This article is about the South American country.
For other uses, see Bolivia (disambiguation).
|Plurinational State of Bolivia|
|Capital||Sucre (constitutional and judicial)
La Paz (executive and legislative)
|Largest city||Santa Cruz|
|Ethnic groups (2009)|
|Religion (2018)||88.9% Christianity|
|Government||Unitary presidential constitutional republic|
|Vice President||David Choquehuanca|
|Legislature||Plurinational Legislative Assembly|
|Upper house||Chamber of Senators|
|Lower house||Chamber of Deputies|
|Independence from Spain|
|Declared||6 August 1825|
|Recognized||21 July 1847|
|Admitted to the United Nations||14 November 1945|
|Current constitution||7 February 2009|
|Total||1,098,581 km (424,164 sq mi) (27th)|
|2019 estimate||11,428,245 (83rd)|
|Density||10.4/km (26.9/sq mi) (224th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
|Total||$89.018 billion (88th)|
|Per capita||$7,790 (123rd)|
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
|Total||$40.687 billion (90th)|
|Per capita||$3,823 (117th)|
high · 114th
|Time zone||UTC−4 (BOT)|
|ISO 3166 code||BO|
One-third of the country is within the Andean mountain range.
With 1,098,581 km (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.
Before Spanish colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire, while the northern and eastern lowlands were inhabited by independent tribes.
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.
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; Torres was murdered in Buenos Aires, Argentina by a right-wing death squad in 1976.
Banzer's regime cracked down on leftist 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.
Bolivia remains the second poorest country in South America, though they have slashed poverty rates and are the fastest growing economy in South America (GDP wise).
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 Rio 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.
The original name was Republic of Bolívar.
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" in recognition of the multi-ethnic nature of the country and the enhanced position of Bolivia's indigenous peoples under the new constitution.
Main article: History of Bolivia
The region now known as Bolivia had been occupied for over 2,500 years when the Aymara arrived.
The capital city of Tiwanaku dates from as early as 1500 BC when it was a small, agriculturally based village.
The community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes.
According to early estimates, 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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 centre 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, 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.
It gained control over much of what is now Andean Bolivia and extended its control into the fringes of the Amazon basin.
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 Lima.
A steady stream of natives served as labor force under the brutal, slave conditions of the Spanish version of the pre-Columbian draft system called the mita.
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.
As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew.
Independence and subsequent wars
Main article: History of Bolivia (1809–1920)
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.
After 16 years of war the Republic was proclaimed on 6 August 1825.
Peru and Bolivia formed the 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.
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.
A period of political and economic instability in the early-to-mid-19th century weakened Bolivia.
Since independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries.
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 km to Peru.
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.
In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability.
Early 20th century
Main article: History of Bolivia (1920–64)
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.
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.
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
Main article: History of Bolivia (1964–82)
Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided.
In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Estenssoro at the outset of his third term.
The 1969 death of President René Barrientos Ortuño, a former member of the junta who was elected president in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments.
Alarmed by the rising Popular Assembly and the increase in the popularity of President Juan José Torres, the military, the MNR, and others installed Colonel (later General) 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.
The United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) financed and trained the Bolivian military dictatorship in the 1960s.
The revolutionary leader Che Guevara was killed by a team of CIA officers and members of the Bolivian Army on 9 October 1967, in Bolivia.
Félix Rodríguez was a CIA officer on the team with the Bolivian Army that captured and shot Guevara.
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.
Elections in 1979 and 1981 were inconclusive and marked by fraud.
There were coups d'état, counter-coups, and caretaker governments.
In 1980, General Luis García Meza Tejada carried out a ruthless and violent coup d'état that did not have popular support.
He pacified the people by promising to remain in power only for one year.
At the end of the year, he staged a televised rally to claim popular support and announced, "Bueno, me quedo", or, "All right; I'll stay [in office]."
After a military rebellion forced out Meza in 1981, three other military governments in 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing problems.
Unrest forced the military to convoke the 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 (1956–60).
Main article: History of Bolivia (1982–present)
Sánchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform agenda.
The most dramatic reform was privatization under the "capitalization" program, under which investors, typically foreign, acquired 50% ownership and management control of public enterprises in return for agreed upon capital investments.
In 1993, Sanchez de Lozada introduced the Plan de Todos, which led to the decentralization of government, introduction of intercultural bilingual education, implementation of agrarian legislation, and privatization of state owned businesses.
