About Bolivia

Bolivia is situated in west-central South America, where the Andes are at their widest, it is a landlocked country and bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west. In total it has an area of 1,098,580 square kilometers and the Bolivian population is estimated at about 9 million habitants. Bolivia has been a landlocked nation since 1879, when it lost its coastal department of Litoral to Chile in the War of the Pacific. However, it does have access to the Atlantic via the Paraguay River.

Bolivia is, with its megadiverse territories, one of the countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and is therefore considered extremely biodiverse. Its geography is varied from the peaks of the Andes in the west including the Bolivian Altiplano (Spanish for high plain), to the eastern lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin counting large sections of the Amazonian rainforests and the Chaco Plain.

Sucre is the constitutional capital of the country but La Paz is the administrative capital where the seat of government is located and with the legislative assembly and the Executive. La Paz has three very different zones including the southwestern suburb El Alto (Spanish for the heights), the second largest city of the country, which is located on the Altiplano highlands at an elevation of up to 4150 meters above sea level. La Paz itself is constructed in a canyon at an elevation of 3,660 meters and therefore one of the world's highest capital cities. La Paz sits literally in a bowl surrounded by the high Altiplano. The central zone of La Paz, locally known as “Downtown”, is the main financial center, where almost every government office is located and of the museums, hotels, shops, embassies and nightclubs. The South Side (zona sur) has less height than the rest of La Paz (only 3,200 to 2,800 meters). This area houses the most affluent business and the richest neighborhoods of the city.

Since Evo Morales won the elections, Bolivia finds itself in a political, economical, social, and cultural transformation. The Government tries to promote the development of a sovereign, productive and democratic state, where all of its people are doing well, and not only a few.

In the city of El Alto, this new vision of the future, translates itself as “SUMA QAMAÑA” which means in the sense of the Aymaran “THE GOOD LIVING” signifying that all of the people should have a democratic access to Bolivia’s wealth. That the diverse communities should respect each other, their diversity, and their cultural identity. But, the city of El Alto, as the fastest growing city in Bolivia, finds itself facing a large number of challenges and social problems like high unemployment, extreme poverty, especially in the outlying districts, and last but not least, the total lack of cultural and intercultural orientated politics, which makes it difficult to translate these objectives into practice.

In this rapid growing city, the mayor part of the migrants comes from the rural zones of Bolivia. They are mostly young people, in the pursuit of happiness, leaving behind the old and children, due to a trend of movement from Bolivia's rural areas to the La Paz region. More often than not, they suddenly find themselves confronted with an even more intricate life and bigger problems, than they had before, living in the rural areas, like generational conflicts, delincuency, poverty, lack of employment (the low family income oblige many children and adolescents to work).

Bolivia is, in the field of linguistics, a very rich country. Altogether there are more than 37 languages spoken in Bolivia. And even if the main language spoken is Spanish, about 80% of the people speak Spanish as their first language, are the Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní languages also very common. Every public official needs to speak, beside Spanish, at least one of the indigenous languages. Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in great poverty.

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