to remain in power only for one year. (At the end of the year, he staged a televised rally to claim popular support and announced, "Bueno, me quedo," or, "All right; I'll stay ." He was deposed shortly thereafter.) His government was notorious for human-rights-abuses, narcotics-trafficking, and economic mismanagement; during his presidency, the inflation that later crippled the Bolivian economy could already be felt. Later convicted in absentia for various crimes, including murder, García Meza was extradited from Brazil and began serving a 30-year sentence in 1995.

After a military rebellion forced out Meza in 1981, three other military governments in 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing problems. Unrest forced the military to convoke the Congress elected in 1980 and allow it to choose a new chief executive. In October 1982, Hernán Siles Zuazo again became president, 22 years after the end of his first term of office (1956-60).

Sánchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform agenda. The most dramatic reform was the "capitalization" program, under which investors, typically foreign, acquired 50% ownership and management control of public enterprises, such as the state oil corporation, telecommunications system, airlines, railroads, and electric utilities, in return for agreed upon capital investments. The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain segments of society, which instigated frequent and sometimes violent protests, particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994 through 1996. The de Lozada government pursued a policy of offering monetary compensation for voluntary eradication of illegal coca by its growers in the Chapare region. The policy produced little net reduction in coca, and in the mid-1990s Bolivia accounted for about one-third of the world's coca that was being processed into cocaine.

During this time, the umbrella labor-organization of Bolivia, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), became increasingly unable to effectively challenge government policy. A teachers' strike in 1995 was defeated because the COB could not marshal the support of many of its members, including construction and factory workers. The state also used selective martial law to keep the disruptions caused by the teachers to a minimum. The teachers were led by Trotskyites, and were considered to be the most militant union in the COB. Their downfall was a major blow to the COB, which also became mired in internal corruption and infighting in 1996.

In the 1997 elections, General Hugo Banzer, leader of the Nationalist Democratic Action party (ADN) and former dictator (1971-1978), won 22% of the vote, while the MNR candidate won 18%. General Banzer formed a coalition of the ADN, MIR, UCS, and CONDEPA parties, which held a majority of seats in the Bolivian Congress. The Congress elected him as president, and he was inaugurated on August 6, 1997. During the election-campaign, Banzer had promised to suspend the privatization of the state-owned oil-company, YPFB. But this seemed unlikely to happen, considering Bolivia's weak position globally. The Banzer government basically continued the free-market and privatization-policies of its predecessor. The relatively robust economic growth of the mid-1990s continued until about the third year of its term in office. After that, regional, global and domestic factors contributed to a decline in economic growth. Financial crises in Argentina and Brazil, lower world prices for export-commodities, and reduced employment in the coca-sector depressed the Bolivian economy. The public also perceived a significant amount of public-sector corruption. These factors contributed to increasing social protests during the second half of Banzer's term.

At the outset of his government, President Banzer launched a policy of using special police-units to physically eradicate the illegal coca of the Chapare region. The policy produced a sudden and dramatic four-year decline in Bolivia's illegal coca-crop, to the point that Bolivia became a relatively small supplier of coca for cocaine. Those left unemployed by coca-eradication streamed into the cities, especially El Alto, the slum-neighborhood of La Paz. The MIR of Jaime Paz Zamora remained a coalition-partner throughout the Banzer government, supporting this policy (called the Dignity Plan).

On August 6 2001, Banzer resigned from office after being diagnosed with cancer. He died less than a year later. Vice President Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez completed the final year of his term.

In the June 2002 national elections, former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (MNR) placed first with 22.5% of the vote, followed by coca-advocate and native peasant-leader Evo Morales (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) with 20.9%. Morales edged out populist candidate Manfred Reyes Villa of the New Republican Force (NFR) by just 700 votes nationwide, earning a spot in the congressional run-off against Sánchez de Lozada on August 4, 2002.

A July agreement between the MNR and the fourth-place MIR, which had again been led in the election by former President Jaime Paz Zamora, virtually ensured the election of Sánchez de Lozada in the congressional run-off, and on August 6 he was sworn in for the second time. The MNR platform featured three overarching objectives: economic reactivation (and job creation), anti-corruption, and social inclusion.

The 2005 Bolivian presidential election was held on December 18, 2005. The two main candidates were Juan Evo Morales Ayma of the MASParty and Jorge Quiroga, leader of the Democratic and Social Power (PODEMOS) Party and former head of the Acción Democrática Nacionalista (ADN) Party.

Morales won the election with 53.7% of the votes, an absolute majority, unusual in Bolivian elections. He was sworn in on January 22, 2006, for a five-year term. Prior to his official inauguration in La Paz, he was inaugurated in an Aymara ritual at the archeological site of Tiwanaku before a crowd of thousands of Aymara people and representatives of leftist movements from across Latin America. Though highly symbolic, this ritual was not historically based and primarily represented native Aymaras — not the main Quechua-speaking population. Since the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century, this region of South America, with a majority native population, has been ruled mostly by descendants of European immigrants, with only a few mestizo (mixed European and indigenous) rulers. Morales, an Aymara, has stated that the 500 years of colonialism are now over and that the era of autonomy has begun.

On May 1, 2006, Morales announced his intent to re-nationalize Bolivian hydrocarbon assets. While stating that the initiative would not be an expropriation, Morales sent Bolivian troops to occupy 56 gas installations simultaneously. Troops were also sent to the two Petrobras-owned refineries in Bolivia, which provide over 90% of Bolivia's refining-capacity. A deadline of 180 days was announced, by which all foreign energy firms were required to sign new contracts giving Bolivia majority ownership and as much as 82% of revenues (the latter for the largest natural gas fields). All such firms signed contracts. Reports from the Bolivian government and the companies involved are contradictory as to plans for future investment. By far the biggest customer for Bolivian hydrocarbons has been Brazil, which imports two-thirds of Bolivia's natural gas via pipelines operated by the semi-private Petrobras. Since gas can only be exported from landlocked Bolivia via Petrobras' large (and expensive) pipelines, the supplier and customer are strongly linked. Petrobras has announced plans to produce enough natural gas by 2011 to replace that now supplied by Bolivia. Bolivia's position is strengthened by the knowledge that hydrocarbon reserves are more highly valued now than at the times of previous nationalizations, and by the pledged support of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Morales opened on August 6, 2006, the Bolivian Constituent Assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority. Problems immediately arose when, unable to garner the two-thirds votes needed to include controversial provisions in the constitutional draft, Morales' party announced that only a simple majority would be needed to draft individual articles while two-thirds needed to pass the document in full. Violent protests arose in December 2006 in parts of the country for both two-thirds and departmental autonomy, mostly in the eastern third of the country, where much of the hydrocarbon wealth is located. Conservative sectors in this region threaten to secede from the nation if their demands are not met. MAS and its supports believed two-thirds voting rules would give an effective veto for all constitutional changes to the conservative minority. In August 2007, more conflicts arose in Sucre, as the city demanded the discussion of the seat of government inside the assembly, hoping the executive and legislative branch could return to the city, but assembly and the government said this demand was overwhelmingly impractical and politically undesirable. The conflict turned into violence, and the assembly was moved to a military area in Oruro. Although the main opposition party boycotted the session, a constitutional draft was approved on November 24. Subsequent riots, started by opposition mercenary groups, left three dead.

At 1,098,580 km² (424,135 mi²), Bolivia is the world's 28th-largest country.

Bolivia has been a landlocked nation since 1879, when it lost its coastal department of Litoral to Chile in the War of the Pacific. However, it does have access to the Atlantic via the Paraguay River.

