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Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
Plurinational State of Bolivia
Flag of Bolivia
Bolivia coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : La fuerza la unión it
(Spanish for The unit is the strength )
Official language Spanish , Quechua , Aimara , Guaraní
capital city Sucre
Seat of government La Paz
State and form of government presidential republic
Head of state , also head of government President Luis Arce
area 1,098,581 km²
population 11.5 million ( 80th ) (2019; estimate)
Population density 10 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.4% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 41 billion ( 93rd )
  • $ 105 billion ( 88. )
  • 3,566 USD ( 126. )
  • 9,064 USD ( 123. )
Human Development Index 0.718 ( 107th ) (2019)
currency Boliviano (BOB)
independence August 6, 1825 (from Spain )
National anthem Bolivianos, el hado propicio
National holiday 6th of August
Time zone UTC − 4
License Plate BOL
ISO 3166 BO , BOL, 068
Internet TLD .bo
Phone code +591
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Desert at the Salar de Uyuni with llamas

Bolivia ( Spanish Bolivia [ boˈliβi̯a ], named after Simón Bolívar , in Quechua Puliwya and Aymara Wuliwya , officially: Plurinational State of Bolivia ) is a landlocked country in South America , which is bordered by Peru and Chile in the west, Argentina and Paraguay in the south, and in the east North borders on Brazil . There are three climatic zones in the country: the mountains of the Andes in the west, the tropical lowlands in the east and in between a zone of valleys with a temperate and subtropical climate.

The country is particularly characterized by its cultural and ethnic diversity, which is expressed in the name of the Plurinational State . The constitution officially recognizes 36 different ethnic groups and their own languages.

Despite high economic growth rates averaging 4.5% between 2006 and 2019, Bolivia is still one of the poorest countries in Latin America.



Bolivia is traversed in the west by two large and widely spaced chains of the Andes , the height of which reaches over 6500 m ( Sajama 6542 m, Illimani 6439 m). In between lies the central highlands, the 3000 to 4000 m high Altiplano . This area, which extends far into neighboring Peru and includes the north-west of Argentina in the south, is the actual heartland, in which around 60 percent of all Bolivians live, although it only makes up about a third of the area of ​​Bolivia. In the middle of the Altiplano lie the Salar de Uyuni , which is the world's largest salt lake with an area of ​​12,000 km² , and Lake Titicaca , the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, through whose center the border with neighboring Peru runs.

To the east is the so-called East Bolivian mountainous region, which geologically differs significantly from the high mountains. Between the eastern slope of the Andes and the eastern Bolivian mountainous region, wet forests extend intermittently in the valleys at an altitude of between 1200 and 1800 m above sea level. NN. In this regard, the fertile Yungas in the area of ​​the La Paz department should be emphasized . A similar landscape can also be found, for example, in the Chapare province in the Cochabamba department and in the Tariquía nature reserve in the far south in the Tarija department, also called Yunga Tarijeña .

The largest part of Bolivia in terms of area are the Llanos , which extend from the eastern Bolivian mountainous region to the eastern and southeastern border with Brazil and Paraguay. This tropical and hot lowland, which is only sparsely populated outside the city of Santa Cruz, is subdivided into the dry savannas of the Gran Chaco in the south and the tropical rainforest areas of Amazonia in the north.

The fertile valleys in the eastern slopes of the Andes in the south of the country at an altitude of 1500 to 2500 m above sea level are also a specialty. NN. In the Valle Central de Tarija and near Camargo there is intensive viticulture.

Borders and neighboring states

Bolivia has five neighboring countries. These are clockwise: in the north and east Brazil (3400 km border length), in the south Paraguay (750 km) and Argentina (742 km), in the west Chile (861 km) and Peru (900 km). The total length of the state borders is 6653 kilometers.

Bolivia and neighboring Paraguay are the only landlocked states in America. Bolivia had to give its access to the sea ​​at Antofagasta to Chile after the saltpeter war in the Treaty of Valparaíso in 1884. This was confirmed by the peace treaty of 1904 . According Bolivia Chile was to negotiate access to the Pacific Ocean bound and therefore filed on April 24, 2013 at the International Court of Justice an action one. The International Court of Justice denied such an obligation on October 1, 2018.


The climate in Bolivia is due to the enormous differences in height, very diverse. One can roughly distinguish

  • on the Altiplano
    • around Lake Titicaca (approx. 150 km) and Lake Poopó (approx. 55 km) a moderate altitude climate with relatively low seasonal temperature fluctuations and medium-sized day and night temperature fluctuations as well as a medium humidity ;
    • on the rest of the Altiplano, an overall average cool and moderate altitude climate with average seasonal temperature fluctuations and strong day and night temperature fluctuations as well as generally a very low average humidity;
  • on the eastern slope of the Andes
  • in the lowlands


Population pyramid 2016: Bolivia has one of the youngest populations in Latin America
Population development (in thousands)
Widow from the Potosí mines , (photography by Manuel Rivera-Ortiz , 2004)

A little over 50% of the population belong to indigenous peoples ( span. Indígenas ) of the South American Indians , mostly Quechua (30.7%) and Aymara (25.2%); a good 30% of the population are mestizos . The other inhabitants of the country are “white”, mostly descendants of the various waves of immigration from Europe up to after the Second World War , descendants of African slaves, mainly from Angola , and immigrants from Japan and China .

The median age in 2016 was 24 years. The fertility rate was 2.7 children per woman in the same year and has fallen significantly in recent years. Due to government efforts, 60% of women now have access to contraception. For every 1000 inhabitants there were 22.4 births and 6.5 deaths per year. Overall, the population grew from 3 million in 1950 to over 11 million today. However, population growth has slowed significantly and was 1.54% in 2016.

Approximately 800,000 Bolivians have emigrated because of the widespread poverty in the country. Most of the migrants from Bolivia live in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain. In Bolivia itself, only 1.3% of the population are foreigners.

Indigenous peoples

At the time of the Spanish conquest, 80 indigenous groups were to be found in the Santa Cruz Department alone , today, due to the consequences of the Conquista , there are only about 40 ethnic groups in the whole country belonging to 35 linguistic families . The largest ethnic groups are found on the plateau, where the Quechua and Aymara make up a very large part of the population with 3.2 and 2.5 million respectively. About five to eight local communities live in the rainforests and in the Gran Chaco as isolated peoples .

In contrast to the small and very small indigenous groups, three of which are likely to become extinct in the foreseeable future, the large and medium-sized population groups such as Chiquitanos (180,000), Guaraní (130,000), Moxeños (80,000) and Afrobolivians (20,000) even recorded population increases. At the same time, the groups mentioned are experiencing a process of returning to their roots and a strengthening of their cultural identity. In large parts of the country, parents try not to pass on their indigenous language to their children in order to save them real or supposed disadvantages in school education. However, there are now efforts to alphabetize the rural children in their indigenous mother tongue and to make these languages ​​compulsory or at least optional for certain studies (e.g. teaching, medicine). An at least symbolic milestone in efforts to preserve indigenous cultures was the constitutional amendment of 1994, with which Bolivia was officially recognized as a multicultural, pluriethnic society. The new constitution of 2009 stipulates extensive rights for the naciones y pueblos indígena originario campesinos .

The willkakuti is a national holiday on June 21.


According to the 2001 census, 78% of the population describe themselves as Catholics, 19% stated that they follow a Protestant or evangelical tendency. In the urban areas, the Catholic proportion is slightly higher than in the rural areas. Until the new constitution came into force, Catholicism was the state religion. Only 2.5% said in 2001 that they were not religious at all. Other religions only have a very small share overall, including the few remaining ethnic religions of the indigenous peoples. However, there are regionally very strong communities of Jehovah's Witnesses , Islam , Baha'i and others. Syncretism , which mixes Christian faith with elements of the traditional worldview of the indigenous population, is also widespread . Since the movement of President Morales came to power, these have been greatly enhanced and corresponding rituals are reaching more and more sections of the population.


