Largest citySanta Cruz de la Sierra
Other CitiesBeni, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi
Native LanguagesQuechua, Aymara, Guarani
AreaTotal 1,098,581 km2
Country Profile: Bolivia
Bolivia, officially The Republic of Bolivia 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 colonization, 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.
The Bolivian population, estimated at 9 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken 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.
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.
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%. 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.
The great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic, although Protestant denominations are expanding rapidly. According to a 2009 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. Bolivia has no official relgion mandated by the state.
Bolivia is indeed a small country, yet they will look to expand based on their wealth of natural resources and agricultural infrastructure. Also the newly elected government has created a new policy based on economic reforms towards a progressive change. This will aloow Bolivia to continue to grow and become a dominant agricultural producer in the Latin American community in the years to come.
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