Coordinates: 16°42′43″S 64°39′58″W / 16.712°S 64.666°W / -16.712; -64.666
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

16°42′43″S 64°39′58″W / 16.712°S 64.666°W / -16.712; -64.666
Plurinational State of Bolivia
Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia (Spanish)
Co-official names[a]
  • Guaraní
    Tetã Blúrinasionál Volívia
Anthem: Himno Nacional de Bolivia (Spanish)
Location of Bolivia (dark green) in South America (gray)
Location of Bolivia (dark green)

in South America (gray)

CapitalLa Paz (executive and legislative)
Sucre (constitutional and judicial)
Largest citySanta Cruz de la Sierra
17°48′S 63°10′W / 17.800°S 63.167°W / -17.800; -63.167
Official languages
better source needed])
  • 10.1% No religion
  • 0.6% Other
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic
• President
Luis Arce
David Choquehuanca
Andrónico Rodríguez
Jerges Mercado Suárez
LegislaturePlurinational Legislative Assembly
Chamber of Senators
Chamber of Deputies
from Spain
• Declared
6 August 1825
• Recognized
21 July 1847
7 February 2009
• Total
1,098,581 km2 (424,164 sq mi) (27th)
• Water (%)
• 2022 estimate
12,054,379[6] (79th)
• Density
10.4/km2 (26.9/sq mi) (224th)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $118.8 billion[7] (94th)
• Per capita
Increase $9,933[7] (120th)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $43.4 billion[7] (96th)
• Per capita
Increase $3,631[7] (126th)
Gini (2019)Positive decrease 41.6[8]
HDI (2021)Decrease 0.692[9]
medium · 118th
CurrencyBoliviano (BOB)
Time zoneUTC−4 (BOT)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+591
ISO 3166 codeBO
  1. ^ While Sucre is the constitutional capital, La Paz is the seat of government and the executive capital. See below.

Bolivia, (/ˈbəˈlɪviə/; (Spanish pronunciation: [boˈliβja]) [b] officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia,[c][11][12] is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay to the southeast, Argentina to the south, Chile to the southwest and Peru to the west. The seat of government and executive capital is La Paz, while the constitutional capital is Sucre. The largest city and principal industrial center is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located on the Llanos Orientales (tropical lowlands), a mostly flat region in the east of the country.

The sovereign state of Bolivia is a constitutionally unitary state, divided into nine departments. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon basin. One-third of the country is within the Andean mountain range. With 1,098,581 km2 (424,164 sq mi) of area, Bolivia is the fifth largest country in South America, after Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia (and alongside Paraguay, one of the only two landlocked countries in the Americas), the 27th largest in the world, the largest landlocked country in the Southern Hemisphere, and the world's seventh largest landlocked country, after Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Chad, Niger, Mali, and Ethiopia.

The country's population, estimated at 12 million,[6] is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians, and Africans. Spanish is the official and predominant language, although 36 indigenous languages also have official status, of which the most commonly spoken are Guarani, Aymara, and Quechua languages.


Spanish colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire, while the northern and eastern lowlands were inhabited by independent tribes. Spanish conquistadors arriving from Cusco and Asunción took control of the region in the 16th century. During the Spanish colonial period Bolivia was administered by the Real Audiencia of Charcas. Spain built its empire in large part upon the silver that was extracted from Bolivia's mines
. After the first call for independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolívar.[13] Over the course of the 19th and early 20th century Bolivia lost control of several peripheral territories to neighboring countries including the seizure of its coastline by Chile in 1879. Bolivia remained relatively politically stable until 1971, when Hugo Banzer led a CIA-supported coup d'état which replaced the socialist government of Juan José Torres with a military dictatorship headed by Banzer. Banzer's regime cracked down on left-wing and socialist opposition and other forms of dissent, resulting in the torture and deaths of a number of Bolivian citizens. Banzer was ousted in 1978 and later returned as the democratically elected president of Bolivia from 1997 to 2001. Under the 2006–2019 presidency of Evo Morales the country saw significant economic growth and political stability.

Modern Bolivia is a charter member of the UN, IMF, NAM,[14] OAS, ACTO, Bank of the South, ALBA, and USAN. Bolivia remains the second poorest country in South America, though it has slashed poverty rates and has the fastest growing economy in South America (in terms of GDP). It is a developing country. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very rich in minerals, including tin, silver, lithium, and copper.


