Country Bolivia


Bolivia is a country of South America

with a surface area of 1,098,541 km² (density of 9.21 inhab./km²). The population of Bolivia is 10,118,683 inhabitants in the last census.The capital of Bolivia is the city of Sucre which has 256,225 inhabitants. The president of Unitary presidential constitutional republic is Evo Morales.


"The Union is the strength"

Bolivia or the Plurinational State of Bolivia or the Republic of Bolivia is a country in the western central part of South America sharing borders with Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru and having no access to the sea.

Country religion

Christian 92.5%
Ethnoreligionist 3.1%
Bahá'í 2.2%
Agnostic 1.9%
Atheist 0.1%

Bolivia at a glance

Presidential Republic
Capital: Sucre
Administrative divisions: 9 departments, 112 provinces
Population: more than 10 million inhabitants
Main Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Main religion: Christianity
Current President: Evo Morales
Currency: Boliviano (1 boliviano = 100 centavos)
Conversion into euro: 100 kyats = 13 euros

Tourism: little restriction, basic safety rules must be respected and experienced guides must be used to discover mountain or forest regions. It is important to protect yourself against the mosquito bites responsible for many diseases.


Bolivia or the Plurinational State of Bolivia or the Republic of Bolivia is a country in the western central part of South America sharing borders with Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru and having no access to the sea.

A landlocked country

The country is divided into three major geographical areas, the vast plains to the east in extension of the Amazon rainforest, a mountainous region bordering the Altiplano to the west and the valleys in the center of the country. Bolivia's highest peak, Nevado Sajama, is 6,542 meters above sea level and lies in the northern part of the Western Cordillera, a chain of sleeping volcanoes. It is a stratovolcano whose conical shape is due to the superposition of lava flows, ashes and slag. Its andesite volcanic rock is characteristic of volcanoes formed by the subduction of one tectonic plate under another, a phenomenon which is at the origin of the formation of the volcanic chains of all the west coast of South America.
The Nevado Sajama is also known to shelter on its slopes the highest forest of the world composed of Polyepsis, trees and shrubs also called Queñoales. These endemic trees in the Andes are the highest truncated plants in the world, up to 4,600 meters above sea level, while the "tree line" usually does not exceed 3,500 meters.

The Altiplano meaning literally "altitude plain" is in the form of an immense north-south plateau located in the Cordillera of the Andes and stretching 1,500 meters long, from Argentina to Chile. It crosses all of Bolivia, bordered to the west by the western cordillera and to the east by the eastern cordillera. The north of the eastern cordillera is formed by a chain of glaciers, the Cordillera Royale, of which six peaks exceed the 6,000 meters of altitude.

Originally, the Altiplano was a valley between the two Cordilleras. It was filled with sediments that formed a vast plateau.
The majority of Bolivians live in this area, whose average altitude is 3,300 meters, making it the second highest inhabited region in the world after Tibet.
The vegetation is rare or nonexistent on the summits. There are however the Polyepsis and, below, the grasses and cactaceae of the puna, a cold and arid region.
In the extreme south of the Altiplano, the precipitation is extremely rare, which explains the total absence of vegetation and the presence of salt areas called salars, vestiges of ancient lakes. Uyuni Salar measuring 100 km by 150 is the largest salt desert in the world and represents a large reserve of lithium. It results from the disappearance of Lake Tauca, 14,000 years ago.
In the center of the salar, a small coral hill called Incahuasi and covered with cacti becomes an island when the water covers the sea of ​​salt, a phenomenon that occurs only a few days a year during the wet season.
It is also in the region of the Altiplano that Lake Titicaca is located with an area of ​​9.064 m² culminating at 3,810 meters making it the highest navigable lake by the commercial vessels of the world and the largest of the South America (by volume of water). A 900-meter strait located in its southern quarter separates the major lake and the minor lake.
More than forty islands emerge from the water and some of them are inhabited and cultivated in terraces.
The lake Titicaca is protected by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (RAMSAR).

