BOLIVIA

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Country Description: Bolivia is a developing nation with a slowly growing economy. Facilities for tourism are adequate, but vary greatly in quality.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a one-month stay. For current information concerning entry and customs requirements, travelers can contact the Bolivian Embassy at 3014 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-4410, or the nearest Bolivian consulate in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Houston, New Orleans, Seattle, or San Francisco.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in large cities is adequate but of varying quality. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not valid in Bolivia. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment of medical services outside the United States. In some cases, medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including medical evacuation coverage, has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559, Internet http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Street crime, such as pickpocketing and theft from parked vehicles, is common in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Theft of cars, particularly late-model four-wheel drive vehicles, has increased in recent months. Violent crime, or crimes involving weapons remain infrequent. However, hijacking of vehicles has increased in the past year, and travelers should take appropriate precautions to avoid being victimized.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad," which is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. Also available from the same address is the Department of State publication "Tips for Travelers to Central and South America."

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Violence and civil unrest, primarily associated with anti-narcotics activities in the Chapare region between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, periodically create a potential risk for travelers to that region. Violent confrontations between area residents and government authorities over coca eradication occasionally result in the use of tear gas and stronger force by government authorities to quell disturbances. U.S. citizen visitors to the Chapare region are encouraged to check with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy prior to travel.

Terrorist Activities: Although there have been no terrorist-related attacks against U.S. official or private interests or persons in Bolivia in the past three years, there remains a moderate potential for such incidents. Additionally, explosive devices have occasionally been used by Bolivian dissidents and disaffected workers protesting government or private company policies in La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and other areas. Bombing incidents have not recently targeted U.S. citizens and are normally intended to cause only property damage; however, the possibility exists that an unwary traveler could be injured unintentionally by such an incident.

Other Information: La Paz and other cities have been the scene of frequent demonstrations by various local groups. Although not specifically directed at foreigners, these demonstrations have resulted in occasional confrontations between police and demonstrators in which tear gas and force have been used. Visitors to Bolivia are advised to avoid any area in which demonstrations are in progress. Strikes and various kinds of civic actions can occur at any time and may result in disruption of transportation on a local or national level.

Road Conditions: Road conditions in Bolivia are extremely hazardous. Although the major population centers of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz are connected by improved highways, less than five percent of all roads are paved. For trips outside the major cities, especially in mountainous areas, a four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. Travel during the rainy season (November through March) is extremely difficult, as most routes are potholed and many of the bridges washed out. An added danger is lack of formal training for most drivers. Fender-benders and car/pedestrian accidents are commonplace. Information concerning road conditions may be obtained in La Paz from the Servicio Nacional de Caminos at telephone (591) (2) 30-1142.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties in Bolivia for possession, use and trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders receive lengthy prison sentences and fines. Incarcerated persons can expect to wait longer than two years before being sentenced. Prison conditions are very primitive and prisoners are expected to pay for their own room and board.

Civil Aviation Oversight: As a result of an assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in August 1994, the FAA has found the government of Bolivia civil aviation authority not to be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Bolivia's air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, Bolivia's carriers are permitted to conduct limited operations to the U.S., subject to heightened FAA surveillance. Based on the FAA's determination, the Department of Defense does not permit U.S. military personnel to use carriers from Bolivia for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the U.S. or in extenuating circumstances. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873.

Embassy Location/Registration: Americans are encouraged to register with and obtain updated security information from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy, located at 2780 Avenida Arce in La Paz. The Consular Section can be reached by calling the Embassy switchboard, telephone (591)(2)43-0251. There are also U.S. consular agencies in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, which are open mornings only. The agency in Santa Cruz is located in the Edificio Oriente, Room 313, telephone (591)(03)33-0725. The agency in Cochabamba is located at Avenida Oquendo 564, Edificio Sofer, Room 601, telephone (591)(042)56714.

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