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Plurinational State of Bolivia
Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
Bulibya Mamallaqta  (Quechua)
Wuliwya Suyu  (Aymara)
Tetã Volívia  (Guaraní)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"¡La unión es la fuerza!"  (Spanish)
"Unity is the strength!"
AnthemBolivianos, el hado propicio  (Spanish)
Wiphala of Qulla Suyu:
Wiphala of Qulla Suyu
Capital Sucre (constitutional capital)[1]
19°2′S 65°15′W / 19.033°S 65.25°W / -19.033; -65.25

La Paz (seat of government)
16°30′S 68°09′W / 16.5°S 68.15°W / -16.5; -68.15

Largest city Santa Cruz de la Sierra
17°48′S 63°10′W / 17.8°S 63.167°W / -17.8; -63.167
Official language(s) Spanish, and 36 native languages co-officials[2]
Ethnic groups  30% Mestizo, 30% Quechua, 25% Aymara, 15% White[3]
Demonym Bolivian
Government Unitary Presidential republic
 -  President Evo Morales
 -  Vice President Álvaro García
 -  from Spain August 6, 1825 
 -  Total 1,098,581 km2 (28th)
424,163 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.29
 -  2010 Calculation: 10,907,778[5] estimate 9,775,246[4] (84th)
 -  2001 census 8,280,184 
 -  Density 8.9/km2 (210th)
23/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $45.488 Billion[5] 
 -  Per capita $4,345[5] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $17.549 Billion[5] 
 -  Per capita $2,900[5] 
Gini (2002) 60.1 (high
HDI (2007) 0.729[6] (medium) (113th)
Currency Boliviano (BOB)
Time zone (UTC-4)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .bo
Calling code +591

Coordinates: 16°42′43″S 64°39′58″W / 16.712°S 64.666°W / -16.712; -64.666 Bolivia, officially known as : The Plurinational State of Bolivia,[7][8] is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west.

Prior to European colonization, the Bolivian territory was a part of the Inca Empire, which was the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called Upper Peru or Charcas and was under the administration of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which included most of Spain's South American colonies. After declaring independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the republic, named for Simón Bolívar, on August 6, 1825. Bolivia has struggled through periods of political instability, dictatorships and economic woes.

Bolivia is a democratic republic, divided into nine departments. Its geography is varied from the peaks of the Andes in the west, to the eastern lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country, with a medium Human Development Index score, and a poverty level around 60%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, and fishing, mining and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals especially tin.

The Bolivian population, estimated at 9 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common. The large number of different cultures within Bolivia has contributed greatly to a wide diversity in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.



Bolivian Declaration of Independence in the Casa de la Libertad, Sucre.

The word Bolivia is derived from Bolívar, the last name of the famous American Libertador Simón Bolívar. The name came about when Antonio Jose de Sucre was given the option by Bolivar to either keep Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia) under the newly formed Republic of Peru, to unite with the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, or to formally declare its independence from the Viceroyalty of Peru that had dominated most of the region. Sucre opted to create a new nation and, with local support, named it in honor of Simón Bolívar.[9]

However, the original name given to the newly formed country was Republic of Bolívar. The name would not change to Bolivia until some days later when congressman Manuel Martín Cruz proposed: "If from Romulus comes Rome, then from Bolívar comes Bolivia" (Spanish: Si de Rómulo Roma, de Bolívar Bolivia). The name stuck and was approved by the republic on October 3, 1825.


Tiwanaku at its largest territorial extent, AD 950

The region that is now known as Bolivia has been constantly occupied for over 2000 years, when the Aymara arrived in the region. Present-day Aymara associate themselves with an advanced civilization situated at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates as early as 1500 BC as a small agriculturally based village.[10]

The community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. According to early estimates, at its maximum extent, the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometres, and had between 15,000 – 30,000 inhabitants.[11] However, satellite imaging was used recently to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.[12]

Around AD 400, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state. Tiwanaku expanded its reaches into the Yungas and brought its culture and way of life to many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. However, Tiwanaku was not a violent culture in many aspects. In order to expand its reach Tiwanaku became very political creating colonies, trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependant), and state cults.[13]

The empire continued to grow with no end in sight. William H. Isbell states that "Tiahuanaco underwent a dramatic transformation between AD 600 and 700 that established new monumental standards for civic architecture and greatly increased the resident population."[14] Tiwanaku continued to absorb cultures rather than eradicate them. Archaeologists have seen a dramatic adoption of Tiwanaku ceramics in the cultures who became part of the Tiwanaku empire. Tiwanaku gained its power through the trade it implemented between all of the cities within its empire.[13]

The elites gained their status by the surplus of food they gained from all of the regions and then by having the ability to redistribute the food among all the people. This is where the control of llama herds became very significant to Tiwanaku. The llama herds were essential for carrying goods back and forth between the centre and the periphery as well as symbolizing the distance between the commoners and the elites. Their power continued to grow in this manner of a surplus of resources until about AD 950. At this time a dramatic shift in climate occurred.[15]

At this point in time there was a significant drop in precipitation for the Titicaca Basin. Some archaeologists even venture to say that a great drought occurred. As the rain became less and less many of the cities further away from Lake Titicaca began to produce fewer crops to give to the elites. As the surplus of food ran out for the elites their power began to fall. The capital city became the last place of production, due to the resiliency of the raised fields, but in the end even the intelligent design of the fields was no match for the weather. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1000 because food production, their main source of power, dried up. The land was not inhabited for many years after that.[15]

Inca expansion (1438–1527)

Between 1438 and 1527, the Incan empire, on a mass expansion, acquired much of what is now western Bolivia. The Incans wouldn't maintain control of the region for long however, as the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak. As such, the Spanish conquest would be remarkably easy.

Colonial period

The Spanish conquest began in 1524 and was mostly completed by 1533. The territory now called Bolivia was then known as "Upper Peru" and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in Chuquisaca (La Plata—modern Sucre). Founded in 1545 as a mining town, Potosí soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming largest city in the New World with a population exceeding 150,000 people.[16]

By the late 16th century Bolivian silver was an important source of revenue for the Spanish Empire.[17] A steady stream of natives served as labor force (the Spanish employed the pre-Columbian draft system called the mita).[18] Upper Peru was bounded to Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776. Túpac Katari led the indigenous rebellion that laid siege to La Paz in March of 1781, during which 20,000 people died.[19] As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew.

Independence and subsequent wars

The struggle for independence started in 1809, and after 16 years of war the republic was proclaimed on August 6, 1825, named for Simón Bolívar.

In 1836, Bolivia, under the rule of Marshal Andrés de Santa Cruz, invaded Peru to reinstall the deposed president, General Luis José de Orbegoso. Peru and Bolivia formed the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, with de Santa Cruz as the Supreme Protector. Following tension between the Confederation and Chile, Chile declared war on December 28, 1836. Argentina, Chile's ally, declared war on the Confederation on May 9, 1837. The Peruvian-Bolivian forces achieved several major victories during the War of the Confederation: the defeat of the Argentinian expedition and the defeat of the first Chilean expedition on the fields of Paucarpata near the city of Arequipa.

On the same field the Paucarpata Treaty was signed with the unconditional surrender of the Chilean and Peruvian rebel army. The treaty stipulated that Chile withdraw from Peru-Bolivia, return captured Confederate ships, economic relations would be normalized, and the Confederation would pay Peruvian debt to Chile. In Chile public outrage over the treaty forced the government to reject it. Chile organized a second attack on the Confederation and defeated it in the Battle of Yungay. After this defeat, Santa Cruz resigned and went to exile in Ecuador and then Paris, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation was dissolved.

Following the independence of Peru, Peruvian president General Agustín Gamarra invaded Bolivia. The Peruvian army was decisively defeated at the Battle of Ingavi on November 20, 1841, where Gamarra was killed. The Bolivian army under General José Ballivián then mounted a counter-offensive managing to capture the Peruvian port of Arica. Later, both sides signed a peace treaty, the Declaration of Independence of Bolivia, in 1842, putting a final end to the war.

Economic instability and continued wars

A period of political and economic instability in the early to mid-19th century weakened Bolivia. Then in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) against Chile, it lost its access to the sea and the adjoining rich salitre (saltpeter) fields, together with the port of Antofagasta.

Since its independence, Bolivia has lost over half of its territory to neighboring countries in wars. It also lost the state of Acre, in the Acre War; this region was (known for its production of rubber). Peasants and the Bolivian army fought briefly but after a few victories, and facing the prospect of a total war against Brazil, it was forced to sign the Treaty of Petrópolis in 1903, in which Bolivia lost this rich territory.

In the late 19th century, an increase in the world price of gold brought Bolivia relative prosperity and political stability. During the early 20th century, tin replaced gold as the country's most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled by the economic and social elite followed laissez-faire capitalist policies through the first thirty years of the 20th century.[citation needed]

Living conditions of the native people, who constitute most of the population, remained deplorable. With work opportunities limited to primitive conditions in the mines and in large estates having nearly feudal status, they had no access to education, economic opportunity, and political participation. Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932–35), where Bolivia lost a great part of the Gran Chaco region in dispute, marked a turning-point.[20][21][22]

Nationalist Revolutionary Movement

A llama in the Laguna Colorada, a shallow salt lake in the southwestern Bolivian sector of the Altiplano.

