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Central La Paz Bolivia
Central La Paz Bolivia
Bolivia Travel Information and Hotel Discounts
The Republic of Bolivia is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil on the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina on the south, and Chile and Peru on the west.

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Europa Hotel
64 Tihuanaco Street
La Paz,
The remarkable city of La Paz, overlooked by
 the majestic snow-capped Illimani mountain,
 is nowhere better viewed than from the
 top floors of Hotel Europa.
Centrally located in the heart of La Paz,
 this European-style hotel is now indisputably
 the best business-oriented hotel in town

Europa Hotel - A Summit Hotel

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 Find a premier Hotel & Resort at  Hilton Hotels.   or book  Sheraton Hotels and Resorts

Main article: History of Bolivia

Pre-colonial period
The Andean region probably has been inhabited for some 5,000 years. Beginning about the 2nd century B.C., the Tiwanaku culture developed at the southern end of Lake Titicaca. This culture, centered around and named for the great city of Tiwanaku, developed advanced architectural and agricultural techniques before it disappeared around 1200 A.D., probably because of extended drought (some legends of the Aymará, who claim descendance from the inhabitants of Tiwanaku, indicate that Lake Titikaka rose and flooded the city, causing dispersal of the survivors). Roughly contemporaneous with the Tiwanakan culture, the Moxos in the eastern lowlands and the Mollos north of present-day La Paz also developed advanced agricultural societies that had dissipated by the 13th century A.D. In about 1450, the Quechua-speaking Incas entered the area of modern highland Bolivia and added it to their empire. They controlled the area until the Spanish conquest in 1525.  La Paz

Sánchez de Lozada and Banzer: Liberalizing the economy (1993)
Sánchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform agenda. He relied heavily on successful entrepreneurs-turned-politicians like himself and on fellow veterans of the Paz Estenssoro administration (during which Sánchez de Lozada was Minister for Planning). The most dramatic change undertaken by the Sánchez de Lozada government was the "capitalization" program, under which investors, typically foreign, acquired 50% ownership and management control of public enterprises, such as the state oil corporation, telecommunications system, airlines, railroads, and electric utilities in return for agreed upon capital investments. The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain segments of society, which instigated frequent and sometimes violent protests, particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994 through 1996. The Sánchez de Lozada government pursued a policy of offering monetary compensation for voluntary eradication of illegal coca by its growers in the Chapare region. The policy produced little net reduction in coca, and in the mid-1990s Bolivia accounted for about one-third of the world's coca going into cocaine.

In the 1997 elections, Gen. Hugo Banzer, leader of the ADN, won 22% of the vote, while the MNR candidate won 18%. Gen. Banzer formed a coalition of the ADN, MIR, UCS, and CONDEPA parties which held a majority of seats in the Bolivian Congress. The Congress elected him as president and he was inaugurated on August 6, 1997.

The Banzer government basically continued the free market and privatization policies of its predecessor, and the relatively robust economic growth of the mid-1990s continued until about the third year of its term in office. After that, regional, global and domestic factors contributed to a decline in economic growth. Job creation remained limited throughout this period and the public perceived a significant amount of public-sector corruption. Both factors contributed to increasing social protests during the second half of Banzer's term.

At the outset of his government, President Banzer launched a policy of using special police units to physically eradicate the illegal coca of the Chapare region. The policy produced a sudden and dramatic 4-year decline in Bolivia's illegal coca crop, to the point that Bolivia became a relatively small supplier of coca for cocaine. The MIR of Jaime Paz Zamora remained a coalition partner throughout the Banzer government, supporting this policy (called the Dignity Plan).

On August 6, 2001, Banzer resigned from office after being diagnosed with cancer. He died less than a year later. Banzer's U.S.-educated Vice President, Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez, completed the final year of the term. Quiroga was constitutionally prohibited from running for national office in 2002 but could do so in 2007.

In the June 2002 national elections, former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (MNR) placed first with 22.5% of the vote, followed by illegal-coca advocate and indigenous campesino leader Evo Morales (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) with 20.9%. Morales edged out populist candidate Manfred Reyes Villa of the New Republican Force (NFR) by just 700 votes nationwide, earning a spot in the congressional run-off against Sánchez de Lozada on August 4, 2002.

A July agreement between the MNR and the fourth-place MIR, which had again been led in the election by former president Paz Zamora, virtually ensured the election of Sánchez de Lozada in the congressional run-off, and on August 6 he was sworn in for the second time. The MNR platform featured three overarching objectives: economic reactivation (and job creation), anti-corruption, and social inclusion.

Social Crisis and the nationalization of hydrocarbon resources (2001-2005)
In September 2001, following the advice of the World Bank, the Bolivian government declared that all water was to become corporate property, so that even drawing water from community wells or gathering rainwater on their own properties, peasants and urban dwellers had to first purchase and obtain permits from International Water Limited (a multinational largely owned by the Bechtel Corporation). The government, however, retracted and abolished the new water privatization rules following wide-scales uprisings and riots in protest of the legislation. 1-2

During, February 2003, four-year economic recession, tight fiscal situation, and longstanding ethnic tensions mounted again in a police revolt that nearly toppled the government of President Sánchez de Lozada; several days of unrest left more than 30 persons dead. The government stayed in power but remained unpopular. Widespread protests broke out in October and revealed deep dissatisfaction with the government. Approximately 80 persons died during the demonstrations which led President Sánchez de Lozada to resign from office on October 17. In a constitutional transfer of power, Vice President Carlos Mesa assumed the Presidency and promised to hold a binding referendum on the export of Bolivian natural gas. The referendum took place on July 18, and Bolivians voted overwhelmingly in favor of development of the nation's hydrocarbon resources. Mesa planned to detail the government's development plans in legislation to be introduced to Congress. Mesa enjoyed popularity with the Bolivian public, but he faced the same difficulties — social divisions, a radical opposition committed to extra-parliamentary action, and an ongoing fiscal deficit — as the previous administration.

On June 6, 2005, President Carlos Mesa was forced to enter his resignation as over 80,000 protestors surrounded the presidential palace and congress demanding nationalization of the gas industry. The indigenous protestors argued that indigenous communities, two thirds of Bolivia's population, were not adequately represented in government. Consequently, the campesinos and indigenous population, angered by the inequitable dividends paid by the multinational petroleum companies, set up roadblocks throughout the country and placed all the major cities under siege. With Carlos Mesa stranded in the Palace of Plaza Murillo, the congress and senate closed, protestors roamed through the streets of La Paz threatening to drive the "corbateros" (those clothed in suits and ties) from the country.

A civil war was averted when, on June 9th, 157 members of the congress and senate converged on the Casa de La Libertad in Sucre, Bolivia and nominated Eduardo Rodriguez, the current President of the Supreme Court, to the Presidency at the eleventh hour. President Rodriguez, to avert a civil war, has promised to hold new national elections in December of 2005.

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, 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

noun: Bolivian(s)
adjective: Bolivian
Ethnic groups:

Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%

Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist)

Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)

boliviano (BOB)
Currency code:

Exchange rates:

bolivianos per US dollar - 6.8613 (January 2002), 6.6069 (2001), 6.1835 (2000), 5.8124 (1999), 5.5101 (1998), 5.2543 (1997)


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