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Ancient civilizations had already existed in the region of Bolivia for hundreds of years before the first Spaniards arrived. About 400 BC, the city of Tiahuanaco was established by the Tiwanakan people who are said to have inhabited the land for more than a thousand years. About 40 to 50,000 of the Tiwanakan people had existed in the region, building great works of architecture.
About 700 AD, the Tiwanakan empire had extended to Peru but it fell in 1000AD. By the 1400's, the Incan Empire had flourished throughout the region and beyond but they were invaded by the Spaniards beginning in 1524. Complete conquest was achieved by Spain in 1533, and Bolivia became a Spanish colony, naming the region as "Upper Peru."
By 1538, cities in the region were established. By 1780, rebellions against the Spanish rule began. In 1809, the region declared independence after Napoleon occupied Spain and overthrew the Spanish king. However, formal independence only came on August 6, 1825 - the region was then named Bolivia in honor of the hero of the independent movement, Simon Bolivar.
Bolivia is a landlocked country located in Western Central South America. Its borders include Brazil to the north and east, Peru to the West, Chile to the southwest, and Paraguay and Argentina to the south.
The region's land area is varied, consisting of Amazonian and Andes landscapes. The west region of the country is composed of 2 Andes chains made up of a great plateau while its lowland region is covered with rainforests and grasslands.
Bolivia works in the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic with the President as the highest ranking official in the country. The President is elected into office by popular vote and serves a 5-year term. The second highest ranking official is the Vice President who exercise mainly ceremonial duties.
The President is both Head of State and Head of Government as well as head of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government, as well as the Legislative power, which is also exercised by the 2 chambers of Parliament. A bicameral National Congress makes up the Parliament, consisting of the 27-seat Chamber of Senators and the 130-seat Chamber of Deputies.
Bolivia is a popular travel destination in South America, rich in beautiful landscapes and multi-ethnic cultures.
La Paz is Bolivia's 3rd most populous city and considered to be the highest administrative capital of the world at 11,910 feet above sea level. Though Sucre is officially Bolivia's capital, La Paz is the nation's seat of government. It attracts tourists for its unique setting, closely-packed houses, colonial architecture, and dramatic views of the mountain peaks around it.
Lake Titicaca is considered to be the highest navigable lake in the world, with an altitude of 12,507 feet. The largest lake in South America, it is one of the country's most popular travel destinations. Resorts around the lake offer overnight accommodation and day boat rides are popular tourist activities.
Found on the southeastern banks of the Lake is a Tiwanaku ancient ruin - well-preserved structures of the major precursor civilization before the Inca Empire.
And the most popular tourist attraction in Bolivia is the Salar de Uyuni - the largest salt deposit in the world. Encompassing 400 square miles of glassy sheets of salt, it is the flattest place in the world. It is best visited right after rainfall when the sheets look like mirror and reflect the sky.
There is a major discrepancy in educational achievements between the rural and urban Bolivia. Illiteracy is very high in the rural areas despite increasing levels of literacy in urban areas. 23% of the country's annual budget is dedicated to educational expense. A reform to decentralize government education funding was implemented in 1994 but progress has been slow.
Dropout rates in rural areas remains high, especially among girls.
Bolivia is the highest and most isolated of all of the Latin American countries.
There are over 30 official languages in Bolivia, as well as 36 native cultures.
Bolivia is the world's largest cocoa cultivator - with over 24,400 hectares dedicated to cocoa farming.
Only 30% of the country's road are paved. The Road of Death is found in Bolivia, considered to be the world's most dangerous road.
Last Updated On : Nov 26, 2014