Many ecological zones are represented within Bolivia's territory. The western highlands of the country are situated in the Andes Mountains and include the Bolivian Altiplano. The eastern lowlands include large sections of Amazonian rainforests and Chaco. The highest peak is Nevado Sajama at 6,542 metres (21,463 ft) located in the department of Oruro. Lake Titicaca is located on the border between Bolivia and Peru. The Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, lies in the southwest corner of the country, in the department of Potosí.

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

Additionally, the departments are further divided into 100 provinces (provincias), and the provinces are each divided into municipalities (municipios) and cantons (cantones), which handle local affairs.

Bolivia has the lowest GDP per capita in South America. However, the country is rich in natural resources.

Bolivia's 2002 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled USD $7.9 billion. Economic growth is about 2.5% per year, and inflation was expected to be between 3% and 4% in 2002 (it was under 2% in 2001).

Bolivia’s current lackluster economic situation can be linked to several factors from the past three decades. The first major blow to the Bolivian economy came with a dramatic fall in the price of tin during the early 1980s, which impacted one of Bolivia’s main sources of income and one of its major mining-industries. The second major economic blow came at the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s as economic aid was withdrawn by western countries who had previously tried to keep a market-liberal regime in power through financial support.

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 scarcity. A major reform of the customs service in recent years has significantly improved transparency in this area. Parallel legislative reforms have locked into place market-liberal 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.

Bolivia has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America. The government has a long-term sales-agreement to sell natural gas to Brazil through 2019. The government expects to hold a binding referendum in 2004 on plans to export natural gas.

In April 2000, Bechtel signed a contract with Hugo Banzer, the former President of Bolivia, to privatize the water supply in Bolivia's third-largest city, Cochabamba. Shortly thereafter, the company tripled the water rates in that city, an action which resulted in protests and rioting among those who could no longer afford clean water. Drawing water from community wells or gathering rainwater was made illegal. Amidst Bolivia's nationwide economic collapse and growing national unrest over the state of the economy, the Bolivian government was forced to withdraw the water contract.

Bolivian exports were $1.3 billion in 2002, from a low of $652 million in 1991. Imports were $1.7 billion in 2002. Bolivian tariffs are a uniformly low 10%, with capital equipment charged only 5%. Bolivia's trade-deficit was $460 million in 2002.

Bolivia'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.

The United States remains Bolivia's largest trading partner. In 2002, the United States exported $283 million of merchandise to Bolivia and imported $162 million.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of Bolivia's GDP. Soybeans are the major cash crop, sold into the Andean Community market.

Bolivia's government 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 fiscal targets set by IMF programs since 1987, though economic crises in recent years have undercut Bolivia's normally good record. The rescheduling of agreements granted by the Paris Club has 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's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 30% Quechua-speaking and 25% Aymara-speaking Amerindians. The largest of the approximately three dozen native groups are the Quechuas (2.5 million), Aymaras (2 million), then Chiquitano (180,000), and Guaraní (125,000). So the full Amerindian population is at 55%; the remaining 30% is Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European), and around 15% are Whites.

The white population consists mostly of criollos, which in turn consist of families of relatively unmixed Spanish ancestry, descended from the early Spanish colonists. These have formed much of the aristocracy since independence. Other smaller groups within the white population are Germans who founded the national airline Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, as well as Italian, American, Basque, Croatian, Russian, Polish and other minorities, many of whose members descend from families that have lived in Bolivia for several generations.

The Afro-Bolivian community numbers more than 0.5% of the population, descended from African slaves that were transported to work in Brazil and then migrated westward into Bolivia. They are mostly concentrated in the Yungas region (Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas provinces) in the department of La Paz. There are also Japanese who are concentrated mostly in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Middle Easterners who became prosperous in commerce.

Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in poverty. Population density ranges from less than one person per square kilometer in the southeastern plains to about ten per square kilometer (twenty-five per sq. mi) in the central highlands. As of 2006, the population is increasing about 1.45% per year.

The great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic, although Protestant denominations are expanding rapidly. According to a 2001 survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute, 78% of the population is Roman Catholic, 16% is Protestant and 3% follow other religions of Christian origin. Islam practiced by the descendants of Middle Easterners is almost nonexistent. There is also a small Jewish community that is almost all Ashkenazi in origin. The state has no official religion.

There are colonies of Mennonites in the Santa Cruz Department. Many Native communities interweave pre-Columbian and Christian symbols in their worship. About 80% of the people speak Spanish as their first language, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common. Approximately 90% of the children attend primary-school but often for a year or less. The literacy rate is low in many rural areas, but, according to the CIA, the literacy rate is 87% nationwide, a rate similar to Brazil's but below the South American average.

The 1967 constitution, amended in 1994, provides for balanced executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The traditionally strong executive branch 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" because of 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.

Bolivia's government is a republic. The Congreso Nacional (National Congress) has two chambers. The Cámara 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 Cámara 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'état 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 Víctor Paz Estenssoro, who ceded power peacefully after cutting hyperinflation which reached as high as 14,000 percent.

The Bolivian military comprises three branches: an Army, Navy and Air Force. The legal age for voluntary admissions is 18; however, when the numbers are small the government recruits anyone as young as 14. It is estimated that 20% of the Bolivian army is between the ages 14 and 16 while another 20% is from 16 to 18. The tour of duty is generally 12 months. The Bolivian government annually spends $130 million on defense.

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 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 Pérez de Holguín, 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 Guzmán de Rojas, Arturo Borda, María Luisa Pacheco, and Marina Núñez 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 2001.

Entertainment includes football, which is the national sport, as well as table football, which is played on street corners by both children and adults.

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History of Bolivia

Bolivia during the Peru-Bolivian Confederation

This is the history of Bolivia. See also the history of Latin America, the history of the Americas, and the history of present-day nations and states.

Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro, and Hernando de Luque led the Spanish discovery and conquest of the Inca Empire. They first sailed south in 1524 along the Pacific coast from Panama to confirm the existence of a legendary land of gold called "Biru" (later altered to Peru).

Because the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak, the conquest was remarkably easy. After the Inca Huayna Capac died in 1527, his sons Huascar and Atahualpa fought over the succession. Although Atahualpa defeated his brother, he had not yet consolidated his power when the Spaniards arrived in 1532, and he seriously misjudged their strength. Atahualpa did not attempt to defeat Pizarro when he arrived on the coast in 1532 because the Incan ruler was convinced that those who commanded the mountains also controlled the coast. When Pizarro formed alliances with Indians who resented Inca rule, Atahualpa did not modify the Inca ceremonial approach to warfare, which included launching attacks by the light of the full moon. Atahualpa’s refusal to accept the permanent Spanish presence and to convert led to the bloody Battle of Cajamarca on November 16, 1532. Pizarro executed Atahualpa's 12 man honor guard and took the Inca captive at the so-called ransom room. One year later, the Inca capital of Cuzco fell and was refounded as a new Spanish settlement in 1534.

Despite Pizarro's quick victory, Indian rebellions soon began and continued periodically throughout the colonial period. In 1537, Manco Inca, whom the Spanish had established as a puppet emperor, rebelled against the new rulers and restored a "neoInca" state. This state continued to challenge Spanish authority even after the Spanish suppressed the revolt and beheaded Túpac Amaru in the public square of Cuzco in 1572. Later revolts in the Bolivian highlands were usually organized by the elders of the community and remained local in nature, except for the great rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in the 18th century.