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

Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Estenssoro at the outset of his third term. The 1969 death of President René Barrientos Ortuño, a former member of the junta elected president in 1966, led to a succession of weak governments. Alarmed by the rising Popular Assembly and the increase in popularity of The Presidente Juan Jose Torres, the military, the MNR, and others installed Coronel (later General) Hugo Banzer Suárez as president in 1971.

Banzer ruled with MNR support from 1971 to 1974. Then, impatient with schisms in the coalition, he replaced civilians with members of the armed forces and suspended political activities. The economy grew impressively during most of Banzer's presidency, but human rights violations and eventual fiscal crises undercut his support. He was forced to call elections in 1978, and Bolivia again entered a period of political turmoil.

Military governments: García Meza and Siles Zuazo

Elections in 1979 and 1981 were inconclusive and marked by fraud. There were coups d'état, counter-coups, and caretaker governments. In 1980, General Luis García Meza Tejada carried out a ruthless and violent coup d'état that did not have popular support. He pacified the people by promising to remain in power only for one year. (At the end of the year, he staged a televised rally to claim popular support and announced, "Bueno, me quedo," or, "All right; I'll stay [in office]."[23] He was deposed shortly thereafter.) His government was notorious for human-rights-abuses, narcotics-trafficking, and economic mismanagement; during his presidency, the inflation that later crippled the Bolivian economy could already be felt. Later convicted in absentia for various crimes, including murder, García Meza was extradited from Brazil and began serving a 30-year sentence in 1995.

After a military rebellion forced out Meza in 1981, three other military governments in 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing problems. Unrest forced the military to convoke the Congress elected in 1980 and allow it to choose a new chief executive. In October 1982, Hernán Siles Zuazo again became president, 22 years after the end of his first term of office (1956–60).

Sánchez de Lozada and Banzer: Liberalizing the economy

Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform agenda. The most dramatic reform was the "capitalization" program, under which investors, typically foreign, acquired 50% ownership and management control of public enterprises, such as the state oil corporation, telecommunications system, airlines, railroads, and electric utilities, in return for agreed upon capital investments.

The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain segments of society, which instigated frequent and sometimes violent protests, particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994 through 1996. The de Lozada government pursued a policy of offering monetary compensation for voluntary eradication of illegal coca by its growers in the Chapare region. The policy produced little net reduction in coca, and in the mid-1990s Bolivia accounted for about one-third of the world's coca that was being processed into cocaine. The coca leaf has long been part of the Bolivian culture, as indigenous workers have traditionally used the leaf for its properties as a mild stimulant and appetite suppressant.

During this time, the umbrella labor-organization of Bolivia, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), became increasingly unable to effectively challenge government policy. A teachers' strike in 1995 was defeated because the COB could not marshal the support of many of its members, including construction and factory workers. The state also used selective martial law to keep the disruptions caused by the teachers to a minimum. The teachers were led by Trotskyites, and were considered to be the most militant union in the COB. Their downfall was a major blow to the COB, which also became mired in internal corruption and infighting in 1996.

In the 1997 elections, General Hugo Banzer, leader of the Nationalist Democratic Action party (ADN) and former dictator (1971–1978), won 22% of the vote, while the MNR candidate won 18%. General Banzer formed a coalition of the ADN, MIR, UCS, and CONDEPA parties, which held a majority of seats in the Bolivian Congress. The Congress elected him as president, and he was inaugurated on August 6, 1997. During the election-campaign, Banzer had promised to suspend the privatization of the state-owned oil-company, YPFB. But this seemed unlikely to happen, considering Bolivia's weak position globally. The Banzer government basically continued the free-market and privatization-policies of its predecessor.

The relatively robust economic growth of the mid-1990s continued until about the third year of its term in office. After that, regional, global and domestic factors contributed to a decline in economic growth. Financial crises in Argentina and Brazil, lower world prices for export-commodities, and reduced employment in the coca-sector depressed the Bolivian economy. The public also perceived a significant amount of public-sector corruption. These factors contributed to increasing social protests during the second half of Banzer's term.[citation needed]

At the outset of his government, President Banzer launched a policy of using special police-units to physically eradicate the illegal coca of the Chapare region. The policy produced a sudden and dramatic four-year decline in Bolivia's illegal coca-crop, to the point that Bolivia became a relatively small supplier of coca for cocaine. Those left unemployed by coca-eradication streamed into the cities, especially El Alto, the slum-neighborhood of La Paz. The MIR of Jaime Paz Zamora remained a coalition-partner throughout the Banzer government, supporting this policy (called the Dignity Plan).[citation needed]

On August 6, 2001, Banzer resigned from office after being diagnosed with cancer. He died less than a year later. Vice President Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez completed the final year of his term.

In the June 2002 national elections, former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (MNR) placed first with 22.5% of the vote, followed by coca-advocate and native peasant-leader Evo Morales (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) with 20.9%. Morales edged out populist candidate Manfred Reyes Villa of the New Republican Force (NFR) by just 700 votes nationwide, earning a spot in the congressional run-off against Sánchez de Lozada on August 4, 2002.

A July agreement between the MNR and the fourth-place MIR, which had again been led in the election by former President Jaime Paz Zamora, virtually ensured the election of Sánchez de Lozada in the congressional run-off, and on August 6 he was sworn in for the second time. The MNR platform featured three overarching objectives: economic reactivation (and job creation), anti-corruption, and social inclusion.

In 2003 the Bolivian gas conflict broke out. On October 12, 2003 the government imposed martial law in El Alto after sixteen people were shot by the police and several dozen wounded in violent clashes which erupted when a caravan of oil trucks escorted by police and soldiers deploying tanks and heavy-caliber machine guns tried to breach a barricade. On 17 October 2003 Evo Morales' supporters from Cochabamba tried to march into Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the largest city of the eastern lowlands where support was strong for the president. They were turned back. Faced with the option of resigning or more bloodshed, Sanchez de Lozada offered his resignation in a letter to an emergency session of Congress. After his resignation was accepted and his vice president, Carlos Mesa, invested, he left on a commercially scheduled flight for the United States.

In March 2004, the new president Carlos Mesa announced that his government would hold a series of rallies around the country, and at its embassies abroad, demanding that Chile return to Bolivia a stretch of seacoast that the country lost in 1884 after the end of the War of the Pacific. Chile has traditionally refused to negotiate on the issue, but Mesa nonetheless made this policy a central point of his administration.

However, the country's internal situation became unfavorable for such political action on the international stage. After a resurgence of gas protests in 2005, Carlos Mesa attempted to resign in January 2005, but his offer was refused by Congress. On March 22, 2005, after weeks of new street protests from organizations accusing Mesa of bowing to U.S. corporate interests, Mesa again offered his resignation to Congress, which was accepted on June 10. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez, was sworn as interim president to succeed the outgoing Carlos Mesa.

Plan de Todos

Mobilizing against neoliberalism as a common enemy, the indigenous population of the Andean region was able to achieve widespread government reform [24]. Bolivia, in particular, was quite successful due to the prominence of an indigenous population and the persistence of reformist policies. In 1993, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada ran for presidency in alliance with the Tupac Katari Revolutionary Liberation Movement, which inspired indigenous-sensitive and multicultural-aware policies [25]. Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (colloquially known as Gonzi) was able to shift Bolivian society by selling state firms and constitutionally acknowledging the existence of a multicultural and multiethnic population. Current development has led to a neoliberal citizenship regime in which civil rights are expressed through private property ownership, formal democracy and representation, and an investment in the maintaining of infrastructure.

In the 1990s, Bolivia introduced, the Plan de Todos, which led to the decentralization of government, introduction of bilingual education, implementation of agrarian legislation, and privatization of state owned businesses. The Plan de Todos main incentive was to encourage popular participation among the Bolivian people. The law recognizes the existence of Barrios and rural communities as Territorially Based Organizations (TBOs) and has oversight boards known as rómiles de agilancia, or vigilance committees, that are responsible for overseeing municipal governments and planning projects. The Plan formally acknowledged the existence of 311 municipalities, which benefited directly based on the size of their populations. The Plan de Todos inspired the development of a market democracy with minimally regulated capitalist economy. The Plan explicitly stated that Bolivian citizens would own a minimum of 51% of enterprises; under the Plan, most state owned enterprises (SOEs), besides mines, were sold [26]. This privatization of SOEs led to innovative neoliberal structuring that acknowledged a diverse population within Bolivia [27].

The Law of Popular Participation [28] gave municipalities the responsibility of maintaining various infrastructures (and offering services): health, education, systems of irrigation, which stripped the responsibility away from the state. The state provides municipalities with twenty percent of federal tax revenue so that each municipality can adequately maintain these infrastructures. The Law also redistributes political power to the local level.