To the east of the Cordilleras are the Yungas, the narrow valleys covered with vegetation, offering unforgettable landscapes. This region is crossed by the Yungas Route, which is traced on a hillside and connects La Paz to Coroico, one of the most dangerous routes in the world. It is estimated that more than 200 people lose their lives each year. Although their land is fertile and rainfall is regular, the Yungas are only exploited very little because of their inaccessibility.

The northeast of Bolivia is formed by the lowlands covering approximately 60% of the country. They are characterized by a succession of forests (first fruits of the Amazonian forest) and savannas. Part of the area has been cleared and converted into an agricultural area. In the south of the lowlands, the land turns into swamps during the three months of the rainy season, but is dry for the rest of the year, when the climate is semi-arid and temperatures can reach 45 °.

Due to the enormous differences in its relief, Bolivia also has a variable climate despite the fact that the country is in the tropical sector. Only the lowland areas of the north have a tropical climate with temperatures around 30 ° C and a very high humidity all year round.
The center of the country also benefits from a tropical climate but much drier with little or no precipitation from May to September. The strong winds sometimes sweep the area in winter, which causes a drop in temperatures. On the other hand, the weather is warm.

An Asian origin

The settlement of America probably begins around 30,000 BCE when the nomadic tribes cross the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska. During this glacial period, the sea level was much lower than at present and it was possible to cross the Strait on foot. The men, but also the animals of Asian origin, will settle first in North America. The different tribes continued their journey and arrived in South America.
It is estimated that Bolivia was probably inhabited between 20,000 and 10,000 BC although some historians believe that the settlement predates this range and that it would be of Pacific origin.


A first true pre-Inca civilization emerged at the beginning of the first millennium BC on the shores of Lake Titicaca (or even earlier, according to some historians). The civilization of Tiwanaku founded by the Aymaras Indians spread throughout western Bolivia, southern Peru and northern Chile by subjecting the different cities of these regions.
The archaeological excavations of its capital Tiahuanaco made it possible to understand the power and splendor of this civilization. Among the many buildings on the site are the majestic Porte du Soleil, a volcanic andesite rock monolith measuring 4 meters wide by 3 meters high and the seven-degree pyramid of Akapana famous for its monolithic statues, its semi- underground and its pipes leading the water up to its summit to make it gush and let it flow from terrace to terrace in the manner of a fountain. The civilization was characterized by a well-structured society and a mastery of the architecture, the agriculture and the astrology.
It declines from the 6th century AD and disappears totally in the 12th century for an unknown reason. According to certain theories, a period of great drought would be at the origin of its extinction.
The empire is fragmented and gives birth to many small kingdoms Aymaras
If Tiwanaku was the main civilization in Bolivia during the pre-Inca period, it was not the only one. The Moxos occupied territories of the southeast and the Mollos had settled in the north of the country. These two civilizations also disappeared around the 13th century.

The Incan Empire

At the same time, the Quechuas Indian tribes of Peru united to found the Kingdom of Cuzco, a city founded in the 11th century and which became the capital of the Inca Empire two centuries later.
This empire expanded greatly in the 15th century and the territories corresponding to the present Bolivia are annexed around 1450.
The Inca civilization remained the master of the country until the arrival of the Europeans and more precisely the Spanish conquistadors in 1525.

The Spanish conquistadors

As early as 1539, the Spaniards attracted by gold and the silver appropriated the Inca lands and colonized the greater part of South America in order to profit from its richness. The conquest is violent and the local population is massacred. It is estimated that more than 11 million indigenous people will die in less than 100 years, the victims of forced labor, the sacking and the diseases brought from Europe.

They divide their possessions into two administrative districts, New Spain and the viceroyalty of Peru (which in 1776 became the viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata), to which Bolivia is attached, which is then called Upper Peru.
The discovery of an extraordinary vein of silver covering almost the entire Cerro Rico in the south of Bolivia will attract many Spaniards. Thus, in 1549, the town of Potosi was founded at the foot of the mountain and became one of the main resources of Spain. This sudden wealth, however, was at the root of its ruin because the Spaniards preferred to buy manufactured goods in neighboring countries rather than develop their own industries. The other European countries benefited from the situation by picking up Spanish money and preparing for the industrial era.

