Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire until conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. Independence was won and the Republic of Bolivia was proclaimed on 6 Aug. 1825. During the first century and a half of its independence, Bolivia had frequent changes of government. Many of these were as a result of coups of which there have been some 190 in total. The most recent was in 1980. In the 1960s the Argentinian revolutionary and former minister of the Cuban government, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, was killed in Bolivia while fighting with a left-wing guerrilla group. In 1971 Bolivia was governed briefly by the revolutionary Popular Assembly. Repression under Gen. Hugo Banzer took a heavy toll on the left-wing parties. Banzer was followed by a succession of military-led governments until civilian rule was restored in Oct. 1982 when Dr Siles Zuazo became president. He introduced economic reforms embracing free markets and open trade which succeeded in restoring stability but also widened the gap between rich and poor. Amid growing discontent, in Dec. 2005 Evo Morales Ayma was elected as the country’s first indigenous president.
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