Bolivia Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Bolivia Map Economy History

Chalalán Ecolodge Located in the heart of the Madidi National Park.
Fundacion Amigos de la Naturaleza - Bolivia

Facts About Bolivia

Background: Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups. Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in the 1980s, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and drug production. Current goals include attracting foreign investment, strengthening the educational system, continuing the privatization program, and waging an anti-corruption campaign.
Government type: republic
Capital: La Paz (seat of government); Sucre (legal capital and seat of judiciary)
Currency: 1 boliviano ($B) = 100 centavos

Geography of Bolivia

Location: Central South America, southwest of Brazil
Geographic coordinates: 17 00 S, 65 00 W
Map references: South America
total: 1,098,580 sq km
land: 1,084,390 sq km
water: 14,190 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 6,743 km
border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,400 km, Chile 861 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 900 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Climate: varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid
Terrain: rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rio Paraguay 90 m
highest point: Nevado Sajama 6,542 m
Natural resources: tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 24%
forests and woodland: 53%
other: 21% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,750 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: cold, thin air of high plateau is obstacle to efficient fuel combustion, as well as to physical activity by those unaccustomed to it from birth; flooding in the northeast (March-April)
Environment - current issues: the clearing of land for agricultural purposes and the international demand for tropical timber are contributing to deforestation; soil erosion from overgrazing and poor cultivation methods (including slash-and-burn agriculture); desertification; loss of biodiversity; industrial pollution of water supplies used for drinking and irrigation.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:  Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
Geography - note: landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru

More Geography

People of Bolivia

Bolivia's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 56%-70% indigenous people and 30%-42% European and mixed. The largest of the approximately three dozen indigenous groups are the Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani. There are small German, former Yugoslav, Asian, Middle Eastern, and other minorities, many of whose members descend from families that have lived in Bolivia for several generations.

The great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic (the official religion), although Protestant denominations are expanding strongly. Many indigenous communities interweave pre-Columbian and Christian symbols in their religious practices. About half of the people speak Spanish as their first language. Approximately 90% of the children attend primary school but often for a year or less. The literacy rate is low in many rural areas.

The cultural development of what is present-day Bolivia is divided into three distinct periods: pre-Columbian, colonial, and republican. Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important pre-Columbian cultures. Major ruins include Tiwanaku, Samaipata, Incallajta, and Iskanwaya. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and hardly explored by archaeologists.

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

Population: 8,857,870 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  38.46% 
15-64 years:  57.07% 
65 years and over:  4.47%
Population growth rate: 1.76%
Birth rate: 27.27 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 8.2 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -1.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 58.98 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  64.06 years
male:  61.53 years
female:  66.72 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.51 children born/woman 
noun: Bolivian(s)
adjective: Bolivian
Ethnic groups: Quechua 30%, Aymara 25%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, white 15%
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist)
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.1%
male: 90.5%
female: 76% (1995 est.)

More about the Population

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Bolivia Map Economy History