Bolivia under the Morales administration

La Paz skyline. The city is the highest capital in the world.

The 2005 Bolivian presidential election was held on December 18, 2005. The two main candidates were Juan Evo Morales Ayma of the MAS Party and Jorge Quiroga, leader of the Social and Democratic Power (PODEMOS) Party and former head of the Acción Democrática Nacionalista (ADN) Party.

Morales won the election with 53.7% of the votes, an absolute majority, unusual in Bolivian elections. He was sworn in on January 22, 2006, for a five-year term. Prior to his official inauguration in La Paz, he was inaugurated in an Aymara ritual at the archeological site of Tiwanaku before a crowd of thousands of Aymara people and representatives of leftist movements from across Latin America. Though highly symbolic, this ritual was not historically based and primarily represented native Aymaras — not the main Quechua-speaking population. It is worth noting that since the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century, this region of South America -with a majority native population- has been ruled mostly by descendants of European immigrants.

On May 1, 2006, Morales announced his intent to re-nationalize Bolivian hydrocarbon assets. While stating that the initiative would not be an expropriation, Morales sent Bolivian troops to occupy 56 gas installations simultaneously. Troops were also sent to the two Petrobras-owned refineries in Bolivia, which provide over 90% of Bolivia's refining-capacity. A deadline of 180 days was announced, by which all foreign energy firms were required to sign new contracts giving Bolivia majority ownership and as much as 82% of revenues (the latter for the largest natural gas fields). All such firms signed contracts. Reports from the Bolivian government and the companies involved are contradictory as to plans for future investment.

By far the biggest customer for Bolivian hydrocarbons has been Brazil, which imports two-thirds of Bolivia's natural gas via pipelines operated by the semi-private Petrobras. Since gas can only be exported from landlocked Bolivia via Petrobras' large (and expensive) pipelines, the supplier and customer are strongly linked. Petrobras has announced plans to produce enough natural gas by 2011 to replace that now supplied by Bolivia. Bolivia's position is strengthened by the knowledge that hydrocarbon reserves are more highly valued now than at the times of previous nationalizations, and by the pledged support of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Morales opened on August 6, 2006, the Bolivian Constituent Assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority.[29] Problems immediately arose when, unable to garner the two-thirds votes needed to include controversial provisions in the constitutional draft, Morales' party announced that only a simple majority would be needed to draft individual articles while two-thirds needed to pass the document in full. Violent protests arose in December 2006 in parts of the country for both two-thirds and departmental autonomy, mostly in the eastern third of the country, where much of the hydrocarbon wealth is located. MAS and its supports believed two-thirds voting rules would give an effective veto for all constitutional changes to the conservative minority.

In August 2007, more conflicts arose in Sucre, as the city demanded the discussion of the seat of government inside the assembly, hoping the executive and legislative branch could return to the city, but assembly and the government said this demand was overwhelmingly impractical and politically undesirable. The conflict turned into violence, and the assembly was moved to a military area in Oruro. Although the main opposition party boycotted the session, a constitutional draft was approved on November 24.

2009 National General Elections

Evo Morales had won a convincing victory, being re-elected with 64.22% of the vote. His party, Movement for Socialism, also won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.


Map of Bolivia from The World Factbook

At 1,098,580 square kilometres (424,160 sq mi), Bolivia is the world's 28th-largest country.[30]

Bolivia has been a landlocked nation since 1879, when it lost its coastal department of Litoral to Chile in the War of the Pacific. However, it does have access to the Atlantic via the Paraguay River.

Many ecological zones are represented within Bolivia's territory. The western highlands of the country are situated in the Andes Mountains and include the Bolivian Altiplano. The eastern lowlands include large sections of Amazonian rainforests and the Chaco Plain. The highest peak is Nevado Sajama at 6,542 metres (21,463 ft) located in the Oruro Department. Lake Titicaca is located on the border between Bolivia and Peru. The Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, lies in the southwest corner of the country, in the department of Potosí.

Major cities are La Paz (administrative capital), Sucre (capital), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (largest population), El Alto, Oruro and Cochabamba.

Departments and provinces

Map of the departments of Bolivia

Bolivia is divided into nine departments (departamentos); capitals in parentheses:

Additionally, the departments are further divided into 100 provinces (provincias), and the provinces are each divided into municipalities (municipios) and cantons (cantones), which handle local affairs.


The weather in Bolivia can vary drastically from one climatic zone to another. The summer months in Bolivia are November through March. The weather is typically warmer and wetter during these months. April through October, the winter months, are typically colder and drier.

In the highlands, the weather can be very cold and temperatures frequently go below zero at night, especially on the Altiplano. Snow is common in Potosi during the winter months and sometimes also falls on La Paz and Oruro. In contrast, winter in Sucre, Cochabamba and Tarija on the Cordillera Real is a time of blue skies and comfortable temperatures.

The weather in the rainforest is usually very hot and is often very wet. The drier period of the year is May to October. The section of the rainforest that borders the Cordillera Real of the Andes Mountains is a bit cooler, but still very wet. As altitude declines, the temperature rises.


Bolivia has the lowest GDP per capita in South America. However, the country is rich in natural resources.

Bolivia's 2002 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled USD $7.9 billion. Economic growth is about 2.5% per year, and inflation was expected to be between 3% and 4% in 2002 (it was under 2% in 2001).

Bolivia's current lackluster economic situation can be linked to several factors from the past three decades. The first major blow to the Bolivian economy came with a dramatic fall in the price of tin during the early 1980s, which impacted one of Bolivia's main sources of income and one of its major mining-industries.[31] The second major economic blow came at the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s as economic aid was withdrawn by western countries who had previously tried to keep a market-liberal regime in power through financial support.

Since 1985, the government of Bolivia has implemented a far-reaching program of macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform aimed at maintaining price stability, creating conditions for sustained growth, and alleviating scarcity. A major reform of the customs service in recent years has significantly improved transparency in this area. Parallel legislative reforms have locked into place market-liberal policies, especially in the hydrocarbon and telecommunication sectors, that have encouraged private investment. Foreign investors are accorded national treatment, and foreign ownership of companies enjoys virtually no restrictions in Bolivia.[citation needed]

The Central Bank of Bolivia

Bolivia has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America.[32] The government has a long-term sales-agreement to sell natural gas to Brazil through 2019. The government held a binding referendum in 2005 on the Hydrocarbon Law.

Bolivia is also estimated to have 50%–70% of the world's lithium. The light metal is used to make high-capacity batteries used in electric cars and such. The spinoff effect of lithium mining could cause Bolivia to become the "Saudi Arabia of the Green World," however to mine for it would involve disturbing the country's salt flats (called Salar de Uyuni), an important natural feature which boosts tourism in the region. The government doesn't want to destroy this unique natural landscape, to meet the rising world demand for lithium.[33]

In April 2000, Bechtel signed a contract with Hugo Banzer, the former President of Bolivia, to privatize the water supply in Bolivia's third-largest city, Cochabamba. Shortly thereafter, the company tripled the water rates in that city, an action which resulted in protests and rioting among those who could no longer afford clean water. Drawing water from community wells or gathering rainwater was made illegal.[34][35] Amidst Bolivia's nationwide economic collapse and growing national unrest over the state of the economy, the Bolivian government was forced to withdraw the water contract.

Bolivian exports were $1.3 billion in 2002, from a low of $652 million in 1991. Imports were $1.7 billion in 2002. Bolivian tariffs are a uniformly low 10%, with capital equipment charged only 5%. Bolivia's trade-deficit was $460 million in 2002.

Salt mounds in Salar de Uyuni. Each mound is about a meter high.

Bolivia's trade with neighboring countries is growing, in part because of several regional preferential trade agreements it has negotiated. Bolivia is a member of the Andean Community of Nations and enjoys nominally free trade with other member countries.

The United States remains Bolivia's largest trading partner. In 2002, the United States exported $283 million of merchandise to Bolivia and imported $162 million.

Camino a Samaipata Santa Cruz Bolivia

Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of Bolivia's GDP. Soybeans are the major cash crop, sold into the Andean Community market.

Bolivia's government remains heavily dependent on foreign assistance to finance development projects. At the end of 2002, the government owed $4.5 billion to its foreign creditors, with $1.6 billion of this amount owed to other governments and most of the balance owed to multilateral development banks. Most payments to other governments have been rescheduled on several occasions since 1987 through the Paris Club mechanism. External creditors have been willing to do this because the Bolivian government has generally achieved the monetary and fiscal targets set by IMF programs since 1987, though economic crises in recent years have undercut Bolivia's normally good record.

Uros people on floating islets in Titicaca. One of the most important tourist attraction in Bolivia


The rescheduling of agreements granted by the Paris Club has allowed the individual creditor countries to apply very soft terms to the rescheduled debt. As a result, some countries have forgiven substantial amounts of Bolivia's bilateral debt. The U.S. government reached an agreement at the Paris Club meeting in December 1995 that reduced by 67% Bolivia's existing debt stock. The Bolivian government continues to pay its debts to the multilateral development banks on time. Bolivia is a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC debt relief programs, which by agreement restricts Bolivia's access to new soft loans.