Indigenous girl on the Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca

The constitution recognizes Spanish and another 35 indigenous languages as official languages. The state and each department must use Spanish and at least one other language as official languages. Spanish is the mother tongue of 69.6% of the population, followed by Quechua ( northern and southern Bolivian Quechua - 17.5%), Aymara (10.7%) and Guaraní (0.6%). Spanish is more prevalent in the cities and the indigenous languages ​​more strongly in the rural population. Many grow up multilingual. Most of the country's schools and universities only teach in Spanish, although intercultural bilingual education (teaching in indigenous and Spanish ) has been successfully supported since 1995 .

over 6 years
by language
Spanish only

languages only
Bolivia (2001) 6.948.605 3,258,822 519.364 232,534 8,678 11,975
in percent 100% 46.9% 7.5% 3.3% 0.1% 0.2%
1,368,759 1,009,404 43,535 28,356 425,321 25,714 16,143
19.7% 14.5% 0.6% 0.4% 6.1% 0.4% 0.2%

Bless you

In the period from 2010 to 2015, life expectancy at birth was 65.3 years for boys and 70.2 years for girls. In 2010, a large part of the population still had no access to health care. However, the government has since implemented extensive programs to guarantee the constitutional right to free access to a universal health system. This also includes mobile units and a satellite-based telemedicine program for the benefit of the population in remote areas. Vaccinations are free and reach almost the entire population. Attempts are also being made to equip all provinces with hospitals and to set up more health centers in city districts in order to decentralize the supply of care.

There is good cooperation with Cuba in the health sector: Bolivian medical students receive scholarships and Cuban doctors support the establishment of more efficient structures in Bolivia. Complex therapies and operations can often not yet be carried out professionally by doctors in Bolivian hospitals and clinics, which is why patients with the ability to pay prefer to travel to neighboring countries such as Argentina and Chile.

Development of life expectancy
period Life expectancy
in years (total)
period Life expectancy
in years (total)
1950-1955 40.0 1985-1990 53.8
1955-1960 41.4 1990-1995 56.5
1960-1965 43.0 1995-2000 59.3
1965-1970 44.7 2000-2005 62.1
1970-1975 46.7 2005-2010 65.0
1975-1980 48.9 2010-2015 67.7
1980-1985 51.2



Simón Bolívar (statue in Berlin )
Territories lost to neighboring states between 1867 and 1938 (today's territory is white)

Various cultures existed in the area of ​​present-day Bolivia, the most important of which was the Tiwanaku civilization. When the Spaniards conquered the country in the 16th century, it became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and later part of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata , rich in silver . From the 16th century, the Spaniards exploited the Potosí silver mines .

The road to independence and loss of territory

The struggle for independence began in 1809. However, Bolivia remained a Spanish colony until an international independence army under Antonio José de Sucre on behalf of Simón Bolívar enforced independence militarily in 1825, after which the country was named after Bolívar. The presidency of Andrés de Santa Cruz (1829–1839) followed a chaotic period . In this, the German Otto Philipp Braun , a veteran of the South American War of Independence and the European War of Liberation, became one of the government's most important military and political pillars. After the defeat in the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation War against Chile and Argentina (1836-1839), the administration of Santa Cruz disintegrated. In the Saltpeter War (1879-1883) Bolivia finally lost large parts of the disputed territory with access to the Pacific to Chile. In the Chaco War (1932-1935) Bolivia lost large parts of the disputed area in the south to Paraguay . In the following years the decline began due to wars and economic sales.

Waves of immigration

During the Nazi era , Bolivia was a refuge for many Jews from Germany and Austria, and after the end of the Third Reich and the start of the Nuremberg Trials, it was also a refuge for German and Austrian Nazi war criminals.

In the mid-1950s, German-speaking Russian mennonites began to emigrate from Paraguay to Bolivia. Later, mainly conservative Russian mennonites from Mexico , Canada and Belize joined them. In 2016 there were around 70,000 Russian mennonites in Bolivia.

Revolutions and coups 1950–2005

In 1971 Hugo Banzer Suárez, supported by the CIA, forcibly replaced President Torres in a coup.

Faced with ethnic and cultural struggles, there were revolutions and military coups in Bolivia . After the successful revolution of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) in 1952, education and upbringing were expanded in 1953 and universal active and passive suffrage was introduced, which included the right to vote for women . A military junta was overthrown in the early 1980s in order to establish a democracy.

In October 2003, there was widespread unrest with the character of a popular uprising when unions protested and organized strikes against the sale of the important natural gas resource to US corporations. This also represented the climax of the sometimes violent protests against the reforms and budget cuts (as part of the measures required by the IMF to reduce foreign debt ), which began in February 2003 with a police strike. The government used the military against the "rebels"; around 60 people were killed. However, this led to the solidarity of other social classes with the demonstrators. As a result, President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada had to go into exile in the United States; a year later the Bolivian parliament brought charges against him. With Lozada's resignation, the presidency passed to Vice President Carlos Mesa .

In January 2005, an alliance of political groups tried to gain the autonomy of the resource-rich Santa Cruz region . This was preceded by mass protests over high gasoline prices, which called for the nationalization of the gas industry. Several institutions, such as the prefecture, were briefly occupied by the demonstrators.

In June 2005, social unrest led to the resignation of President Carlos Mesa. Weeks of strikes and road blockades forced him to take this step, given that the supply situation in the capital was becoming precarious. Troubles continued to prevent the Senate President, Santa Cruz Conservative Hormando Vaca Díez, from assuming the presidency under the constitution. The blockade of La Paz forced the Senate to meet in Sucre to formally accept the resignation of Carlos Mesa and to swear in his successor. The protests forced Vaca Díez to renounce his successor, so that the office of President was constitutionally transferred to the President of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez, as interim president, with the proviso that new elections be held. These should take place on December 4, 2005. Domestic power struggles delayed the election date. The background to this was a ruling by the Constitutional Court on September 22, 2005 that the distribution of seats in parliament no longer corresponds to the current population figures of the departments and that a new regulation (in favor of the departments of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba) must be found before the election. After parliament could not agree on a reallocation of the seats, President Rodríguez ordered a reallocation of the seats by decree on November 1, 2005 ( La Paz −2, Oruro −1 and Potosí −1 in favor of Santa Cruz +3 and Cochabamba + 1) and determined the election date to be December 18, 2005.

Presidency of Evo Morales (2005–2019) and the creation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

A circus celebrates Evo Morales

In the presidential elections in December 2005, the two most promising candidates were the coca farmer Evo Morales from the socialist party "Movimiento al Socialismo, which, as an indigenous Aymara , sought to unite the indigenous majority, and the conservative white Jorge Quiroga Ramírez , who had already been president. Am Morales was elected president with 54% of the vote on December 18, 2005. It was the first time since democracy was reintroduced in 1982 that a presidential candidate had won an absolute majority , since for the first time since the Spanish colonization in the 16th century a representative of an indigenous nation was elected president of a South American country, Evo Morales used an anti-colonial and a nti-imperialist narrative . An important pillar of his anti-colonial policy was the regaining of economic sovereignty over the country's resources. In May 2006 the government nationalized all of the country's oil and gas reserves and only allowed future joint ventures with foreign companies on condition that the Bolivian state-owned YPFB hold a majority stake (at least 51%).

During the presidency of Evo Morales the country experienced a strong economic boom. According to the statistical surveys of the World Bank, the Bolivian gross domestic product quadrupled from 9.5 billion dollars in 2005 to 40.9 billion in 2019. At the same time, the number of people living in relative poverty fell from 60% to 35% in 2019. This development leaves can largely be traced back to the social democratic policies of the ruling party, which included, among other things, far-reaching labor market reforms, investments in education and health and the introduction of social systems. The minimum wage was increased from 440 to 2122 Bolivianos (2019), which corresponds to a wage increase of well over 300% within 15 years. However, a distinction must be made here, since the majority of the working population works in the informal sector and therefore has no state-guaranteed right to the minimum wage.

In 2014 the UNESCO organization of the United Nations declared illiteracy in Bolivia to be defeated, as the country was able to reduce the quota of people without literacy skills to 3.8% (4% = UNESCO minimum standard).

New constitution 2009

March for the new constitution

After a sometimes chaotic process, Bolivia finally adopted a new constitution on January 25, 2009. For this purpose, the people elected a constituent assembly ( Asamblea Constituyente ) with 255 members on July 2, 2006 . The left-wing party MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) of President Evo Morales achieved an absolute majority with 134 MPs, but missed the 2/3 majority necessary for the adoption of the new constitution.