The plan explicitly stated that Bolivian citizens would own a minimum of 51% of enterprises; under the plan, most state-owned enterprises (SOEs), though not mines, were sold.
This privatization of SOEs led to a neoliberal structuring.
The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain segments of society, which instigated frequent and sometimes violent protests, particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994 through 1996.
The indigenous population of the Andean region was not able to benefit from government reforms.
During this time, the umbrella labor-organization of Bolivia, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), became increasingly unable to effectively challenge government policy.
A teachers' strike in 1995 was defeated because the COB could not marshal the support of many of its members, including construction and factory workers.
1997–2002 General Banzer Presidency
At the outset of his government, President Banzer launched a policy of using special police-units to eradicate physically the illegal coca of the Chapare region.
The MIR of Jaime Paz Zamora remained a coalition-partner throughout the Banzer government, supporting this policy (called the Dignity Plan).
The Banzer government basically continued the free-market and privatization-policies of its predecessor.
The relatively robust economic growth of the mid-1990s continued until about the third year of its term in office.
After that, regional, global and domestic factors contributed to a decline in economic growth.
Financial crises in Argentina and Brazil, lower world prices for export commodities, and reduced employment in the coca sector depressed the Bolivian economy.
The public also perceived a significant amount of public sector corruption.
These factors contributed to increasing social protests during the second half of Banzer's term.
Between January 1999 and April 2000, large-scale protests erupted in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city, in response to the privatisation of water resources by foreign companies and a subsequent doubling of water prices.
On 6 August 2001, Banzer resigned from office after being diagnosed with cancer.
He died less than a year later.
Vice President Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez completed the final year of his term.
2002–2005 Sánchez de Lozada / Mesa Presidency
In the June 2002 national elections, former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (MNR) placed first with 22.5% of the vote, followed by coca-advocate and native peasant-leader Evo Morales (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) with 20.9%.
A July agreement between the MNR and the fourth-place MIR, which had again been led in the election by former President Jaime Paz Zamora, virtually ensured the election of Sánchez de Lozada in the congressional run-off, and on 6 August he was sworn in for the second time.
The MNR platform featured three overarching objectives: economic reactivation (and job creation), anti-corruption, and social inclusion.
In 2003 the Bolivian gas conflict broke out.
On 12 October 2003 the government imposed martial law in El Alto after 16 people were shot by the police and several dozen wounded in violent clashes.
Faced with the option of resigning or more bloodshed, Sánchez de Lozada offered his resignation in a letter to an emergency session of Congress.
After his resignation was accepted and his vice president, Carlos Mesa, invested, he left on a commercially scheduled flight for the United States.
The country's internal situation became unfavorable for such political action on the international stage.
After a resurgence of gas protests in 2005, Carlos Mesa attempted to resign in January 2005, but his offer was refused by Congress.
On 22 March 2005, after weeks of new street protests from organizations accusing Mesa of bowing to U.S. corporate interests, Mesa again offered his resignation to Congress, which was accepted on 10 June.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez, was sworn as interim president to succeed the outgoing Carlos Mesa.
2005–2019 Morales Presidency
On 1 May 2006, Morales announced his intent to re-nationalize Bolivian hydrocarbon assets following protests which demanded this action.
Fulfilling a campaign promise, on 6 August 2006, Morales opened the Bolivian Constituent Assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority.
In August 2007, a conflict which came to be known as The Calancha Case arose in Sucre.
Local citizens demanded that an official discussion of the seat of government be included in the agenda of the full body of the Bolivian Constituent Assembly.
The people of Sucre wanted to make Sucre the full capital of the country, including returning the executive and legislative branches to the city, but the government rejected the demand as impractical.
Three people died in the conflict and as many as 500 were wounded.
The result of the conflict was to include text in the constitution stating that the capital of Bolivia is officially Sucre, while leaving the executive and legislative branches in La Paz.
2009 marked the creation of a new constitution and the renaming of the country to the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
The previous constitution did not allow a consecutive reelection of a president, but the new constitution allowed just for one reelection, starting the dispute if Evo Morales was enabled to run for a second term arguing he was elected under the last constitution.
This also triggered a new general election in which Evo Morales was re-elected with 61.36% of the vote.
By the year 2013 after being reelected under the new constitution, Evo Morales and his party attempt for a third term as President of Bolivia.