Bolivia is named after Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan leader in the Spanish American wars of independence.[15] The leader of Venezuela, Antonio José de Sucre, had been given the option by Bolívar to either unite Charcas (present-day Bolivia) with the newly formed Republic of Peru, to unite with the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, or to formally declare its independence from Spain as a wholly independent state. Sucre opted to create a brand new state and on 6 August 1825, with local support, named it in honor of Simón Bolívar.[16]

The original name was Republic of Bolívar. Some days later, congressman Manuel Martín Cruz proposed: "If from Romulus, Rome, then from Bolívar, Bolivia" (Spanish: Si de Rómulo, Roma; de Bolívar, Bolivia). The name was approved by the Republic on 3 October 1825. In 2009, a new constitution changed the country's official name to "Plurinational State of Bolivia" to reflect the multi-ethnic nature of the country and the strengthened rights of Bolivia's indigenous peoples under the new constitution.[17][18]



The region now known as Bolivia had been occupied for over 2,500 years when the Aymara arrived. However, present-day Aymara associate themselves with the ancient civilization of the Tiwanaku Empire which had its capital at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates from as early as 1500 BC when it was a small, agriculturally-based village.[19]

The Aymara community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. According to early estimates,[when?] the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles) at its maximum extent and had between 15,000 and 30,000 inhabitants.[20] In 1996 satellite imaging was used to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus (flooded raised fields) across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.[21]

Around AD 400, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state. Tiwanaku expanded its reaches into the Yungas and brought its culture and way of life to many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Tiwanaku was not a violent culture in many respects. In order to expand its reach, Tiwanaku exercised great political astuteness, creating colonies, fostering trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependent), and instituting state cults.[22]

The empire continued to grow with no end in sight. William H. Isbell states "Tiahuanaco underwent a dramatic transformation between AD 600 and 700 that established new monumental standards for civic architecture and greatly increased the resident population."[23] Tiwanaku continued to absorb cultures rather than eradicate them. Archaeologists note a dramatic adoption of Tiwanaku ceramics into the cultures which became part of the Tiwanaku empire. Tiwanaku's power was further solidified through the trade it implemented among the cities within its empire.[22]

Tiwanaku's elites gained their status through the surplus food they controlled, collected from outlying regions, and then redistributed to the general populace. Further, this elite's control of llama herds became a powerful control mechanism, as llamas were essential for carrying goods between the civic center and the periphery. These herds also came to symbolize class distinctions between the commoners and the elites. Through this control and manipulation of surplus resources, the elite's power continued to grow until about AD 950. At this time, a dramatic shift in climate occurred,[24] causing a significant drop in precipitation in the Titicaca Basin, believed by archaeologists to have been on the scale of a major drought.

As the rainfall decreased, many of the cities farther away from Lake Titicaca began to tender fewer foodstuffs to the elites. As the surplus of food decreased, and thus the amount available to underpin their power, the control of the elites began to falter. The capital city became the last place viable for food production due to the resiliency of the raised field method of agriculture. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production, the main source of the elites' power, dried up. The area remained uninhabited for centuries thereafter.[24]

Between 1438 and 1527, the Inca empire expanded from its capital at Cusco, Peru. It gained control over much of what is now Andean Bolivia and extended its control into the fringes of the Amazon basin.

Colonial period

The Spanish conquest of the

Inca empire began in 1524 and was mostly completed by 1533. The territory now called Bolivia was known as Charcas, and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Peru in Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in Chuquisaca (La Plata—modern Sucre). Founded in 1545 as a mining town, Potosí soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming the largest city in the New World with a population exceeding 150,000 people.[25]

By the late 16th century, Bolivian

mita.[27] Charcas was transferred to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776 and the people from Buenos Aires, the capital of the Viceroyalty, coined the term "Upper Peru" (Spanish: Alto Perú) as a popular reference to the Royal Audiencia of Charcas. Túpac Katari led the indigenous rebellion that laid siege to La Paz in March 1781,[28] during which 20,000 people died.[29] As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars
, sentiment against colonial rule grew.

Independence and subsequent wars

Atacama border dispute
between Bolivia and Chile (1825–1879)

The struggle for independence started in the city of Sucre on 25 May 1809 and the Chuquisaca Revolution (Chuquisaca was then the name of the city) is known as the first cry of Freedom in Latin America. That revolution was followed by the La Paz revolution on 16 July 1809. The La Paz revolution marked a complete split with the Spanish government, while the Chuquisaca Revolution established a local independent junta in the name of the Spanish King deposed by Napoleon Bonaparte. Both revolutions were short-lived and defeated by the Spanish authorities in the Viceroyalty of the Rio de La Plata, but the following year the Spanish American wars of independence raged across the continent.

Bolivia was captured and recaptured many times during the war by the

royalists and patriots. Buenos Aires sent three military campaigns, all of which were defeated, and eventually limited itself to protecting the national borders at Salta. Bolivia was finally freed of Royalist dominion by Marshal Antonio José de Sucre, with a military campaign coming from the North in support of the campaign of Simón Bolívar. After 16 years of war the Republic was proclaimed
on 6 August 1825.