A referendum held at the same time on the future form of government did not deliver a clear result, but showed the political division of the country. In the four eastern departments of the "Media Luna" or "Oriente" (Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz and Tarija) the population voted for the introduction of a federal state structure with regional autonomy, in the five western departments in the highlands (La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca and Potosí), the population rejected aspirations for autonomy and voted in favor of maintaining a centralized state.

A central aspect of the constitution was the recognition of the culture and language of the country's 36 different indigenous ethnic groups. For this reason, with the introduction of the new constitution, the name of the country was changed from “Republic of Bolivia” to “Plurinational State of Bolivia” in order to reflect the heterogeneous multiculturalism of the country.

The draft constitution was adopted on January 25, 2009 by a clear majority by the Bolivian people

Evo Morales was re-elected with well over 60% in the 2009 elections and won a two-thirds majority with his party in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. When re-elected in 2014, however, the number of re-elections was disputed, as a new constitution had come into force in 2009 and Morales' camp argued that the 2009 election was the first election (under the new constitution).

After a majority rejected the possibility of re-election in a constitutional referendum in 2016 , the non-independent constitutional court declared a renewed candidacy by Morales to be constitutional.

Nationwide Protests and Resignation of the President (2019)

The presidential election of 2019 saw irregularities in the announcement of the quick count results, which sparked protests and calls for the president to step down. Morales then offered new elections. After units of the police refused to act against the protests and the military agreed to resign, Morales and his cabinet members complied. Morales went into exile in Mexico a short time later. With many of Morales' followers also resigning , Jeanine Áñez , second vice-president of the Senate, became interim president . During her presidency, there was a serious case of corruption within her cabinet, in the course of which the Minister of Health bought medical ventilators to supply the Bolivian population in the fight against the Covid-19 virus at excessive prices and at the same time inferior quality from a Spanish company.

In October 2020, the presidential election in Bolivia was called for the second time within a year. The left candidate Luis Arce from the Movimiento al Socialismo party won with over 55% of the vote against the interim president Jeanine Añez, the liberal-conservative ex-president Carlos Mesa (28.8%) and the right-wing candidate Fernando Camacho.


Political system

The wiphala of Qullasuyu , a traditional symbol of the indigenous Andean peoples, has been an official national symbol of the
plurinational state of Bolivia since the constitution of 2009, alongside the flag and coat of arms

At the head of the central government based in La Paz is the president , who is elected for five years ; from January 22, 2006 to November 10, 2019, this was Evo Morales . Because of the very frequent overturns, only a few were able to hold out before him for the full legislative period. With the adoption of the new constitution in 2009, the republic was renamed the Plurinational State , although a republican presidential system was retained. At the same time, new elections were held, so that Evo Morales was the first president of the newly constituted state. Since a president can only be re-elected once according to the constitution, his renewed candidacy in 2014 was controversial and was severely criticized by the opposition. However, a decision by the Constitutional Court allowed the procedure on the grounds that it would be the first re-election under the new constitution. Thus Evo Morales could become the longest ruling head of state in Bolivia. A constitutional amendment that would allow the president to be re-elected indefinitely was rejected in a referendum in 2016 . Nevertheless, on November 28, 2018 , the Constitutional Court ( Tribunal Constitucional ) generally repealed the effect of those articles of the constitution that stood in the way of the multiple re-election of an office holder and justified this with the fact that otherwise "political rights would be impaired". Specifically, it is about the fact that the constitution in Article 13, Paragraph IV particularly protects the human rights guaranteed in international treaties. This also includes the American Convention on Human Rights , which in Art. 23 guarantees every citizen political rights without restriction, including applications for political offices.

According to the new constitution (Article 11), the system of government is described as participatory, representative and community-oriented democracy with equal rights for men and women. Particular attention is paid to the rights and culture of indigenous peoples, including Afrobolivians on an equal footing. The constitution grants citizens freedom of belief , the plurinational state is independent of religion. According to the constitution, the intention is to strengthen the autonomy of the departments, regions, municipalities and indigenous territories and to promote decentralization. Although a lot of institutional progress has already been made here, as of 2015 the central government still had a clear predominance of power over the decentralized structures. This is partly due to the fact that numerous local authorities have not yet drawn up and adopted their constitutions of autonomy.


The presidential elections always take place together with the parliamentary elections. If no presidential candidate achieves the required absolute majority in the election (normal case), the president is determined by a simple majority by the newly elected parliament. If the president resigns his office or dies, the vice-president elected together with him moves up, who, according to the constitution, also presides over the House of Representatives. If this is prevented, according to Article 169 of the Constitution, the office of President passes to the President of the Senate and then to the (new) President of the Chamber of Deputies. In the latter case, new elections must be scheduled within 90 days.

The president has powers similar to those of his counterparts in France or the United States. It performs representative tasks, essentially determines foreign policy and can also issue legal acts through presidential decrees. State ministers report to him for various areas of competence, some of which are subdivided into vice ministries. The armed forces are also dependent on the President, administered by the Ministry of Defense and professionally directed by the Supreme Commander.

legislative branch

The Bolivian Parliament, called the Plurinational Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional) since the Constitution of 2009 , consists of the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) with 130 members as lower house and the Senate (Senado) with 36 senators (four from each department) as House of Lords. The members of both chambers are elected for a five-year term. The legislative period is linked to that of the president and can be shorter if the president is elected early.


The Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia) and the Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional) are based in Sucre , the country's formal capital. In the area of ​​agri-environment, another supreme court has been set up at national level. There are also the highest courts of justice for the individual departments. Specific jurisdictions are responsible for indigenous affairs in certain regions. Another important part of the body is the Council of Justice (Consejo de la Magistratura) .

Electoral body

The plurinational electoral body (Órgano Electoral Plurinational) has constitutional status as an independent power . It consists of the Supreme Electoral Administration (Tribunal Supremo Electoral) , the electoral offices of the departments and other subordinate institutions. An important task is the keeping of the biometric electoral roll. In addition, the body was given responsibility for identity cards (SEGIP) , driving licenses (SEGELIC) and the functions of the registry offices (SERECI) .

Voting is compulsory in Bolivia, and all Bolivian citizens who are in the country on election day and can reach the polling station at their place of residence are entitled to vote (and required to do so). A vote for Bolivians residing abroad was made possible for the first time for the 2014 presidential election. Participation in the elections is not forced, but the unexcused absence can have indirect consequences, as the public sector makes certain benefits (e.g. pension payments) subject to the submission of a certificate confirming participation in the election (or an excused absence).

Other autonomous organs

Significant autonomous institutions established by the new constitution include the following:

  • The Office for the Defense of the People (Defensoría del Pueblo) , which provides citizens with legal aid (especially in the event of abuse of office)
  • The Public Prosecutor's Office (Ministerio Público)
  • YPFB : the state oil and gas company, EBIH: the state company for the industrialization of hydrocarbons (Empresa Boliviana de Industrialización de Hidrocarburos) and ANH: the national regulatory agency for the hydrocarbon industry (Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos)
  • COMIBOL : the state-owned mining company that controls the entire mining industry in the country, and AJAM: the regulatory authority for the mining sector (Autoridad Jurisdiccional Administrativa Minera)

Political indices

Political indices published by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 75 of 120 70 of 178 Stability of the country: increased warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 5.08 out of 10 94 of 167 Hybrid regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 63 of 100 --- Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 35.47 out of 100 110 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 31 of 100 124 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020


Political parties in Bolivia are usually closely linked to their founder and often lose importance in the event of death or after the latter has left. An exception is the left-wing Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) , which after 13 years of government (2006-2019) has established permanent structures nationwide. This enabled her to compensate for Evo Morales' loss in 2019 and to regain power in 2020.

In addition, in most cases there is no clear positioning in the political spectrum. As a rule, however, they move within the bandwidth of social democratic, conservative and right-wing liberal. Extreme groupings occur almost exclusively as wings within the parties. For example, parts of the MAS that represent Marxist-Leninist positions as well as market-liberal and Christian-fundamental forces within the opposition parties should be mentioned here. For some years now, environmental protection parties have been developing, especially at the regional level, but they still enjoy little support from the population.

Significant opposition parties in recent years are the following:


In 2017, Bolivia spent almost 1.8 percent of its economic output or 657 million US dollars on its armed forces.

Regional alliances

In view of its social and geographical heterogeneity as well as its central location in South America, Bolivia has a great interest in deeper integration with its neighboring countries, both towards the Andes and towards the Amazon basin and Paraná basin .

