Bolivian history

Brief history of Bolivia summarized

A brief review of the history of Bolivia summarized, a South American country.

Bolivia in ancient times

The people of Bolivia were civilized for hundreds of years before the Spanish conquered the area. The city of Tiahuanaco was founded in what is now Bolivia around 400 BC.

At its peak it had a population of about 40-50,000 inhabitants and its inhabitants created great works of architecture. They also worked on pottery, silver, copper, and obsidian.

Beginning in AD 700, Tiwanaku ruled a large empire in Bolivia and southern Peru. However, around 1000 AD the empire broke up and was replaced by small states.

In the fifteenth century the Incas conquered Bolivia. However, in 1533 the Incas were conquered by the Spanish.

Colonial Bolivia

The Spanish founded cities in Bolivia at Chuquisaca (1538), La Paz (1548), Cochabamba (1571), and Oruro (1606). In 1545 silver was discovered in Potosí and the Spanish used forced labor to extract the silver. Many of the indigenous people who were forced to work in the mines died there. Many more died of European diseases.

It is not surprising that the Bolivian indigenous people were resentful and that in 1780 their anger turned into rebellion. The indigenous people believed that they could renew the old Inca Empire and replace the unjust and oppressive Spanish rule. However, the Indians were disunited and failed to capture La Paz. In 1782 the Great Rebellion in Bolivia was crushed.

Independent Bolivia

However, in 1809 another rebellion began. People of Spanish descent led it. It started when Napoleon’s army occupied Spain and deposed the Spanish king and made his brother Joseph his king of Spain. For many South Americans already dissatisfied with Spanish rule, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In 1809 the people of La Paz declared their independence. The rebellion was quickly crushed, but the movement for independence in Bolivia became unstoppable. Fighting continued across the continent and the Spanish armies were gradually defeated.

More and more regions of South America became independent until on August 6, 1825, Bolivia finally joined them and became independent from Spain. The new nation was named Bolivia in honor of Simón Bolívar, the hero of the independence movement.

However, the new republic of Bolivia was facing an economic depression and many silver mines were abandoned. Bolivia became a backward and impoverished state.

The first president of Bolivia was General Sucre. He was followed by Marshal Andrés de Santa Cruz, who was president from 1829 to 1839. In 1836 he tried to unite Bolivia with Peru, but the Chileans felt threatened and fought the Confederation War in 1836-39 to dissolve the union.

In 1879 Bolivia increased taxes on Chilean nitrate companies. The result was a war called the Pacific War. In 1884 Bolivia lost the strip of coastline it controlled and became a landlocked country.

However, at the end of the 19th century, the silver industry in Bolivia was revived thanks to capital from Great Britain and Chile and new technologies.

Economically Bolivia prospered. Tin mining boomed and replaced silver mining as the main industry. Meanwhile, railways were built in Bolivia linking parts of Bolivia. In the north, the rubber industry boomed. Politically, however, Bolivia was divided between conservatives and liberals.

Bolivia in the 20th century

Then, in 1899, the Bolivian liberals revolted. The so-called Federal Revolution ended with the seizure of power by the Liberals. Then, in 1900, rubber tappers in the Acre region revolted, demanding independence. They were supported by the Brazilians and in 1903 the Bolivian government decided to sell Acre to Brazil.

In 1920 the conservatives staged a coup in Bolivia and regained power. In the 1920s mining in Bolivia flourished, but after the Wall Street crash of 1929, the Bolivian economy suffered severely.

In July 1932, border disputes led to the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay. The war was very bad for Bolivia and many of its men died in the conflict. The war ended in 1935, but in 1936 army officers staged a coup. They introduced a regime they called military socialism and nationalized the holdings of the American Standard Oil Company.

During this time radical ideas spread in Bolivia and the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement or MNR was formed. In 1943 the MNR formed an alliance with some army officers and staged a coup. Gualberto Villarroel led the new government.

However, Villaroel was overthrown by a revolution in 1946 and was hanged outside the presidential palace. Bolivia was then governed by a coalition of traditional parties until 1951, when the army took control.

However, in 1952 the MNR started a revolution and returned to power in Bolivia. They then embarked on a reform program. Bolivia’s three largest tinplate companies were nationalized and universal suffrage was introduced (everyone got the vote).

However, in the mid-1950s, Bolivia was suffering from high inflation. Faced with economic problems, the Bolivian government turned to the United States for help. The United States provided loans and the economy stabilized, but in 1964 the army staged another coup.

For most of the next 18 years, Bolivia suffered under a military dictatorship. Despite the repression, the Bolivian economy grew and the population grew rapidly. However, in the early 1980s, the economy suffered a recession. In the face of mass demonstrations and international condemnation, the last junta withdrew and the congress was restored. In 1982 Hernando Siles Zuazo became president of Bolivia.

However, during his reign, Bolivia suffered major economic problems, including runaway inflation, and he won in 1985. His successor, Paz Estenssoro, managed to curb inflation, but in 1989 he was replaced by Paz Zamora. Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada replaced him in 1993. He undertook a privatization campaign and with him the Bolivian economy grew.

Bolivia today

However, the Bolivian economy weakened starting in 1999, but grew again in 2003. Then, in 2005, leftist Evo Morales was elected president with plans to nationalize the industry. Morales was re-elected president of Bolivia in 2009.

Today Bolivia is still a poor country but rich in resources. Perhaps its greatest resource is tourism and it boasts beautiful landscapes and wildlife. Bolivia suffered in the 2009 recession, but the economy recovered.

Today the Bolivian economy is growing steadily. Bolivia is becoming more prosperous and there are reasons to be hopeful for its future. The current population of Bolivia is 11 million inhabitants.

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