HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY
South American state. The population amounted to 8,274,325 residents according to the 2001 census and 9,182,000 according to 2005 estimates, with sustained growth (2.0 % per year in the period 2000-2005), thanks to a high fertility rate (3.8 children per woman in 2003), one of the highest in Latin America. The urbanization has an impact significant, though not as pronounced as in other countries in the region, and welcomed the city in 2003 on 63.4% of the population: the urban network is dominated by La Paz, administrative capital and seat of government (the legal capital is Sucre), with 789,585 residents at the cens. of 2001 (1476721 residents for the agglomeration according to an estimate of 2005); followed by Santa Cruz de la Sierra (1,135,526), Cochabamba (517,024) and Potosí (145,057).
Bolivia remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and its development prospects seem limited by serious social conflicts and excessive demographic pressure. Agriculture is an important sector of the economy. Between the end of the 20thand the first years of the 21st° sec. commercial crops (in particular soybeans) recorded a consistent development thanks to the contribution of Argentine and Brazilian investors, as well as to the climatic conditions, which in the Santa Cruz area allow for two harvests a year. Bolivia also produces bananas, pineapples, sugar cane, cotton, coffee and, increasingly, timber, but the illegal income from the cultivation of coca prevailed, of which the country was the third largest producer in the world after Peru and Colombia, while the programs for the destruction of coca plants, promoted by the government with the assistance of the US administration, clashed with the mobilization of the peasants of the Cochabamba region and in general of all the workers who, dismissed from the public sector in following the recession of the 1980s, cocaleros.
The highly diversified mining activity represents one of the pillars of the economy; however, the fall in the prices of some minerals on international markets (tin, silver, antimony) had significantly reduced export income. The modest quantities of oil extracted (1.5 million tonnes in 2003) were destined for internal consumption, while the production of natural gas reached much higher values (6.7 billion m 3) and fed a fair export current. The industry is still in its infancy, with manufacturing activities prevailing among all.
At the end of the 20th century. Bolivia was still characterized by the strong contrasts and dramatic tensions that had marked its history in the previous decades. Military power continued to play a prominent role in the composition of the ruling class; the production and trade of drugs, which began in the 1970s, still constituted a significant share of GDP and was a source of corruption at all levels of the public administration; social conflict affected various sectors of the population, to which the central power, while iteratively resorted to repressive measures, seemed unable to respond with wide-ranging political initiatives. However with the early 21° sec. the new question of the control of resources took on an important importance: the movement that was formed against the privatization of water, first, and of gas at a later time, in fact constituted the main opponent of the governments in office. For Bolivia 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.
Bánzer Suárez, dictator of the Bolivia between 1971and 1978and leader of the Alianza Democrática Nacionalista (ADN), was elected president of the Republic in August 1997 with the support of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) and the populists from the Unión Cívica Solidaridad (UCS) and the Conciencia de Patria (CODEPA); during his tenure he showed substantial political weakness, and on the drug trafficking front his programs to eradicate coca cultivation met with violent opposition. Waves of strikes also hit other productive sectors: in the spring of 2000the country was paralyzed by two weeks of protests against the rise in water prices following its privatization, to which the government responded with the promulgation of a state of emergency; between autumn 2000 and spring 2001, teachers and other sectors of the public administration stopped asking for salary increases. The various government initiatives, including the promise to set up seven commissions to discuss the various issues on the table with representatives of the opposition groups, did not put an end to the unrest. In August 2001 Bánzer Suárez resigned and was replaced, until the presidential and legislative elections of June 2002, by the vice president J. Quiroga Ramírez. The results of the presidential consultations rewarded G. Sánchez de Lozada, former president from 1993 to 1997 and representative of the moderate and liberal Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR), which obtained 22.5 % of the votes, followed, with 20.9 %, by E. Morales, union leader of coca growers and leader of the leftist group Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS). In the legislative consultations the MNR obtained 36 seats, the MAS 27, the MIR 26 and the center-right party Nueva Fuerza Republicana (NFR) 25. In August, the new president formed a coalition government with MNR, MIR, UCS, MBL (Movimiento Bolivia Libre) and ADN which, also due to US pressure, was the first to address the issue of drug trafficking: in September a meeting with the coca growers, led by Morales, which however did not lead to significant results, while the temporary suspension of the crop eradication program in the Chaparé region was decided. The country, embarked on a difficult phase of recession, continued to be traversed by very hard lacerations and clashes: in December 2002pensioners took to the streets against the new measures that linked pensions to the consumer price index rather than to the US dollar; a new movement of landless peasants, mainly of Indian origin, born the previous year in the Santa Cruz and Tarija regions, called for a constituent assembly to modify the system of political representation in favor of indigenous peoples; new and bloody demonstrations opposed coca growers and police (Jan. 2003), and, in February 2003, after the decision on a new tax adopted to address the serious public deficit, a harsh protest took to the streets in La Paz, alongside the middle and small classes penalized by the new tax, 7000policemen demanding wage increases. The resignation of the government (February) was followed by a new cabinet announcing the withdrawal of the disputed fiscal measures (March) and obtaining new funding from the International Monetary Fund (July).
But in March the project to build a gas pipeline from the Tarija region to the Pacific, in Chilean territory, provoked a new protest movement in the name of the defense of national resources, led by the peasant union Confederación Sindical Única de los Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSUTCB) and from the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) worker: the intervention of the army and the clashes that followed one another on several occasions, causing dozens of deaths, led to the resignation of Sánchez de Lozada and his replacement by the vice president C. Mesa (Oct 2003). The discredit of the political class and the inability of the new government to cope with the serious difficulties of the country opened a deep crisis in Bolivian society, which finally exploded in June 2005 with new demonstrations calling for the nationalization of gas and dramatically investing the same capital.. Congress moved to Sucre, the constitutional capital, where MPs designated Supreme Court President E. Rodríguez as successor to the outgoing Mesa.
On the international level, even at the beginning of the 2000s diplomatic relations with Chile, after a brief respite accompanied by a series of bilateral meetings (1999), again experienced the tensions of the previous decade on the question of access to the Pacific.