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Bolivia
Map of Bolivia

February 2008

Bolivia, a landlocked country in South America, has long been important in global economic affairs. For centuries, its vast natural resources have brought foreign investors to Bolivia. The wealth generated under foreign control has rarely enhanced the lives of its indigenous population, Indian tribes that have remained ethnically distinct for several hundred years. In December 2005, Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales, who has already begun to deliver on his promises to use the country's material wealth to enhance the lives of all of its citizens. The world watches to see if Bolivia can indeed change the course of its history and model a new understanding of economic nationalism.

Debra Block, Director of Education, NBLMC

BOLIVIA FACTS

WHERE

Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America.

WHAT

Despite enormous natural resources, 65% of Bolivians live in poverty. In 2005, Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales, who promises to use the wealth of the country for all of its residents.

WHY

The large indigenous population has begun to use the power of its numbers to correct centuries of inequity and share in its nation's bounty.

WHEN

Morales began nationalizing key industries 6 months after he was elected.

Key Facts (as percent of total)

Percentage of Population Involved in Agriculture: 44%

Agricultural Revenue as a Percentage of GDP: 14%

Percent of government revenues spent on education: 23%

Percent of land available for farming: 15%

Total health expenditure/person: $176 (2003)

Interesting Facts

Bolivia has two capitals, Sucre and La Paz.

La Paz is the highest capital in the world at 3600 meters.

Important Names

Evo Morales
Morales is the current president of Bolivia and the first indigenous person to be elected to the position. An Aymara Indian, he began his political career organizing coca farmers to protest the forced reduction of this crop's cultivation, which is central to the lifestyle of many native Bolivians. He pursues a policy of neosocialism in an effort to end centuries of elite control of Bolivia's wealth.

Hugo Chavez
Chavez is the current president of Venezuela and a political demagogue who uses his nation's vast oil wealth to promote an anti-American stand. He expresses the desire to unite the nations of South America and provide a genuine alternative to the looming power of the United States. He assumes extreme positions and his rhetoric finds support among his geographic neighbors as many are tired of the perceived cultural imperialism and economic disregard of the United States.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (http://maps.bpl.org)