During the first two decades of Spanish rule, the settlement of the Bolivian highlands — now known as Upper (Alto) Peru or Charcas — was delayed by a civil war between the forces of Pizarro and those of Almagro. The two conquistadors had divided the Incan territory, with the north under the control of Pizarro and the south under that of Almagro. But fighting broke out in 1537 when Almagro seized Cuzco after suppressing the Manco Inca rebellion. Pizarro defeated and executed Almagro in 1538 but was himself assassinated three years later by former supporters of Almagro. Pizarro's brother Gonzalo assumed control of Upper Peru but soon became embroiled in a rebellion against the Spanish crown. Only with the execution of Gonzalo Pizarro in 1548 did Spain succeed in reasserting its authority; later that year, colonial authorities established the city of La Paz, which soon became an important commercial and trans-shipment center.

Indian resistance delayed the conquest and settlement of the Bolivian lowlands. The Spanish established Santa Cruz de la Sierra in 1561, but the Gran Chaco, the colonial name for the arid Chaco region, remained a violent frontier throughout colonial rule. In the Chaco, the Indians, mostly Chiriguano, carried out unrelenting attacks against colonial settlements and remained independent of direct Spanish control.

During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called "Upper Peru" or "Charcas" and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Lima. Local government came from the Real Audiencia of Charcas located in Chuquisaca or La Plata (modern Sucre). Bolivian silver mines produced much of the Spanish empire's wealth, and Potosí, site of the famed Cerro Rico — "Rich Mountain" — was, for many years, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere.

The longevity of Spain's empire in South America can be explained partly by the successful administration of the colonies. Spain was at first primarily interested in controlling the independent-minded conquerors, but its main goal soon became maintaining the flow of revenue to the crown and collecting the tribute of goods and labor from the Indian population. To this end, Spain soon created an elaborate bureaucracy in the New World in which various institutions served as watchdogs over each other and local officials had considerable autonomy.

Upper Peru, at first a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, joined the new Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (whose capital was Buenos Aires) when it was created in 1776. The viceroy was aided by the audiencia (council), which was simultaneously the highest court of appeal in the jurisdiction and, in the absence of the viceroy, also had administrative and executive powers. The wealth of Upper Peru and its remoteness from Lima convinced the authorities in Lima to create an audiencia in the city of Chuquisaca (present-day Sucre) in 1558. Chuquisaca had become particularly important as Potosí's administrative and agricultural supply center. The jurisdiction of the audiencia, known as Charcas, initially covered a radius of 100 leagues (1,796 km²) around Chuquisaca, but it soon included Santa Cruz and territory belonging to present-day Paraguay and, until 1568, also the entire district of Cuzco. The president of the audiencia had judicial authority as well as administrative and executive powers in the region, but only in routine matters; more important decisions were made in Lima. This situation led to a competitive attitude and the reputation of Upper Peru for assertiveness, a condition reinforced by the economic importance of the region.

Spain exercised its control of smaller administrative units in the colonies through royal officials, such as the corregidor, who represented the king in the municipal governments that were elected by their citizens. By the early 17th century, there were four corregidores in Upper Peru.

In the late 18th century, Spain undertook an administrative reform to increase revenues of the crown and eliminate a number of abuses. It created an intendancy system, giving extensive powers to highly qualified officials who were directly responsible to the king. In 1784, Spain established four intendancy districts in Upper Peru, covering the present-day departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosí, and Chuquisaca.

At first, the Spanish crown controlled the local governments indirectly, but in time slowly centralized procedures. At first, Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa confirmed the rights of local nobles and guaranteed them local autonomy. But the crown eventually came to employ Spanish officials, corregidores de indios, to collect tribute and taxes from the Indians. Corregidores de indios also imported goods and forced the Indians to buy them, a widely abused practice that proved to be an enormous source of wealth for these officials but caused much resentment among the Indian population.

With the first settlers in Upper Peru came the secular and regular clergy to begin the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. In 1552, the first bishopric in Upper Peru was established in La Plata; in 1605 La Paz and Santa Cruz also became bishoprics. In 1623, the Jesuits established the Royal and Pontifical Higher University of San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca, Upper Peru's first university.

Indian reaction to colonial rule and conversion to Christianity varied. Many Indians adapted to Spanish ways by breaking with their traditions and actively attempting to enter the market economy. They also used the courts to protect their interests, especially against new tribute assessments. Others, however, clung to their customs as much as possible, and some rebelled against the white rulers. Local, mostly uncoordinated, rebellions occurred throughout colonial rule. More than 100 revolts occurred in the 18th century alone in Bolivia and Peru.

Although the official Inca religion disappeared rapidly, the Indians continued their local worship under the protection of local Indian rulers. But as Christianity influenced the Indians, a new folk-Catholicism developed, incorporating symbols of the indigenous religion. Whereas early Indian rebellions were anti-Christian, the revolts at the end of the 16th century were based in messianic Christian symbolism that was Roman Catholic and anti-Spanish. The church was tolerant of local Indian religions. For example, in 1582 the bishop of La Plata permitted the Indians to build a sanctuary for the dark Virgen de Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Copacabana has been a traditional Aymara religious center ever since).

The conquest and colonial rule were traumatic experiences for the Indians. Easily susceptible to European diseases, the native population decreased rapidly. The situation worsened in the 18th century when Spain demanded higher tribute payments and increased mita obligations in an attempt to improve the mining output.

Increasing Indian discontent with colonial rule sparked the great rebellion of Túpac Amaru II. Born to José Gabriel Condorcanqui, this educated, Spanish-speaking Native American took the name of his ancestor, Túpac Amaru. During the 1770s, he became embittered over the harsh treatment of the Indians by the corregidores de indios. In November 1780, Túpac Amaru II and his followers seized and executed a particularly cruel corregidor de indios. Although Túpac Amaru II insisted that his movement was reformist and did not seek to overthrow Spanish rule, his demands included an autonomous region. The uprising quickly became a full-scale revolt. Approximately 60,000 Indians in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes rallied to the cause. After scoring some initial victories, including defeating a Spanish army of 1,200 men, Túpac Amaru II was captured and killed in May 1781; nonetheless, the revolt continued, primarily in Upper Peru. There, a supporter of Túpac Amaru II, the Indian chief Tomás Catari, had led an uprising in Potosí during the early months of 1780. Catari was killed by the Spaniards a month before Túpac Amaru II. Another major revolt was led by Julián Apaza, a sexton who took the names of the two rebel martyrs by calling himself Túpac Catari (also spelled Katari). He besieged La Paz for more than 100 days in 1781. In 1782, an Aymara woman, Bartolina Sisa, was executed for raising yet another revolt. Spain did not succeed in putting down all of the revolts until 1783 and then proceeded to execute thousands of Indians.

In the late 18th century, a growing discontent with Spanish rule developed among the criollos (persons of pure Spanish descent born in the New World). Criollos began to assume active roles in the economy, especially in mining and agricultural production, and thus resented the trade barriers established by the mercantalist policies of the Spanish crown. In addition, criollos were incensed that Spain reserved all higher administrative positions for peninsulares (Spanish-born persons residing in the New World).

The Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason, questioning of authority and tradition, and individualistic tendencies, also contributed to criollo discontent. The Inquisition had not kept the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, and others out of Spanish America; their ideas were often discussed by criollos, especially those educated at the university in Chuquisaca. At first the criollos of Upper Peru were influenced by the French Revolution, but they eventually rejected it as too violent. Although Upper Peru was fundamentally loyal to Spain, the ideas of the Enlightenment and independence from Spain continued to be discussed by scattered groups of radicals.

