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Bolivia: a General Understanding

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Bolivia
Standing as only one of the two landlocked countries in South America, Bolivia contains some of the worlds most resourceful vegetation as well as remnants of ancient cultures. Although rich with natural resources, like most developing nations, poverty is a reality for a large majority of Bolivia. Along with having the challenge of being a developing region, Bolivia is landlocked. This, without a doubt, only adds to the difficult task the Bolivian economy faces. However, positive change is taking form in most third world regions of the earth. With everyday, more volunteer groups, private investments, and modern medicine aid countries like Bolivia with their domestic, economic, and political complications.
Bolivia is divided into three major geographical groupings defined by the Andes. The first being the collection of mountains found in the West along with the Altiplano. The second major geographical region is located in the valleys formed from the eastern mountain slopes. These valleys provide a semi tropical environment allowing for appropriate agricultural activities. However, the third geographical area contain plains that stretch across 63% of the country. These eastern lowlands(plains) are also referred to as Oriente. The rest is virtually the Andes mountains that literally split the landlocked country in half. The smaller half of the country (majority Amerindian) consists of mountain and rock leaving little to no agriculture to be had. In contrast, the larger half (majority Mestizo) has fertile lands and is neighboring to the South American giant Brazil which opens doors for employment and other economic opportunity.
The population of Bolivia is 10,461,053(July 2013). Unfortunately, Bolivia ranks lowly in a multitude of demographic categories. For example, public education quality is dismal, three quarters of the people live in poverty, and the average life expectancy is one of the lowest in South America. These low rankings also occur in fertility, malnutrition, and mortality. In addition, the inequality of income is not only the highest in Latin America, but one of the highest on the planet. However, more and more of the youth are receiving medical attention and more women are receiving qualified medical practitioners oversee their birth.
Modern day Bolivia and the area surrounding it has almost always been inhabited over the past 2,000 years. Even much earlier there were indigenous tribes in and around the area. In the late 1600's, during the initial explorations and conquests, conflict between the natives and the europeans was quick to begin. Since the agenda of most European exploration had a specific agenda, it was impossible to avoid violent conflict. Eventually, nations like the Spanish began colonizing in Southern America which disrupted and derooted countless native people. Modern Bolivian territory falls close to what was the great Inca Empire which was destroyed by European interference. However, remnants of past cultures remain untouched. Various temples have been located around the Bolivian border deep within the Andes mountain range.
Like many surrounding countries in South America, Bolivia has a large population that follows Catholicism. In fact, Catholicism stands for 95% of the population leaving 5% other or Protestant. Spanish is considered the official (most widely spoken) language at 60% followed by Quechua at 21.2%, Aymara at 14.6%, and other foreign languages at less than 5%. As for culture, Bolivia has many festivals, dances, and clothing to signify certain meanings and holidays. Many of which date back to the indigenous people that lived in the area. Many Bolivians make an effort to keep old indigenous traditions alive in the new generations.
The government of Bolivia is considered a republic although recent changes have resulted in a formation of a new constitution. In this new constitution(2009), Bolivia is defined as a Social Unitarian State. There are two governmental capitals the first being an administrative capital and the second a constitutional capital. The administrative capital is located in La Paz which can be found on the western part of the country near the Andes. Also located on the western area of the country, Sucre is found within the Andes. The government contains 9 departments including: Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi, Santa Cruz, and Tarija. Within these departments, a legislative, executive, and judicial branch work similarly to that of the United States (in theory) to provide a fair and balanced government. Bolivia also has a civil law system heavily influenced by Spanish and Roman legal practices. For a third world situation, the Bolivian government appears to have a grip on both social and political factors. However, as the income inequalities continue to grow, despite the new constitution, it is rumored that changes will occur. Also, if action is taken soon by the Bolivian officials, the already detrimental division of the country will take a turn for the worst. With little success, attempts to bring the Mestizo and Amerindian majorities together for the better of the country as a whole have been carried out.
Bolivia is one of the least developed countries of South America leaving to no surprise that it is also the poorest. To add insult to injury, the country is not only landlocked, but also split between two areas. Each of the these areas have productive attributes but are also culturally and socially different. After the economy came to a screeching halt in the 80’s, changes caused a spike in private investments and other positive economic growth. This resulted in lower poverty rates in the early 90’s. However, state instability struck Bolivia in late 2002 and lasted for nearly three years. This period of instability included political and racial tensions which in-turn led to chaotic protests. Though eventually these times of unrest were put behind and efforts were made to begin exporting large natural gas reserves to countries in the opposite hemisphere. From a more modern economic standpoint, Bolivia has been undergoing solid growth for the past couple years though recently have had complications. The upper world commodity prices limited a significant amount of economic growth in modern Bolivia. For the most part, Bolivia remains underdeveloped and has an extremely high poverty rate.
Ultimately, Bolivia, as a nation, is in serious trouble. Progress has been made in the past only to be lost in economic or social conflicts. Landlocked, culturally bisected, economically split, and culturally contrasted, Bolivia is a land full of hardship. From white collar business to the rural coca growing areas, there is potential for such unique economic flexibility and social acceptance. I believe that when Bolivia overcomes the immediate obstacles in the path of development, it will be potentially one of the strongest nations in the region. I also believe that in order to gain more stability economically, gateway to the pacific is vital. For social peace, only true crisis could bypass pre existing hostilities among races. If the Bolivia does not soon change its ways and move forward, it will be left in the dust.

Sources
South, Kenneth. "Bolivia: Population and Government." Bolivia. CIA.gov, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.<https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/countrytemplate_bl.html>.

N/A. "U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis." Bolivia. EIA, 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=BL>.

Diego, Sarah. "History of Bolivia. Ancient and Recent Bolivian History. Bolivia Culture." History of Bolivia. Ancient and Recent Bolivian History. Bolivia Culture. BoliviaBella, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://www.boliviabella.com/history.html>.

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