We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!


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. However, since taking office, his controversial strategies have exacerbated racial and economic tensions between the Amerindian populations of the Andean west and the... See More



 Central South America, southwest of Brazil

Geographic Coordinates:

 17 00 S, 65 00 W


 Total: 1,098,581 sq km
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) (Rank: 209)

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: 2.78%
Permanent crops: 0.19%
Other: 97.03% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 1,500 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 622.5 cu km (2000)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 1.44 cu km/yr (13%/7%/81%)
Per capita: 157 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural Hazards:

 Flooding in the northeast (March-April)

Volcanism: Bolivia experiences 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

Back to the Top



 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%, foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2% (2001 census)


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


 10,118,683 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 34.6% (male 1,785,453/female 1,719,173)
15-64 years: 60.7% (male 3,014,419/female 3,129,942)
65 years and over: 4.6% (male 207,792/female 261,904) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 22.5 years
Male: 21.8 years
Female: 23.2 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.694% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 24.71 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 6.85 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -0.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 67% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 LA PAZ (capital) 1.642 million; Santa Cruz 1.584 million; Sucre 281,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 180 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 42.16 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 45.95 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 38.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 67.57 years
Male: 64.84 years
Female: 70.42 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 3 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 4.8% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 1.22 physicians/1,000 population (2001)

Hospital Bed Density:

 1.1 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 96% of population
Rural: 67% of population
Total: 86% of population
Urban: 4% of population
Rural: 33% of population
Total: 14% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 34% of population
Rural: 9% of population
Total: 25% of population
Urban: 66% of population
Rural: 91% of population
Total: 75% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.2% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 12,000 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 Fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever
Water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 4.3% (2008)

Education Expenditures:

 6.3% of GDP (2006)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 86.7%
Male: 93.1%
Female: 80.7% (2001 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 14 years
Male: 14 years
Female: 14 years (2007)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 9.2%
Male: 7.3%
Female: 11.8% (2002)

Back to the Top


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)
Geographic coordinates: 16 30 S, 68 09 W
Time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Note: Sucre (constitutional capital)

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)



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

Elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term and are eligible for re-election; 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

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (judges elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Assembly for six-year terms); District Courts (one in each department); Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (seven primary or titulares and seven alternate or suplente magistrates elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Assembly for six-year terms; to rule on constitutional issues (at least two candidates must be indigenous)); Plurinational Electoral Organ (seven members elected by the Assembly and the president; one member must be of indigenous origin to six-year terms); Agro-Environmental Court (judges elected by popular vote from list of candidates pre-selected by Assembly for six-year terms; to run on agro-environmental issues); provincial and local courts (to try minor cases)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Bolivia-National Convergence or PPB-CN [Manfred REYES VILLA]; 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]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Bolivian Workers Central or COR; 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); 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, San Francisco

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 John CREAMER
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 Symbols:

 Llama; Andean condor

National Anthem:

 Name: "Cancion Patriotica" (Patriotic Song)
Lyrics/music: Jose Ignacio de SANJINES/Leopoldo Benedetto VINCENTI

Note: adopted 1852

Back to the Top


Economy - Overview:

 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 in exchange for a predetermined service fee. After higher prices for mining and hydrocarbons exports produced a fiscal surplus in 2008, the global recession in 2009 slowed growth. Nevertheless, Bolivia recorded the highest growth rate in South America that year. During 2010 an increase in world commodity prices resulted in the biggest trade surplus in history. However, a lack of foreign investment in the key sectors of mining and hydrocarbons and higher food prices pose challenges for the Bolivian economy.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $47.88 billion (2010 est.)
$45.96 billion (2009 est.)
$44.47 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $19.37 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 4.2% (2010 est.)
3.4% (2009 est.)
6.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $4,800 (2010 est.)
$4,700 (2009 est.)
$4,600 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 12%
Industry: 38%
Services: 50% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 4.614 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 40%
Industry: 17%
Services: 43% (2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 7.8% (2010 est.)
7.9% (2009 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 (2009 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 1%
Highest 10%: 45.4% (2007)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 58.2 (2009)
57.9 (1999)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 16.6% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $8.623 billion
Expenditures: $8.239 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 44.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 38.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
42.5% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 2.5% (2010 est.)
3.3% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 3% (31 December 2010 est.)
3% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 9.911% (31 December 2010 est.)
12.36% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $3.998 billion (31 December 2008)
$3.032 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $6.339 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.729 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $4.511 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$3.524 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $13.75 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$12.16 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $6.05 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$5.695 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $3.388 billion (31 December 2010)
$2.792 billion (31 December 2009)
$2.672 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Soybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes; timber


 Mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 4% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 6.085 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 44.4%
Hydro: 54%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 1.5% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 5.814 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2010 est.)