The first coat of arms of Bolivia, formerly named the Republic of Bolívar in honor of Simón Bolívar

In 1836, Bolivia, under the rule of

Peru-Bolivian Confederation, with de Santa Cruz as the Supreme Protector. Following tension between the Confederation and Chile, Chile declared war on 28 December 1836. Argentina separately declared war on the Confederation on 9 May 1837. The Peruvian-Bolivian forces achieved several major victories during the War of the Confederation: the defeat of the Argentine expedition and the defeat of the first Chilean expedition on the fields of Paucarpata near the city of Arequipa. The Chilean army and its Peruvian rebel allies surrendered unconditionally and signed the Paucarpata Treaty. The treaty stipulated that Chile would withdraw from Peru-Bolivia, Chile would return captured Confederate ships, economic relations would be normalized, and the Confederation would pay Peruvian debt to Chile. However, the Chilean government and public rejected the peace treaty. Chile organized a second attack on the Confederation and defeated it in the Battle of Yungay. After this defeat, Santa Cruz resigned and went to exile in Ecuador
and then Paris, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation was dissolved.

Following the renewed independence of Peru, Peruvian president General Agustín Gamarra invaded Bolivia. On 18 November 1841, the battle de Ingavi took place, in which the Bolivian Army defeated the Peruvian troops of Gamarra (killed in the battle). After the victory, Bolivia invaded Perú on several fronts. The eviction of the Bolivian troops from the south of Peru would be achieved by the greater availability of material and human resources of Peru; the Bolivian Army did not have enough troops to maintain an occupation. In the district of Locumba – Tacna, a column of Peruvian soldiers and peasants defeated a Bolivian regiment in the so-called Battle of Los Altos de Chipe (Locumba). In the district of Sama and in Arica, the Peruvian colonel José María Lavayén organized a troop that managed to defeat the Bolivian forces of Colonel Rodríguez Magariños and threaten the port of Arica. In the battle of Tarapacá on 7 January 1842, Peruvian militias formed by the commander Juan Buendía defeated a detachment led by Bolivian colonel José María García, who died in the confrontation. Bolivian troops left Tacna, Arica and Tarapacá in February 1842, retreating towards Moquegua and Puno.[30] The battles of Motoni and Orurillo forced the withdrawal of Bolivian forces occupying Peruvian territory and exposed Bolivia to the threat of counter-invasion. The Treaty of Puno was signed on 7 June 1842, ending the war. However, the climate of tension between Lima and La Paz would continue until 1847, when the signing of a Peace and Trade Treaty became effective.

The estimated population of the main three cities in 1843 was La Paz 300,000, Cochabamba 250,000 and Potosi 200,000.[31]

A period of political and economic instability in the early-to-mid-19th century weakened Bolivia. In addition, during the

natural resources south west of Bolivia, including the Bolivian coast. Chile took control of today's Chuquicamata area, the adjoining rich salitre (saltpeter) fields, and the port of Antofagasta
among other Bolivian territories.

Since independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries.[32] Through diplomatic channels in 1909, it lost the basin of the Madre de Dios River and the territory of the Purus in the Amazon, yielding 250,000 km2 to Peru.[33] It also lost the state of Acre, in the Acre War, important because this region was known for its production of rubber. Peasants and the Bolivian army fought briefly but after a few victories, and facing the prospect of a total war against Brazil, it was forced to sign the Treaty of Petrópolis in 1903, in which Bolivia lost this rich territory. Popular myth has it that Bolivian president Mariano Melgarejo (1864–71) traded the land for what he called "a magnificent white horse" and Acre was subsequently flooded by Brazilians, which ultimately led to confrontation and fear of war with Brazil.[34]

In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability.

Early 20th century

During the early 20th century, tin replaced silver as the country's most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled by the economic and social elite followed laissez-faire capitalist policies through the first 30 years of the 20th century.[35]

Living conditions of the native people, who constitute most of the population, remained deplorable. With work opportunities limited to primitive conditions in the mines and in large estates having nearly feudal status, they had no access to education, economic opportunity, and

political participation. Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932–1935), where Bolivia lost a great part of the Gran Chaco region in dispute, marked a turning-point.[36][37][38]

On 7 April 1943, Bolivia entered


The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), the most historic political party, emerged as a broad-based party. Denied its victory in the 1951 presidential elections, the MNR led a successful revolution in 1952. Under President Víctor Paz Estenssoro, the MNR, having strong popular pressure, introduced universal suffrage into his political platform and carried out a sweeping land-reform promoting rural education and nationalization of the country's largest tin mines.

