centralized government with a strong presidency and those who supported a decentralized, federal form of government. At the same time, another political division emerged between those who supported the Constitution of Cúcuta and two groups who sought to do away with the Constitution, either in favor of breaking up the nation into smaller republics or maintaining the union but creating an even stronger presidency. The faction that favored constitutional rule coalesced around Vice-President Francisco de Paula Santander, while those who supported the creation of a stronger presidency were led by President Simón Bolívar. The two men had been allies in the war against Spanish rule, but by 1825, their differences had become public and were an important part of the political instability from that year onward.
Independence and subsequent wars
The struggle for independence started in the city of Sucre the 25 May 1809, with the first cry of Freedom in Latin America. Chuquisaca Revolution (Chuquisaca was then the name of the city). That revolution, which created a local government Junta, was followed by the La Paz revolution, during which Bolivia actually declared independence. Both revolutions were short-lived, and defeated by the Spanish authorities, but the following year the Spanish American wars of independence raged across the continent. Bolivia was captured and recaptured many times during the war by the royalists and patriots. Buenos Aires sent three military campaigns, all of which were defeated, and eventually limited itself to protecting the national borders at Salta. Bolivia was finally freed of Royalist dominion by Antonio José de Sucre, with a military campaign coming from the North in support of the campaign of Simón Bolívar. After 16 years of war the Republic was proclaimed on 6 August 1825.
In 1836, Bolivia, under the rule of Marshal Andrés de Santa Cruz, invaded Peru to reinstall the deposed president, General Luis José de Orbegoso. Peru and Bolivia formed the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, with de Santa Cruz as the Supreme Protector. Following tension between the Confederation and Chile, Chile declared war on 28 December 1836. Argentina, Chile's ally, declared war on the Confederation on 9 May 1837. The Peruvian-Bolivian forces achieved several major victories during the War of the Confederation: the defeat of the Argentine expedition and the defeat of the first Chilean expedition on the fields of Paucarpata near the city of Arequipa.
On the same field, the Chilean and Peruvian rebel army surrendered unconditionally and signed the Paucarpata Treaty. The treaty stipulated that Chile would withdraw from Peru-Bolivia, Chile would return captured Confederate ships, economic relations would be normalized, and the Confederation would pay Peruvian debt to Chile. In Chile, public outrage over the treaty forced the government to reject it. Chile organized a second attack on the Confederation and defeated it in the Battle of Yungay. After this defeat, Santa Cruz resigned and went to exile in Ecuador and then Paris, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation was dissolved.
Following the independence of Peru, Peruvian president General Agustín Gamarra invaded Bolivia. The Peruvian army was decisively defeated at the Battle of Ingavi on 20 November 1841 where Gamarra was killed. The Bolivian army under General José Ballivián then mounted a counter-offensive, capturing the Peruvian port of Arica. Later, both sides signed a peace treaty in 1842, putting a final end to the war.
Economic instability and continued wars
A period of political and economic instability in the early-to-mid-19th century weakened Bolivia. Then in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) against Chile, it lost its access to the sea and the adjoining rich salitre (saltpeter) fields, together with the port of Antofagasta.
Since independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries in wars and as a consequence of internal strife. It also lost the state of Acre, in the Acre War; important because this region was known for its production of rubber. Peasants and the Bolivian army fought briefly but after a few victories, and facing the prospect of a total war against Brazil, it was forced to sign the Treaty of Petrópolis in 1903, in which Bolivia lost this rich territory. Popular myth has it that Bolivian president Mariano Melgarejo (1864–71) traded the land for what he called "a magnificent white horse" and Acre was subsequently flooded by Brazilians which ultimately led to confrontation and fear of war with Brazil.
In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of gold brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability. During the early 20th century, tin replaced gold as the country's most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled by the economic and social elite followed laissez-faire capitalist policies through the first thirty years of the 20th century.
Living conditions of the native people, who constitute most of the population, remained deplorable. With work opportunities limited to primitive conditions in the mines and in large estates having nearly feudal status, they had no access to education, economic opportunity, and political participation. Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932–35), where Bolivia lost a great part of theGran Chaco region in dispute, marked a turning-point.
Nationalist Revolutionary Movement
The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) The most historic political party, emerged as a broadly based party. Denied its victory in the 1951 presidential elections, the MNR led a successful revolution in 1952. Under President Víctor Paz Estenssoro, the MNR, having strong popular pressure, introduced universal suffrage into his political platform and carried out a sweeping land-reform promoting rural education and nationalization of the country's largest tin mines.
12 years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Estenssoro at the outset of his third term. The 1969 death of President René Barrientos Ortuño, a former member of the junta who was elected president in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. Alarmed by the rising Popular Assembly and the increase in the popularity of President Juan José Torres, the military, the MNR, and others installed Colonel (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez as president in 1971.
Coming back to the presidency in 1985–1989; 1993–1997; and 2002–2003.