Bolivia: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government in the country of Bolivia.



Location--A landlocked country astride the Andes in western South America. Neighbors are: Brazil on the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west.

How Created--Originally part of the Incan Empire, Bolivia was known as Upper Peru during Spanish colonial times. Since receiving independence from Spain in 1825, Bolivia has, through a series of wars, treaties, and land grabs, been deprived of nearly half the territory it originally claimed. This includes Pacific seaports taken by Chile.

Size--425,165 sq. mi. (1,098,561 sq. km.), the 5th largest country in South America.

Population--5.6 million: Quechua Indian, 37.1%; Bolivian (Spanish ancestry), 35.7%; Aymara Indian, 23.7%; other Indians, 3.5%. 72% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules-Technically a republic with nearly universal suffrage, Bolivia's last popular election occurred in 1966. The country has a long history of political difficulties, having experienced close to 200 changes of government in the 150 years since independence. Bolivia today is ruled by a right-wing military junta, which ousted a left-wing general in 1971.

Who REALLY Rules--The U.S. Government, in conjunction with the tiny oligarchy that runs Bolivia. The President, Colonel Banzer, has strong ties to the U.S. He trained in the School of the Americas and in the U.S., and also had a stint as military attache in Washington, D.C. Bolivia has been a major recipient of U.S. foreign economic assistance ($500 million since 1952), and the U.S. is presently the biggest foreign investor in Bolivia's economy.

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