Late 20th century

Hugo Banzer Suárez, supported by the CIA, forcibly ousted
President Torres in a coup.

Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. In 1964, a military

Hugo Banzer Suárez as president in 1971. He returned to the presidency in 1997 through 2001. Juan José Torres, who had fled Bolivia, was kidnapped and assassinated in 1976 as part of Operation Condor, the U.S.-supported campaign of political repression by South American right-wing dictators.[39]

The United States'

Félix Rodríguez was a CIA officer on the team with the Bolivian Army that captured and shot Guevara.[40] Rodriguez said that after he received a Bolivian presidential execution order, he told "the soldier who pulled the trigger to aim carefully, to remain consistent with the Bolivian government's story that Che had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army." Rodriguez said the US government had wanted Che in Panama, and "I could have tried to falsify the command to the troops, and got Che to Panama as the US government said they had wanted", but that he had chosen to "let history run its course" as desired by Bolivia.[41]

Elections in 1979 and 1981 were inconclusive and marked by fraud. There were

Congress, elected in 1980, and allow it to choose a new chief executive. In October 1982, Hernán Siles Zuazo
again became president, 22 years after the end of his first term of office (1956–1960).

Democratic transition

The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local native and mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque". The colonial period produced not only the paintings of Pérez de Holguín, Flores, Bitti, and others but also the works of skilled but unknown stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of Native Baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994.[221]

Bolivian artists of stature in the 20th century include María Luisa Pacheco, Roberto Mamani Mamani, Alejandro Mario Yllanes, Alfredo Da Silva, and Marina Núñez del Prado.

Bolivia has a rich folklore. Its regional folk music is distinctive and varied. The "devil dances" at the annual carnival of Oruro are one of the great folkloric events of South America, as is the lesser known carnival at Tarabuco.[221]


In 2008, following UNESCO standards, Bolivia was declared free of illiteracy, making it the fourth country in South America to attain this status.[222]

Bolivia has public and private universities. Among them:

Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías
UATF – Potosi, founded in 1892.


According to UNICEF under-five mortality rate in 2006 was 52.7 per 1000 and was reduced to 26 per 1000 by 2019.[223] The infant mortality rate was 40.7 per 1000 in 2006 and was reduced to 21.2 per 1000 in 2019.[224] Before Morales took office, nearly half of all infants were not vaccinated; now nearly all are vaccinated. Morales also put into place several supplemental nutrition programs, including an effort to supply free food in public health and social security offices, and his desnutrición cero (zero malnutrition) program provides free school lunches.[147]

Between 2006 and 2016, extreme poverty in Bolivia fell from 38.2% to 16.8%. Chronic malnutrition in children under five years of age also went down by 14% and the child mortality rate was reduced by more than 50%, according to World Health Organization.[225] In 2019 the Bolivian government created a universal healthcare system which has been cited as a model for all by the World Health Organization.[226]

Women's rights

With the election of

2009 Constitution
improves the rights of Bolivian women.

Despite a 2013 law against violence against women, a decade later Bolivia is the Latin American country with the highest rate of femicide.

Thanks to a quota policy, by 2022 Bolivia will be the second country in the world, after Rwanda, to have as many women parliamentarians (52% in the Legislative Assembly and 47% in the Chamber of Senators).


Football is popular. The national team is the Bolivia national football team.

Racquetball is the second most popular sport in Bolivia as for the results in the Odesur 2018 Games held in Cochabamba.[227][228] Bolivia has won 13 medals at the Pan American Games and 10 of them came from racquetball events, including their only gold medal won in the Men's Team event in 2019.

Basketball is especially popular and influential in the Potosí Department.[229]

See also


  1. ^ In Bolivia, other languages have been officially recognized as legitimate autochthonous languages.
    • Quechua: Puliwya Achka Aylluska Mamallaqta
    • Aymara: Wuliwya Walja Suyunakana Marka
  2. ^ /bəˈlɪviə/ (listen); Spanish: [boˈliβja] (listen); Guarani: Mborivia [ᵐboˈɾiʋja]; Aymara: Wuliwya [wʊlɪwja]; Quechua: Puliwya [pʊlɪwja]
  3. ^ Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia [esˈtaðo pluɾinasjoˈnal de βoˈliβja] (listen)


  1. .
  2. .
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  4. ^ a b c "Bolivia". The World Factbook (2023 ed.). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 25 March 2017. (Archived 2017 edition)
  5. ^ Religion affiliation in Bolivia as of 2018. Based on Latinobarómetro. Survey period: 15 June to 2 August 2018, 1,200 respondents.
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