By Joy Cho (vice-chairperson and feature editor)
This year marks the 57th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between the Republic of Korea and Pluninational State of Bolivia. Korea and Bolivia are in good hands—as far as the ambassador of the country in Korea is concerned. In one of the past interviews with Korea, Ambassador Ossio Bustillos of Bolivia in Seoul said that the Republic of Korea and Bolivia have great potential for increased cooperation between the two countries in many fields. Then he said “Bolivia hopes for Korean companies to invest in Santa Cruz City, which has geographical merits as it takes only two hours to reach San Paulo and Santiago.” Then he said, “We need to build an artificial channel linking Bolivia and the Atlantic Ocean.”
Ambassador Bustillos said that Bolivia invites Korean companies, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), to invest in the Bolivia’s PPP (public-private project) program.
He said: “For instance, Bolivia contracted that Samsung Electronics built a plant in the middle of CHAPARE (Valle) for about $1 billion. However, the plant is not working now owing to some access problems. POSCO also mapped out an investment plan in Bolivia, but decided to get out of Bolivia due to some problem over the move of indigenous community.”
Bolivia is located in the heart of South America with 11 million inhabitants. It is embraced by the Andes Mountains which has in its midst volcanoes, deserts, lakes, forests and its eternal snowed mountain.
Due to its geographical contrasts, Bolivia has diverse climates. In the Altiplano it is cold and dry, in the valleys the climate is warm, and in the tropics it is hot and humid.
Bolivia is a country that is multi-ethnic, and pluri-cultural; hence it is rich in traditions and customs, and it has a great quantity of natural resources.
Among the most famous touristic places in Bolivia are the Uyuni Salt Flat where the earth and sky meet. It is a natural wonder and one of the most surreal places in the world. In the rainy season, with a few centimeters of water on its surface, it becomes the largest mirror on the Earth as was described by Neil Armstrong when he saw our planet from the Moon.
Korea and Bolivia have been increasing cooperation in various fields. Recently, the Korean government has provided various supports such as PCR diagnostic kits, masks, and strengthening health capabilities to respond to COVID-19 in Bolivia and is expected to continue to strengthen cooperation between the two countries to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
Bolivia is a landlocked country located in the heart of the South American continent, with a population of about 11 million and abundant natural resources. Bolivia is also a country with a vast land area five times larger than the Korean Peninsula.
The temperature in Bolivia is between 10 and 30° south latitude, wherefore it belongs to a tropical climate region. It can be easily understood to divide the western highlands with a warm and dry temperate climate and the eastern jungle lowlands with a hot and humid tropical or subtropical climate.
Bolivia is home to Lake Titicaca, the highest in the world, and to the south is the Uyuni Salt Flat, which was formed when the sea that was once part of the Pacific Ocean was locked into land by the uplift of the Andes Mountains.
As the Uyuni Desert began to attract attention as a major tourist destination in South America, the number of Korean tourists in Bolivia has increased significantly in recent years, expanding the horizon of exchanges between the two countries.
Bolivia is a resource-rich country rich in natural gas and mineral resources. In particular, recently, it has the world's largest reserves of lithium, a raw material for batteries for electric vehicles. country.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1965, the two countries have continuously developed friendly and cooperative relations. The Bolivian Embassy in Bolivia, which was closed in 1998 due to the IMF economic crisis, was reopened on September 16, 2008, and the Bolivian Embassy in Korea was opened in 2014.
In a related development, Bolivia has named one of its streets after South Korea in a show of respect and friendship for the country that helped build its new town in Santa Cruz.
The 80-meter wide, 9.85-kilometer-long road bisecting the new town of Santa Cruz was named "Avenida Corea" or Korea Avenue in a ceremony held Wednesday (Bolivia time), according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Korea has been providing technical consultations on the construction of the new, highly connected "smart town" at the request of the Bolivian government since 2014, the ministry said.
A number of Korean firms have also worked with Bolivia to help build the new town.
The project is said to be worth US$3.2 billion, and will be completed by 2035. The town, once built, will be home to some 350,000 people in 100,000 households.
"I hope the naming of the street will lead to an expansion of South Korean companies' participation in the project to build a new town in Santa Cruz, which will also mark South Korea's first export of a new, smart town," Kim Kyung-hwan, Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure & Transport, was quoted as saying while attending the naming ceremony in Bolivia.
"Furthermore, I hope bilateral cooperation between the two countries will expand to various other areas," he said.