Spanish conquerors, Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro, arrived at the Inca capital in 1532, when the Incas were at war over who would become the next emperor. During the Spanish colonial period, the town was known as Charcas, LaPlata, and Chuquisaca. It grew rapidly after the discovery in 1545 of silver mines at nearby Potosi. In 1839, the town was renamed Surcre after Bolivia's constitutional president, General Antonio Jose de Surcre.
What environmental issues is Bolivia now facing?
Deforestation is a critical threat to the health of Bolivia's environment. 45% of Bolivia's 1,098,000 hectares is forestland. During the 1900's 810,000 hectares were lost each year. Between 1990 and 1995, 3 million hectares were lost for cropland, livestock, grazing, and tropical timber. Soil erosion and degration is another issue. The problems of soil erosion in the Bolivian highlands dates back to the 16th century, when colonists imposed a taxation system upon farmers where by revenues were collected and paid in the form of grasses and shrubs.
Bolivia is the least developed and poorest country in Latin America. Following a disastrous economic crisis during the early 1980's, reforms private investment simulated economic growth and cut poverty rates in the 1990's. The majority of the population lives in poverty and Bolivia depends on foreign aid to survive. Agriculture forms a large part of the economy, but Bolivia has not been able to afford the latest in farming technology, leaving much to be done by hand. there are mines filled with gold, silver, and tin, but Bolivian economy struggles when the demand for these metals are low.
Bolivia's history changed dramatically when in 1532 the Spanish defeated the Great Incas and other ethnic groups that had inhabited the area. The Incas were weakened by Eropean deseases brought over by the Spaniards that were unable to properly defend themselves and were conquered by an army of 180 men led by Fransisco Pizzaro. Because of this, Bolivia's society was four centries later continues to be largely stratified with clear differences and wide gaps between the impoverished indigenous class and the wealthy.