Background: 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 countercoups. Democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production. In December 2005, Bolivians elected Movement Toward Socialism leader Evo MORALES president - by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 - after he ran on a promise to change the country's traditional political class and empower the nation's poor, indigenous majority. However, since taking office, his controversial strategies have exacerbated racial and economic tensions between the Amerindian populations of the Andean west and the non-indigenous communities of the eastern lowlands. In December 2009, President MORALES easily won reelection, and his party took control of the legislative branch of the government, which will allow him to continue his process of change.
Location: Central South America, southwest of Brazil
Area land: 1,083,301 sq km
Area water: 15,280 sq km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Country name conventional long form: Plurinational State of Bolivia
Country name conventional short form: Bolivia
Country name former: Plurinational State of Bolivia
Population: 10,118,683 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 34.6% (male 1,785,453/female 1,719,173); 15-64 years: 60.7% (male 3,014,419/female 3,129,942); 65 years and over: 4.6% (male 207,792/female 261,904) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.694% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 24.71 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 6.85 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female; total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 42.16 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 45.95 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 38.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 67.57 years; male: 64.84 years; female: 70.42 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 3 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 12,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Bolivian(s); adjective: Bolivian;
Ethnic groups: Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%;
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) 5%;
Languages: Spanish 60.7% (official), Quechua 21.2% (official), Aymara 14.6% (official), foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2% (2001 census);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 86.7%; male: 93.1%; female: 80.7% (2001 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $47.98 billion (2010 est.); $46.22 billion (2009 est.); $44.7 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $19.18 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 3.8% (2010 est.); 3.4% (2009 est.); 6.1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $4,800 (2010 est.); $4,700 (2009 est.); $4,700 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 12%; industry: 38%; services: 50% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 30.3% of population living on less than $2/day (2009 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 0.5%; highest 10%: 44.1% (2005);
Labor force: 4.186 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 40%; industry: 17%; services: 43% (2006 est.);
Unemployment rate: 6.5% (2010 est.); 7.7% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $10.11 billion; expenditures: $10 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing;
Industrial production growth rate: 4% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 6.085 billion kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 5.814 billion kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2010 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
(Conservative), Santa Cruz
(Independent), La Paz
(Conservative), La Paz
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Bolivia lost its coastline in the War of the Pacific in the late 1800s, and ever since it has been battling Chile to regain the land and what lies beneath it.
While the opposition forces are yet to mobilize in the streets around the referendum campaigns, they have begun an intensive publicity campaign attacking the government's record.
Recent social unrest has begun to produce an image of a Bolivia turned upside down, with mobilizations coming from none of the usual sources.
The cries for the return of the capital to Sucre, stoked by the right-wing opposition to the Morales government, have raised tensions across Bolivia and revived fears of another "civil war."