Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and countercoups. Democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production.

In December 2005, Bolivians elected Movement Toward Socialism leader Evo MORALES president – by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 – after he ran on a promise to change the country’s traditional political class and empower the nation’s poor, indigenous majority. In December 2009, President MORALES easily won reelection, and his party took control of the legislative branch of the government, which will allow him to continue his process of change. In October 2011, the country held its first judicial elections to select judges for the four highest courts.

Bolivian Flag

Bolivian Flag


Central South America, southwest of Brazil

Geographic coordinates:
17 00 S, 65 00 W

Map references:
South America

total: 1,098,581 sq km
country comparison to the world: 28
land: 1,083,301 sq km
water: 15,280 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Montana

Land boundaries:
total: 6,940 km
border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,423 km, Chile 860 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 1,075 km

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid

rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rio Paraguay 90 m
highest point: Nevado Sajama 6,542 m

Natural resources:
tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 3.49%
permanent crops: 0.2%
other: 96.31% (2011)

Irrigated land:
1,282 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
622.5 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 2.64 cu km/yr (25%/14%/61%)
per capita: 305.8 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards:
flooding in the northeast (March to April)
volcanism: volcanic activity in Andes Mountains on the border with Chile; historically active volcanoes in this region are Irruputuncu (elev. 5,163 m), which last erupted in 1995, and Olca-Paruma

Environment – current issues:
the clearing of land for agricultural purposes and the international demand for tropical timber are contributing to deforestation; soil erosion from overgrazing and poor cultivation methods (including slash-and-burn agriculture); desertification; loss of biodiversity; industrial pollution of water supplies used for drinking and irrigation

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Geography – note:
landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world’s highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru

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People & Society

noun: Bolivian(s)
adjective: Bolivian

Ethnic groups:
Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%

Spanish (official) 60.7%, Quechua (official) 21.2%, Aymara (official) 14.6%, Guarani (official), foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2%
note: Bolivia’s 2009 constitution designates Spanish and all indigenous languages as official; 36 indigenous languages are specified, including some that are extinct (2001 census)

Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) 5%

Demographic profile:
Bolivia ranks at or near the bottom among Latin American countries in several areas of health and development, including poverty, education, fertility, malnutrition, mortality, and life expectancy. On the positive side, more children are being vaccinated and more pregnant women are getting prenatal care and having skilled health practitioners attend their births. Bolivia’s income inequality is the highest in Latin America and one of the highest in the world. Public education is of poor quality, and educational opportunities are among the most unevenly distributed in Latin America, with girls and indigenous and rural children less likely to be literate or to complete primary school. The lack of access to education and family planning services helps to sustain Bolivia’s high fertility rate – approximately three children per woman. Bolivia’s lack of clean water and basic sanitation, especially in rural areas, contributes to health problems.
Almost 7% of Bolivia’s population lives abroad, primarily to work in Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and the United States. In recent years, more restrictive immigration policies in Europe and the United States have increased the flow of Bolivian emigrants to neighboring Argentina and Brazil.

10,631,486 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82

Age structure:
0-14 years: 33.3% (male 1,805,121/female 1,737,794)
15-24 years: 19.8% (male 1,063,823/female 1,037,320)
25-54 years: 36.3% (male 1,878,736/female 1,979,819)
55-64 years: 4.9% (male 280,809/female 322,057)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 232,514/female 293,493) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 65.3 %
youth dependency ratio: 57 %
elderly dependency ratio: 8.2 %
potential support ratio: 12.1 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 23.4 years
male: 22.6 years
female: 24.1 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.6% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76

Birth rate:
23.28 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70

Death rate:
6.59 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145

Net migration rate:
-0.69 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141

urban population: 66.8% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 2.18% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
Santa Cruz 1.719 million; LA PAZ (capital) 1.715 million; Sucre (constitutional capital) 307,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2008 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
190 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 58

Infant mortality rate:
total: 38.61 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 57
male: 42.23 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 34.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.55 years
country comparison to the world: 159
male: 65.78 years
female: 71.45 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
2.8 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
60.5% (2008)

Health expenditures:
4.9% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 144

Physicians density:
1.22 physicians/1,000 population (2001)

Hospital bed density:
1.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source:
urban: 96% of population
rural: 71.9% of population
total: 88% of population
urban: 4% of population
rural: 28.1% of population
total: 12% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 57.5% of population
rural: 23.7% of population
total: 46.3% of population
urban: 42.5% of population
rural: 76.3% of population
total: 53.7% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.3% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
15,900 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
1,300 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
17.9% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 109