Bolivia belongs to the Andean Community , which was founded in 1969 and has built up a free trade area between the member states since 1995 . During the reign of Hugo Chávez , the Morales government had a very close relationship with Venezuela, which was also expressed through membership in the Bolivarian Alliance for America (ALBA) from 2004 onwards. The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) was founded in 2008 to promote the political integration of South America. The seat of the general assembly ( Centro de Convenciones ) was planned in a building inaugurated in 2018 near Cochabamba . As a result of political upheavals in Latin America, however, UNASUR lost its importance in favor of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in which Bolivia also participates. In addition, the confirmation of full membership in Mercosur, which has been aimed for since 2015 , is still pending as of October 2020.

Administrative structure


Bolivia is divided into nine departments :

Department Inhabitants 2012 Population 2001 Population 1992
La Paz La Paz 2 706 351 2,350,466 1 900 786
Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 2,655,084 2,029,471 1 364 389
Cochabamba Cochabamba 1 758 143 1,455,711 1 110 205
Potosí Potosí 823 517 709 013 645 889
Chuquisaca Chuquisaca 576 153 531 522 453 756
Tarija Tarija 482 196 391 226 291 407
Oruro Oruro 494 178 391 870 340 114
Beni Beni 421 196 362 521 276 174
Pando Pando 110 436 52 525 38 072

Since Bolivia continues to lay claim to the Chilean Región de Antofagasta , this is known as the tenth Litoral Department .

The autonomous departments according to the new constitution of 2009 are ruled by a governor (gobernador) . Previously, the departments were headed by prefects, who were appointed by the president until 2005 , before they were elected for the first and only time by the people on December 18, 2005, as a concession to aspirations for autonomy. Five years later, the first sub-national elections took place, in which the governors, the sub-governors ( Subgobernador or Ejecutivo Seccional ), the mayors and the parliaments (Asamblea Legislativa Departamental) were elected at the same time .

The departments themselves are divided into a total of 112 provinces (provincias) , which are administered and designed by the elected sub-governor. The provinces are in turn subdivided into 339 autonomous municipalities . Municipios comprise a number of localities and are further divided into districts (previously cantons).

Municipios and provinces, which have a somewhat homogeneous structure, can optionally join together to form an autonomous region. In addition, indigenous communities in rural areas can form autonomous indigenous areas (Territorios indígena originario campesinos) . The first autonomous area was created in 2017 in the Municipio Charagua .

The interests of the municipality vis-à-vis the departmental and state levels are defended by associations that are organized and institutionalized in the umbrella organization Federación de Asociaciones Municipales de Bolivia (FAM - Bolivia). For this purpose, Municipios can also form so-called Mancomunidades , a kind of municipal association.

At the municipal level there are elected mayors ( Alcaldes ) , in larger cities and municipalities there is also an elected city ​​council (Consejo municipal) .


Plaza Pedro D. Murillo in La Paz

The official capital of Bolivia is Sucre , but the seat of government is in La Paz , the urban area of ​​which lies at altitudes between 3200 m and 4100 m. This makes La Paz the highest seat of government on earth. Other large cities at 4,000 m and higher are El Alto , a district of La Paz until 1985, and Potosí . By far the largest city in Bolivia, on the other hand, is Santa Cruz de la Sierra , the capital of the department of the same name, which is considered the economic engine of the country.

The largest cities in Bolivia, ranked by the number of their inhabitants in 2012 (census) and 2005 (census), are:

city Department VZ 2012 Z 2005
Santa Cruz de la Sierra Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 1 441 406 1 113 582
El Alto La Paz La Paz 842 378 647 350
La Paz La Paz La Paz 757 184 789 585
Cochabamba Cochabamba Cochabamba 630 587 516 683
Oruro Oruro Oruro 264 683 201 230
Sucre Chuquisaca Chuquisaca 237 480 193 876
Tarija Tarija Tarija 179 528 135 783
Potosí Potosí Potosí 174 973 132 966
Sacaba Cochabamba Cochabamba 149 563 92 581


Consumer price index in Bolivia and four other states in northwestern South America , 1994–2004
A large part of the population works in the informal economy : Bolivia's President symbolically shining his shoes

Despite its wealth in mineral resources (previously mainly silver and tin), Bolivia was for a long time the poorest and weakest exporting country in South America ; its nominal gross domestic product per inhabitant was only 3,197 US dollars per capita in 2016. Two thirds of the population lived in poverty in 2006, 40 percent even in extreme poverty, although Bolivia had the largest free, i.e. H. without simultaneous oil production has exploitable natural gas reserves in South America. The Gini coefficient , which measures the distribution of social wealth, was 0.6, which means a strong inequality of social income. 10% of the population have 40% of the total income.

Since the natural gas industry was successfully nationalized after Evo Morales took over government, government revenues have increased significantly. At the same time, the customs and tax authorities were also strengthened, so that from this side too, a multiple of the income goes to the state. Exports increased about tenfold in the period 2000–2013, extreme poverty was greatly reduced and with it inequality. Due to the higher growth compared to most countries in the region and the stable monetary policy, the population of Bolivia today (as of 2015) achieves a standard of living that is comparable to many other countries in the region.

Another important factor in the meantime was the trade treaty of the peoples (Spanish: Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos (TCP)), which was signed on April 29, 2006 by the presidents of Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba. In this agreement, Venezuela and Cuba undertake to buy Bolivian soybeans and to support Bolivia in its literacy and health care programs and in the establishment of a national Bolivian airline. During Evo Morales' presidency, these three countries maintained close economic and diplomatic ties.

The new constitution adopted in 2009 (see above) provides for a new, “pluralistic” economic model for Bolivia. According to constitutional text, the country seeks a mixed model of government, the public - and private-sector economy with social control. In addition to strong Keynesian elements, the model contains sustainability elements from indigenous thinking .

From a regional point of view, one can see a multipolar structure in Bolivia. Santa Cruz is traditionally the most advanced industrial center - only the up-and-coming twin metropolis La Paz / El Alto shows a similarly high level of activity. The focus of natural gas production, which is so important for the country, is in the south. The Oruro Carnival Center is an important transshipment point for imported goods; the largest mining sites are located in its vicinity. After all, a popular location for major international events is Cochabamba, which is centrally located and also has a favorable climate .

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Bolivia was ranked 121st out of 138 countries (2016-2017). In 2017, Bolivia was ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index . State intervention in the economy rose sharply under Evo Morales' government.

Economic figures

Statistical information on the economy of Bolivia based on the CIA factbook and information from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

  • GDP ( PPP ): US $ 78.66 billion (2016 estimate)
  • GDP - real growth rate: 4.1% (2016 estimate)
  • GDP per inhabitant ( PPP ): US $ 7,200 (2016 estimate)
  • GDP by sector:
    • Agriculture: 12.9%
    • Industry: 29.3%
    • Services: 57.7% (2016 estimate)
  • Population below the poverty line: 38.6% (2011 estimate) (New definition: people who live on less than US $ 2 a day)
  • Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.6% (2016 estimate)
  • Employable population: 4.993 million (2016 estimate)
  • Unemployment rate: 4.1% (2016 estimate)
  • Budget:
    • Income: $ 14.69 billion
    • Spending: US $ 16.93 billion (2016 estimate)
  • Industry: mining, petroleum, food and alcohol, tobacco, clothing
  • Industrial production growth: 6.2% (2016 estimate)
  • Electricity - Generation: 6.611 billion kWh (2011 estimate)
  • Electricity consumption: 6.301 billion kWh (2011 estimate)
  • Import partners: China 17.9%, Brazil 16.5%, Argentina 11.8%, USA 10.6%, Peru 6.2%, Japan 5.2% (2016)
  • Export partners: Brazil 28.1%, Argentina 16.9%, USA 12.1%, Colombia 6.3%, People's Republic of China 5.3%, Japan 4.7% (2016)
  • External debt: US $ 5.451 billion (estimate December 31, 2011)
  • Currency: 1 boliviano (BOB) = 100 centavos

