Portal:Bolivia

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Portal:Bolivia


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Physical map of Bolivia

Bolivia (/bəˈlɪviə/ (About this sound listen); Spanish: [boˈliβja]; Guarani: Mborivia [ᵐboˈɾiʋja]; Quechua: Buliwya [bʊlɪwja]; Aymara: Wuliwya [wʊlɪwja]), officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia), is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The capital is Sucre while the seat of government is located in La Paz. The largest city and principal economic and financial center is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located on the Llanos Orientales (Tropical lowlands) a mostly flat region in the East of Bolivia.

It is constitutionally a unitary state, divided into nine departments. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is bordered to the north and east by Brazil, to the southeast by Paraguay, to the south by Argentina, to the southwest by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. One-third of the country is within the Andean mountain range. With 1,098,581 km2 (424,164 sq mi) of area, Bolivia is the 5th largest country in South America and the 27th largest in the world.

The country's population, estimated at 11 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The racial and social segregation that arose from Spanish colonialism has continued to the modern era. Spanish is the official and predominant language, although 36 indigenous languages also have official status, of which the most commonly spoken are Guarani, Aymara and Quechua languages.

Before Spanish colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire, while the northern and eastern lowlands were inhabited by independent tribes. Spanish conquistadors arriving from Cuzco and Asunción took control of the region in the 16th century. During the Spanish colonial period Bolivia was administered by the Royal Audiencia of Charcas. Spain built its empire in great part upon the silver that was extracted from Bolivia's mines. After the first call for independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolívar. Over the course of the 19th and early 20th century Bolivia lost control of several peripheral territories to neighboring countries including the seizure of its coastline by Chile in 1879. Bolivia remained relatively politically stable until 1971, when Hugo Banzer led a coup d'état which replaced the unstable government of Juan José Torres with a military dictatorship headed by Banzer. Banzer's presidency oversaw rapid economic growth which stabilized the country, while his regime cracked down on leftist and socialist opposition and other forms of dissent, resulting in the torture and deaths of a number of Bolivian citizens. Banzer was ousted in 1978 and later returned as the democratically elected president of Bolivia from 1997 to 2001.

Modern Bolivia is a charter member of the UN, IMF, NAM, OAS, ACTO, Bank of the South, ALBA and USAN. For over a decade Bolivia has had one of the fastest economic growths in Latin America, however it remains one of the poorest countries in South America. It is a developing country, with a medium ranking in the Human Development Index, a poverty level of 38.6 percent, and it is one of the top three safest countries in Latin America. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very rich in minerals, especially tin.

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San Pedro prison or El penal de San Pedro is the largest prison in La Paz, Bolivia renowned for being a society within itself. Significantly different from most correctional facilities, inmates at San Pedro have jobs inside the community, buy or rent their accommodation, and often live with their families. The sale of cocaine base to visiting tourists gives those inside a significant income and an unusual amount of freedom within the prison walls. Elected leaders enforce the laws of the community, with stabbings being commonplace. The prison is home to approximately 1,500 inmates, with additional guests staying in the prison hotel.

The book Marching Powder, written by Rusty Young and published in 2003, describes the experiences of the British inmate Thomas McFadden who became known for offering prison tours to tourists.

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State flag of Bolivia, from the xrmap flag collection 2.9.
Credit: Denelson83
The flag of Bolivia adopted on October 31, 1851 by the government of Manuel Isidoro Belzu

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