Bolivia has been through some tough times. The aftermath of the 1980s crisis left the country among the poorest nations of Latin America, and when people speak of the Bolivian economy it is this predicament that is highlighted. Poverty is staggering: the latest data from the World Bank has 60% of the population at the national poverty line, and unlike its South American neighbours, Peru; Argentina; Chile and Brazil, who rank within the top hundred nations for GDP (IMF 2009), Bolivia remains at position 127. That’s one place above the Sudan.
However, despite these crippling features, there are many reasons to be positive about the state of Bolivian industry and economy. In 2009, UNESCO declared Bolivia free of illiteracy, which is sure to have a healthy impact on the future productivity of the country. But most astounding are Bolivia’s recent growth and employment indicators. External debt is going down, private trade going up. Best of all: unemployment in Bolivia was at 5.2% in 2007. It beats both the USA and the UK. Bolivians may be poor, but they are working pretty damn hard. So, what are they getting up to in their working hours?
It would be easy to talk about agriculture and natural gas, the big winners for the Bolivian economy. But we hear enough about them. This month, we speak not of the industry of Bolivia, but of industrious Bolivia: a nation of enterprising and resourceful hard-workers. Thus we seek out an eclectic collection of local products and their dynamic creators, examining a range of companies and artifacts that range from the commercial to artistic, bacchanalian and coca-flavoured. Just like Bolivian Express, all our special features this month are sealed with a proud stamp: made in Bolivia.
ARTICLES FROM THIS ISSUE
07 Oct, 2011 | Robbie Macdonald
The people’s beer Paceña is the top brand in Bolivia. The red, white and gold logo can be seen nearly everywhere you look. In addition to the everyday press, an enthusiastic marketing team oversees...
Things you didn't know about coca
07 Oct, 2011 | Maeva Gonzalez
The coca leaf, discovered 3000 years ago by the Incas, is still cause for both pride and controversy. Eduardo Lopez Zavala, the director of the movie Inal Mama (see BX Issue 6) understands it as a s...
True Bolivianite: The Story of Ametrine
31 Aug, 2011 | Matthew Grace
To reach the AnahI mine, one must trace the gems’ voyage in reverse, up the Paraguay River from Puerto Quijarro, a small, dusty town in the extreme east of Bolivia Ametrine, a purple-and-yellow blen...
22 Sep, 2011 | Maeva Gonzalez
At Altitude My fashion journey took me from the heights of El Alto in La Paz to the lively and hot city of Santa Cruz. Bolivia has many resources in alpaca and leather that make designs of great qua...