Development of the key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
10.8 billion 12.6 billion 16.4 billion 22.6 billion 29.2 billion 38.1 billion 41.2 billion 44.2 billion 47.9 billion 49.9 billion 52.6 billion 56.4 billion 60.4 billion 65.6 billion 70.4 billion 74.6 billion 78.8 billion 83.6 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
2,090 2,080 2,442 2,994 3,497 4,180 4,439 4,685 4,987 5,109 5,298 5,599 5,900 6,303 6,663 6,955 7,229 7,547
GDP growth
0.6% −1.7% 4.6% 4.7% 2.5% 4.4% 4.8% 4.6% 6.1% 3.4% 4.1% 5.2% 5.1% 6.8% 5.5% 4.9% 4.3% 4.2%
(in percent)
47.1% 11,749.6
17.1% 10.2% 4.6% 5.4% 4.3% 6.6% 14.0% 3.3% 2.5% 9.9% 4.5% 5.7% 5.8% 4.1% 3.6% 2.8%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... ... ... 67% 82% 54% 40% 37% 39% 38% 35% 35% 36% 37% 41% 46% 51%


Bolivian alpaca herder

A relatively large part of the population is still employed in agriculture. Only in the tropical lowlands in the east are there reasonably modern farms, whereas in the Altiplano with its climatically unfavorable growing conditions and in the indigenous communities of the country, traditional subsistence-based cultivation is practiced. In addition, in the dry there Punaregion an extensive remote pasture with alpacas that the transhumance of the old world is very similar. The demand for alpaca wool leads to a stronger market orientation of the pasture industry and consequently to changes in livestock technology and migration cycles. However, increased use can endanger the fragile ecosystem. This also applies to the great efforts of the Bolivian state, which is trying to integrate subsistence farmers into the market economy, since this is always associated with an intensification of cultivation. With government support, the exportability of products such as quinoa , Brazil nuts and cocoa is being promoted. On the other hand, with the promotion of wheat cultivation, the import demand for wheat flour is reduced.

The controversial coca cultivation remains one of the main industries in the country, especially in the Yungas and Chapare regions . The USA is trying to prevent it, but it should be borne in mind that coca is not only a raw material for cocaine , but is used by the population of the entire Andean region as a medicinal product, whether as tea (mate de coca) or for chewing. A fierce dispute has broken out between the government and the coca farmers over coca cultivation, which led to the chaotic political situation of 2002–2003. Long-time president Evo Morales is a leader of the Cocalero (coca farming) movement.


Bolivia satellite image
Salt lake Salar de Uyuni

From the colonial era to the middle of the 20th century, the Bolivian economy was mainly characterized by mining ( silver and tin ). As a result of the fall in raw material prices in the second half of the 20th century and the increasing depletion of raw material sources, the revenues from mining have fallen dramatically and many miners have been laid off. However, mining could possibly regain its importance with the development of the " El Mutún " ( iron ore ) region and even more with lithium :

The Salar de Uyuni salt lake in southwestern Bolivia is home to the world's largest known deposit of this light metal with an estimated 46.5 million tons of mineable lithium deposits. The state mining authority COMIBOL began building a pilot plant for the extraction and processing of lithium in May 2008. Due to the increasing production of lithium-ion batteries , a boom in demand is predicted for lithium.

In 2008, the then President Evo Morales prevented a foreign company from obtaining the mining rights and exporting the lithium salt. On April 30, 2021, President Luis Arce and the state group Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) announced that mining and industrial processing should be strongly developed by 2025.

Energy industry

Natural gas and oil

The promotion of energy resources is now of paramount importance for Bolivia . Bolivia has South America's third largest natural gas reserves , with most of the deposits in the southern departments of Tarija and Chuquisaca. The reserves certified in 2013 will extend to 2025 if the current production capacity is maintained. Due to intensive exploration activities in cooperation with international groups such as Total , Repsol , BG Group and Petrobras , a considerable expansion of these reserves is expected. Deposits are also being sought in the departments of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and La Paz. Around 80 percent of the natural gas produced is exported, mainly to Brazil and Argentina. After the privatization of important industries under the Ley de Capitalización of 1994, the new government under President Evo Morales restored the “sovereignty of the Bolivian people over their most important resources” in 2006 by making the gas exploration and processing companies active in the country obliged to renegotiate with the state YPFB ( Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos ) was imposed. With the signing of all new contracts to be negotiated in December 2006, the Bolivian government now controls the country's natural gas reserves and the foreign companies operating there. According to the new constitution of 2009, YPFB has a monopoly on fossil fuels, from extraction to marketing, but may enter into joint ventures in certain areas, whereby YPFB must always hold at least 51 percent of the shares.

Until around 2008, Bolivia was a net exporter of small amounts of petroleum and oil products. Since then, however, the country has had to import increasing quantities of refined oil products (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc.) because its own refinery capacities are still too small and consumption is rising sharply. However, YPFB has started an investment program that is intended to cover fuel requirements from 2016 and will also reduce the import dependency on diesel again. In addition, further investments will be made in the capacities for liquefied natural gas, which are mainly required for domestic consumption.

Electricity supply

In 2012, Bolivia was 102nd in terms of annual generation with 6.944 billion kWh and 119th in the world for installed capacity with 1,365 MW. The installed capacity in 2011 was 1,221 MW, of which caloric power plants accounted for 745 MW and hydropower plants for 475 MW. Electricity consumption rose from 2.7 billion kWh in 1996 to 6.2 billion kWh in 2011. By 2022, electricity consumption is expected to increase to 13.7 billion kWh.

The utility frequency in Bolivia is 50 Hz . In addition to the state electricity supplier Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ENDE), there are a number of other electricity producers, several distribution network operators and three transmission network operators . In Bolivia there is an integrated network , the Sistema Interconectado Nacional (SIN) and various island networks . The generation capacity of the island grids was 179 MW in 2013. A number of island grids are to be connected to the SIN by 2025.

In 2001, 64% of the population were connected to the electricity grid (89% of the city dwellers, but only 25% of the rural population). By 2010 these values ​​rose to 77% (90% urban, 53% rural). By 2025, all Bolivian residents should then have access to the electricity grid.

There are ambitious plans to expand the hydropower energy supply system on various rivers in Bolivia in order to export the excess electricity. The hydropower potential is estimated at 20,000 MW. At the Río Beni z. For example, the El Bala power plant is planned with 1,600–4,000 MW.

The President of Bolivia, Evo Morales , also intends to use nuclear energy in the longer term . In 2015, an agreement was signed between Russia's ROSATOM and Bolivia, which provides for cooperation in this area. A research center is to be built in El Alto from 2016 .


The industry is underdeveloped; the main branches of industry are the food industry and metal processing. The craft and simple workshop production still play an important role in many places. However, thanks to the multiplication of the national budget since the nationalizations from 2006 onwards, a number of larger industrial projects have been initiated, including a computer assembly, a petrochemical factory and a manufacturer of cardboard boxes.

However, there is only a relatively small amount of private investment in industrial plants. These are more aimed at small businesses, service providers and participation in the exploitation of natural raw materials.

In addition, the state is trying to capitalize on the diverse treasure trove of natural medicines and wild fruits. For example, Bolivia hopes to conquer foreign markets through the industrial production of coca products. For example, the Brazil nut , which is important for the Amazon region, has been successfully restored to exportability through targeted investments and, at the same time, further processing on site has been secured.


Street scene in La Paz
Quechua in Tuichi

Although tourism has grown rapidly in recent years, it is only of minor importance - in 2004 just 367,000 foreign visitors came to the country. Most tourists travel to the capital, to Lake Titicaca and to the Salar de Uyuni - only about 10% of tourists come from the vast Amazon basin with its 21 Bolivian national parks . These include the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park , for since 2000, World Heritage of UNESCO explained. In order to preserve these and many other beauties of the country, a large number of international and national organizations for the preservation of habitat and biodiversity have been formed, including PRODENA (Prodefensa Association of Nature), FOBOMADE (Foro Boliviano sobre Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo), LIDEMA (Liga de Defensa del Medio Ambiente), Eco Bolivia Foundation and TROPICO (Bolivian Conservation Association).

The natural beauty of the Altiplano, but also of the Amazon region, is appreciated by more and more foreigners. The locals are usually very attached to their homeland and travel, if at all, for family, health or official reasons. So there is hardly any mass tourism.

The main goals of tourism are:

An annual event with international attention is the Bolivian Carnival, with the Oruro Carnival as the most important event. There are a number of other high-quality destinations for photographers and nature lovers, including Tupiza (a small town in the south in a multi-colored mountainous landscape), the Yungas and the Cordillera de Sama nature reserve . The Valle Central de Tarija is popular with tourists from inland and northern Argentina due to its numerous wineries.