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
4.5% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 95

Education expenditures:
6.9% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 24

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.2%
male: 95.8%
female: 86.8% (2009 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2007)

Child labor – children ages 5-14:
total number: 553,323
percentage: 26 %
note: data represents children ages 5-13 (2008 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 6.2%
country comparison to the world: 132
male: 4.8%
female: 7.8% (2009)

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Country name:
conventional long form: Plurinational State of Bolivia
conventional short form: Bolivia
local long form: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
local short form: Bolivia

Government type:
republic; note – the new constitution defines Bolivia as a “Social Unitarian State”
name: La Paz (administrative capital); Sucre (constitutional capital)
geographic coordinates: 16 30 S, 68 09 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:
9 departments (departamentos, singular – departamento); Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Tarija

6 August 1825 (from Spain)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 6 August (1825)

many previous; latest drafted 6 August 2006 – 9 December 2008, approved by referendum 25 January 2009, effective 7 February 2009; amended 2013 (2013)

Legal system:
civil law system with influences from Roman, Spanish, canon (religious), French, and indigenous law
International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

18 years of age, universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Juan Evo MORALES Ayma (since 22 January 2006); Vice President Alvaro GARCIA Linera (since 22 January 2006); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Juan Evo MORALES Ayma (since 22 January 2006); Vice President Alvaro GARCIA Linera (since 22 January 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term and are eligible for re-election once; election last held on 6 December 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Juan Evo MORALES Ayma reelected president; percent of vote – Juan Evo MORALES Ayma 64%; Manfred REYES VILLA 26%; Samuel DORIA MEDINA Arana 6%; Rene JOAQUINO 2%; other 2%

Legislative branch:
bicameral Plurinational Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (36 seats; members are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms) and Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (130 seats total; 70 uninominal deputies directly elected from a single district, 7 “special” indigenous deputies directly elected from non-contiguous indigenous districts, and 53 plurinominal deputies elected by proportional representation from party lists; all deputies serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators and Chamber of Deputies – last held on 6 December 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Chamber of Senators – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – MAS 26, PPB-CN 10; Chamber of Deputies – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – MAS 89, PPB-CN 36, UN 3, AS 2; note – as of 15 February 2013, the current composition of the Chamber of Deputies is: MAS 88, PPB-CN 37, UN 3, AS 2

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (consists of 12 judges); Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (consists of 7 primary and 7 alternate magistrates); Plurinational Electoral Organ (consists of 7 members)
note – the 2009 constitution reformed the procedure for selecting judicial officials for the Supreme Court, Constitutional Tribunal, and the Plurinational Electoral Organ by direct national vote, which occurred in October 2011
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court and Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal judges elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Plurinational Legislative Assembly for 6-year terms); Plurinational Electoral Organ members – 6 judges elected by the Assembly and 1 appointed by the president; judges and members serve 6-year terms
subordinate courts: Agro-Environmental Court; Council of the Judiciary; District Courts (in each of the 9 administrative departments)

Political parties and leaders:
Bacada Indigena or BI
Bolivia-National Convergence or PPB-CN [Adrian OLIVA]
Fearless Movement or MSM [Juan DE GRANADO Cosio]
Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Juan Evo MORALES Ayma]
National Unity or UN [Samuel DORIA MEDINA Arana]
People or Gente [Roman LOAYZA]
Social Alliance or AS [Rene JOAQUINO]
Social Democratic Movement or MDS [Ruben COSTAS]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Bolivian Workers Central or COB
Federation of Neighborhood Councils of El Alto or FEJUVE
Landless Movement or MST
National Coordinator for Change or CONALCAM
Sole Confederation of Campesino Workers of Bolivia or CSUTCB
other: Cocalero groups; indigenous organizations (including Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Bolivia or CIDOB and National Council of Ayullus and Markas of Quollasuyu or CONAMAQ); Interculturales union or CSCIB; labor unions (including the Central Bolivian Workers’ Union or COB and Cooperative Miners Federation or FENCOMIN)

International organization participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Freddy BERSATTI Tudela
chancery: 3014 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-4410
FAX: [1] (202) 328-3712
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, Miami, New York
note: as of September 2008, the US has expelled the Bolivian ambassador to the US

