Bolivia Drug Use In Bolivia is a land

of gaunt mountains, cold desolate plains, and semi-tropical lowlands situated in the central part of South America. Straddling the Andes mountains, Bolivia's 424,165 square miles occupy an area about the size of Texas and California combined. It is a big country, but with a population of only 7.9 million. About 15 percent are of European heri tage; 25 percent are Aymara Indians, 30 percent are Quechua Indians, and 30 percent are mestizos (of mixed Indian and European ancestry). Although Bolivia is rich in mineral resources— petroleum, natural gas, tin, lead, zinc, copper, and gold—it is an economically depressed country, with 66 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Most of the population works in agriculture, which is generally low paying, while a small number work in the mines. In 1998, Bolivia had a national debt of some 4.1 billion in U.S. dollars and an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of 23.4 billion dollars.

Much of the Bolivian population lives on the bleak, treeless, windswept Altiplano (high plain), a plateau more than 13,000 feet above sea level. The Altiplano is an arid expanse of red earth, of about 40,000 square miles, with widely scattered llamas, sheep, cattle, and homesteads. However, the Altiplano is considered to be the most livable part of the country, with 70 percent of the population residing along its western quarter. Much of the rest of the people live in the Yungas, the Chapare, and the Beni—the tropical jungles of northeastern and central Bolivia, where Erythroxylum coca thrives. Erythroxylum coca, or simple ''coca,'' is the shrub from which COCAINE is derived (Inciardi, 1992).

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