Bolivia - Country history and economic development

PRE-15TH CENTURY. The country now known as Bolivia is inhabited by the Tihuanaco, Aymara, and Kolla civilizations (rich in archaeological remains).

MID-15TH CENTURY. Most of modern Bolivia becomes part of the Inca Empire, mainly during the rule of Inca Pachacuti (1438-71), who imposes the Inca economic system and the Quechua language. Administratively this southern region of the Inca Empire is called Kollasuyo.

1538. The Spanish establish the city of Chuquisaca (now called Sucre). This part of the Spanish Empire is known as Charcas or Upper Peru.

1545. The rich silver deposits of the hill of Potosí are located and the great age of silver begins. The royal city of Potosí becomes one of the largest and richest in the Spanish Empire.

1809. The War of Independence in Spanish America starts in the city of Chuquisaca.

1825. The independence of Upper Peru/Charcas is declared on August 6. The new nation is called Bolivia in honor of Simon Bolivar.

1828-48. Attempts to unify Peru and Bolivia fail.

1847-64. The age of quinoa, a nutritious grain indigenous to high altitudes, provides a large income to the Bolivian treasury.

1864-80. The discovery of rich deposits on the Bolivian Pacific coast (in the Atacama Desert) produces the age of guano and saltpeter.

1867. Bolivia is forced to sign an unfavorable treaty with Brazil, ceding 300,000 square kilometers (115,830 square miles) that had provided easy access to the Amazon and Plate river systems.

1879-80. In the War of the Pacific Bolivia, allied with Peru, Bolivia defends its ownership of the guano and saltpeter deposits. Chile captures the entire Bolivian coast and converts Bolivia into a landlocked nation.

1889. Rubber extraction begins in the tropical northeast of Bolivia, bringing Bolivia again into conflict with Brazil.

1898. A short civil war is fought mainly over the issue of moving the capital to the more dynamic and rapidly growing city of La Paz. The opposition party that supported La Paz is victorious but the constitution is not changed to make La Paz the constitutional capital.

1899. La Paz becomes the seat of the government although the Supreme Court remains in Sucre.

1903. Bolivia is forced to cede the rubber-rich Acre region to Brazil.

1932-35. The large-scale Chaco War with Paraguay erupts over disputed ownership of the Chaco region of southeast Bolivia, with its rich oil deposits. Paraguay gains most of the Chaco but the greatest oil reserves remain with Bolivia. By 1935, Bolivia has lost 49 percent of its 1825 territory to its bordering neighbors through war or forced treaties.

1942-45. During World War II, Bolivia becomes one of the main suppliers of needed minerals, such as tin, to the allied nations.

1952. The Movement of the National Revolution (MNR) gains power by a revolution and undertakes drastic reforms: universal suffrage, nationalization of the tin mines, significant agrarian reform, abolition of peonage, and creation of a new Bolivian military.

1969. The Andean Pact which includes Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela is established.

1981. Bolivia starts its longest period of peaceful democratic elections and government.

1996. Bolivia becomes an associate member of the regional Southern South American Economic Zone called MERCOSUR.

1997. The Andean Pact becomes operative with a permanent Andean Community secretariat in Lima, Peru.

2001. President Hugo Banzer resigns for health reasons. Vice President Jorge Quiroga becomes Bolivia's 63rd president.

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