As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic Wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew. Bolivian historiography dates the proclamation of independence to 1809, but 16 years of struggle followed before the establishment of a republic, named for Simón Bolívar, on August 6, 1825.

The invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807-08 by Napoleon's forces proved critical to the independence struggle in South America. The overthrow of the Bourbon Dynasty and the placement of Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne tested the loyalty of the local elites in Upper Peru, who were suddenly confronted with several conflicting authorities. Most remained loyal to the Spanish Bourbons. Taking a wait-and-see attitude, they supported the Supreme Central Junta in Spain, a government which claimed to rule in the name of the abdicated Ferdinand VII. Some liberals eagerly welcomed the possible reforms to colonial rule promised by Joseph Bonaparte. A few officials supported the claims to a type of regency of the Spanish realms by Ferdinand's sister, Carlota, who at the moment governed from Brazil with her husband, Prince Regent John of Portugal. Finally, a small number of radical Criollos wanted independence for Upper Peru.

This conflict of authority resulted in a local power struggle in Upper Peru between 1808 and 1810, which constituted the first phase of the efforts to achieve independence. In 1808, the president of the Audiencia, Ramón García León de Pizarro, leaned towards affiliation with Carlotta. But the oidores of the Audiencia favored the Supreme Central Junta. On May 25, 1809, the oidores deposed President García León and established a junta to govern in the name of Ferdinand VII. On July 16, 1809, Pedro Domingo Murillo led another revolt by Criollos and Mestizos in La Paz and proclaimed an independent junta of Upper Peru, which would govern in the name of Ferdinand VII. By November 1809, Cochabamba, Oruro, and Potosí had joined the La Paz junta. Both revolts were put down by forces sent to La Paz by the viceroys of Peru and the Río de La Plata.

During the following seven years, Upper Peru became the battleground for forces of the United Provinces of the River Plate and royalist troops from Peru. Although the royalists repulsed three Argentine invasions, guerrillas controlled parts of the countryside, where they formed six major republiquetas, or zones of insurrection. In these zones, local patriotism would eventually develop into a full fight for independence. By 1817, Upper Peru was relatively quiet and under the control of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

After 1820, conservative Criollos supported General Pedro Antonio de Olañeta, a Charcas native, who refused to accept the restoration of the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812. Olañeta, convinced that these measures threatened royal authority, refused to join either the liberal royalist forces or the rebel armies under the command of Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre. Olañeta did not relinquish his command even after the Peruvian royalists included him and his forces in their capitulation agreement following their defeat in the Battle of Ayacucho in 1824. Olañeta continued a quixotic war during the following months until Sucre defeated him, and he was killed by his own men on April 1, 1825, in a battle that effectively ended Spanish rule in Upper Peru. A constitutional congress declared Bolivia an independent republic on August 6 and named the new republic in honor of Bolívar because it considered him its founder.

During the presidency of Mariscal Andrés de Santa Cruz, Bolivia enjoyed the most successful period of her history with great social and economic advancement. Santa Cruz got involved in internal Peruvian political problems and succeeded in unifying Peru and Bolivia into a confederation the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. As Santa Cruz openly declared the Inca Empire to have been awoken his state was perceived as a threat to regional power balance and a menace to countries on former Inca territory. The War of the Confederation broke out and different wars against almost all its neighbors were fought during this period with sound victories against its enemies but maybe the turning point took place on the fields of Paucarpata where the Confederacion Peru-Boliviana lead by Santa Cruz forced the Chilean and Peruvian rebel armies to sign the peace treaty know as the Paucarpata Treaty which included their unconditional surrender; later this treaty was discarded by the Chilean parliament. The rebel Peruvians and the Chilean army set off to a new war against Santa Cruz, defeating the Confederation on the fields of Yungay. This was the turning point on Bolivian history after this moment for nearly 60 years, coups and short-lived constitutions dominated Bolivian politics.

Going through a vicious economical and political crisis Bolivia's military 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 governmentsl applied laissez-faire policies through the first third of the century.

Living conditions of the indigenous peoples, who constitute more than half of the population, remained deplorable. Forced to work under primitive conditions in the mines and in nearly feudal status on large estates, they were denied access to education, economic opportunity, or political participation. Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932-1935) 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. A large portion of Gran Chaco was surrendered to Paraguay. In return Bolivia was given an access to the Paraguay River where later Puerto Busch was founded and with this free access to the Atlantic Ocean over international water. In 1936 the Standard Oil was nationalized and the state-owned firm Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) created. 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.

Standing alongside the Mexican Revolution, the Bolivian National Revolution is one of the most significant sociopolitical events to occur in Latin America during the 20th century. The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) emerged from the ashes of the Chaco War in 1941 as a middle-class political coalition eschewing Marxism for a vague nationalist ideology better suited to Bolivia's social reality. The MNR participated in the military-civilian regime of Gualberto Villarroel (1943-46) but was deposed in 1946 by the mining oligarchy and the Partido Izquierda Revolucionario (PIR). Its members fled into exile and spent the next six years organizing. The party intiatied a brief but bloody civil war in October 1949, but was defeated and once again, exiled. The MNR emerged victorious in the 1951 elections, but the results were called fraudulent by the opposition, and its right to the presidency was denied. On 9 April 1952, the MNR led a successful revolt and set into motion the Bolivian National Revolution. Under President Víctor Paz Estenssoro and later, Hernan Siles, the MNR introduced universal adult suffrage, carried out a sweeping land reform, promoted rural education, and, in 1952, nationalized the country's largest tin mines. What is especially significant about the Revolution is that, for the first time in Republican history, the State attempted to incorporate into national life the Aymara and Quechua peasants that together constituted no less than 65 percent of the total population. Although the policies pursued by the MNR were largely corporatist and assimilationist, it marked a significant turning point in Bolivia's contested history of indigenous-state relations.

Twelve more tumultuous years of national reform left the country bitterly divided and in 1964, a military junta overthrew President Paz Estenssoro at the outset of his third term; an event that many assert brought an end to the National Revolution and marked the beginning of nearly 20 years of military rule in Bolivia. Many scholars have looked to the CIA in explaining the November 1964 coup, but an increasing number of declassified U.S. documents refute the claim. Towards the end of Paz's second term, Barrientos — a popular, Quechua-speaking General — had succeeded in co-opting the peasant unions formed in the wake of the 1953 agrarian reform, establishing the Pacto Militar-Campesino (PMC). Throughout the 1960s Barriento leveled the peasant unions against labor unrest in the mines. The 1969 death of President René Barrientos, a former member of the junta elected President in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. A coup was led by the military, only to see a countercoup led by leftist Juan José Torres. Alarmed by public disorder, the military, the MNR, and others installed Col. (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez 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 Banzer's presidency, but demands for greater political freedom undercut his support. His call for elections in 1978 plunged Bolivia into turmoil once again.

Elections in 1978, 1979, and 1980 were inconclusive and marked by fraud. There were coups, counter-coups, and caretaker governments. In 1980, Gen. Luis García Meza carried out a ruthless and violent coup. His government was notorious for human rights abuses, narcotics trafficking, and economic mismanagement. This led to a breakdown in relations with the U.S., which under both the Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations refused to recognize García's government due to its drug ties. Later convicted in absentia for crimes, including murder, García Meza was extradited from Brazil and began serving a 30-year sentence in 1995. Garcia Meza recently published an unapologetic autobiography entitled simply, Yo Dictador.

After a military rebellion forced out García Meza in 1981, three other military governments within 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing problems. Unrest forced the military to convoke the Congress elected in 1980 and allowed it to choose a new chief executive. In October 1982 -22 years after the end of his first term of office (1956-60)- Hernán Siles Zuazo again became President. Severe social tension, exacerbated by economic mismanagement and weak leadership, forced him to call early elections and relinquish power a year before the end of his constitutional term.