The exhausting and unhealthy work of ore mining combined with the many accidents and collapses in the hill caused many deaths among Indians who were forced to work in the mines.
The population of Potosi however rapidly exceeds 200,000 souls and the city becomes the second largest American city, behind Mexico. Even today the Potosi silver mine is exploited while tourists discover the testimonies of the power and wealth of the Spanish settlers as well as the misery and inhuman working conditions of the slaves and the natives while walking in the streets of the city.

The movements of revolt

But back to the end of the 18th century, when the oppressed Indians began to rebel against the Spaniards who imposed their laws, their language and their religion without any respect for indigenous beliefs and culture. Many revolt movements broke out in several places in Upper Peru and in Chuquisaca, the country's cultural center (now Sucre), in May 1809 when the separatists and the academics joined forces to oust the government and set up their own government. At the same time, Spain is a prey to wars with France and the internal tensions. Taking advantage of the difficult situation in which the country was encumbered, many cities of the American Spanish Empire rise, including Buenos Aires on January 1st, 1809.
In July of the same year, the movement spread to La Paz where the revolutionaries established a local autonomous government, the Junta protecting the rights of the king and the people.
The Spaniards react quickly and the leaders are executed, imprisoned or exiled while their property is confiscated.

The independence

But the revolution is on the march and nothing succeeds in stopping it. The natives led by famous Libertadors like Simon Bolivar, Antonio José de Sucre, Bernardo O'Higgins or José de San Martin succeeded in liberating the South American countries one after the other.
The independence of Upper Peru was proclaimed on August 6th, 1825, at the end of the battle of Ayacucho, which ended in a scathing defeat of the army of José Laserna, Peru's last viceroy.
The country is renamed Bolivia, in honor of Simon Bolivar who becomes its first president. His successor and friend Antonio José de Sucre abdicated his functions in 1828 to introduce himself - and to win - the presidential elections of Colombia. He was assassinated shortly after his election.

A succession of economic and political wars and crises

The new Bolivia is far from knowing the peace. When Andrés de Santa Cruz became president in 1829, he decided to invade Peru, weakened by civil wars. Thus he creates the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation regrouping the Bolivian State and the Peruvian northern and southern states. This confederation, which allowed each of the three states to have its own government while taking advantage of the "protectorate" of Santa Cruz, was finally dissolved in 1839 after its defeat against the Chilean troops during the battle of Yungay. Santa Cruz exiles in Ecuador while Bolivia sinks in a political chaos.

The Peruvian army then took its revenge and invaded in turn its neighbor but it was crushed at Ingavi in ​​1841 by the general Jose Ballivian Segurola who becomes president of Bolivia. Finally, the country is experiencing a brief period of peace.
Soon, the civil wars, the putsch and other revolutions resumed their round and the Bolivian population undergoes this instability and knows the misery of a country that deals more with politics and tricks than with economic development.

The conflicts erupted in turn with Chile (Pacific War), Brazil (Acre) and Paraguay (War of the Chaco), Bolivia is defeated each time. It is obliged to cede important pieces of its territory and in particular its only access to the sea and several of its mines.

This situation and the poverty of the people led to the founding of the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement led by Victor Paz Estenssoro who won the elections in 1952. He was President of Bolivia for four terms in 1952, in 1964 (but reversed by a putsch in the same year) and in 1985. Estenssoro will undertake numerous reforms such as universal suffrage, the access to education for rural populations, the nationalization of mining companies and the redistribution of lands.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Bolivia experienced a major economic crisis but also the tensions between the different ethnic groups.
The discovery of an important natural gas deposit in the south-east of the country raises a new problem. The country having no access to the sea must necessarily cross a neighboring country to export it. The most economical solution would be to go through Chile but it comes up against the resentment of the Bolivians who have not forgotten the Pacific War and the loss of territories.