The income from tourism becomes more important. Bolivia's tourist industry has grown gradually since about 1990.


People in La Paz city centre
Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba, a symbol of Catholic influence in Bolivia

Bolivia's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 30% Quechua-speaking and 25% Aymara-speaking Amerindians. The largest of the approximately three dozen native groups are the Quechuas (2.5 million), Aymaras (2 million), then Chiquitano (180,000), and Guaraní (125,000). So the full Amerindian population is at 55%; the remaining 30% is mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European), and around 15% are whites.[4]

The white population consists mostly of criollos, which in turn consist of families of relatively unmixed Spanish ancestry, descended from the early Spanish colonists. These have formed much of the aristocracy since independence. Other smaller groups within the white population are Germans, who founded the former national airline Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, as well as Italians, Basques, Croats, Russians, Poles and other minorities, many of whose members descend from families that have lived in Bolivia for several generations. Some 40,000 German-speaking Mennonites live in eastern Bolivia.[36]

Young miners at work in Potosí

The Afro Bolivian community numbers more than 0.5% of the population, descended from African slaves that were transported to work in Brazil and then migrated westward into Bolivia. They are mostly concentrated in the Yungas region (Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas provinces) in the department of La Paz. There are also Japanese who are concentrated mostly in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Middle Easterners who became prosperous in commerce.

Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in poverty. Population density ranges from less than one person per square kilometer in the southeastern plains to about ten per square kilometer (twenty-five per sq. mi) in the central highlands. As of 2006, the population is increasing about 1.45% per year.[37]

Cities by Population
Rank City Departments Population Rank City Departments Population Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz de la Sierra

La Paz
La Paz

1 Santa Cruz Flag of santacruz.svg Santa Cruz 1,451,597 11 Quillacollo Flag of cochabamba.svg Cochabamba 92,747
2 El Alto Flag of lapaz.svg La Paz 858,932 12 Montero Flag of santacruz.svg Santa Cruz 91,952
3 La Paz Flag of lapaz.svg La Paz 835,186 13 Trinidad Flag of beni.svg Beni 87,977
4 Cochabamba Flag of cochabamba.svg Cochabamba 595,226 14 Riberalta Flag of beni.svg Beni 93,624
5 Sucre Flag of chuquisaca.svg Chuquisaca 280,225 15 Tiquipaya Flag of cochabamba.svg Cochabamba 62,940
6 Oruro Flag of oruro.svg Oruro 216,702 16 La Guardia Flag of santacruz.svg Santa Cruz 49,921
7 Tarija Flag of tarija.svg Tarija 176,787 17 Warnes Flag of santacruz.svg Santa Cruz 47,406
8 Potosí Flag of potosi.svg Potosí 150,647 18 Cotoca Flag of santacruz.svg Santa Cruz 45,277
9 Sacaba Flag of cochabamba.svg Cochabamba 134,518 19 Guayaramerín Flag of beni.svg Beni 35,767
10 Yacuíba Flag of tarija.svg Tarija 95,594 20 Cobija Flag of pando.svg Pando 34,498
Source: Projected population for 2007, INE.


Life expectancy at birth was 64 for males in 2006 and 67 for females. [7] A study by UN Development Programme and UNICEF reported that over 230 babies in Bolivia died per day through lack of proper care.[38] The majority of the population has no health insurance.[39] A significant part of the population has no access to healthcare. [39]


Aymara woman praying

The great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic, although Protestant denominations are expanding rapidly.[37] According to a 2001 survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute, 78% of the population is Roman Catholic, 16% is Protestant and 3% follow other religions of Christian origin.[40] Islam practiced by the descendants of Middle Easterners is almost nonexistent. There is also a small Jewish community that is almost all Ashkenazi in origin. The state has no official religion.

There are colonies of Mennonites in the Santa Cruz Department.[41] Many Native communities interweave pre-Columbian and Christian symbols in their worship.


About 80% of the people speak Spanish as their first language, although the Aymara and Quechua languages are also common. Approximately 90% of the children attend primary-school but often for a year or less. Until the 2001 Census the literacy rate was low in many rural areas, but, according to the CIA, the literacy rate was 87% nationwide, similar to Brazil's but below the South American average. Nevertheless in 2008 after the campaign "Yes I can", Bolivia was declared illiteracy-free under the UNESCO standards.[42]


Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Santa Cruz means 'holy cross'

Bolivia has been governed by democratically elected governments since 1982, when a long string of military coups came to an end. The country had a total of 193 coups d'état from independence until 1981, thereby averaging a change of government once every ten months. Presidents Hernán Siles Zuazo (1982–85) and Víctor Paz Estenssoro (1985–89) began a tradition of ceding power peacefully.

The 1967 constitution, amended in 1994, provides for balanced executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The traditionally strong executive branch tends to overshadow the Congress, whose role is generally limited to debating and approving legislation initiated by the executive. The judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court and departmental and lower courts, has long been riddled with corruption and inefficiency. Through revisions to the constitution in 1994, and subsequent laws, the government has initiated potentially far-reaching reforms in the judicial system and processes.

Bolivia's nine departments received greater autonomy under the Administrative Decentralization law of 1995. Departmental autonomy further increased with the first popular elections for departmental governors (prefectos) on 18 December 2005, after long protests by pro-autonomy leader department of Santa Cruz.

Bolivian cities and towns are governed by directly elected mayors and councils. Municipal elections were held on 5 December 2004, with councils elected to five year terms. The Popular Participation Law of April 1994, which distributes a significant portion of national revenues to municipalities for discretionary use, has enabled previously neglected communities to make striking improvements in their facilities and services.

The departments of Tarija, Beni, Pando and Santa Cruz are sometimes known as the "half moon" because of the crescent shape of the departments when looked at together in the east of the country. They also have in common conservative politics and rich fossil fuel deposits.

Legislative branch

The government building of the National Congress of Bolivia at the Plaza Murillo in central La Paz

Bolivia's government is a republic. The Asamblea Plurinacional (National Congress) has two chambers. The Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) has 130 members elected to five year terms, seventy from single-member districts (circunscripciones) and sixty by proportional representation. The Cámara de Senadores (Chamber of Senators) has twenty-seven members (three per department), elected to five year terms.


An SK-105, the main battle tank of the Bolivian army.

The Bolivian military comprises three branches: an Army, Navy (despite being landlocked) and Air Force. The legal age for voluntary admissions is 18; however, when the numbers are small the government recruits anyone as young as 14.[43] It is estimated that 20% of the Bolivian army is between the ages 14 and 16 while another 20% is from 16 to 18. The tour of duty is generally 12 months. The Bolivian government annually spends $130 million on defense.[44]

Combat units directly under the Army general command

  • RI 1 Colorados(Presidential guard),BTQ-261 Calamus(armour),GRM-221 Tarapaca (mech.),GCM-224 Ingavi (armour cavalry),RAA-236 G.B.B. Rioja (AA regiment),BATCOM-251,Gen.maintenance cen.no1,transport batt. no1.

Special forces command

RI 12 Manchengo (ranger) Montero, RI 16 Jordan (special forces)Riberalta, RI 24 M.Arcos (ranger)Challapata

Army aviation command

Army aviation company 291 (La Paz), army aviation company 292 (Santa Cruz)


The Bolivian Army has six military regions (regiones militares—RMs) covering the various Departments of Bolivia:

  • RM 1, La Paz, most of La Paz Department,1.Division army,BPM-271 C.L.Savedra (batt.MP),BE-296 CNL R.C.Zabalegui(ecological batt.),BE-297 (ecolog. batt.),BATLOG-1 (long. batt),army aviation company 291 C.L.Cordoba,mili. hospital no1,mili.police school,riding school,enginners school,army military academy CNL G.Villaroel,intelligence school MCAL Sucre,school communications.
  • RM 2, Potosi ,covering the departments of Oruro and Potosi:2.Division army,10.Division army,RI 24 M.Arcos (ranger batt.),ADA-202 (a.a. group), climbing military school.
  • RM 3, Tarija, consisted of Tarija Department and eastern Chuquisaca and sauthern Santa Cruz:3.Division army,4.division army.
  • RM 4, Sucre, covering the departments of Cochabamba and northern Chuquisaca: 7.Division army,BMP-272 (batt.MP),BATLOG-2 (long.Batt), no2,central arsenal,school of command and staff MCAL.A.Santa Cruz,sergeants, for special troops,artillery school.
  • RM 5, Cobija, encompassed Pando Department and parts of La Paz and Beni departments: 6.Division army,RI 16 Jordan (special forces),train.centar in forest operation (CIOS I) and (CIOS II).
  • RM 6, Santa Cruz, covering most of Santa Cruz Department: 5.Division army,8.Division army,BMP-273 R.Amezaga (batt.MP),BE-298 (ecological batt.),RI 12 Manchego (ranger),BATLOG-3 (longist. batt.),292 army aviation company,Condors sschool Bolivianos (special force).

