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Bolivia

Bolivia

Summary

Bolivia is a nation facing immense levels of poverty and suppression of economic freedom — 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The nation also has relatively alarming health concerns, lack of access to water and sanitation facilities, as well as pressing human rights, environmental concerns and government corruption.1 However, the government has succeeded in instituting education reform, improving access to and quality of education,2 and the unemployment sits at just 4 percent, due to the socialist policies of the government.3 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/Publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bl.html 2 http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2013/10/10/Bolivian-municipality-improves-education 3 https://www.cia.gov/library/Publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bl.html

Demographics

Nationality
Bolivian
Population
10,461,053 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Bolivia Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Bolivia’s environment faces threat from soil erosion and degradation due to overgrazing and extensive agricultural use. The use of chemical fertilizers, slash-and-burn agriculture and poor cultivation methods have leached nutrients from Bolivia’s naturally fertile soil. Attempts at rapid industrialization and economic development have raised concerns over deforestation and industrial pollution.1 Areas in the northeast of the nation are prone to flooding in the spring, and volcanic activity can occur in the Andes along the Bolivian-Chilean border.2 The shrinkage of glaciers in the Andes has the potential to cause droughts for countries such as Bolivia and Chile,3 and the World Bank is implementing measures to assess and address the issue.4 The three components of the plan include watershed management — taking into account the retreat of Read More the glaciers — as well as an adaptive river defense.5 Drought is often an issue in the western and eastern areas, particularly for livestock and crops, and for water access; the Chaco region in particular is vulnerable to the effects of drought, as their subsistence farming relies upon rainfall.6 Show Less

Family

Child marriage is very common in Bolivia. 3 percent of women are married by age 15 and 22 percent are married by age 18.1 The minimum age for a girl to be married is 14, while the minimum age for boys is 16.2 Nine percent of girls aged 15–18 are already mothers.3 Bolivia has the highest infant mortality rate in South America at 35 deaths per 1,000 live births .4 The maternal mortality rate is also high at around 229 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.5 These rates are due in part to lack of adequate prenatal care, as well as lack of proper attention and resources during the birthing process.6 Domestic violence is a national concern, and in 2013, on International Women’s Day, the president Read More enacted legislation making femicide and criminal offense, punishable by law.7 Show Less

Human Rights

Bolivia’s children are frequently exploited through child labor in hazardous industries;1 11 percent of children between 5 and 13 are involved in the labor force.2 Domestic abuse rates are also rampant in Bolivia, and nearly 80 percent of Bolivia’s children suffer from domestic abuse or violent discipline, whether emotional or physical, with girls being particularly at-risk.3 48 percent of female adolescents are subject to abuse from their partner.4 There are fears of significant increases in human trafficking and sexual exploitation; the Munasim Kullakita Foundation estimates there are 250 girls aged 11–17 being sexually exploited in El Alto, Bolivia’s second-largest city of one million people.5 Data on trafficking is difficult to find, as it is legal for women 18 and over to work in the sex Read More trade. In 2012 over 45,000 people were registered sex industry workers, yet the government does not gather data on underage girls in the sex trade.6 Show Less

Education

Overall, 92.5 percent of the Bolivian population is literate. However, only 88.6 percent of women are literate, while 96.5 percent of men are literate.1 Rural education suffers acutely from lack of resources, limited access to educational facilities, and necessity of child labor. 94 percent of children are enrolled in primary school, but this drops to 91 percent for early secondary school.2 As the demand for secondary education rose from the late 1990s to early 2000s, the World Bank established the Secondary Education Transformation Project, aimed at improving the quality and access to secondary education.4 By 2013, the project had created four new school buildings, and reconstructed three, and provided support to 11,000 Bolivian teachers, community members and students through the Center for High Educational Performance Read More in San Antonio.5 The project also provided training materials and strengthened the infrastructure of the schools’ management teams.6 The literacy rate for the 15 years old and over population has reached 95 percent, and the gender discrepancy has shrunk substantially.7 Show Less

Poverty

Poverty is a widespread problem in Bolivia, especially impacting rural areas. 38 percent of Bolivian citizens live below the poverty line,1 making Bolivia the poorest country in South America, with the lowest GDP per capita of $7,500, just under Guyana.2 Women and children are especially vulnerable to poverty due to limited access to education and, particularly in the case of women, social norms that reinforce the social and professional inferiority of women.3 Another negative byproduct of poverty is the high level of child labor in the country.4

Religion

The constitution of Bolivia provides for the freedom to practice and follow any religion. Interfaith dialogue has suffered in the country and Bolivia has received assistance on practical interfaith communications from the United States.1 77 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, 8 percent as Protestant, 8 percent as Evangelical and Pentecostal, 2 percent as Other and 5 percent claim none.2 Indigenous communities in Bolivia follow a mixture of Christian and spiritual beliefs.