The tourist infrastructure is good in most cases and the prices are very low, especially for Europeans. In the larger cities there is a good selection of cheap and upscale hotels, in small towns, on the other hand, simpler accommodation is often required. In addition, there are efforts to promote community tourism (turismo comunitario) , where visitors can experience regional culture and nature very closely, for example in Chiquitania near Santa Cruz or in San Pedro de Sola near Tarija.

Although the majority of the population in Bolivia does not speak English, Bolivia has become a travel destination for backpackers after a network of youth hostels was established in Bolivia . However, the rising crime rate in the country has also led to an increase in assaults on tourists traveling alone. For example, it occasionally happens that tourists are robbed by fake taxi drivers and alleged police officers.

State budget

The consolidated national budget of Bolivia has expanded significantly since Evo Morales took over. While it was around 5.8 billion US dollars in 2006, it was already 28.1 billion US dollars in 2014. The government managed to achieve regular surpluses. The additional funds were channeled primarily into the education and health sectors , but infrastructure (electricity networks, gas pipelines, water supply, roads), social housing, industrialization and defense were also important issues. In contrast, funding from foreign donors has lost much of its importance. In 2005 it was still 8 percent and has decreased to below 2 percent over the years. The national debt was 42.1% of GDP in 2016.

Currency reserve

The international reserves of Bolivia, so the cumulative current account surplus of the country has increased tenfold to nearly since 2005 and amounted to US $ 15.3 billion in 2014 (compared to Germany 196.8 US $ billion, Switzerland 530.9 Billion US $; USA 138.1 billion US $). In relation to the gross domestic product, Bolivia is at a very high level and thus has a strong instrument for cushioning economic downturns. In 2015, some of the reserves had to be used in order to stimulate further economic growth despite the drop in oil prices.

Development of the currency reserves of Bolivia 2000–2015 (in million US $)
Source: Banco Central de Bolivia , accessed on June 13, 2016, graphic created by: Wikipedia .


In the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of the infrastructure, Bolivia was ranked 131st out of 160 countries in 2018. Most of the large and sparsely populated country is poorly developed.


85% of all goods and passenger traffic in the country take place on Bolivia's two-thirds unpaved road network. On the South American continent, which, compared to other regions of the world, has a serious lack of infrastructure, Bolivia takes one of the last places in terms of the area / road kilometers ratio. By 2001, only five percent of the roads were paved or concreted and the remaining roads were gravel. In the meantime, however, the road expansion is being pushed forward significantly and almost all roads between the large cities are completely paved. The entire road network covered around 80,488 km in 2010, of which 9,792 km are paved. The first four-lane interurban road was opened between La Paz and Oruro in February 2015. Due to the geographical conditions, however, stones are often lost, as many routes, especially in mountainous regions, run along large mountains or rocks. Since the climate is characterized by extensive rainy seasons , especially in the lowlands , mudslides can occur or roads can be completely flooded. Serious traffic accidents occur regularly due to poor road quality. In addition, many parts of the country have a difficult time getting fuel. Outside of the big cities, petrol or diesel is often only available a few days a week, and the amount sold is often limited. The national unit price for the two types of fuel available in August 2012 for domestic vehicles was 3.73 BOB / liter or approx. 0.43 € / liter. Since the fuel is subsidized by the state, significantly more is required for vehicles with foreign license plates.


The country's rail network comprises 3,700 km of single-track lines in meter gauge and meets the requirements of a modern rail network even less than the road network. The rail network is divided into two parts and belongs to two companies:

With the planned South American transcontinental railroad, a railway corridor is to be built across Bolivian territory from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast, which will facilitate both the movement of people and goods on the important west-east axis. This will connect the two Bolivian route networks for the first time.

Inland shipping

With one exception, inland shipping in the country is limited to the Bolivian lowlands, where the large river systems are navigable for a total length of around 5600 km:

Bolivia has access to the Atlantic via the international rivers Paraguay and Paraná via four inland ports: Puerto Aguirre , Puerto Gravetal , Puerto Suárez and Puerto Busch .

air traffic

The air traffic of Bolivia is served by the following airlines, among others:

  • BoA (Aerolínea Boliviana de Aviación) - state airline based in Cochabamba. It started flight operations in March 2009 and initially served the cities of La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. The cities of Sucre, Tarija and Cobija have also been served since mid-2009. In March 2010 the destination Buenos Aires in Argentina was added, later also Madrid and Miami, as well as Uyuni, Trinidad and Potosí.
  • TAM (Transporte Aereo Militar) - a local airline operated by the military that mainly serves hard-to-reach parts of the country.
  • Amas Bolivia - A smaller airline with small planes that flies to national and international destinations.
  • EcoJet - Cochabamba-based airline launched in 2013, which now flies to almost all parts of the country.
  • Avianca - a Colombian airline (also represented in the Star Alliance ), which mainly serves the South American region and flies to La Paz-El Alto airport in Bolivia .
  • LATAM - the largest aviation group in Latin America
  • Gol - a Brazilian airline that flies to Santa Cruz from São Paulo.
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas - the main Argentine airline with flights to Buenos Aires.
  • Air Europa - a Spanish airline that flies from Madrid to Santa Cruz.

The most important of the 37 Bolivian airports are the airport La Paz / El Alto , the Santa Cruz airport , the Cochabamba airport and the airport opened in 2016 Alcantarí in Sucre.

The following airlines are no longer active:

  • LAB - Bolivia's former main airline with destinations in South, Central and North America. No longer active since 2006 after various financial problems.
  • AeroSur - an airline founded in 1992, flights to various destinations in North, Central and South America, and later also to Europe. Operations ceased in 2012.

Space travel

With the launch of the first Bolivian communication satellite Tupac Katari on December 20, 2013 from the Chinese cosmodrome Xichang , Bolivia is the eighth country in South America with its own space apparatus. Rural residents in particular should benefit from space technology. In remote areas and difficult terrain, many communities have no telephones, radio or television. The ground stations for control by Bolivia's ABE space agency are in El Alto near La Paz and in the village of La Guardia in the lowland department of Santa Cruz.


Aymara with musical instruments
Dance the Tinku, Bolivian folklore

Bolivian culture reflects the diversity of the country's 35 ethnic groups, who live under the most diverse climatic and economic conditions and have accordingly developed different myths, rites, textiles, rhythms and dances.


In December 2008, President Morales declared the country illiterate-free after a three-year literacy campaign that saw some 820,000 people learn to read and write, as 97% of the population could now read and write. In 2001 the proportion of illiterate people was 14%.


In Bolivia, the constitution guarantees freedom of the press. Since most of the country's media companies can be classified more towards the liberal-conservative spectrum, they tend to be in opposition to the Morales government. That is why there is an occasional verbal exchange of blows between government representatives and the media, so that critical journalism has been pushed back somewhat in sensitive areas. Overall, however, Bolivia still has a lively media landscape. Every major city has several daily newspapers and a number of local radio stations. Some newspapers and television stations also have supraregional claims, including the papers La Razón , Página Siete , Los Tiempos , Opinión and El Deber as well as the stations ATB , Unitel and PAT . It is characterized by the lively use of reporters who promptly question representatives of public institutions, parties, associations, etc. on current issues. Newspapers usually have a multi-page opinion section with critical statements. It is mainly sold through street vendors, as the magazine trade and subscription are only slightly developed.

Informative journals on television, which report extensively on local events every day at lunchtime or in the evening, are very popular with the population. Radio stations often perform a similar function. State media tend to play a subordinate role. In addition to the internet portal , the television station Bolivia TV and the newspaper Cambio should be mentioned here. These media mainly report on government work and provide information about social programs, but also try to promote the integration of the regions and ethnic groups, for example, by positively portraying the diversity of the country and the traditions. In addition, local radio stations are operated in various national languages.

The focus of the music selection of most Bolivian radio stations is often local. American or even European music is only heard to a small extent by the general public. Salsa also only plays a subordinate role. Rather, it is on the one hand the Latin American classics between Mexico and Argentina and on the other hand current Latin pop music or the rhythms preferred in the respective regions that are most played and heard. Folklore has its permanent place in large sections of the population.

On the other hand, a more diverse spectrum is regularly played at parties and in discos. Eurodance , Modern Talking and Michael Jackson , for example, are always a part of this.