The army was organized into ten territorial divisions, each of which, with the exception of Viacha, occupied a region generally corresponding to the administrative departments, with some overlapping. Their division headquarters were located in:

  • 7.Cochabamba (the largest):,RI 2 Sucre,RI 18 Vitria (airborne),RI 26 R.Barrientos (mech.),RI 29 CTN:V:Ustariz (airborne),RA 7 Tumusia,Bat.Ing.5 T.N.Ovando
  • 4.Camiri (Santa Cruz Department):,RI 6 Field,RI 11 Boqueron,RC 1 Avaroa,RA 4 Bullian
  • 2.Oruro:RI 21 Illimani(Mountain),RI 22 Mejillones,RI 25 Tocopilla ,RC 8 Braun ,RA 1 Camacho,Bat.Ing. 7 Sajama.
  • 10.Tupiz: RI 3 Perez,RI 4 Loa,RI 27 Antofagasta,RC 7 Chichas (mech.),RA 12 Ayohuma (reserve)
  • 5.Roboré (Santa Cruz Department): RI 13 Montes,RI 14 Florida,RI 15 Junin,RC 6 Castrillo,RA 5 Vergara
  • 9.Rurrenabaque,the Division has been reduced to reserve status and its component units have been divided up between DE-1 and DE-6
  • 8.Santa Cruz: RI 7 Marzana,RI 10 Warnes (mech.),RC 10 G.M.J.M. Market,RA 9 Mitre, (reserve),Bat.Ing. 3 Pando.
  • 6.Trinidad,RI 17 Indepedencia,RI 29 Echevarria,RI 31 Rios,RI 32 Murguia,RC 2 Ballivan,RA 8 Mendez(reserve),Bat.Ing. 6 Riosinho.
  • 1.Viacha (La Paz Department),RI 8 Ayacucho,RI 23 M.Toledo (mech.),RI 30 Murillo (mauntain),RC 5 J.M.Lanza,RA 2 Bolivar,Bat.Ing. 2 G.F.Roman.
  • 3.Villamontes (Tarija Department),RI 5 Capero,RI 20 Padilla,RC 3 Aroma,RA 3 Pisagua,Bat.Ing. 1 Chorolque.

RI: infantry regiment RC: cavalry regiment RA: artillery regiment Bat.Ing.: battalion enginner

Army organized has ten divisions controlling the following units:

Bolivian Snipers Dragunov SVD.
  • eight cavalry regiments, included two mechanized regiments
  • twenty-tree infantry regiments included two airborne and two mauntain
  • one recce.mechanized regiments and one armored regiments
  • two ranger regiments and one special forces regiments
  • six artillery regiments and plus three in reserve
  • one artillery and antiair group
  • one artillery and antiair Regiment
  • three military police battalion
  • three ecological battalion
  • two army aviation company
  • six engineer battalions
  • Plus logistical and instructional support commands
  • Presidential Guard (Colorado) infantry battalion under direct control of the army headquarters in La Paz's Miraflores district

The Army maintains a small fleet of utility aircraft, primarily to support headquarters.

Land Forces Equipment

SK105 Kürassier Tank of Bolivia.
Towed artillery piece before a parade in Cochabamba.
EE-9 Cascavel of Bolivia.
Bolivian army equipment[45]
Tanks 36 SK-105 Kurassiers
Reconnaissance vehicles 24 EE-9 Cascavel
Armoured Personnel Carriers 50 M113 armored personnel carriers with local upgrades], 24 EE-11 Urutu APC,24 M9 Semiorugas APC , 10 Cadillac Gage Commando V-150, 20 Mowag Roland local upgraded (Used |by the military Police)
Artillery pieces and mortar 18 Type 54 122mm howitzers, 6 M101 105mm howitzers, 10 Pack 75mm howitzers, 6 Bofors L/40 M-1935 75mm howitzers. Mortars:

M 120 120mm, M30 107mm mortars, 250 M29 81mm mortars,FM 81mm,W87 81mm, M-224 60mm mortars AA artllery: 16 2x37mm Type 65,80 2x20mm Oerlikon K20,50 MANPAD HN-5 AT weapons:rocket launchers RPG-7,RL 200 66mm M-72A3 LAW,RL 90mm M 20A1,recoilless cannon 90mm M-67,RCL 82mm Type 65/78,RCL 106mm M40A1,40 portable AT missile HJ 8AiB Red Arow

Transport TRANSPORT:DongFeng EQ 2081/2100,FEW C A1122J,Stayer 1491,16 Ford F-750,Unimog 416Dodge M-37 2 1/2 ton trucks, Engesa EE-15 trucks, Engesa EE-25 trucks, FIAT IVECO 619 5 ton trucksTACTICAL TRANSPORT VEHICLES:30 M988 HMMWV,40 Koyak local productionUTILITY TRANSPORT VEHICLES:Ford M151 MUTT jeep,CJ-5,CJ-7,Chrysler jeeep Wrangler,BJ 2020VJ, horses (still used by the Bolivian cavalry units) [45]
Small Arms HANDGUNS: FN-35,glok 17,Ber.mod. 92F,S@M mod.10 all 9mm,M1911A1 11,43 SMG: FMK 3,UZI,MAT 49 all 9mmRifle:Galil AR,M-16A1,M4A1,Steyer AUG A1,SA 80, all 5,56, FN-FAL,SIG-542,SIG_510-4, all 7,62mm,Type and 56–2(ak-47),SNIPER:Dragunov SVD,Mauser mod.86SR,Steyer SSG-69P1AM Rifles:Steyer HS 50 12,7mmMG:M 60,FN-MAG 60–20,SIG MG710-3 all 7,62mm,Type 56 LMGGl:Type 87 35mm,MM −1,m 79,M 203 all 40mmShotguns:Regminton 870 and 11–87.
AS-350B3 Helicopter of Bolivia.


Army officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel wear generally gray or, for tropical areas, gray-green service uniforms. Army fatigue uniforms were olive green, and combat uniforms were of US woodland pattern camouflage. The standard headgear for enlisted personnel is the beret bearing the national colors of red, yellow and green. Armored troops were distinguished by black berets, and paratroops wore green berets. Special forces wore distinctive camouflage uniforms with red berets.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[46] Notes
Beechcraft King Air  United States Staff transport Model 90
Model 200
Cessna 206 Stationair  United States Utility 4
Cessna 421 Golden Eagle  United States Staff transport Cessna 421B 1
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain transport 1 Center of instruction of special troops


Naval Ensign of Bolivia

The Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana in Spanish), formerly Bolivian Navy (Armada Boliviana) is a naval force about 5,000 strong in 2008.[47] Although Bolivia has been landlocked since the War of the Pacific in 1879, Bolivia established a River and Lake Force (Fuerza Fluvial y Lacustre) in January 1963 under the Ministry of National Defense. It consisted of four boats supplied from the United States and 1,800 personnel recruited largely from the army. Bolivia's naval force was renamed the Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana) in January 1966, but it also has been called the Bolivian Navy (Armada Boliviana). It became a separate branch of the armed forces in 1963. Bolivia has large rivers that are tributaries to the Amazon which are patrolled to prevent smuggling and drug trafficking. There is also a Bolivian Naval presence on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, across which runs the Peruvian frontier.

Landlocked Bolivia has not become reconciled with the loss of its coast to Chile, and the Navy exists to keep the hope of recovering its coast alive by cultivating a maritime consciousness.[citation needed] The Bolivian Navy takes part in many parades and government functions, but none more so than the Día Del Mar (Day of the Sea) in which Bolivia, every year, asks for the coast territories lost to Chile during the War of the Pacific (fought between Peru and Bolivia against Chile) from 1879 to 1884. This is still a sore point for Bolivia, influencing many modern day political actions and trade decisions.


The Navy is organized into ten naval districts, with flotilla headquarters in Guaqui, Guayaramerín, Puerto Suarez, Riberalta, and San Pedro de Tiquina, and bases in Puerto Busch, Puerto Horquilla, Puerto Villarroel, Trinidad, and Rurrenabaque.

Naval vessels included several dozen boats, dozen or more of which are for riverine patrol, including the piranias, and riders, powerful river boats. Also ocean ships including the PR-51- Santa Cruz de la Sierra made in the USA, and several seagoing vessels that navegate the oceans with the Bolivian flag, with the granted permission of the "Capitanias Navales" Naval Registration Office. The Libertador Simón Bolívar, a ship acquired from Venezuela, use to navegate from its home port in Rosario, Argentina on the River Paraná. In 1993, the Navy was formally renamed the Naval Force (Fuerza Naval) and moved with the Bolivian Army under a single military authority.