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Aruna AMIRTHANAYAGAM (since 28 February 2014)
embassy: Avenida Arce 2780, Casilla 425, La Paz
mailing address: P. O. Box 425, La Paz; APO AA 34032
telephone: [591] (2) 216-8000
FAX: [591] (2) 216-8111
note: in September 2008, the Bolivian Government expelled the US Ambassador to Bolivia, and the countries have yet to reinstate ambassadors

Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), yellow, and green with the coat of arms centered on the yellow band; red stands for bravery and the blood of national heroes, yellow for the nation’s mineral resources, and green for the fertility of the land
note: similar to the flag of Ghana, which has a large black five-pointed star centered in the yellow band; in 2009, a presidential decree made it mandatory for a so-called wiphala – a square, multi-colored flag representing the country’s indigenous peoples – to be used alongside the traditional flag

National symbol(s):
llama; Andean condor

National anthem:
name: “Cancion Patriotica” (Patriotic Song)

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Economy – overview:
Bolivia is a resource rich country with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports. However, the country remains one of the least developed countries in Latin America because of state-oriented policies that deter investment and growth. Following a disastrous economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates in the 1990s.

The period 2003-05 was characterized by political instability, racial tensions, and violent protests against plans – subsequently abandoned – to export Bolivia’s newly discovered natural gas reserves to large Northern Hemisphere markets. In 2005, the government passed a controversial hydrocarbons law that imposed significantly higher royalties and required foreign firms then operating under risk-sharing contracts to surrender all production to the state energy company in exchange for a predetermined service fee. The global recession slowed growth, but Bolivia recorded the highest growth rate in South America during 2009.

High commodity prices since 2010 sustained rapid growth and large trade surpluses. However, a lack of foreign investment in the key sectors of mining and hydrocarbons, along with conflict among social groups pose challenges for the Bolivian economy.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$59.11 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
$55.35 billion (2012 est.)
$52.63 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$30.79 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
6.8% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
5.2% (2012 est.)
5.2% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$5,500 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
$5,200 (2012 est.)
$4,900 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
25.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
26% of GDP (2012 est.)
24.9% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 58.9%
government consumption: 13.4%
investment in fixed capital: 18%
investment in inventories: 0.3%
exports of goods and services: 47.8%
imports of goods and services: -38.4%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 9.2%
industry: 38.5%
services: 52.3% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
quinoa, soybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes; Brazil nuts; timber

mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing, jewelry

Industrial production growth rate:
5.6% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46

Labor force:
4.922 million (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 32%
industry: 27.4%
services: 40.6% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate:
7.4% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
7.5% (2012 est.)
note: data are for urban areas; widespread underemployment

Population below poverty line:
note: based on percent of population living on less than the international standard of $2/day (2011 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 46% (2012 est.)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
47 (2011)
country comparison to the world: 29
57.9 (1999)

revenues: $15.16 billion
expenditures: $15.13 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
48.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
0.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40

Public debt:
36% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
32.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
4.5% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
4.5% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
4% (31 december 2012 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
11.41% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
10.6% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$8.429 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$7.434 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$20.19 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$17.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$12.45 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
$10.49 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$9.684 billion (31 December 2013)
country comparison to the world: 71
$7.689 billion (31 December 2012)
$6.089 billion (31 December 2011)

Current account balance:
$1.012 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
$2.259 billion (2012 est.)

$12.16 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
$11.77 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
natural gas, soybeans and soy products, crude petroleum, zinc ore, tin

Exports – partners:
Brazil 41.8%, US 18.4%, Argentina 7.3%, Peru 4.9% (2012)

$9.282 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
$8.18 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
petroleum products, plastics, paper, aircraft and aircraft parts, prepared foods, automobiles, insecticides

Imports – partners:
Chile 21.3%, Brazil 20.3%, Argentina 10.9%, US 10.1%, Peru 6.5%, Venezuela 6.2%, China 4.9% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$14.43 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$13.93 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$5.265 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
$4.196 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$10.56 billion (31 December 2013)
country comparison to the world: 85
$8.809 billion (31 December 2012)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$0 (31 december 2013)
country comparison to the world: 93
$0 (31 December 2012)

Exchange rates:
bolivianos (BOB) per US dollar –
6.91 (2013 est.)
6.94 (2012 est.)
7.0167 (2010 est.)
7.07 (2009)
7.253 (2008)

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