Jorge Sanjinés is considered the most important film director in Bolivia . Well-known recent films include Primavera by Joaquín Tapia Guerra and the political drama Forgotten by Carlos Bolado (both in 2014; Primavera was shown at the 2015 Berlinale ).


Elite sport

Football is the most popular sport in Bolivia, with the Bolivian national team traditionally being one of the weaker football teams in South America. Bolivia has so far taken part in three soccer World Cup finals, but was eliminated in the preliminary round - most recently in 1994. At the 2010 and 2014 World Cups , the team was eliminated in the respective qualifying rounds. The national team's greatest successes to date have been winning the Copa America in 1963 in their own country , second place in 1997 in their own country and a 6-1 win against Argentina on April 1, 2009 in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

The first football club was founded in Oruro in 1886 with the Oruro Royal club. The most famous clubs include:

In the US, Bolivian player Marco Etcheverry was called up to the Major League Soccer (MLS) team of the century , and DC United striker Jaime Moreno became the 2006 MLS top scorer.

The “Tahuichi” football academy also caused a stir. Founded in 1978, the academy's players won the 1986 U-16 South American Championship , and many players also took part in the 1994 World Cup. Bolivia was one of the best teams in South America at the time, and some players like Erwin Sánchez made the leap to Europe or the USA. However, this generation of players has not been active since qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.

Since 1995 there has also been a Bolivian national soccer team for women .

In addition to soccer, racquetball is also very popular. The Bolivian national teams for men and women are now among the best in the world. At the 2008 World Cup, the male selection managed to take fourth place while the women took second place. The teams have been in the top ten since the 1990s.

Other popular sports are alpinism , automobile sports , basketball , volleyball , mountain biking and road cycling (Tour of Bolivia).

Bolivia has taken part in the Summer Olympics 14 times, most recently in Rio de Janeiro with twelve athletes, but has not yet won a medal. Bolivia has participated in the Winter Games five times so far, most recently in 1992, but so far without success.

Popular sport

The Morales government has made promoting sport across the board a priority. Hundreds of sports fields have been built across the country in recent years, including small basketball and futsal fields, covered courts, large artificial turf fields and sports halls with spectator stands. Even remote, smaller towns and outskirts of cities now usually have such an offer. Training leaders are often paid by the state to look after the children of the local residents free of charge. Accordingly, sport also plays a major role in school. School teams in various ball sports, athletics and other disciplines regularly compete against each other in regional or national tournaments. In addition, some fitness trails and bike paths have been created for individual athletes, although these offers are still relatively rare.


Pique macho, a typical Bolivian meal consisting of beef, sausages, onions, bell pepper, egg and french fries with sauce.

The Bolivian cuisine shows similarities with the cuisines of the other Andean countries - Peru and Ecuador.

See also

Portal: Bolivia  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Bolivia


  • Katharina Nickoleit: Bolivia. A country portrait . Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-96289-042-1 .
  • Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragan, Xavier Albo, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale (Eds.): The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Duke University Press, Durham 2018, ISBN 978-0-8223-7152-6 .
  • Alix Arnold: Grandiose landscape and coveted raw material. The Salar de Tunupa / Uyuni in Bolivia is rich in beauty - and lithium. In: ila. Journal of the Information Center Latin America, 395, Bonn May 2016, pp. 38–39.
  • Peter Strack: Check, but not mate. Huáscar Salazar's left-wing criticism of the control of the indigenous communities by the Bolivian state. In: ila. Journal of the Information Center Latin America, 395, Bonn May 2016, pp. 20–21.
  • Benjamin Beutler: The white gold of the future. Bolivia and lithium. Rotbuch Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86789-126-4 .
  • Judith Grümmer, Max Steiner (eds.): Mosaico Boliviano - Bolivia in reports, interviews and snapshots. Steiner & Grümmer, Cologne 2011. ISBN 978-3-00-033447-4 . With contributions by Judith Grümmer, Max Steiner, Franziska Becker, Edwin Bustamante, current and former volunteers from Bolivia and many more. m.
  • Erich Riedler : Bolivia under Evo Morales - new beginning or old in new packaging? Nomos, Baden-Baden 2011. ISBN 978-3-8329-6930-1 .
  • Hella Braune, Frank Semper (2010): Nah Dran Bolivia. Hamburg.
  • Peter Gärtner, Monika Grabow, Muruchi Poma, Florian Quitzsch, Sven Schaller, Gabriele Töpferwein (eds.): Bolivia in Transition: The Difficult Path of a New Establishment . GNN Schkeuditz, Leipzig 2010, ISBN 978-3-89819-352-8 .
  • Robert Lessmann : The new Bolivia. Evo Morales and his democratic revolution. Rotpunktverl., Zurich 2010, ISBN 978-3-85869-403-4 .
  • Thomas Jäger (Ed.): Bolivia. State collapse as collateral damage. Wiesbaden 2009. ISBN 978-3-531-16890-6 .
  • Robert Lessmann: Bolivia: Between model case and ungovernability. In: Thomas Jäger (Ed.): Bolivia. State collapse as collateral damage. Wiesbaden 2009. ISBN 978-3-531-16890-6 . Pp. 37-64.
  • Johannes Rhomberg (2007): On the instrumentalization of ethnicity using the example of Bolivia - the architecture of a constructed antagonism, Vienna, University of Vienna
  • Thomas Fritz (2006): The looting is over. Bolivia's nationalization of the oil and gas industry. Edited by FDCL . Available online at:
  • Yesko Quiroga (2006): Revolution in Democracy. In: Institut für Ibero-Amerikakunde (Ed.), Latin America Analyzes, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 75–111. Hamburg.
  • Johannes Winter (2006): Bolivia - Poverty welds together. Approaches for an intercultural coexistence beyond all fragmentation. In: eins - Entwicklungspolitik Information Nord-Süd, vol. 11–12 (June), pp. 42–45, 2006.
  • Johannes Winter (2006): Regional development through agricultural colonization? Experience from Bolivia. In: Bolivia - Reports and Analyzes. No. 146, pp. 42-45. Available online in: Regional development through agricultural colonization? Experiences from Bolivia ( Memento from June 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  • Tangmar Marmon (2005): Bolivia has a choice: which path will the new president take? In: Focus Latin America 23/2005. Available online at:
  • Detlef Nolte (2005): Latin America: Political Institutions in Crisis? In: Focal Point Latin America, No. 8, April 2005
  • Johannes Winter, André Scharmanski (2005): Are the Andean states ungovernable? Causes of the political crisis in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. In: Zeitschrift Entwicklungspolitik 14/2005, pp. 30–34. Available online in: Are the Andean states ungovernable? ( Memento from June 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  • Johannes Winter: Integration processes in rural Bolivia. CeLA, Münster 2005. In: Integration processes in rural Bolivia ( Memento from October 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  • Robert Lessmann: For example: Bolivia. Lamuv, Göttingen 2004.
  • Simón Ramírez Voltaire (2004): New Democratic Forms in Bolivia? From the decentralized rebellion to the founding of the republic. In: Olaf Kaltmeier, Elisabeth Tuider , Jens Kastner : Neoliberalism - Autonomy - Resistance. Social Movements in Latin America. Muenster.
  • Herbert S. Klein (2003): A Concise History of Bolivia. Cambridge.
  • Hella Schlumberger: Bolivia, swaying cradle of freedom: land between cocaine militants and democrats. Bund-Verlag, Cologne 1985
  • Moema Viezzer: If I'm allowed to speak. Lamuv, Göttingen 1983.
  • Jorge Sanjinés and Oscar Zambrano: Cinema for the people - the Bolivian experience. In: Peter B. Schumann (Ed.): Cinema and Struggle in Latin America. On the theory and practice of political cinema. Carl Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1976, pp. 144–167

