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Bolivia may be one of the poorest countries in South America, but its cultural wealth, the mindblowing Andean landscapes and the remnants of mysterious ancient civilizations make it the richest and most exciting destination for adventurous and independent travellers.

The landlocked country is the Tibet of the Americas - the highest and most isolated of the Latin American republics. It is also the most indigenous country on the continent, with more than 50% of the population maintaining traditional values and beliefs.

The Chapare and Yungas regions have been recent targets of coca eradication campaigns. There have been reports of violence on both sides. The area should be considered relatively unstable. Travelers should consult their embassy prior to traveling to assess the security risk.

Violent demonstrations and political gatherings have also taken place in La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. There are credible reports describing the drugging and rape of tourists who've taken guided jungle and pampas tours with independent guides around Rurrenabaque.

Female tourists should avoid taking tours on their own. Travellers are advised to stick to the larger group tours run by reputable agencies. You can avoid unlicensed guides by asking to see la autorización.

Full country name: Republic of Bolivia
Area: 1.09 million sq km
Population: 8.32 million
People: 30% Quechua Indian, 25% mestizo, 30% Aymará Indian, approx 15% European (principally Spanish)
Language: Quechua, Aymara
Religion: 95% Roman Catholic, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist)
Government: republic
Head of State: President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada

GDP: US$24.2 billion
GDP per capita: US$3,000
Annual Growth: 3%
Inflation: 2.1%
Major Industries: Agriculture, narcotics, smelting, petroleum, food & beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing, tin mining, natural gas.
Major Trading Partners: USA, Brazil, Japan


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Country Facts
Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups. Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in the 1980s, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and drug production. Current goals include attracting foreign investment, strengthening the educational system, resolving disputes with coca growers over Bolivia's counterdrug efforts, continuing the privatization program, and waging an anticorruption campaign.

Central South America, southwest of Brazil
Geographic coordinates:
17 00 S, 65 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 1,098,580 sq km
water: 14,190 sq km
land: 1,084,390 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 6,743 km
border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,400 km, Chile 861 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 900 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid
rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rio Paraguay 90 m
highest point: Nevado Sajama 6,542 m
Natural resources:
tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 1.73%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 98.06% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
1,280 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
flooding in the northeast (March-April)
Environment - current issues:
the clearing of land for agricultural purposes and the international demand for tropical timber are contributing to deforestation; soil erosion from overgrazing and poor cultivation methods (including slash-and-burn agriculture); desertification; loss of biodiversity; industrial pollution of water supplies used for drinking and irrigation
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
Geography - note:
landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru
More Info At:http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bl.html

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