The opposition argued that a third term would be unconstitutional but the Bolivian Constitutional Court ruled that Morales' first term under the previous constitution, did not count towards his term limit.
This allowed Evo Morales to run for a third term in 2014, and he was re-elected with 64.22% of the vote.
On 17 October 2015, Morales surpassed Andrés de Santa Cruz's nine years, eight months, and twenty-four days in office and became Bolivia's longest serving president.
During his third term, Evo Morales began to plan for a fourth, and the 2016 Bolivian constitutional referendum asked voters to override the constitution and allow Evo Morales to run for an additional term in office.
Morales narrowly lost the referendum, however in 2017 his party then petitioned the Bolivian Constitutional Court to override the constitution on the basis that the American Convention on Human Rights made term limits a human rights violation.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights determined that term limits are not a human rights violation in 2018, however, once again the Bolivian Constitutional Court ruled that Morales has the permission to run for a fourth term in the 2019 elections, and the permission was not retracted.
"[...] the country’s highest court overruled the constitution, scrapping term limits altogether for every office.
Morales can now run for a fourth term in 2019 – and for every election thereafter."
described an article in The Guardian in 2017.
Interim government 2019–2020
During the 2019 elections, the transmission of the unofficial quick counting process was interrupted; at the time, Morales had a lead of 46.86 percent to Mesa’s 36.72, after 95.63 percent of tally sheets were counted.
The Transmisión de Resultados Electorales Preliminares (TREP) is a quick count process used in Latin America as a transparency measure in electoral processes that is meant to provide a preliminary results on election day, and its shutdown without further explanation raised consternation among opposition politicians and certain election monitors.
Two days after the interruption, the official count showed Morales fractionally clearing the 10-point margin he needed to avoid a runoff election, with the final official tally counted as 47.08 percent to Mesa’s 36.51 percent.
Amidst allegations that Morales rigged the 2019 Bolivian general election, after three weeks of widespread protests organized to dispute the election, and after the head of the country's military called for his resignation, Morales resigned on 10 November 2019.
The interim government was heavily protested by Morales' supporters, whose protest against Anez was met with lethal force and accusations of a massacre on indigenous pro-Morales protesters.
The heated divide and chain of events started after the official results were announced when the Organization of American States (OAS) as well as some local investigators and analysts had claimed irregularities and fraud, but these findings were quickly heavily disputed.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) concluded that "it is very likely that Morales won the required 10 percentage point margin to win in the first round of the election on 20 October 2019."
David Rosnick, an economist for CEPR, showed that "a basic coding error" was discovered in the OAS's data, and that explained OAS irreproducible findings as OAS had misused its own data when it ordered the time stamps on the tally sheets alphabetically rather than chronologically.
However, OAS stood by its findings arguing that "[...] researchers’ work did not address many of the allegations mentioned in the OAS report, including the accusation that Bolivian officials maintained hidden servers that could have permitted the alteration of results",Additionally, observers from the European Union released a report with similar findings and conclusions as the OAS.
But Ethical Hacking, the audit company that was featured predominantly in OAS Report, had investigated the hidden servers and reported that no data had been altered or manipulated but those findings were omitted in OAS final report.
The tech security company hired by the TSE (under Morales) to audit the elections, also stated that there were multiple irregularities and violations of procedure and that "our function as an auditor security company is to declare everything that was found, and much of what was found supports the conclusion that the electoral process be declared null and void".
The New York Times reported on 7 June 2020, that the OAS analysis immediately after the 20 October election, was flawed yet fuelled “a chain of events that changed the South American nation’s history”.
Morales flew to Mexico and was granted asylum there, along with his vice president and several other members of his government.
Jeanine Áñez was declared acting president of Bolivia following the constitutional line of succession after the President, Vice President and Head of the Senate.
She was confirmed Interim President by the Constitutional court who declared her succession to be constitutional and automatic.
Morales, his supporters, the Governments of Mexico and Nicaragua, and other personalities argue the event as a coup d'état.
International politicians, scholars and journalists are divided between describing the event as a coup or a spontaneous social uprising against an unconstitutional fourth-term.
Protests to reinstate Morales as President continued, and was met with violence by security forces against the indigenous supporters of Morales, after Áñez had exempted police and military from criminal responsibility in operations for "the restoration of order and public stability".
Because the election was declared invalid, previously elected members of the House of Deputies and Senate retained their seats.
This resulted in Morales' MAS party still holding a majority in both chambers.