Web links

Commons : Bolivia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Bolivia  - geographical and historical maps
Wiktionary: Bolivia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
 Wikinews: Portal: Bolivia  - in the news
Wikivoyage: Bolivia  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Nueva Constitución Política del Estado. (pdf) Bolivia, October 2008, archived from the original on May 21, 2009 ; Retrieved on April 26, 2009 (Spanish): "The following indigenous languages ​​are recognized as official languages: Araona, Bau, Bésiro, Canichana, Cavineño, Cayubaba, Chácobo, Chimán, Ese ejja, Guaraní , Pauserna-Guarasug'wä , Guarayu, Itonama, Leco, Machajuyai-Kallawaya, Machineri , Maropa, Mojeño-trinitario , Mojeño-ignaciano , Moré, Mosetén , Movima, Pacawara, Puquina, Quechua , Sirionó, Tacana, Tapiete, Toromona, Uru-chipaya , Weenhayek , Yaminawá , Yukaré and Zamuco. "
  2. a b c Country information Bolivia Status: October 2012. In: Federal Foreign Office, accessed on February 11, 2013 .
  3. a b c d e BOLIVIA. In: The World Factbook .
  4. population, total. In: World Economic Outlook Database. World Bank , 2020, accessed February 1, 2021 .
  5. Population growth (annual%). In: World Economic Outlook Database. World Bank , 2020, accessed February 1, 2021 .
  6. World Economic Outlook Database October 2020. In: World Economic Outlook Database. International Monetary Fund , 2020, accessed February 1, 2021 .
  7. Table: Human Development Index and its components . In: United Nations Development Program (ed.): Human Development Report 2020 . United Nations Development Program, New York 2020, ISBN 978-92-1126442-5 , pp. 344 (English, [PDF]).
  9. ^ Organizacion de Estados Americanos: Constitucion de Bolivia. Retrieved January 11, 2020 (Spanish).
  10. Wirtschaftswoche: Bolivia: The island of economic stability - how much longer? Retrieved January 11, 2021 .
  11. Application instituting proceedings: Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) , April 24, 2013, accessed on October 5, 2018.
  12. Wording of the judgment .
  13. ↑ The court rejects Bolivia's right to access the sea. In: Deutsche Welle , October 1, 2018, accessed October 5, 2018.
  14. World Migration . In: International Organization for Migration . January 15, 2015 ( [accessed August 3, 2017]).
  15. Migration Report 2017. UN, accessed on September 30, 2018 (English).
  16. 2012 census (not taken into account: data without information on mother tongue). Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, accessed February 16, 2018 (Spanish).
  17. Instituto Nacional de Estadística ( Memento from September 25, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 12.2 MB)
  18. World Population Prospects - Population Division - United Nations. Retrieved July 14, 2017 .
  20. Robin Kiera: The great son of the city of Kassel? Grand Marshal Otto Philipp Braun as a symbol of local history politics , Kassel 2009
  21. Julius H. Krizsan: Escape destination Bolivia 1933–1945. A collection of materials
  22. ^ Sieghard and Sylvia Schartner: Bolivia: Refuge of the Conservative Mennonites . Asunción 2009.
  23. June Hannam, Mitzi Auchterlonie, Katherine Holden: International Encyclopedia of Women's Suffrage. ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford 2000, ISBN 1-57607-064-6 , p. 36.
  24. ^ Mart Martin: The Almanac of Women and Minorities in World Politics. Westview Press Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 41.
  25. DER SPIEGEL: Left shift in Bolivia: Morales nationalizes the oil and gas industry - DER SPIEGEL - Economy. Retrieved December 26, 2020 .
  26. GDP (current US $) - Bolivia | Data. Retrieved December 26, 2020 .
  27. Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population) - Bolivia | Data. Retrieved December 26, 2020 .
  28. eabolivia: Salario Mínimo Nacional en Bolivia 2019, Bs 2.122. Retrieved December 26, 2020 (European Spanish).
  29. ^ Bolivia's Road to Literacy. Retrieved December 26, 2020 (American English).
  30. Back to the Bible , SZ, February 10, 2020
  31. ^ What was Evo Morales' undoing , SRF, November 11, 2019; "The Constitutional Court under its influence"
  32. Un escándalo por la compra de respiradores provoca la destitución del ministro de Salud en Bolivia . In: BBC News Mundo . ( [accessed December 26, 2020]).
  33. Presidential election Bolivia: Bolivia: Left candidate wins election according to official count. Retrieved December 26, 2020 .
  34. Tribunal Constitucional permite a Evo Morales reelegirse para un cuarto mandato. El presidente de Bolivia podrá participar en las elecciones de 2019 después de que se suspendieran los artículos de la Constitución que prohibían la reelección . In: El País , November 29, 2018.
  35. ^ Fragile States Index: Global Data. Fund for Peace , 2020, accessed January 19, 2021 .
  36. ^ The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index. The Economist Intelligence Unit, accessed February 6, 2021 .
  37. ^ Countries and Territories. Freedom House , 2020, accessed January 19, 2021 .
  38. 2021 World Press Freedom Index. Reporters Without Borders , 2021, accessed May 1, 2021 .
  39. ^ Transparency International (Ed.): Corruption Perceptions Index . Transparency International, Berlin 2021, ISBN 978-3-96076-157-0 (English, [PDF]).
  40. Home | SIPRI. Retrieved July 10, 2017 .
  41. ^ Members of Mercosur
  42. a b INE - Instituto Nacional de Estadística Bolivia 2012 ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  43. a b Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) ( Memento from February 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  44. World Bank: Bolivia Country Brief, accessed June 30, 2008
  45. Muruchi Poma: The economic model of Bolivia. In: Quetzal. May 2009, accessed January 24, 2010 .
  46. [1]
  47. [2]
  48. a b See CIA World Factbook: Bolivia (English)
  49. See
  50. ^ Report for Selected Countries and Subjects. Retrieved September 5, 2018 (American English).
  51. Axel Borsdorf and Christoph Stadel: The Andes: A geographical portrait. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2013, ISBN 978-3-8274-2457-0 . Pp. 276-277.
  52. Nick Kaiser: No stupid farmers. In: Junge Welt. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2009 . and Benjamin Beutler: The white gold of the future. Bolivia and lithium. Rotbuch Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86789-126-4 .
  53. Florian Quitzsch: Bolivia and lithium: the entry into the post-petroleum age? In: Quetzal. September 2009, accessed April 3, 2011 . The lithium in Bolivia. In: Quetzal. January 2010, accessed April 3, 2011 . As well as Benjamin Beutler: The white gold of the future. Bolivia and lithium. Rotbuch Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86789-126-4 .
  54. Bolivia relies on increased production of lithium, May 1, 2021, accessed May 1, 2021.
  55. YPFB: Researvas 2013
  56. Plan de Expansión del Sistema Interconectado Nacional 2012–2022. (PDF 6.9 MB, pp. 15–16, 44) (No longer available online.) Ministerio Hidrocarburos y Energía, archived from the original on February 28, 2016 ; Retrieved February 28, 2016 (Spanish).
  57. a b c d Plan Eléctrico del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia 2025. (PDF 10.5 MB, pp. 15, 37, 40, 93, 95, 103, 111–116) CNDC, accessed on February 28, 2016 (Spanish) .
  58. Home. Comité Nacional de Despacho de Carga (CNDC), accessed February 28, 2016 (Spanish).
  59. El Gobierno company contrato para desarrollar proyecto El Bala. La Razón, July 6, 2015, accessed February 28, 2016 (Spanish).
  60. ^ Bolivia set to build nuclear research center. WNA , October 30, 2015, accessed February 24, 2016 .
  61. Species protection in Bolivia and Peru
  62. Bolivia: Travel and safety information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office , April 12, 2012
  63. Presentation of the 2014 budget (Spanish)
  64. ^ Report for Selected Countries and Subjects. Retrieved July 14, 2017 (American English).
  65. [3] (PDF)
  66. Global Rankings 2018 | Logistics Performance Index. Retrieved September 14, 2018 .
  67. Benjamin Beutler: Continent in a road emergency - In South America there is a lack of transport routes. Poverty, traffic insecurity and underdevelopment are the result. Internet portal, June 16, 2012, accessed on July 7, 2012 .
  68. 18 dead in bus accident ( Memento from April 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  69. Gasoline Gasoline, accessed on March 26, 2013 .
  70. Morales inaugura primera Aerolínea estatal boliviana. In: teleSUR. March 30, 2009, Retrieved March 31, 2009 (Spanish).
  71. ^ Fijan el 25 de mayo para el arranque de Alcantarí in Correo del Sur. April 1, 2016, accessed April 4, 2016 (Spanish)
  72. Morales declares illiteracy to be overcome. In: The Standard. December 21, 2008, accessed December 21, 2008 .
  73. IRF World Championships. (No longer available online.) In: International Racquetball Federation. Archived from the original on August 20, 2008 ; Retrieved March 7, 2009 .

Coordinates: 17 °  S , 65 °  W