Clean Water

Bolivia’s struggle with water has consistently been an issue of international concern.1 As of 2015, clean water access hit an all-time high at 90 percent of the urban population, with the low being 68 percent in 1990.2 This shift is attributed to the efforts of the president to increase access in rural and economically depressed areas.3 Though access to the water supply has grown dramatically, proper sanitation facilities and education on good hygiene practices are still unavailable to nearly 50 percent of Bolivians.4 In remote, rural areas, only 60 percent of the population has access to clean water,5 and approximately 54 percent of the population practices open defecation, compromising the health of the indigenous people groups living there, particularly the children.6

Economy

Roughly 38 percent of Bolivians live below the international standard poverty line — living on less than $2 a day.1 Only about 4 percent of the workforce is unemployed, a result of the government’s socialist policies, but there are dramatic discrepancies in income distribution; Bolivia has the highest rate of income inequality in Latin America, and one of the highest in the world.2 The economic climate of Bolivia has become increasingly mired in economic subjugation; Bolivia is ranked 173/180 on the Economic Freedom Index, and is categorized as a repressed economy.3 The exportation of natural gas to its neighbors, such as Brazil and Argentina, has benefited the economy, yet poverty remains a pervasive issue.3

Government

Corruption pervades many levels of Bolivian society and politics; frequent abuses of power have been reported in several spheres of the government, especially within the judiciary, police and security forces.1 Bolivia ranks as the 112th out of 180 countries for its resistance against corruption with a score of 33 out of 100.2 In 2009, Bolivia approved a new constitution, making the nation a unitary plurinational state, the Plurinational State of Bolivia.3 In the legal jurisdiction there is the ordinary and indigenous jurisdiction, with stated equal hierarchy.4 Since 2015, Bolivia’s government has moved more towards a communitarian socialist society under the current president Evo Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS).5 In 2016, the voting population turned down the Morales’ request for a fourth term in 2019, however, Read More the MAS is attempting to amend the constitution to allow him to take office in 2020, and Morales has accepted his party’s nomination to remain on the ballot.6 Show Less

Health

Bolivia has the highest infant mortality rate in South America at 35 deaths per 1,000 live births.1 The maternal mortality rate is also high at around 229 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.2 These rates are due in part to lack of adequate prenatal care, as well as lack of proper attention and resources during the birthing process.3 Proper sanitation facilities and education on good hygiene practices are still unavailable to nearly 50 percent of Bolivians.4 In remote, rural areas, only 60 percent of the population has access to clean water,5 and approximately 54 percent of the population practices open defecation, compromising the health of the indigenous people groups living there, particularly the children.6

Children

With 38 percent of the population living below the poverty line, Bolivian children are uniquely vulnerable to hunger, malnutrition, limited access to health services and education and child labor.1 Bolivia formerly had the second highest rate of child malnutrition in South America, but in 2017, the Bolivian government announced that it cut child malnutrition rates in half.2 This is attributed to the work of the National Food and Nutrition Council and its ten ministries. However, Bolivia’s children are routinely exploited through child labor in hazardous industries;3 11 percent of children between 5 and 13 are involved in the labor force.4 Domestic abuse rates are also rampant in Bolivia, and nearly 70 percent of Bolivia’s children suffer from domestic abuse, whether emotional or physical, with girls Read More being particularly at-risk.5 Show Less

Animals

Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth1 establishes the “rights” of nature, setting forth a series of principles and policies pertaining to the inherent rights of both animals and the environment.2 This legislations states that nature has a right to life, the right to be unaltered, the right to balance and the right to be unpolluted, among other rights.3 Additionally, animals, whether wild or domestic, are not allowed to be part of travelling circuses.4

Bolivia

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