New elections were scheduled for 3 May 2020.
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Bolivian electoral body, the TSE, made an announcement postponing the election.
Morales's party MAS reluctantly agreed with the first delay only.
A date for the new election has been delayed twice more, in the face of massive protests and violence The final proposed date for the elections was the 18th of October.
Official observers of the 2020 election the OAS, UNIORE and the UN all reported that they did not find any fraudulent actions in the 2020 elections.
The 18 October 2020 election had a record voter turnout of 88.4% and ended in a landslide win for Morales' party taking 55.1% of the votes with a 26.3% margin over centrist former President Carlos Mesa who had 28.8% of the vote.
Both Carlos Mesa and Anez conceded defeat.
“I congratulate the winners and I ask them to govern thinking in Bolivia and in our democracy,” Áñez said on Twitter.
Main article: Geography of Bolivia
Government and politics
Bolivia has been governed by democratically elected governments since 1982; prior to that, it was governed by various dictatorships.
Presidents Hernán Siles Zuazo (1982–85) and Víctor Paz Estenssoro (1985–89) began a tradition of ceding power peacefully which has continued, although three presidents have stepped down in the face of popular protests: Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003, Carlos Mesa in 2005, and Evo Morales in 2019.
Bolivia's multiparty democracy has seen a wide variety of parties in the presidency and parliament, although the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, Nationalist Democratic Action, and the Revolutionary Left Movement predominated from 1985 to 2005.
On 11 November 2019, all senior governmental positions were vacated following the resignation of Evo Morales and his government.
Luis Arce was elected on 23 October 2020; he took office as President on 8 November 2020.
The constitution, drafted in 2006–07 and approved in 2009, provides for balanced executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral powers, as well as several levels of autonomy.
The traditionally strong executive branch tends to overshadow the Congress, whose role is generally limited to debating and approving legislation initiated by the executive.
The judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court and departmental and lower courts, has long been riddled with corruption and inefficiency.
Through revisions to the constitution in 1994, and subsequent laws, the government has initiated potentially far-reaching reforms in the judicial system as well as increasing decentralizing powers to departments, municipalities, and indigenous territories.
The executive branch is headed by a president and vice president, and consists of a variable number (currently, 20) of government ministries.
The president is elected to a five-year term by popular vote, and governs from the Presidential Palace (popularly called the Burnt Palace, Palacio Quemado) in La Paz.
In the case that no candidate receives an absolute majority of the popular vote or more than 40% of the vote with an advantage of more than 10% over the second-place finisher, a run-off is to be held among the two candidates most voted.
The Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) has 130 members elected to five-year terms, seventy from single-member districts (circunscripciones), sixty by proportional representation, and seven by the minority indigenous peoples of seven departments.
The Cámara de Senadores (Chamber of Senators) has 36 members (four per department).
Members of the Assembly are elected to five-year terms.
The body has its headquarters on the Plaza Murillo in La Paz, but also holds honorary sessions elsewhere in Bolivia.
The Vice President serves as titular head of the combined Assembly.
In October 2011, Bolivia held its first judicial elections to choose members of the national courts by popular vote, a reform brought about by Evo Morales.
The branch consists of the Supreme Electoral Court, the nine Departmental Electoral Court, Electoral Judges, the anonymously selected Juries at Election Tables, and Electoral Notaries.
Wilfredo Ovando presides over the seven-member Supreme Electoral Court.
Its operations are mandated by the Constitution and regulated by the Electoral Regime Law (Law 026, passed 2010).
The Organ's first elections were the country's first judicial election in October 2011, and five municipal special elections held in 2011.
La Plata (now Sucre) was proclaimed provisional capital of the newly independent Alto Perú (later, Bolivia) on 1 July 1826.
The Bolivian seat of government moved to La Paz at the start of the twentieth century, as a consequence of Sucre's relative remoteness from economic activity after the decline of Potosí and its silver industry and of the Liberal Party in the War of 1899.
The 2009 Constitution assigns the role of national capital to Sucre, not referring to La Paz in the text.
In addition to being the constitutional capital, the Supreme Court of Bolivia is located in Sucre, making it the judicial capital.
La Paz thus continues to be the seat of government.
Law and crime
Main article: Crime in Bolivia
There are 54 prisons in Bolivia, which incarcerate around 8,700 people as of 2010.
The prisons are managed by the Penitentiary Regime Directorate (Spanish: Dirección de Régimen Penintenciario).