Most of the officers are often educated in the Naval Academy where they graduate with a BS in Military and Naval Science, diploma accredited by the Military University and then they do other studies at the bachelor’s degree and master’s level. Argentina has their Naval Military Group in Bolivia advising at the highest level in naval strategy and tactics. Many Bolivian officers practice ocean sailing in Argentinean big naval ships. The Bolivian Navy has several Special Forces units to address both internal and external conflicts. La Fuerza Naval Boliviana cubre el extenso territorio fluvial y lacustre boliviano dividiendo sus funciones entre los siguientes Distritos Navales, nótese que los nombres de estas unidades derivan de la cuenca fluvial o región en la que operan: Bolivian Naval Force covers the extensive river and lake Bolivian territory divided between the following functions Naval Districts, note that the names of these units are derived from the basin or region where they operate:

    • DN1 Primer Distrito Naval "BENI"- DN1 First Naval District "BENI"
    • DN2 Segundo Distrito Naval- "MAMORE"- DN2 Second Naval District "MAMORA"
    • DN3 Tercer Distrito Naval "MADERA" -DN3 Third Naval District "WOOD"
    • DN4 Cuarto Distrito Naval "TITICACA" -DN4 Fourth Naval District Titicaca
    • DN5 Quinto Distrito Naval "SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA" -DN5 Fifth Naval District "SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA"
    • DN6 Sexto Distrito Naval "COBIJA" -Sixth Naval District DN6 "Shelter"
Marines of Bolivia marching inCochabamba.
    • Besides the naval aereas:
      • AN 1 "COCHABAMBA"- AN 1 "Cochabamba"
      • AN 2 "SANTA CRUZ"- AN 2 "SANTA CRUZ"
      • AN 3 "BERMEJO" -AN 3 "Red"
      • AN 4 "LA PAZ" -AN 4 "PEACE"
    • And the special units:
      • Fuerza de Tarea "Diablos Azules"- Task Force "Blue Devils"
      • Servicio de Inteligencia Naval – SINDA Naval Intelligence Service – SINDA
      • Grupo de Reacción Inmediata GRIN -Immediate Response Group GRIN
      • El Centro de Instrucción de Buceo en Altura- The Diving Training Center in Height
      • Command Training Center Amphibians
Marine corps
Bolivian Marines above inflatable boats.

The Marine component of the FNB originated with the creation of the Marine Battalion Almirante Grau in the early 1980s.This unit of 600 men is based on Tiquina naval base on Lake Titicaca.Later changes name to Marine Battalion Independence, based in Chua (Not to be confused with the Independence RI17 EB).At present this battalion maintains a similar number of troops including premilitares. Staff of this unit is part of Task Force Blue Devils or are stationed in various naval bases.There are currently seven infantry battalions which are distributed as follows:

  • Primer Distrito Naval "BENI"- First Naval District "BENI"
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina I "Bagué"- Marine battalion I "Bagué"
  • Segundo Distrito Naval "MAMORE"- Second Naval District "MAMORA"
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina II "Tocopilla"- Marine Battalion II "Tocopilla"
  • Tercer Distrito Naval "MADERA"- Third Naval District "WOOD"
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina III "Mejillones"- Marine Battalion III "mussels"
  • Cuarto Distrito Naval "TITICACA"- Fourth Naval District Titicaca
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina IV "Alianza " -Marine Infantry Battalion IV "Alliance"
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina Mecanizada VI "Independencia"- Marine Infantry Battalion Mechanized VI "Independence"
  • Quinto Distrito Naval "SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA"- Fifth Naval District "SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA"
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina V "Calama"- Marine Battalion V Calama
  • Sexto Distrito Naval "COBIJA"- Sixth Naval District "Shelter"
    • Batallón de Infantería de Marina VII "Columna Porvenir"- Marine Battalion VII "Columna Porvenir"
Naval Military Police

This specialty is essentially similar to its counterpart in the Army, carrying out operations such as Important Persons Protection (IPP) Physical Security (SEF) or Patrol Facility (PAT), with additions such as signals or naval protocol.There Naval detachments of PM in all district headquarters or FNB Naval Area.But only have the following units at the Battalion:

  • AN 4 " La Paz "- AN 4 "Peace"
    • Batallón de Policía Militar Naval N° 1- Naval Military Police Battalion No. 1
  • AN 1 "COCHABAMBA"- AN 1 "Cochabamba"
    • Batallón de Policia Militar Naval N° 2 "Carcaje"- Naval Military Police Battalion No. 2 "Quiver"
  • Batallón de Policía Militar Naval N° 3 -Naval Military Police Battalion No. 3
  • Cuarto Distrito Naval "TITICACA"- Fourth Naval District Titicaca
    • Batallón de Policía Militar Naval N° 4- Naval Military Police Battalion No. 4



Bolivian Marine carrying a heavy weapon.

The Bolivian Navy has a total of 173 vessels, mostly stationed on Lake Titicaca:

  • 1 Class PR-51
  • 6 class boats Cap. Bretel Bretel
  • 4 patrol boats lake
  • 32 Boston Whaler
  • 8 Piranha assault boats Mk.1
  • 3 Boats hospitals
  • 2 Transport of hydrocarbons
  • 2 Tanker Ships
  • 1 Transport
  • 1 Ship "Naval School"[citation needed]

Naval aviation

Bolivia's navy operates two utility aircraft for the use of headquarters.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[46] Notes
Cessna 206 Stationair  United States Utility 206G 1
Cessna 402  United States Utility 402C 1

Air Force

FAB was organized into ? Its nine air bases were located at La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Puerto Suárez, Tarija, Villamontes, Cobija, Riberalta, and Roboré.

Major commands included the following:

  • General Command Systems Department in La Paz, equipped with sophisticated computers. In March 1989, FAB took a major step toward modernizing its force by inaugurating the
  • Group of Security and Defense of Air Installations (Grupo de Seguridad y Defensa de Instalaciones Aéreas—GSDIA); and GADA-91, GADA-92, GADA-93 and GADA-94.
  • Four air brigades with thirteen subordinate air groups.
Two Pilatus PC-7 of the FAB.
    • First Air Brigade (El Alto):
      • Hunting air group 31 "G.J.Market": Fighter squadron 311,Executive squadron 310
      • Transport air group 71 "Gen.W.A.Rojas" (Military airlift TAM):Air squadron 710,Air squadron 711,Air squadron 712
      • Aerophotogrammetry National Service (NSS)
      • Bolivian Air Transport-TAB
      • Task Force "Black devils"
      • Group air defence artilllery GADA-91
In front, a T-34 Pillán, and behind, a C-130 Hercules of the FAB.
    • Second Air Brigade (Cochabamba):
      • Hunting air group 34 "P.R.Cuevas": Aerotactico squadron 340,Link training squadron 341
      • Group air search and rescue 51: Squadron helicopter 511
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-92
    • Third Air Brigade (Santa Cruz):
      • Hunting Air Group 32 "B.B.Rioja": squdron 321,squadron 320,squadron 327 (maintenance)
      • COLMILAV Training squadrons: primary squadron,basic squadron,squadron "NN" (prob.navigation)
      • Air group air reconnaissance and exploration 82(air base Puerto Suarez): 831 squadron
      • Air group 61 "Gen.L.G.Pereiera (air base Puerto Suarez): squadron 610
      • Task force "Red Devils" (air base The Trompillo-Robore)
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-93
    • Fourth Air Brigade:
      • Group air reconnaissance and exploration 82 "Cap.A.V.Peralta" (air base Tarija): squadron 821
      • Air Group 63 "Tcnl.E.L.Rivera" (air base Villamontes): squadron 630
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-94

Units under direct control of the general command of the FAB

      • Tactical air group 62 (air base Riberalta): squadron 620
      • Air group 64: squadron (air base Cobija) 640
      • Transport air group 72 (air base Trinidad) : squadron 720
UH-1H HueyNational Institute of Civil Aeronautics Helicopter.

Civil Aviation

The General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil—DGAC) formerly part of the FAB, administers a civil aeronautics school called the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (Instituto Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil—INAC), and two commercial air transport services TAM and TAB.

TAM (Transporte Aéreo Militar)

TAM - Transporte Aéreo Militar (the Bolivian Military Airline) is an airline based in La Paz, Bolivia. It is the civilian wing of the 'Fuerza Aérea Boliviana' (the Bolivian Air Force), operating passenger services to remote towns and communities in the North and Northeast of Bolivia. TAM (aka TAM Group 71) has been a part of the FAB since 1945.

A similar airline serving the Beni Department with small planes is Línea Aérea Amaszonas,[48] using smaller planes than TAM.

TAB (Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos)

Although a civil transport airline, TAB - Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos, was created as a subsidiary company of the FAB in 1977. It is subordinate to the Air Transport Management (Gerencia de Transportes Aéreos) and is headed by an FAB general. TAB, a charter heavy cargo airline, links Bolivia with most countries of the Western Hemisphere; its inventory included a fleet of Hercules C130 aircraft. TAB's Base of operations was headquartered at El Alto, adjacent to La Paz's El Alto International Airport. TAB also flew to Miami and Houston, with stops in Panama.


Festival time in Sucre

Bolivian culture has been heavily influenced by the Quechua, the Aymara, as well as by the popular cultures of Latin America as a whole.