In the 1985 elections, the Nationalist Democratic Action Party (ADN) of Gen. Banzer won a plurality of the popular vote, followed by former President Paz Estenssoro's MNR and former Vice President Jaime Paz Zamora's Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR). But in the congressional run-off, the MIR sided with MNR, and Paz Estenssoro was chosen for a fourth term as President. When he took office in 1985, he faced a staggering economic crisis. Economic output and exports had been declining for several years.

Hyperinflation had reached an annual rate of 24,000%. Social unrest, chronic strikes, and unchecked drug trafficking were widespread. 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 no longer a problem. However, his remarkable accomplishments were not won without sacrifice. The collapse of tin prices in October 1985, coming just as the government was moving to reassert its control of the mismanaged state mining enterprise, forced the government to lay off over 20,000 miners.

Although the MNR list headed by Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada finished first in the 1989 elections, no candidate received a majority of popular votes and so in accordance with the constitution, a congressional vote determined who would be president. The Patriotic Accord (AP) coalition between Gen. Banzer's ADN and Jaime Paz Zamora's MIR, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, won out. Paz Zamora assumed the presidency, and the MIR took half the ministries. Banzer's center-right ADN took control of the National Political Council (CONAP) and the other ministries.

Paz Zamora was a moderate, center-left President whose political pragmatism in office outweighed his Marxist origins. Having seen the destructive hyperinflation of the Siles Zuazo administration, he continued the neoliberal economic reforms begun by Paz Estenssoro, codifying some of them. Paz Zamora took a fairly hard line against domestic terrorism, personally ordering the December 1990 attack on terrorists of the Néstor Paz Zamora Committee.

Paz Zamora's regime was less decisive against narcotics trafficking. The government broke up a number of trafficking networks but issued a 1991 surrender decree giving lenient sentences to the biggest narcotics kingpins. Also, his administration was extremely reluctant to pursue coca eradication. It did not agree to an updated extradition treaty with the US, although two traffickers have been extradited to the U.S. since 1992. Beginning in early 1994, the Bolivian Congress investigated Paz Zamora's personal ties to accused major trafficker Isaac Chavarria, who subsequently died in prison while awaiting trial. MIR deputy chief Oscar Eid was jailed in connection with similar ties in 1994; he was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years in prison in November 1996. Technically still under investigation, Paz Zamora became an active presidential candidate in 1996.

The 1993 elections continued the tradition of open, honest elections and peaceful democratic transitions of power. The MNR defeated the ADN/MIR coalition by a 36% to 20% margin, and the MNR's Sánchez de Lozada was selected as president by an MNR/MBL/UCS coalition in the Congress.

Sánchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform agenda. The most dramatic change undertaken by the Sanchez de Lozada government was the capitalization program, under which investors acquired 50% ownership and management control of public enterprises, such as the Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) oil-corporation, telecommunications system, electric utilities, and others. The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain segments of society, which instigated frequent social disturbances, particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994 through 1996.

In the 1997 elections, Gen. Hugo Banzer, leader of the ADN, won 22% of the vote, while the MNR candidate won 18%. Gen. Banzer formed a coalition of the ADN, MIR, UCS, and CONDEPA parties which hold a majority of seats in the Bolivian Congress. The Congress elected him as president and he was inaugurated on August 6, 1997.

Between January and April 2000, a series of anti-privatization protests took place in Cochabamba against the privatization of the municipal water supply that was being pushed through on the recommendation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Bolivian government declared martial law, killing several people, arresting protest leaders and shutting down radio stations. After continued disturbances and civic pressure, the government finally rolled back the privatization on April 10, 2000.

President Hugo Banzer resigned in August 2001, due to being diagnosed with lung cancer. He was succeeded by his vice-president, Jorge Quiroga. In the 2002 elections, Sánchez de Lozada ran again, and narrowly beat NFR's Manfred Reyes Villa and the cocalero and indigenous leader Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, in an election claimed to have been tainted by clear signs of electoral fraud.

Several days before Bolivians went to the voting booths, the U.S. ambassador, Manuel Rocha, warned the Bolivian electorate that, if they voted for Morales, the US would cut off foreign aid and close its markets to the country. Morales nonetheless received nearly 21% of the vote, putting him only a couple points behind Sánchez de Lozada.

In recent years, an increasingly divisive conflict has been the Bolivian Gas War; a dispute over the exploitation of Bolivia's large natural gas reserves in the south of the country.

Strikes and blockades first erupted in September 2003, with several deaths and dozens of injuries in confrontations with the armed forces. President Sánchez de Lozada resigned under pressure from protesters, formally handing over the presidency to his vice-president, Carlos Mesa, in order to preserve the Constitutional order. He fled the country to the United States. Mesa was inaugurated and promised to address the demands of the protesting majority. In the face of mounting protests, he resigned on 7 March 2005, claiming he was unable to continue governing the country. With promises of support, he withdrew his resignation.

In May-June 2005, Mesa again tendered his resignation and in a hastily convened session of the Parliament in Sucre, Mr.Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé - the President of the Supreme Court - became President on the night of June 9, 2005. Political agreements were reached to modify the Constitution, and allow the full renewal of Parliament, simultaneously with a Presidential Election, on December 4, 2005.

In the elections of December 2005 Evo Morales and MAS obtained a comfortable victory reaching 54% of the electorate's votes.

In March 2006, president Evo Morales announced the increase of the minimum wage by 50%. However, six Bolivian workers in every ten are part of the informal economy, thus limiting the extent of such a legally mandated increase in wages.

On May 1, 2006, Evo Morales delivered on his promises to nationalize most of Bolivia's natural gas fields, which many indigenous Bolivians had demanded for years. Troops were sent in to occupy the gas fields and take back control from foreign companies that same day. Many were operated by Petrobras, Brazil's largest energy company, and this political development was expected to strain relations between Morales and Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. On October 29, 2006, the Morales government signed agreements with eight foreign gas firms including Petrobras, to give the Bolivian national gas company a majority stake in the gas fields, bringing the nationalization to completion.

On May 4, 2008, autonomy referendums were held in four eastern departments, in which they declared themselves autonomous from the central government. All four referendums passed. Evo Morales deemed this referendum illegal. Turnout was as low as 70%.

In February 2009 a new constitution was enacted by Evo Morales. This gave Bolivians of indigenous descent more economic and political rights.

Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website. This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain.

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Economy of Bolivia

A macro picture of some Bolivian coins.

The economy of Bolivia has had a historic pattern of a single-commodity focus. From silver to tin to coca, Bolivia has enjoyed only occasional periods of economic diversification. Political instability and difficult topography have constrained efforts to modernize the agricultural sector. Similarly, relatively low population growth coupled with low life expectancy has kept the labor supply in flux and prevented industries from flourishing. Rampant inflation and corruption also have thwarted development. The mining industry, especially the extraction of natural gas and zinc, currently dominates Bolivia’s export economy.

Bolivia's 2002 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $9 billion. Economic growth is about 2.5% a year and inflation expected to be between 3% and 4% in 2002 (it was under 1% in 2001).

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 ($7 billion in stock during 1996-2002), FDI flows have subsided in recent years as investors complete their capitalization contract obligations.