There are 17 prisons in departmental capital cities and 36 provincial prisons.
Main article: Foreign relations of Bolivia
Despite losing its maritime coast, the so-called Litoral Department, after the War of the Pacific, Bolivia has historically maintained, as a state policy, a maritime claim to that part of Chile; the claim asks for sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean and its maritime space.
The issue has also been presented before the Organization of American States; in 1979, the OAS passed the 426 Resolution, which declared that the Bolivian problem is a hemispheric problem.
The Special Economical Zone for Bolivia in Ilo (ZEEBI) is a special economic area of 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) of maritime coast, and a total extension of 358 hectares (880 acres), called Mar Bolivia ("Sea Bolivia"), where Bolivia may maintain a free port near Ilo, Peru under its administration and operation for a period of 99 years starting in 1992; once that time has passed, all the construction and territory revert to the Peruvian government.
Since 1964, Bolivia has had its own port facilities in the Bolivian Free Port in Rosario, Argentina.
This port is located on the Paraná River, which is directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean.
The dispute with Chile was taken to the International Court of Justice.
The court ruled in support of the Chilean position, and declared that although Chile may have held talks about a Bolivian corridor to the sea, the country was not required to actually negotiate one or to surrender its territory.
The legal age for voluntary admissions is 18; however, when numbers are small the government in the past has recruited people as young as 14.
The tour of duty is generally 12 months.
The Bolivian army has around 31,500 men.
There are six military regions (regiones militares—RMs) in the army.
The army is organized into ten divisions.
Although it is landlocked Bolivia keeps a navy.
The Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana in Spanish) is a naval force about 5,000 strong in 2008.
In 2018, Bolivia signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The Bolivian government annually spends $130 million on defense.
According to what is established by the Bolivian Political Constitution, the Law of Autonomies and Decentralization regulates the procedure for the elaboration of Statutes of Autonomy, the transfer and distribution of direct competences between the central government and the autonomous entities.
There are four levels of decentralization: Departmental government, constituted by the Departmental Assembly, with rights over the legislation of the department.
Municipal government, constituted by a Municipal Council, with rights over the legislation of the municipality.
The mayor is chosen by universal suffrage.
Regional government, formed by several provinces or municipalities of geographical continuity within a department.
It is constituted by a Regional Assembly.
Original indigenous government, self-governance of original indigenous people on the ancient territories where they live.
Main article: Economy of Bolivia
Bolivia's estimated 2012 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $27.43 billion at official exchange rate and $56.14 billion at purchasing power parity.
Despite a series of mostly political setbacks, between 2006 and 2009 the Morales administration has spurred growth higher than at any point in the preceding 30 years.
The growth was accompanied by a moderate decrease in inequality.
A surplus budget of 1.7% (GDP) was obtained by 2012, the government runs surpluses since Morales administration reflecting a prudent economic management.
A major blow to the Bolivian economy came with a drastic fall in the price of tin during the early 1980s, which impacted one of Bolivia's main sources of income and one of its major mining industries.
Since 1985, the government of Bolivia has implemented a far-reaching program of macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform aimed at maintaining price stability, creating conditions for sustained growth, and alleviating scarcity.
A major reform of the customs service has significantly improved transparency in this area.
Parallel legislative reforms have locked into place market-liberal policies, especially in the hydrocarbon and telecommunication sectors, that have encouraged private investment.
Foreign investors are accorded national treatment.
In April 2000, Hugo Banzer, the former president of Bolivia, signed a contract with Aguas del Tunari, a private consortium, to operate and improve the water supply in Bolivia's third-largest city, Cochabamba.
Shortly thereafter, the company tripled the water rates in that city, an action which resulted in protests and rioting among those who could no longer afford clean water.
Amidst Bolivia's nationwide economic collapse and growing national unrest over the state of the economy, the Bolivian government was forced to withdraw the water contract.
Bolivia has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America.
The government has a long-term sales agreement to sell natural gas to Brazil through 2019.
The government held a binding referendum in 2005 on the Hydrocarbon Law.
However, to mine for it would involve disturbing the country's salt flats (called Salar de Uyuni), an important natural feature which boosts tourism in the region.
The government does not want to destroy this unique natural landscape to meet the rising world demand for lithium.
On the other hand, sustainable extraction of lithium is attempted by the government.
This project is carried out by the public company "Recursos Evaporíticos" subsidiary of COMIBOL.
