Bolivia, officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, Chile to the southwest, and Peru to the west.
Prior to Spanish colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was a part of the Inca Empire, while the northern and eastern lowlands were inhabited by independent tribes. Spanish conquistadors arriving from Cuzco and Asunción took control of the region in the 16th century. During most of the Spanish colonial period, Bolivia was known as Upper Peru and administered by the Royal Court of Charcas. After the first call for independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolivar, on 6 August 1825. Bolivia has since endured periods of political and economic instability, including the loss of various peripheral territories to its neighbors, such as Acre, parts of the Gran Chaco and its coast.
Modern Bolivia is a democratic republic that is divided into nine departments. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West (the capital La Paz is at 14,000 ft), to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin.
The Bolivian population, estimated at close to 11 million, is multi-ethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Guarani, Aymara and Quechua languages are also common, and all four, as well as 34 other indigenous languages, are official. Bolivia’s diversity has contributed greatly to its rich art, cuisine, literature, and music.