In 1996, three units of the Bolivian state oil corporation (YPFB) involved in hydrocarbon exploration, production, and transportation were capitalized, facilitating the construction of a gas pipeline to Brazil. The government has a long-term sales agreement to sell 30 million cubic metres a day (MMcmd) of natural gas to Brazil through 2019. The Brazil pipeline carried about 21 MMcmd in 2000. Bolivia has the second-largest natural gas reserves in South America, and its current domestic use and exports to Brazil account for just a small portion of its potential production. Natural gas exports to Argentina resumed in 2004 at 4 MM cmd.

The government held a binding referendum in 2004 on plans to export natural gas and on hydrocarbons law reform. Protest and widespread 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.

Bolivian exports were $1.3 billion in 2002, from a low of $652 million in 1991. Imports were $1.7 billion in 2002. Bolivian tariffs are a uniformly low 10%, with capital equipment charged only 5%. Bolivia's trade deficit was $460 million in 2002.

Bolivia'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). Bolivia began to implement an association agreement with MERCOSUR (Southern Cone Common Market) in March 1997. The agreement provides for the gradual creation of a free trade area covering at least 80% of the trade between the parties over a 10-year period, though economic crises in the region have derailed progress at integration. 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. In 2002, the United States exported $283 million of merchandise to Bolivia and imported $162 million. 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. A Bilateral Investment Treaty between the United States and Bolivia came into effect in 2001. 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 was one of three countries in the Western Hemisphere selected for eligibility for the Millennium Challenge Account and is participating as an observer in FTA negotiations.

Bolivia had an estimated GDP of US$22.3 billion in 2004, with a growth rate from the previous year of 3.7 percent. Bolivia experienced a budget deficit of about US$500 million in 2004. Expenditures were nearly US$2.8 billion while revenues amounted to only about US$2.3 billion. Inflation has plagued, and at times crippled, the Bolivian economy since the 1970s. At one time in 1985, Bolivia experienced an inflation rate of more than 20,000 percent. Fiscal and monetary reform reduced the inflation rate to single digits by the 1990s, and in 2004 Bolivia experienced a manageable 4.9 percent rate of inflation.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing: Agriculture, forestry, and fishing accounted for 14 percent of Bolivia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2003, down from 28 percent in 1986. Combined, these activities employ nearly 44 percent of Bolivia’s workers. Most agricultural workers are engaged in subsistence farming--the dominant economic activity of the highlands region. Agricultural production in Bolivia is complicated by both the country’s topography and climate. High elevations make farming difficult, as do the El Niño weather patterns and seasonal flooding. Bolivia’s agricultural GDP continues to rise but has attained only a rather modest average growth rate of 2.8 percent annually since 1991. Bolivia’s most lucrative agricultural product continues to be coca, of which Bolivia is currently the world’s third largest cultivator. The Bolivian government, in response to international pressure, has worked to restrict coca cultivation for the use of producing cocaine. However, eradication efforts have been hampered by the lack of a suitable replacement crop for rural communities that have cultivated coca for generations. Since 2001, Andrea Bolivia’s leading legal agricultural export has been soybeans. Additionally, cotton, coffee, and sugarcane have been viable exports for Bolivia. For domestic consumption, corn, wheat, and potatoes are the crops of choice of Bolivian farmers. Despite its vast forests, Bolivia has only a minor timber industry. In 2003 timber accounted for only 3.5 percent of export earnings. The Forestry Law of 1996 imposed a tax on sawn timber and consequently cut Bolivian timber exports significantly. The tax was used to establish the Forestry Stewardship Council, which has been only minimally successful in forest restoration efforts and eliminating illegal logging. With increased efficiency, Bolivia could likely expand the profitability of its forest resources, while still protecting them from overexploitation. Bolivia has a small fishing industry that taps the country’s freshwater lakes and streams. The annual catch averages about 6,000 tons.

Mining continues to be vital to Bolivia’s economy. The collapse of the world tin market in the 1980s led to a restructuring of the industry. The state dramatically reduced its control and presently operates only a small portion of mining activities. Small-scale operations, often with low productivity, employ many former state miners. Natural gas has supplanted tin and silver as the country’s most valuable natural commodity. A discovery in 1997 confirmed a tenfold gain in Bolivia’s known natural gas reserves. Finding markets to utilize this resource, both domestically and internationally, has been slowed by a lack of infrastructure and conflicts over the state’s role in controlling natural resources. Although the world tin market has reemerged, Bolivia now faces stiff competition from Southeast Asian countries producing lower-cost alluvial tin. Gold and silver production has increased dramatically over the past decade. Annually, as of 2002 Bolivia extracted and exported more than 11,000 kilograms of gold and 461 tons of silver. Additionally, Bolivia has increased zinc production, extracting more than 100,000 tons each year. Other metals excavated include antimony, iron, and tungsten.

Bolivia is energy self-sufficient. The country’s energy needs are relatively small but growing consistently. Bolivia uses oil for the majority of its power needs, followed by natural gas. The country has large reserves of both. Bolivia’s energy sector changed significantly when the government allowed privatization in the mid-1990s. International companies quickly invested in Bolivian energy sources, particularly in natural gas, and made Bolivia into a player in the world energy market. The exportation of Bolivian energy resources, while potentially lucrative economically, has been politically hazardous. President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada ultimately resigned over his plan to export natural gas to the United States and Mexico in 2003. Subsequent politicians have been hesitant to act decisively even though Bolivia’s economy could readily use an export boost. On June 6, 2005, President Carlos Mesa offered his resignation to the Bolivian Congress after months of demonstrations by Bolivia’s Indian population calling for renationalizing the natural gas and oil sectors. Mesa had increased taxation on foreign companies while still encouraging their investment in Bolivian energy development. Bolivia has estimated oil reserves of 441 million barrels (70,100,000 m3), the fifth largest in South America. The country’s natural gas reserves total 27.6 trillion cubic feet (780 km3) according to Bolivian government figures, ranking Bolivia behind only Venezuela in terms of proven natural gas reserves in South America. Additionally, Bolivia produces more electricity with its nine power companies than it can consume. In 2002 Bolivia generated 4.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity but consumed only 3.8 billion kilowatt-hours.

Annually, manufacturing has accounted for approximately 18 percent of Bolivia’s gross domestic product since 1995. Most industry is small-scale, aimed at regional markets rather than national operations. Inadequate credit options and competition from the black market have kept Bolivia’s manufacturing sector from developing fully. Leading manufactured goods in Bolivia include textiles, clothing, non-durable consumer goods, processed soya, refined metals, and refined petroleum.

The services industry in Bolivia remains undeveloped. Inhabiting one of the poorest countries in South America, Bolivians have weak purchasing power. The retail sector suffers from weak demand and competition with a large black market of contraband goods. U.S. companies such as McDonald’s and Domino’s have pulled out of Bolivia in recent years.

Banking in Bolivia has long suffered from corruption and weak regulation. However, a series of reforms initiated by the 1993 Banking Law and subsequent acts are gradually improving Bolivia’s banking sector. Bolivia has a central bank and nine private banks. Consolidation occurred following reforms, lowering the number of private banks in Bolivia from 14 in 1995 to nine in 2003. Foreign participation and investment in Bolivian banks are allowed. About 90 percent of Bolivian bank deposits are held in U.S. dollars. The Bolivian government is trying to change this situation by taxing dollarized accounts while exempting boliviano accounts from the tax. As recently as 2002, 27 percent of all loans were non-performing, leading most foreign investors to focus their resources in the somewhat-safer venue of corporate lending. Most bank lending in 2003 went to manufacturing (24 percent), followed by property services (18 percent) and trade and retail (16 percent). Bad debt remains at a historically high level. Further reforms are necessary, including the pending act to introduce a deposit guarantee system. Bolivia’s stock market expanded in 1998 to include corporate bonds, along with the money market and government bond options that had existed previously. The privatization of Bolivia’s social security program has bolstered the stock market.