Oil - Production:

 53,740 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 62,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 5,621 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 17,330 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 465 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 14.73 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 3.01 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 11.72 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 750.4 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $902.1 million (2010 est.)
$813.2 million (2009 est.)


 $6.179 billion (2010 est.)
$4.918 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Natural gas, soybeans and soy products, crude petroleum, zinc ore, tin

Exports - Partners:

 Brazil 43.5%, US 12.3%, Peru 6.8%, Colombia 5.5%, Japan 5.1%, Argentina 4.8% (2010)


 $4.922 billion (2010 est.)
$4.144 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Petroleum products, plastics, paper, aircraft and aircraft parts, prepared foods, automobiles, insecticides, soybeans

Imports - Partners:

 Brazil 27.4%, Argentina 17.3%, US 11.9%, Peru 9.6%, Chile 7.8%, China 4.1% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $9.73 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$8.581 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $6.164 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$5.812 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $21 million (31 December 2010)
$63.8 million (31 December 2008)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $7.257 billion (31 December 2010)
$6.876 billion (31 December 2009)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Bolivian Boliviano to Any Currency

Bolivianos (BOB) per US dollar -
7.04 (2010)
7.07 (2009)
7.253 (2008)
7.8616 (2007)
8.0159 (2006)

Back to the Top


Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 848,200 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 7.179 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: Bolivian National Telecommunications Company (ENTEL) was privatized in 1995 but re-nationalized in 2007; the primary trunk system is being expanded and employs digital microwave radio relay; some areas are served by fiber-optic cable; system operations, reliability, and coverage have steadily improved.

Domestic: most telephones are concentrated in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and other capital cities; mobile-cellular telephone use expanding rapidly and, in 2010, teledensity reached about 75 per 100 persons

International: country code - 591; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)

Broadcast Media:

 Large number of radio and television broadcasting stations with private media outlets dominating; state-owned and private radio and television stations generally operating freely, although both pro-government and anti-government groups have attacked media outlets in response to their reporting (2010)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 171, FM 73, shortwave 77 (1999)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 48 (1997)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 125,462 (2010)

Internet Users:

 1.103 million (2009)

Back to the Top



 881 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 16
Over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 865
Over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 58
914 to 1,523 m: 187
Under 914 m: 615 (2010)


 Gas 5,330 km; liquid petroleum gas 51 km; oil 2,510 km; refined products 1,627 km (2010)


 Total: 3,652 km
Narrow gauge: 3,652 km 1.000-m gauge (2010)


 Total: 13,602 km (does not include urban roads)
Paved: 4,990 km
Unpaved: 8,612 km (2004)


 10,000 km (commercially navigable almost exclusively in the northern and eastern parts of the country) (2010)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 22
By type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 11, carrier 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 3, specialized tanker 1
Foreign-owned: 7 (Bahamas 1, Ecuador 1, Iran 1, Syria 4) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Puerto Aguirre (inland port on the Paraguay/Parana waterway at the Bolivia/Brazil border); Bolivia has free port privileges in maritime ports in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay

Back to the Top


Military Branches:

 Bolivian Armed Forces: Bolivian Army (Ejercito Boliviano, EB), Bolivian Navy (Fuerza Naval Boliviana, FNB; includes marines), Bolivian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Boliviana, FAB) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18-49 years of age for 12-month compulsory male and female military service; when annual number of volunteers falls short of goal, compulsory recruitment is effected, including conscription of boys as young as 14; 15-19 years of age for voluntary premilitary service, provides exemption from further military service (2011)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,472,490
Females age 16-49: 2,535,768 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,762,260
Females age 16-49: 2,013,281 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 108,334
Female: 104,945 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.3% of GDP (2009)

Back to the Top


Disputes - International:

 Chile and Peru rebuff Bolivia's reactivated claim to restore the Atacama corridor, ceded to Chile in 1884, but Chile offers instead unrestricted but not sovereign maritime access through Chile for Bolivian natural gas; contraband smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal narcotic trafficking are problems in the porous areas of the border with Argentina

Illicit Drugs:

 World's third-largest cultivator of coca (after Colombia and Peru) with an estimated 35,000 hectares under cultivation in 2009, an increase of ten percent over 2008; third largest producer of cocaine, estimated at 195 metric tons potential pure cocaine in 2009, a 70 percent increase over 2006; transit country for Peruvian and Colombian cocaine destined for Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Europe; weak border controls; some money-laundering activity related to narcotics trade; major cocaine consumption(2011)

Back to the Top

Last Updated: December 2011

Bolivia Main Page World Factbook Main Page


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

($b) Bolivian Boliviano (BOB)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map