Bolivia—officially The Plurinational State of Bolivia—is located in central South America and has an estimated population of just over 11,000,000. This landlocked country shares its borders with Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The administrative capital, where the executive and legislative branches of government function, is located inLa Paz; however, the constitutional capital is considered the City of Sucre.
More than 80% of the population of Bolivia speaks Spanish as a first or second language, followed by Quechua: 21.2%, Aymara: 14.6%, and other indigenous languages: 3.6%. In fact, Bolivia’s 2009 constitution recognizes a total of 37 languages as official. This diversity in language is telling of Bolivian ethnicity itself as approximately 60% of citizens are indigenous peoples.
Mining is the major industry within Bolivia. The country currently has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America and is also a major producer of petroleum gas. Additionally, Bolivia easily holds the largest reserve of lithium in the world, an essential product in batteries for cellphones, laptops, and electric cars - although it is not currently being extracted. If managed well, these resources could reshape the country's struggling economy for decades to come.
Bolivia is a unitary presidential republic with its power divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Evo Morales is the current President of Bolivia, first elected in 2006 and reelected in 2009 and 2014. Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous president and his government has led the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) which seeks to address social issues and reclaim control over much of the nations privatized resources and industries. In 2009 Morales succeeded in rewriting the Bolivian constitution to increase the rights of the country's indigenous population and enshrine his policies of nationalization and land redistribution—although he is not without controversy.
CBM first began working in Bolivia in 1898. Early impacts in Bolivia include influence on the passing of a bill for religious freedom in 1905, promoting a model for land reform and the end of serfdom, defense of aboriginal peoples’ rights, and the establishment of schools, churches, medical clinics and a theological seminary. CBM was among the first NGOs to handover properties and leadership positions to the national church in Bolivia. This proved to be a groundbreaking practice that later opened the doors for CBM to establish other significant partnerships and shape the framework for its present engagement.