It is thought that due to the importance of lithium for batteries for electric vehicles and stabilization of electric grids with large proportions of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix, Bolivia could be strengthened geopolitically.
However, this perspective has also been criticized for underestimating the power of economic incentives for expanded production in other parts of the world.
Once Bolivia's government depended heavily on foreign assistance to finance development projects and to pay the public staff.
At the end of 2002, the government owed $4.5 billion to its foreign creditors, with $1.6 billion of this amount owed to other governments and most of the balance owed to multilateral development banks.
Most payments to other governments have been rescheduled on several occasions since 1987 through the Paris Club mechanism.
External creditors have been willing to do this because the Bolivian government has generally achieved the monetary and fiscal targets set by IMF programs since 1987, though economic crises have undercut Bolivia's normally good record.
However, by 2013 the foreign assistance is just a fraction of the government budget thanks to tax collection mainly from the profitable exports to Brazil and Argentina of natural gas.
The amount in reserve currencies and gold held by Bolivia's Central Bank advanced from 1.085 billion US dollars in 2000, under Hugo Banzer Suarez's government, to 15.282 billion US dollars in 2014 under Evo Morales' government.
Main article: Tourism in Bolivia
The income from tourism has become increasingly important.
Bolivia's tourist industry has placed an emphasis on attracting ethnic diversity.
The best known of the various festivals found in the country is the "Carnaval de Oruro", which was among the first 19 "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", as proclaimed by UNESCO in May 2001.
The northern portion of the road, much of it unpaved and without guardrails, was cut into the Cordillera Oriental Mountain in the 1930s.
The fall from the narrow 12 feet (3.7 m) path is as much as 2,000 feet (610 m) in some places and due to the humid weather from the Amazon there are often poor conditions like mudslides and falling rocks.
Each year over 25,000 bikers cycle along the 40 miles (64 km) road.
In 2018, an Israeli woman was killed by a falling rock while cycling on the road.
According to researchers with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bolivia's road network was still underdeveloped as of 2014.
In lowland areas of Bolivia there is less than 2,000 kilometres (2,000,000 m) of paved road.
The General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil—DGAC) formerly part of the FAB, administers a civil aeronautics school called the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (Instituto Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil—INAC), and two commercial air transport services TAM and TAB.
TAM – Transporte Aéreo Militar (the Bolivian Military Airline) was an airline based in La Paz, Bolivia.
It was the civilian wing of the 'Fuerza Aérea Boliviana' (the Bolivian Air Force), operating passenger services to remote towns and communities in the North and Northeast of Bolivia.
TAM (a.k.a. TAM Group 71) has been a part of the FAB since 1945.
The airline company has suspended its operations since 23 September 2019.
Boliviana de Aviación, often referred to as simply BoA, is the flag carrier airline of Bolivia and is wholly owned by the country's government.
A private airline serving regional destinations is Línea Aérea Amaszonas, with services including some international destinations.
Although a civil transport airline, TAB – Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos, was created as a subsidiary company of the FAB in 1977.
It is subordinate to the Air Transport Management (Gerencia de Transportes Aéreos) and is headed by an FAB general.
TAB, a charter heavy cargo airline, links Bolivia with most countries of the Western Hemisphere; its inventory includes a fleet of Hercules C130 aircraft.
TAB is headquartered adjacent to El Alto International Airport.
The three largest, and main international airports in Bolivia are El Alto International Airport in La Paz, Viru Viru International Airport in Santa Cruz, and Jorge Wilstermann International Airport in Cochabamba.
There are regional airports in other cities that connect to these three hubs.
See also: Rail transport in Bolivia
Bolivia possesses an extensive but aged rail system, all in 1000 mm gauge, consisting of two disconnected networks.
Water supply and sanitation
Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Bolivia
Bolivia's drinking water and sanitation coverage has greatly improved since 1990 due to a considerable increase in sectoral investment.
However, the country has the continent's lowest coverage levels and services are of low quality.
Political and institutional instability have contributed to the weakening of the sector's institutions at the national and local levels.
The country's second largest city, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, manages its own water and sanitation system relatively successfully by way of cooperatives.
The government of Evo Morales intends to strengthen citizen participation within the sector.
Increasing coverage requires a substantial increase of investment financing.
