Bolivia Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Bolivia is an independent nation in South America. With the capital city of Sucre, Bolivia 2020 population is estimated at 11,673,032 according to countryaah. At Lake Titicaca there were agricultural crops over 3,000 years ago. The area was conquered in the 15th century by the Incarct and by the Spaniards in 1538. The indigenous people were subjected to brutal exploitation. Independence from Spain was proclaimed in 1825. During the decades that followed, Bolivia lost large territories in war. After a revolution in 1952, the country went into economic crisis, and the military took power in a coup in 1964.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Bolivia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Just over 3,000 years ago, native cultures grew around Lake Titicaca, where people began to keep llama animals and grow potatoes and quinoa. Around 400–800 AD, the city of Tiahuanaco became the center of a high culture that stretched to today’s Ecuador. For some unknown reason, the Tiahuanaco culture collapsed in the 11th century, and today there are only ruins. For Bolivia political system, please check diseaseslearning.

Tiahuanaco is believed to have had a great cultural influence on the Incarque, which had its base in Peru. During the expansion of the Incarct in the 14th century, Bolivia fell under its rule. When the Spanish conquerors came to South America in the 1530s, the Incarceration was weakened by internal contradictions and quickly collapsed. The Spaniards conquered Bolivia in 1538 and called the country Alto Perú (Upper Peru).

In 1545, huge silver deposits were discovered in Potosí, which quickly grew into the largest and richest city of the Spanish Empire, filled with magnificent palaces and churches. The prize was ruthless exploitation of the indigenous people, who were forced to work as slaves in the mines and often did not survive more than a couple of years there. Potosí’s significance diminished just as quickly as the silver sintered around 1650.

Bolivia is founded

A series of revolts against the Spanish empire broke out during the 17th and 18th centuries, but only after 1809 did a strong independence movement emerge. General Antonio José de Sucre, one of South American freedom hero Simón Bolívar’s closest men, defeated the Spaniards in Peru in 1824, after which Alto Perú proclaimed his independence in 1825. The country was named after Bolívar and Sucre became its first president. The indigenous peoples still made up over 90 percent of the population, but the country was ruled by the small minority of Spanish kittens.

When Bolivia was founded, it was twice as large as today. It was marked from the beginning by unstable governments and constant military coups. The country was further weakened by poor economy and deep social contradictions.

In the so-called Salpet or Pacific War of 1879-1883, Bolivia lost all of its mineral-rich coastal strip to Chile. Additional areas in the Amazon, rich in natural rubber, resigned to Brazil in the 1860s and early 1900s. In a war of 1932–1935, partially staged by rival foreign oil companies, Bolivia lost most of the Chaco area in the southeast to Paraguay (see Geography and Climate).

New political parties

Bolivia became the world’s second largest producer of tin in the 20th century, but the poor majority did not enjoy the wealth. During the 1930s and 1940s, new nationalist and leftist political movements emerged that challenged the traditional elite. Particularly influential became the radical Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR). In the 1951 presidential election, MR’s candidate Victor Paz defeated Estenssoro, but he was prevented by a military coup from taking office.

The military coup triggered an MNR-led popular uprising, with the support of defected soldiers. In a bloody revolution in 1952, the military regime was deposed and Paz Estenssoro became president. A comprehensive reform program was initiated: the mines were nationalized, universal suffrage was introduced and a land reform was implemented. The national organization COB (Central Obrera Boliviana), dominated by the mining union, was formed and quickly became a factor of power.

During the second half of the 1950s, Bolivia ended up in economic crisis, mainly due to large losses for the tin mines. The government was forced into financial tightening and needed to seek help from the United States. COB protested and the split within the MNR increased. The MNR board came to an abrupt end when Paz Estenssoro was deposed by the military in 1964.



Price increases are withdrawn after protests

Violent protests erupt when the government abolishes government subsidies on gasoline and diesel, leading to around 80 percent price increases. In La Paz, police use tear gas to disperse protesters at government buildings. On New Year’s Eve, after a short week of turmoil, President Morales withdraws the decision to abandon subsidies.

The retirement age is lowered

A new law is adopted which means that the retirement age is lowered from 65 years to 58 years. The law also covers those who work in the informal sector, with so-called black jobs, provided they pay pension premiums.

Opposition Governor suspended

In Tarija, the regional assembly votes to shut down Governor Mario Cossío, a leading opponent of President Morales. Cossío is accused of corruption and the suspension is in accordance with a new controversial law which means that politicians facing “official charges” are prohibited from holding office. The Regional Assembly elects a new governor who belongs to MAS. Thus, only two of Bolivia’s nine regions have governors belonging to the opposition.


State visit to Iran

President Morales visits Iran to secure Iranian investment in Bolivia. After the trip, he reaffirms Bolivia’s plans to build a nuclear power plant with Iran’s help.


Lynching begets debate

A lynching case raises a debate about disputes between local communities’ legal opinion and national legislation (see June 2010). The case concerns three brothers who were charged with murder and then beaten, tied and buried alive. Critics point to ambiguities in the boundary between customary law and national laws. In 2010 alone, 20 lynchings have been reported to have taken place in Bolivia (see Political system).


The confiscation of land continues

The government states that it has confiscated over 110,000 hectares of land that is said to be in the trench or unfair. A significant part of the ground has been taken from a prominent opposition entrepreneur.

Civilians are trained in the army

The government states that civilians have started training in army camps, something that the opposition criticizes as a first step towards creating a government-loyal militia.

Court approves ranch confiscation

A court gives the government the right to confiscate a 15,000-acre ranch from an American livestock breeder accused of treating its workers as slaves. The land is to be distributed among a few thousand Guarani families.


Customary law becomes law

A law is passed which means that indigenous peoples’ rights are equated with the national judicial system.

Morales re-elected as a trade unionist

President Evo Morales is re-elected president of the cocoa growers’ union, a post he has held for over two decades. The election is criticized by the opposition, pointing to growing crime linked to the drug trade.


Protests against wage policy

Strikes and demonstrations are carried out against the government’s wage policy.

Electricity companies are nationalized

President Evo Morales orders that four electricity companies be nationalized. He explains that the state thus controls 80 percent of the country’s power generation.


“Mother Earth Department” is set up

Morales announces a Mother Earth ministry for planetary rights and says he would like to create an international court with the power to punish nations that do not comply with emissions reduction agreements. In addition, a campaign for planting ten million trees, as many as Bolivia’s residents, is being started.

The government party strongly in regional and municipal elections

In accordance with the new constitution, for the first time, direct elections are held for the positions of governors and members of the regional assemblies in all nine ministries, as well as to the mayor and council of the municipalities. The support for the presidential party MAS remains high. The ruling party wins in six of the nine ministries, including in Pando, which belongs to the natural resource-rich eastern part of the country. However, MAS loses the mayor’s election in the capital La Paz.


New government appointed

President Evo Morales presents his new government. Only seven out of 20 ministers are from the former government. Half of the ministers are women, but the heaviest items (foreign, economic, defense, domestic) go to men.

Bolivia Old History