Bolivia’s spectacular vistas and natural attractions have not been enough to transform the country into a major tourist destination because of its political instability and lack of first-class accommodations. Still, Bolivia’s tourist industry has grown gradually over the past 15 years. In 2000 Bolivia attracted 306,000 tourists, compared with 254,000 in 1990. Tourist revenue peaked at US$179 million in 1999. Tourism in Bolivia declined following the September 11 ,2001 attack on the United States, as was the case across North and South America.

The economic downturn of the late 1990s, coupled with privatization and austerity efforts led by President Mesa, resulted in significant unemployment. Although the Bolivian government does not keep unemployment statistics, outside experts estimate unemployment to be between 8 and 10 percent of the population. Underemployment of Bolivia’s workforce of nearly 4 million is also widespread. As a result of the lack of formal employment opportunities, nearly 65 percent of the urban workforce was self-employed in 2002. Labor unions have a strong history in Bolivia. Many workers in the formal sector belong to unions. The larger unions, such as the Bolivian Labor Federation and the Trade Union Federation of Bolivian Mine Workers, have been successful in rallying workers to countless strikes and work stoppages. Nevertheless, working conditions for most Bolivian workers are difficult.

Bolivia was a founding member of the Andean Group, a South American organization designed to promote trade among Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Subsequently renamed the Andean Community (Comunidad Andina—CAN), the organization has succeeded in increasing intra-South American trade. Trade among member countries rose from US$3.6 billion in 1991 to US$10.3 billion in 2003. Bolivia also belongs to the Common Market of the South (Mercado Común del Sur—Mercosur). Bolivia became an associate member in 1997 in order to open investment opportunities with the founding Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay), as well as other Mercosur associate members (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela). Bolivia conducted more than US$1 billion in trade with Mercosur countries in 2003. As a result of negotiations initiated in 1999 on a possible South American Free Trade Area (SAFTA), the two groups announced in December 2004 that they would merge, creating a South American Community of Nations patterned after the European Union.

Bolivian imports of goods and services were valued at about US$2.1 billion in 2004. The import of consumer goods increased for the first time since 2002. By sector, Bolivia imported mostly intermediate goods, followed by industrial, capital, and consumer goods. Leading sources of Bolivian imports include Brazil, Argentina, the United States, and Chile.

Bolivian exports of goods and services in 2004 stood at more than US$2.1 billion compared with US$1.9 billion in 2003. Increased production of hydrocarbons, especially natural gas, led Bolivia’s trade upturn in 2004. A 20-year supply contract with Brazil for natural gas, ending in 2019, the necessary capital to increase production. In 2004 export revenues for natural gas topped US$619 million. Bolivia also exported significant quantities of petroleum. Beyond hydrocarbons, other significant exports included zinc, soya, iron ore, and tin. In 2001 Brazil overtook the United States as Bolivia’s primary export outlet. Switzerland, Venezuela, and Colombia are also important export partners. Bolivia has actively sought to foster economic connections in South America after long relying on the United States as its primary trade partner.

According to the United States Geological Survey, Bolivia has 5.4 million tons of lithium, which can be used to make batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. This is the largest known concentration of lithium in any country, as Chile only has 3 million known tons of lithium and the United States has only 410,000 tons. However, these large deposits are located in desert regions farmed by indigenous groups who will most likely want a share of any profits made from their natural resources. Adding to this is the fact that Bolivian President Evo Morales is not known to be friendly to European and American businesses, as he has already nationalized the country's oil and natural gas reserves.

Bolivia had an estimated trade surplus of more than US$340 million in 2004. This figure represents a marked change in Bolivia’s economic balance sheet. Bolivia reached a peak trade deficit of US$888 million in 1998 before increased hydrocarbon exports radically altered the situation.

Bolivia had a large negative balance of payments for 2002⎯US$317 million. However, this situation has been remedied by the vast increase in export revenue. Estimates for the balance of payments for 2004 show a record surplus of US$126 million. Bolivia’s external debt totaled an estimated US$5.7 billion in 2004. The International Monetary Fund has assisted Bolivia in paying down this debt. In 1995 the United States, among other countries, reduced Bolivia’s debt by two-thirds.

Bolivia’s currency is the boliviano (BOB). The exchange rate in January 2006 was about 8 bolivianos per US$1.

Foreign investment in Bolivia was buoyed in 1995 by privatization. Investment in mining and natural gas extraction increased, as did investment in the banking sector. However, the economic decline of the late 1990s, along with political unrest, caused foreign investors to pull out of Bolivia once again. In 2000 foreign investors contributed US$736 million to the Bolivian economy. In 2002 this total fell to US$676 million.

In 2007, India's third largest steel manufacturer, Jindal Steel and Power Limited, signed a contract with the Bolivian government to exploit the Mutun iron ore depoist, considered to be one of the largest in the world. According to the contract, Jindal would invest US$ 1.5 billion initially and an additional US$ 2.5 billion over the next eight years. This is the single largest investment by an Indian firm in Latin America. The mining is expected to create 6,000 jobs directly and another 15,000 indirectly. The Indian company projects handling 25 million tonnes of minerals per day. Through this deal, Bolivian government has shown its intent to decrease its economic reliance on Brazil and United States and develop closer ties with other emerging major economic powers, like China and India.

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List of birds of Bolivia

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Bolivia. The avifauna of Bolivia includes a total of 1448 species, of which 25 are endemic, 2 have been introduced by humans, and 12 are rare or accidental. 31 species are globally threatened.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Bolivia.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. It must be noted that not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are commonly occurring, native species.

Non-passerines: Rheas . Tinamous . Grebes . Cormorants . Darters . Bitterns, Herons and Egrets . Storks . Ibises and Spoonbills . Flamingos . Screamers . Ducks, Geese and Swans . New World vultures . Osprey . Hawks, Kites and Eagles . Caracaras and Falcons . Guans, Chachalacas and allies . New World quails . Hoatzin . Limpkins . Trumpeters . Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, and Coots . Sungrebe and Finfoots . Sunbittern . Seriemas . Jacanas . Avocets and Stilts . Plovers and Lapwings . Sandpipers and allies . Seedsnipes . Gulls . Terns . Skimmers . Pigeons and Doves . Parrots, Macaws and allies . Cuckoos and Anis . Barn owls . Typical owls . Oilbird . Potoos . Nightjars . Swifts . Hummingbirds . Trogons and Quetzals . Kingfishers . Motmots . Jacamars . Puffbirds . Barbets . Toucans . Woodpeckers and allies .

Passerines: Ovenbirds . Woodcreepers . Typical antbirds . Antthrushes and Antpittas . Gnateaters . Tapaculos . Cotingas . Manakins . Tyrant flycatchers . Swallows and Martins . Wagtails and Pipits . Dippers . Wrens . Mockingbirds and Thrashers . Thrushes and allies . Gnatcatchers . Crows, Jays, Ravens and Magpies . Vireos . New World warblers . Bananaquit . Tanagers . Buntings, Sparrows, Seedeaters and allies . Saltators, Cardinals and allies . Troupials and allies . Siskins, Crossbills and allies . Sparrows .

The rheas are large flightless birds native to South America. Their feet have three toes rather than four which allows them to run faster. There are 2 species and 2 species which occur in Bolivia.