According to the government the main problems in the sector are low access to sanitation throughout the country; low access to water in rural areas; insufficient and ineffective investments; a low visibility of community service providers; a lack of respect of indigenous customs; "technical and institutional difficulties in the design and implementation of projects"; a lack of capacity to operate and maintain infrastructure; an institutional framework that is "not consistent with the political change in the country"; "ambiguities in the social participation schemes"; a reduction in the quantity and quality of water due to climate change; pollution and a lack of integrated water resources management; and the lack of policies and programs for the reuse of wastewater.
Coverage in urban areas is bigger than in rural ones.
Main article: Demographics of Bolivia
According to the last two censuses carried out by the Bolivian National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INE), the population increased from 8,274,325 (from which 4,123,850 were men and 4,150,475 were women) in 2001 to 10,059,856 in 2012.
In the last fifty years the Bolivian population has tripled, reaching a population growth rate of 2.25%.
The growth of the population in the inter-census periods (1950–1976 and 1976–1992) was approximately 2.05%, while between the last period, 1992–2001, it reached 2.74% annually.
Some 67.49% of Bolivians live in urban areas, while the remaining 32.51% in rural areas.
In the Andean Altiplano region the departments of La Paz and Oruro hold the largest percentage of population, in the valley region the largest percentage is held by the departments of Cochabamba and Chuquisaca, while in the Llanos region by Santa Cruz and Beni.
At national level, the population density is 8.49, with variations marked between 0.8 (Pando Department) and 26.2 (Cochabamba Department).
The largest population center is located in the so-called "central axis" and in the Llanos region.
Bolivia has a young population.
According to the 2011 census, 59% of the population is between 15 and 59 years old, 39% is less than 15 years old.
Almost 60% of the population is younger than 25 years of age.
According to a genetic study done on Bolivians, average values of Native American, European and African ancestry are 86%, 12.5%, and 1.5%, in individuals from La Paz and 76.8%, 21.4%, and 1.8% in individuals from Chuquisaca; respectively.
Ethnic and racial classifications
The vast majority of Bolivians are mestizo (with the indigenous component higher than the European one), although the government has not included the cultural self-identification "mestizo" in the November 2012 census.
There are approximately three dozen native groups totaling approximately half of the Bolivian population – the largest proportion of indigenous people in Latin America.
Exact numbers vary based on the wording of the ethnicity question and the available response choices.
For example, the 2001 census did not provide the racial category "mestizo" as a response choice, resulting in a much higher proportion of respondents identifying themselves as belonging to one of the available indigenous ethnicity choices.
Mestizos are distributed throughout the entire country and make up 26% of the Bolivian population.
Most people assume their mestizo identity while at the same time identifying themselves with one or more indigenous cultures.
A 2018 estimate of racial classification put mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian) at 68%, indigenous at 20%, white at 5%, cholo at 2%, black at 1%, other at 4%, while 2% were unspecified; 44% attributed themselves to some indigenous group, predominantly the linguistic categories of Quechuas or Aymaras.
Whites comprised about 14% of the population in 2006, and are usually concentrated in the largest cities: La Paz, Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba, but as well in some minor cities like Tarija and Sucre.
Slavery was abolished in Bolivia in 1831.
Indigenous peoples, also called "originarios" ("native" or "original") and less frequently, Amerindians, could be categorized by geographic area, such as Andean, like the Aymaras and Quechuas (who formed the ancient Inca Empire), who are concentrated in the western departments of La Paz, Potosí, Oruro, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca.
There are small numbers of European citizens from Germany, France, Italy and Portugal, as well as from other countries of the Americas, as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, the United States, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela, among others.
There are around 140,000 mennonites in Bolivia of Friesian, Flemish and German ethnic origins.
The Indigenous peoples of Bolivia can be divided into two categories of ethnic groups: the Andeans, who are located in the Andean Altiplano and the valley region; and the lowland groups, who inhabit the warm regions of central and eastern Bolivia, including the valleys of Cochabamba Department, the Amazon Basin areas of northern La Paz Department, and the lowland departments of Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz, and Tarija (including the Gran Chaco region in the southeast of the country).
Large numbers of Andean peoples have also migrated to form Quechua, Aymara, and intercultural communities in the lowlands.
- Andean ethnicities
- Aymara people. They live on the high plateau of the departments of La Paz, Oruro and Potosí, as well as some small regions near the tropical flatlands.