The cultural development is divided into three distinct periods: precolumbian, 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, El Fuerte de Samaipata, Incallajta, and Iskanawaya. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and have seen little archaeological exploration.[37]

The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local native and mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque". The colonial period produced not only the paintings of Pérez de Holguín, Flores, Bitti, and others but also the works of skilled but unknown stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of Native Baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994.[37]

Bolivian artists of stature in the twentieth century include Guzmán de Rojas, Arturo Borda, María Luisa Pacheco, Roberto Mamani Mamani, Alejandro Mario Yllanes, and Marina Núñez del Prado.

Bolivia has a rich folklore. Its regional folk music is distinctive and varied. The "devil dances" at the annual carnival of Oruro are one of the great folkloric events of South America, as is the lesser known carnival at Tarabuco.[37] The best known of the various festivals found in the country is the "Carnaval de Oruro", which was among the first 19 "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity," as proclaimed by the UNESCO in May 2001.

Entertainment includes football, which is the national sport, as well as table football, which is played on street corners by both children and adults.


Under UNESCO standards, Bolivia has been declared free of illiteracy in 2008.[42]

Bolivia has a wide variety of public and private universities. Among them: Universidad San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca USFX – Sucre, founded in 1624; Universidad Mayor de San Andres UMSA – La Paz, founded in 1830; Universidad Mayor de San Simon UMSS – Cochabamba, founded in 1832; Universidad Autonoma Gabriel Rene Moreno UAGRM – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, founded in 1880; Universidad Tecnica de Oruro UTO – Oruro, founded in 1892; Universidad Autónoma Tomás Frías UATF – Potosi, founded in 1892; Universidad Juan Misael Saracho UJMS – Tarija, founded in 1946; Universidad Catolica Boliviana San Pablo UCB, founded in 1966; Universidad Técnica del Beni UTB – Trinidad, founded in 1967; Universidad Nur NUR, founded in 1982; Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra UPSC – Santa Cruz de la Sierra, founded in 1984; Universidad Nacional Siglo XX UNSXX – Llallagua, founded in 1986; Universidad del Valle UNIVALLE -Cochabamba, founded in 1988; Universidad Privada Boliviana UPB, founded in 1993; Universidad Privada Franz Tamayo UPFT, founded in 1993 and Universidad Amazónica de Pando UAP – Cobija, founded in 1993.

For the first time in bolivian history, three indigenous universities were created: Universidad Aymara Tupac Katari UATK – La Paz, founded in 2009; Universidad Quechua Casmiro Huanca UQCH – Cochabamba, founded in 2009 and Universidad Boliviana Guaraní y Pueblos de Tierras Bajas UGPTB – Chuquisaca, founded in 2009.

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace [1] Global Peace Index[49] 81 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 113 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 120 out of 180
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 120 out of 133

See also


  1. ^ "Artículo 6. I. Sucre es la Capital de Bolivia." (Article 6. I. Sucre is the capital of Bolivia.) Constitution of Bolivia
  2. ^ Bolivian Constitution, Article 5-I: Son idiomas oficiales del Estado el castellano y todos los idiomas de las naciones y pueblos indígena originario campesinos, que son el aymara, araona, baure, bésiro, canichana, cavineño, cayubaba, chácobo, chimán, ese ejja, guaraní, guarasu'we, guarayu, itonama, leco, machajuyai-kallawaya, machineri, maropa, mojeño-trinitario, mojeño-ignaciano, moré, mosetén, movima, pacawara, puquina, quechua, sirionó, tacana, tapieté, toromona, uru-chipaya, weenhayek, yawanawa, yuki , yuracaré y zamuco.
  3. ^ CIA – The World Factbook – Bolivia, accessed on December 21, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Bolivian people
  5. ^ a b c d e "Bolivia". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Human Development Report 2009: Bolivia". The United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Fagan, Brian M. 'The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World: Unlocking the Secrets of Past Civilizations'. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001.
  11. ^ Kolata, Alan L. 'The Tiwankau: Portrait of an Andean Civilization'. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, 1993. p. 145
  12. ^ Kolata, Alan L. Valley of the Spirits: A Journey into the Lost Realm of the Aymara. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, 1996.
  13. ^ a b McAndrews, Timothy L. et al. 'Regional Settlement Patterns in the Tiwanaku Valley of Bolivia'. Journal of Field Archaeology 24 (1997): 67–83.
  14. ^ Isbell, William H. 'Wari and Tiwanaku: International Identities in the Central Andean Middle Horizon'. 731–751.
  15. ^ a b Kolata, Alan L. 'The Tiwankau: Portrait of an Andean Civilization'. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, 1993.
  16. ^ The High Place: Potosi. John Demos.
  17. ^ MSN Encarta, Conquest in the Americas. Archived 2009-10-31.
  18. ^ Bolivia – Ethnic Groups
  19. ^ Rebellions. History Department, Duke University.
  20. ^ Harold Osborne (1954). Bolivia: A Land Divided. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs. 
  21. ^ History World (2004). "History of Bolivia". National Grid for Learning. 
  22. ^ Juan Forero (2006). "History Helps Explain Bolivia's New Boldness". New York Times.  (PDF), University of Wisconsin–Madison, Department of Geography
  23. ^ – Astroturfing all the way to No 1
  24. ^ Lucero, José Antonio (Forthcoming). Phil Oxhorn, Kenneth Roberts, and John Burdick. ed. Decades Lost and Won: The Articulations of Indigenous Movements and Multicultural Neoliberalism in theAndes. Beyond Neoliberalism. Palgrave. 
  25. ^ "1994 CIA World FactBook". Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  26. ^ "Historia de la República de Bolivia". Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  27. ^ Kohl, Benjamin. "Restructuring Citizenship in Bolivia: El Plan de Todos.". Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  28. ^ Ströbele, Juliana. [1997 Oct. "Ley de Participación Popular y Movimiento Popular en Argentina"] (in Spanish). 1997 Oct. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  29. ^ BBC News – Push for new Bolivia constitution
  30. ^ CIA World Factbook. Retrieved from
  31. ^ Crabtree, J.; Buffy, G.; Pearce, J. (1988). "The Great Tin Crash: Bolivia and the World Tin Market". Bulletin of Latin American Research 7 (1): 174–175. doi:10.2307/3338459. 
  32. ^ Anti-Morales protests hit Bolivia
  33. ^
  34. ^ Jennifer Hattam, ""Who Owns Water?" Sierra, September 2001, v.86, iss.5, p.16.
  35. ^ PBS Frontline/World "Leasing the Rain", Video, June 2002
  36. ^ Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite Frontier. The New York Times. December 21, 2006.
  37. ^ a b c d e "Background Note: Bolivia". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  38. ^,AMNESTY,,BOL,46558ec011,0.html
  39. ^ a b
  40. ^ Bolivia religion
  41. ^ Sally Bowen (January 1999). "Brazil Wants What Bolivia Has". Latin Trade. Retrieved 2006-10-17. 
  42. ^ a b "Bolivia declares literacy success". BBC News (London). 21 December 2008. 
  43. ^ CIA -The World Factbook – Bolivia
  44. ^ "Bolivia Military Profile 2006". 2006. 
  45. ^ a b
  46. ^ a b "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  47. ^
  48. ^ Amaszonas
  49. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

Further reading

  • Buitrago, Miguel A.: Civil Society, Social Protest, and Presidential Breakdowns in Bolivia, in Presidential Breakdowns in Latin America. Causes and Outcomes of Executive Instability in Developing Democracies. Edited by Mariana Llanos and Leiv Marsteintredet. Palgrave/Macmillan 2010.
  • Centellas, Miguel: Electoral Reform, Regional Cleavages, and Party System Stability in Bolivia, in: Journal of Politics in Latin America, Hamburg 2009.
  • Gill, Lesley 1990 “Like a Veil to Cover Them”: Women and the Pentecostal Movement in La Paz. American Ethnologist 17(4): 708–721.
  • Gill, Lesley 2000 Teetering on the Rim: Global Restructuring, Daily Life, and the Armed Retreat of the Bolivian State. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Guillermoprieto, Alma: "Bolivia's new order" National Geographic Magazine July 2008
  • Morales, Waltraud Queiser 1992 Bolivia: Land of Struggle. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

External links

Related information

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

South America : Bolivia
Quick Facts
Capital La Paz (seat of government); Sucre (legal capital and seat of judiciary)
Government Republic
Currency Boliviano (BOB)
Area total: 1,098,580 km2
water: 14,190 km2
land: 1,084,390 km2
Population 8,989,046 (July 2006 est.)
Language Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)
Religion Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist)
Electricity 230V/50HZ (La Paz and Viacha use 115V)
Calling Code +591
Internet TLD .bo
Time Zone UTC-4

Bolivia is a beautiful, geographically diverse, multiethnic, and democratic country in the heart of South America. It is surrounded by Brazil to the northeast, Peru to the northwest, Chile to the southwest, Argentina and Paraguay to the south. It shares with Peru control of Lake Titicaca (Lago Titicaca), the world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m).

