Early history to modern times
The southern Titicaca basin, which had city-like centers, formed the historical-cultural center of Bolivia at the beginning of the Christian era and dominated large parts of the Bolivian highlands and the Pacific coast. Over the centuries, the empire fell into tribal groups and federations until the Aymar¨¢ civilization was defeated by the Incas in the second half of the 16th century and parts of today’s Bolivia came to the Inca empire.
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With the arrival of the Conquistadores in the 17th century, the brief rule of the Incas ended and the colonial period of Bolivia began. The Spaniards ruled the region from Lima, Peru, and from 1776 Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires. The rich silver deposits of Potos¨ª were at the center of the interests of the Spanish occupiers. These had already been discovered in 1545 on the Cerro Rico (silver mountain) in the area of Bolivia and brought immense income to the Spaniards.
The beginning of the end of the Spanish colonial empire began in 1809 when Sim¨®n Bol¨ªvar called for revolutionary uprisings in La Paz, which were initially repelled. In 1824 the Spaniards were finally defeated. The following year, General AJ de Sucre proclaimed independence for the country of Bolivia (named after the freedom fighter Bol¨ªvar). Bol¨ªvar himself became the first president, but was replaced in a few months by his general Sucre. His successor A. de Santa Crus conquered Peru in 1836 and proclaimed the Bolivian-Peruvian Union. However, as early as 1839 the neighboring states of Argentina and Chile forced the dissolution of the Union and in 1883 the Atacama region came to Chile after the defeat in the so-called Saltpetre War. As a result, Bolivia lost its only access to the sea. Nevertheless, the following decades were characterized by greater political stability. Liberal conservative governments created modest prosperity, particularly with the help of the mining industry. According to AbbreviationFinder, this did not change the fact that in 1903 the acre area (rubber mining) was lost to Brazil in another territorial conflict.
The phase of economic prosperity ended in the 1930s with the Chaco war against Paraguay, which caused the loss of most of the Gran Chaco to Paraguay. From the mid-1940s, domestic political conflicts increased and the demands of the labor movement that emerged were expressed with greater emphasis. The Bolivian economy went through a severe crisis and when V¨ªctor Paz Estenssoro was elected president by the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) in 1951, the military coup d’¨¦tat. But the following year, the elected president was reinstated as part of a national revolution. Land and educational reforms improved the situation of the Indians in particular. Universal suffrage was introduced and the profitable tin mines nationalized.
The general socio-economic situation did not improve, however, and the military coup again in 1964. Under General Ren¨¦ Barrientos Ortuno, the “Che” Guevara guerrilla organization was smashed and Guevara murdered. Military groups remained in power until 1980, replacing themselves in numerous coups.
In 1980, after 16 years of military rule, a transitional civilian government was re-elected and the candidate for the moderate left, Zuazo, emerged from the vote as president. However, he was only able to take up office in 1982. The fragmented and drug-dealing military finally gave up power. In 1985, he was succeeded by Paz Estenssoro (MNR) as President, who managed to control inflation through a reform program, but did not take a turn for the better with other measures such as wage freezes and privatization of state-owned companies. The collapse of the tin market in 1986, which left thousands of miners unemployed, brought the Bolivian economy into another serious crisis.
However, the economic bottom was reached and a slow improvement began. However, unstable coalitions, an influential military, ready to putsch, and nepotism in connection with drug deals were the main obstacles to the country’s political and economic recovery. After none of the candidates won an absolute majority in the 1989 and 1993 elections, MIR appointed Paz Zamora as the new President of Parliament in 1989, and Gonzalo S¨¢nchez de Lozada came to power in 1993. In the same year, Bolivia received usage rights to the Peruvian port of Ilo, which gave the country its own access to the sea for the first time in more than a hundred years. The right-wing party MNR was defeated in the 1997 elections, but the newly formed coalition government under President Banzer of the ADN also remained on the course of economic policy cuts. Domestic disputes occurred in 1997, when the former dictator Banzer was faced with allegations that were based on his rule in the 1970s. A state of emergency was declared again in Bolivia at the beginning of 2000, as nationwide unrest against social ills threatened to escalate. At the same time, coca farmers protested the country’s anti-drug efforts, which threaten to deprive them of their livelihood. who stood out for his rule in the 1970s. A state of emergency was declared again in Bolivia at the beginning of 2000, as nationwide unrest against social ills threatened to escalate. At the same time, coca farmers protested the country’s anti-drug efforts, which threaten to deprive them of their livelihood. who stood out for his rule in the 1970s. A state of emergency was declared again in Bolivia at the beginning of 2000, as nationwide unrest against social ills threatened to escalate. At the same time, coca farmers protested the country’s anti-drug efforts, which threaten to deprive them of their livelihood.
President Hugo Banzer resigned in August 2001 for health reasons. Vice President Jorge Quiroga temporarily took over the highest state office. The conservative-liberal former president Gonzalo S¨¢nchez de Lozada was re-elected president in August 2002. After weeks of bloody protests against S¨¢nchez de Lozada, he resigned in October 2004 and fled to the United States. The unrest was triggered by planned natural gas exports to the USA at rock-bottom prices. Former Vice President Carlos Mesa was appointed new President that same month.
A completely new political direction was taken at the end of 2005 with the election of the radical Indian leader Evo Morales, who advocated, among other things, the legalization of coca cultivation in order to enable the poor Indian minority to establish an economic basis. His coca policy is under the motto “Coca cultivation yes – cocaine production no”.
From 2006 the country was again in a serious crisis. The convened constituent assembly had to postpone its work to no avail due to a conflict between the ruling socialists and the conservative opposition. In November 2007, she resumed work with a change in voting regulations (without the participation of the opposition constitutional delegates) and presented the draft, which provided for a unified welfare state, to President Morales. This led to violent protests in several provinces. In the affluent lowland region of Santa Cruz, a statute of autonomy that Morales considered illegal was then drawn up, which was overwhelmingly adopted in a referendum in May 2008.
In this difficult situation, President Morales decided to put a referendum on himself and the prefects of the nine provinces. In August 2008, the population voted in favor of Morales remaining with a majority of 60%, but also confirmed most of his opponents in office. In the meantime, Morales relied on the nationalization of key sectors such as the oil and gas industry, telecommunications and railways. In 2008, Bolivia, along with the other eleven independent states of South America, founded the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) based on the model of the European Union.
In December 2009, President Morales was re-elected for a second term. In addition to fighting poverty, his most important political goal is the full participation of the indigenous majority in political and economic life. The new constitution of 2009, which, however, still has to be implemented in substantial parts, is to push it forward decisively.