- Quechua people. They mostly inhabit the valleys in Cochabamba and Chuquisaca. They also inhabit some mountain regions in Potosí and Oruro. They divide themselves into different Quechua nations, as the Tarabucos, Ucumaris, Chalchas, Chaquies, Yralipes, Tirinas, among others.
- Uru people
- Ethnicities of the Eastern Lowlands
- Guaraníes: made up of Guarayos, Pausernas, Sirionós, Chiriguanos, Wichí, Chulipis, Taipetes, Tobas, and Yuquis.
- Tacanas: made up of Lecos, Chimanes, Araonas, and Maropas.
- Panos: made up of Chacobos, Caripunas, Sinabos, Capuibos, and Guacanaguas.
- Aruacos: made up of Apolistas, Baures, Moxos, Chané, Movimas, Cayabayas, Carabecas, and Paiconecas (Paucanacas).
- Chapacuras: made up of Itenez (More), Chapacuras, Sansinonianos, Canichanas, Itonamas, Yuracares, Guatoses, and Chiquitanos.
- Botocudos: made up of Bororos and Otuquis.
- Zamucos: made up of Ayoreos.
Main article: Languages of Bolivia
Bolivia has great linguistic diversity as a result of its multiculturalism.
The Constitution of Bolivia recognizes 36 official languages besides Spanish: Aymara, Araona, Baure, Bésiro, Canichana, Cavineño, Cayubaba, Chácobo, Chimán, Ese Ejja, Guaraní, Guarasu'we, Guarayu, Itonama, Leco, Machajuyai-Kallawaya, Machineri, Maropa, Mojeño-Ignaciano, Mojeño-Trinitario, Moré, Mosetén, Movima, Pacawara, Puquina, Quechua, Sirionó, Tacana, Tapieté, Toromona, Uru-Chipaya, Weenhayek, Yaminawa, Yuki, Yuracaré, and Zamuco.
Spanish is the most spoken official language in the country, according to the 2001 census; as it is spoken by two-thirds of the population.
All legal and official documents issued by the State, including the Constitution, the main private and public institutions, the media, and commercial activities, are in Spanish.
Bilingual education was implemented in Bolivia under the leadership of President Evo Morales.
His program placed emphasis on the expansion of indigenous languages in the educational systems of the country.
Main article: Religion in Bolivia
According to the 2001 census conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Bolivia, 78% of the population is Roman Catholic, followed by 19% that are Protestant, as well as a small number of Bolivians that are Orthodox, and 3% non-religious.
The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on the World Christian Database) records that in 2010, 92.5% of Bolivians identified as Christian (of any denomination), 3.1% identified with indigenous religion, 2.2% identified as Baháʼí, 1.9% identified as agnostic, and all other groups constituted 0.1% or less.
The cult of Pachamama, or "Mother Earth", is notable.
Largest cities and towns
Approximately 67% of Bolivians live in urban areas, among the lowest proportion in South America.
Nevertheless, the rate of urbanization is growing steadily, at around 2.5% annually.
According to the 2012 census, there are total of 3,158,691 households in Bolivia – an increase of 887,960 from 2001.
In 2009, 75.4% of homes were classified as a house, hut, or Pahuichi; 3.3% were apartments; 21.1% were rental residences; and 0.1% were mobile homes.
Most of the country's largest cities are located in the highlands of the west and central regions.
Main article: Culture of Bolivia
Bolivian culture has been heavily influenced by the Aymara, the Quechua, as well as the popular cultures of Latin America as a whole.
The cultural development is divided into three distinct periods: precolumbian, colonial, and republican.
The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and have seen little archaeological exploration.
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.
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.
Main article: Education in Bolivia
Bolivia has public and private universities.
Among them: Universidad Mayor, Real y Pontificia de San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca USFX – Sucre, founded in 1624; Universidad Mayor de San Andrés UMSA – La Paz, founded in 1830; Universidad Mayor de San Simon UMSS – Cochabamba, founded in 1832; Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno UAGRM – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, founded in 1880; Universidad Técnica de Oruro UTO – Oruro, founded in 1892; and Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías UATF – Potosi, founded in 1892.
Main article: Health in Bolivia
See also: Refresh Bolivia
Life expectancy for men is 65.4 and for women is 71.1.
A study by the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations International Emergency Children's Fund reported over 230 babies died per day in Bolivia through lack of proper care.
The majority of the population has no health insurance or access to healthcare.
Demographic and Health Surveys has completed five surveys in Bolivia since 1989 on a wide range of topics.
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.
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.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolivia.