Facts about Bolivia

World Facts Index

BoliviaBolivia, 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 majority. However, since taking office, his controversial strategies have exacerbated racial and economic tensions between the Amerindian populations of the Andean west and the non-indigenous communities of the eastern lowlands.

Geography of Bolivia

Central South America, southwest of Brazil
17 00 S, 65 00 W
total: 1,098,580 sq km
water: 14,190 sq km
land: 1,084,390 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 6,743 km
border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,400 km, Chile 861 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 900 km
0 km (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
Natural hazards:
flooding in the northeast (March-April)
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
Geography - note:
landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru

More Geography

Population of Bolivia

9,247,816 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (male 1,603,982/female 1,542,319)
15-64 years: 60.4% (male 2,660,806/female 2,771,807)
65 years and over: 4.6% (male 182,412/female 227,720)
Median age:
21.8 years
Infant mortality:
51.77 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.84 years
male: 63.21 years
female: 68.61 years
Total fertility rate:
2.85 children born/woman
noun: Bolivian(s)
adjective: Bolivian
Ethnic groups:
Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%
Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist)
Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.2%
male: 93.1%
female: 81.6%


Country name:
long form: Republic of Bolivia
short form: Bolivia
Government type:
La Paz (seat of government); Sucre (legal capital and seat of judiciary)
Administrative divisions:
9 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Beni, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Tarija
6 August 1825 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 6 August (1825)
2 February 1967; revised in August 1994
Legal system:
based on Spanish law and Napoleonic Code; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age, universal and compulsory (married); 21 years of age, universal and compulsory (single)
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
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 18 December 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (27 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; 69 are directly elected from their districts and 61 are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges appointed for 10-year terms by National Congress); District Courts (one in each department); provincial and local courts (to try minor cases)


Bolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America. 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, which was made the sole exporter of natural gas. The law also required that the state energy company regain control over the five companies that were privatized during the 1990s - a process that is still underway. In 2006, higher earnings for mining and hydrocarbons exports pushed the current account surplus to about 12% of GDP and the government's higher tax take produced a fiscal surplus after years of large deficits. Debt relief from the G8 - announced in 2005 - also has significantly reduced Bolivia's public sector debt burden. Private investment as a share of GDP, however, remains among the lowest in Latin America, and inflation reached double-digit levels in 2007.

$39.75 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 12.8%
industry: 35.2%
services: 52%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 32%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
4.22 million
8% in urban areas; widespread underemployment.
revenues: $2.848 billion
expenditures: $3.189 billion
mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 44.4%
hydro: 54%
other: 1.5%
nuclear: 0%
soybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes; timber
natural gas, soybeans and soy products, crude petroleum, zinc ore, tin
Export partners:
Brazil 35.3%, Venezuela 12.1%, US 11.6%, Argentina 6.5%, Colombia 5.9%, Peru 4.5%
petroleum products, plastics, paper, aircraft and aircraft parts, prepared foods, automobiles, insecticides, soybeans
Import partners:
Brazil 21.9%, Argentina 16.7%, US 13.8%, Chile 6.9%, Peru 6.5%, Japan 6.1%, China 5.8%
boliviano (BOB)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

Copyright 2004 - 2008 worldfacts.us