The tinamous are one of the most ancient groups of bird. Although they look similar to other ground-dwelling birds like quail and grouse, they have no close relatives and are classified as a single family Tinamidae within their own order, the Tinamiformes. They are distantly related to the ratites (order Struthioniformes), that includes the rheas, emu, and kiwi. There are 47 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Bolivia.

Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

Darters are frequently referred to as "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have a much paler plumage especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet, and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving. There are 4 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds suck as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Bolivia.

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide and 9 species which occur in Bolivia.

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bolivia.

The screamers are a small family of birds related to the ducks. They are large, bulky birds, with a small downy head, long legs and large feet which are only partially webbed. They have large spurs on their wings which are used in fights over mates and territorial disputes. There are 3 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bolivia.

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 24 species which occur in Bolivia.

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carrion. There are 7 species worldwide, all of which are found only in the Americas, and 6 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the Osprey. The Osprey is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 46 species which occur in Bolivia.

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Cracidae are large birds, similar in general appearance to turkeys. The guans and curassows live in trees, but the smaller chachalacas are found in more open scrubby habitats. They are generally dull-plumaged, but the curassows and some guans have colourful facial ornaments. There are 50 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Bolivia.

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. There are 32 species worldwide, all found only in the Americas, and 4 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Hoatzin is pheasant-sized - but much slimmer - long-tailed, long-necked and has a small head. It has an unfeathered blue face with red eyes, and its head is topped by spiky crest. It is a weak flier which is found in te swamps of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.

The Limpkin resembles a large rail. It has drab brown plumage and a greyer head and neck.

The trumpeters are dumpy birds with long necks and legs, and chicken-like bills. They are named for the trumpeting call of the males. There are 3 species worldwide, restricted to the Amazon basin, and 3 species which occur in Bolivia.

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 25 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Heliornithidae are small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet similar to those of grebes and coots. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

The Sunbittern is a bittern-like bird of tropical regions of the Americas, and the sole member of the family Eurypygidae (sometimes spelled Eurypigidae) and genus Eurypyga.

The seriemas are terrestrial birds which run rather than fly (though they are able to fly for short distances.) They have long legs, necks, and tails, but only short wings, reflecting their way of life. They are brownish birds with short bills and erectile crests, found on fairly dry open grasslands. There are 2 species and 2 species which occur in Bolivia.

The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide in the Tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. There 8 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bolivia.

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide and 11 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Bolivia.

The seedsnipes are a small family of birds that superficially resemble sparrows. They have short legs and long wings and are herbivorous waders. There are 4 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bolivia.

Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bolivia.

Terns are a group of generally general medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bolivia.

Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 308 species worldwide and 27 species which occur in Bolivia.

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and the have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species worldwide and 51 species which occur in Bolivia.

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 16 species which occur in Bolivia.

Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 27 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Oilbird is a slim, long-winged bird related to the nightjars. It is nocturnal and a specialist feeder on the fruit of the Oil palm.

The potoos (sometimes called Poor-Me-Ones) are large near passerine birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. They are nocturnal insectivores which lack the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars. There are 5 species, all of which are from the South American tropical region, and 5 species which occur in Bolivia.

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 21 species which occur in Bolivia.

Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Bolivia.

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 337 species worldwide and 83 species which occur in Bolivia.

The family Trogonidae includes trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. There are 33 species worldwide and 10 species which occur in Bolivia.

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Bolivia.

The motmots have colorful plumage and long, graduated tails, which they display by waggling back and forth. In most of the species, the barbs near the ends of the two longest (central) tail feathers are weak and fall off, leaving a length of bare shaft, and creating a racket-shaped tail. There are 10 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bolivia.

The jacamars are near passerine birds from tropical South America, with a range that extends up to Mexico. They are glossy elegant birds with long bills and tails, which feed on insects caught on the wing. In appearance and behaviour they show resemblances to the Old World bee-eaters, although they are more closely related to woodpeckers. There are 18 species and 11 species that occur in Bolivia.

The puffbirds are related to the jacamars, and have the same range, but lack the iridescent colours of that family. They are mainly brown, rufous or grey, with large heads and flattened bills with a hooked tip. The loose abundant plumage and short tails makes them look stout and puffy, giving rise to the English common name of the family. There are 34 species and 19 species which occur in Bolivia.

The barbets are plump birds, with short necks and large heads. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. Most species are brightly coloured. There are 84 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Bolivia.

Toucans are near passerine birds from the neotropics. They are brightly marked and have enormous, colourful bills which in some species may amount to half their body length. There are 40 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Bolivia.

Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species worldwide and 37 species which occur in Bolivia.

Ovenbirds comprise a large family of small sub-oscine passerine bird species found in Central and South America. They are a diverse group of insectivores which gets its name from the elaborate "oven-like" clay nests built by some species, although others build stick nests or nest in tunnels or clefts in rock. There are 243 species worldwide and 102 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Dendrocolaptidae are brownish birds and maintain an upright vertical posture, supported by their stiff tail vanes. They feed mainly on insects taken from tree trunks. There are 57 species worldwide and 27 species which occur in Bolivia.

The antbirds are a large family of small passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America. They are forest birds, and tend to feed on insects at or near the ground. A sizable minority of them specialize in following columns of army ants to eat the small invertebrates that leave hiding to flee the ants.Many species lack bright colour; brown, black and white being the dominant tones. There are about 212 species worldwide and 79 species which occur in Bolivia.

The ground antbirds are a family comprising the antthrushes and antpittas. Antthrushes resemble small rails while antpittas resemble the true pittas with longish strong legs, very short tails and stout bills. There are about 63 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Bolivia.

The gnateaters are round, short-tailed, and long-legged birds, which are closely related to the antbirds. There are 8 species worldwide, all found in South America, and 3 species which occur in Bolivia.

The tapaculos are a group of small suboscine passeriform birds with numerous species, found in South America. They are terrestrial species that fly only poorly on their short wings. They have strong legs, well-suited to their habitat of grassland or forest undergrowth. The tail is cocked and pointed towards the head. There are 56 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Bolivia.

The manakins are a family bird species of subtropical and tropical mainland Central and South America, and Trinidad and Tobago. They are compact forest birds, the males typically being brightly coloured, although the females of most species are duller and usually green-plumaged. Manakins feed on small fruits, berries and insects. There are 57 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Bolivia.

Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, have plain colouring. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 429 species worldwide, all found only in the Americas and 213 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Bolivia.

Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Bolivia.

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 80 species worldwide (of which all but one are New World species) and 15 species which occur in Bolivia.

The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, especially their ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. Their colouring tends towards dull greys and browns . There are 35 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Bolivia.

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 21 species which occur in Bolivia.

These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their build and habits, moving restlessly through the foliage seeking insects. The gnatcatchers and gnatwrens are mainly soft bluish grey in colour, and have the typical insectivore's long sharp bill. They are birds of fairly open woodland or scrub, and nest in bushes or trees. There are 15 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learning behavior. There are 120 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Bolivia.

The vireos are a group of small to medium sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in colour and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 52 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Bolivia.

The New World warblers are a group of small, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 119 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Bolivia.

The Bananaquit is a small passerine bird. It has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers and is the only member of the genus Coereba (Vieillot, 1809) and is normally placed within the family Coerebidae, although there is uncertainty whether that placement is correct.

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly coloured. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings. There are 256 species worldwide and 96 species which occur in Bolivia.

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are species 275 worldwide and 83 species which occur in Bolivia.

The cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 43 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Bolivia.

The icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as the predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 98 species worldwide and 30 species which occur in Bolivia.

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Bolivia.

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Bolivia.

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Source : Wikipedia