The different alternatives are possible, including the transit via Peru or the gas processing on site. The tensions are increasingly strong and are transforming into a real political crisis. The peasants soon joined by the workers and traders organized the blockade of La Paz and were dislodged violently by the army. The President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled to the United States. His successor, Carlos Mesa, authorizes the privatization of hydrocarbons which puts an end to the "gas war" but not to the conflicts that continue to shake the country.

After the resignation of Carlos Mesa, the elections were held in 2005 and the leader of the Movement for Socialism Evo Morales came to power.  

Political life

Bolivia is a unitary and parliamentary republic headed by a president elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term.
The President is both the Head of State and the Head of Government and therefore has an important influence on the management of the country. A new constitution was put in place in 2009, guaranteeing in particular the separation of the Church and the State. In addition, the indigenous peoples have equal rights.

The legislative power is entrusted to the parliament (plurinational legislative assembly) composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of the Senators.

The justice system poses a number of problems for the government because it includes a parallel right in keeping with the traditions of the different communities. These customs which are transmitted only orally are freely interpreted and can lead to the "punishments" such as the lynching or the exile.

Evo Morales has been President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia since January 22nd, 2006. He is a descendant of the Aymara people and has a policy of listening to the demands of different ethnic groups in order to enable them to defend their culture. Since its election, the Bolivian people have gradually emerged from the misery and the illiteracy.

A poor country

Bolivia has experienced a tormented history and the internal conflicts have weakened the country as much as the wars, which explains the weakness of its current economy. Eight out of ten Bolivians live below the poverty line. In recent years, its growth rate has risen to over 5% thanks to the new policy implemented and the exploitation of its natural gas reserves.

Agriculture accounts for only 10% of GDP compared with 40% for the industry and 50% for the services.
The current government is trying to eradicate the coca crops that used to be considered a sacred plant but which was subsequently used for the manufacture of cocaine. However, he wishes to continue to authorize small coca crops for a legal consumption, such as the coca mate, a non-toxic, non-addictive infusion.

An ethnic mix

The total population of Bolivia is estimated at approximately 11,000,000 inhabitants, the figures differ according to the sources.
The majority of Bolivians live in cities in the central regions of the country. The Amerindians, who constitute 55% of the population, are divided into about forty ethnic groups, the most important being the Quechua and the Aymaras. The rest of the population is mixed (30%) or of European origin (15%).

37 official languages ​​are listed in Bolivia. A little more than 60% of the inhabitants speak Spanish, the others belong to Amerindian ethnolinguistic groups such as the Aymaras, the Quechuas or the Guaranis.

Bolivians are mostly Catholic Christians or, more rarely, Protestants and are very devout and practicing. They often attend two masses a day. At the same time, they respect divinities like Pachamama, the goddess of fertility.

Bolivia is a country attached to its traditions and folklore. The clothes such as the poncho, the music accompanied by wind, the string or the percussion instruments are omnipresent in the daily lives of Bolivians living in rural areas.

Similarly, the cuisine is typical of the country and is made from llama, pork, chicken or beef accompanied by potatoes, peppers and cereals. The offal is also prepared in grills.
At breakfast, they swallow warm, thick, spicy sweetened cereal beverages. The Bolivians consume little alcohol outside the festivities, apart from a few local beers and the Jumechi, a sugar cane alcohol.


Due to the crime rate, the tourists traveling to Bolivia are recommended not to carry valuables and not to take large sums of money in public.
It is not recommended to board a taxi in the street or near the train stations and to drive alone at night.
The excursions in the mountains must be accompanied by a local guide and are not suitable for inexperienced mountaineers.

Bolivia attracts many tourists who come to discover the amazing landscapes of the Andes, Lake Titicaca, the salt seas or the Altiplano. They are also seduced by the welcome of the Indians who invite them to participate in traditional festivals.

La Paz and its colonial architecture, the towns bordering Lake Titicaca, the Isla del Sol, an inhabited island of Lake Titicaca, the town of Potosi, which enjoyed its glory thanks to The silver mines, the largest salt desert in the world, the salar of Uyuni and, of course, the remains of the pre-Columbian era, including the unmistakable Tiahuanaco.

Bolivia flag

Bolivia flag


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