Sometimes referred to as the Tibet of the Americas, Bolivia is one of the most "remote" countries in the western hemisphere; except for the navigable Paraguay River stretching to the distant Atlantic, Bolivia and Paraguay are the only two landlocked nations in the Americas. It is also the most indigenous country in the Americas, with 60% of its population being of pure Native American ancestry.



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, and waging an anti-corruption campaign.


Bolivia's climate varies with altitude from humid and tropical to cold and semiarid. In most parts of the country winters are dry and summers are somewhat wet. Despite its tropical latitude, the altitude of cities like La Paz keeps things cool, and warm clothing is advised year-round.

Altiplano (La Paz, Oruro, Potosí)
Sub-Andean Bolivia (Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Tarija)
Tropical Lowlands (Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando)
  • La Paz - Seat of government.
  • Sucre - Legal capital and seat of judiciary.
  • Santa Cruz - The second-largest and most affluent city.
  • Cochabamba - The country's third-largest city, with a pleasant climate and the best food.
  • Potosí - Once one of the wealthiest cities in the world due to its silver mines.
  • Oruro - Famous for its carnival
  • Tupiza - A small town in Bolivia close to the border with Argentina.
  • Quime - Hidden valley town surrounded by high mountains, between La Paz & Cochabamba
  • Amboró & Carrasco National Parks — twin national parks in the most biodiverse section of the country full of rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and canyons
  • Chacaltaya & Huayna Potosi — the world's highest ski resort and Bolivia's most popular mountain climb
  • Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos — six remote towns of the Gran Chaco founded by the Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • Madidi National Park — Located a few miles North of Apolo, is one of the world's most extensive biodiversity reserves. Its humid tropical climate has spawned one of Bolivia’s richest woodlands.
  • Noel Kempff Mercado National Park — impossibly remote and even more impossibly beautiful Amazonian park, home to the stunning Cataratas Arcoiris waterfall
  • Sajama National Park — beautiful Andean landscapes and Bolivia's highest mountain, Nevada Sajama
  • Salar de Uyuni — the spectacular landscapes along the largest salt flats in the world
  • Tiwanaku — Ancient ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Yungas Road — El Camino de Muerte, the World's Most Dangerous Road, leading through dramatic high altitude cliffside jungle terrain in the Yungas region from La Paz to Coroico

Get in

By plane

Air travel is the obvious way to get to Bolivia, the main airports are located in La Paz to the western side of the country and in Santa Cruz to the east. The arrival plan must be based mostly in the purpose of your visit to the country; you have to remember that La Paz receives most of their visitors due to the immense culture and heritage from the Incas and other indigenous cultures from the Andean region, and therefore from La Paz it is easier to move to the Tiwanaku ruins, Oruro’s carnival, Potosí’s mines, Uyuni, Lake Titicaca, Los Yungas valley and the Andes Mountains; since La Paz is the seat of government all the embassies and foreign organizations have their headquarters in the city, which is useful in case of an emergency. On the other side, Santa Cruz with a warmer weather could become a good location for doing business visit other alternatives in tourism like the Misiones, the Noel Kempff Mercado national park or visit the eastern cities. There are also some foreign consulates in Santa Cruz. But don’t forget that the cities in the south and central Bolivia, like Cochabamba, Tarija and Sucre also offer a very rich experience; there are several ways to get to these cities from La Paz or Santa Cruz.

From the USA

There are departures from Miami to La Paz and Santa Cruz on American Airlines, and the Bolivian airline Aerosur offers flights to Santa Cruz and Cochabamba with connections to other Bolivian cities.

From Latin America

Other airlines that fly into Bolivia from other Latin American countries include LAN from Santiago via Iquique and from Lima. TAM Mercosur flies from São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires via Asunción. Copa Airlines has begun to fly to Santa Cruz from Panama City. Gol Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas also fly directly to Santa Cruz.

From Europe

Regular flights are booked from Madrid (Barajas) to the International Airport in El Alto, La Paz and Viru Viru in Santa Cruz service provided by companies like Aerolineas Argentinas and Aerosur; the last one only offering the route Madrid-Santa Cruz-La Paz, while the others stop directly in La Paz; the cost could go from 1000-1200€ to other higher prices depending on the class and duration. There are also less frequent flights to La Paz from other major European cities like London, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin but they may have scales in other European cities before crossing the Atlantic.

Once you have your international flight booked - its far easier and cheaper to organize your internal flights from the point of departure.

By train

There are many train lines in Bolivia, each with varying degrees of quality and efficiency. However, adequate transportation via train can be found.

The FCA timetable can be found at their website [1].

Watch your belongings.

By car

It is common for tourists to travel through a land border at the north-east of Chile/ South-West of Bolivia.

Keep in mind that only about 5% of all the roads in Bolivia are paved. However, most major routes between cities are paved (Aka big cities, Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba, Sucre) . 4x4 is particularly required when off the flatter altiplano. Be aware that in mountainous regions traffic sometimes switches sides of the road. This is to ensure the driver has a better view of the dangerous drops.

An international drivers license is required but * most* times EU or US drivers licenses will be accepted. There are frequent police controls on the road and tolls to be paid for road use.

By bus

There are many options for traveling from Argentina to Bolivia by bus. Check out the Bolivian Embassy's website [2] in Argentina for specific options. There is also a bus that runs from Juliaca and Puno in Peru to Copacabana.

By boat

It is common for tourists to arrive in Bolivia by boat, by navigating from the port city of Puno, Peru, over Lake Titicaca.

Get around

Transportation strikes (bloqueos) are a common occurrence in Bolivia, so try to keep tuned to local news. Strikes often affect local taxis as well as long-distance buses; airlines are generally unaffected. Do not try to go around or through blockades (usually of stones, burning tires, or lumber). Strikers may throw rocks at your vehicle if you try to pass the blockade. Violence has sometimes been reported. Many strikes only last a day or two. There is a government website with a live map showing which roads are closed or affected by landslides [3].

By bus

Bus transportation in Bolivia is a nice cheap way to get to see the beautiful scenery while traveling to your destination. Unfortunately the buses often travel solely at night. Keep in mind that roads are occasionally blocked due to protests, often for several days. So ask several companies at the terminal if you hear about blockades, unless you are willing to spend a few days sleeping on the bus. Bus travel is usually pretty cheap. Estimate that it will cost you about 1 USD for every hour of travel (it's easier to find travel times online than actual price quotes). Prices do change based on supply and demand. Sometimes you can get a deal by waiting until the last minute to buy. Hawkers are constantly crying out destinations in the bigger bus stations cajoling potential riders to take their bus line.

By plane

Flying within Bolivia is quick and fairly economical. AeroSur connects most major cities.

  • Aerocon - flies from Trinidad to the harder to reach places of Bolivia like Cobija, Guayaramerin, Riberalta and Santa Ana (La Paz region). They also fly to La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz, their office is in Aeroperto El Trompillo and their website is listed below.
  • Aerosur [4] - the best known national airline. Aerosur flies from Santa Cruz to Sucre, La Paz and Cochabamba everyday. You can book your ticket at any of the many Aerosur offices around the city of Santa Cruz or any travel agency. Flights can be booked as late as 1 hour beforehand if seats are available.
  • Amaszonas, Av. Saavedra Nº 1649, Miraflores, La Paz, +591 2 222-0848 (), [5]. Most famous for their La Paz to Rurrenabaque route but also fly to Trinidad, Guayaramerin, Riberalta, Cobija, San Borja, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Fares are listed under "tarifas" on their website, listed below. Their office in Santa Cruz is in El Trompillo airport.  edit
  • Boliviana de Aviación - BoA [6] - the national airline of Bolivia. Provides economical and reliable travel between the main cities of Bolivia. You can book your tickets online or at BoA-offices in Santa Cruz, La Paz or Cochabamba. Main office in Cochabamba, Calle Jordán #202 esq. Nataniel Aguirre. email: phone: +591 901 10 50 10 fax: +591 4 4116477
  • GOL, +55 11 3169-6100, [7]. - has a nightly flight from Santa Cruz into Campo Grande for just US$100.  edit
  • TAM (Transporte Aéreo Militar), Montes n 738, La Paz, +591 3 352-9669 (+591 2 284-1884), [8]. This airline provides utilizes small planes but is actually one of the most well organized and reliable. Their office in Santa Cruz is in El Trompillo Airport, also where all of their planes leave from. Flights from Santa Cruz to Sucre or La Paz 4 times a week from U$45. Confirm weight restrictions. It is rumored to be only 15kg checked and 3kg carry on.  edit

By train

On some routes, the roads are in such a dire condition that the train becomes the alternative of choice. Trains are more comfortable than one would expect, having for example reclinable seats. The trip from Oruro to Uyuni is especialy beautiful, with the train going literally through an Andean lake on the way. The train is especially good for trips to the Salar de Uyuni and the Pantanal.

Coming from La Paz, you need to take a three hour bus ride to Oruro to catch the train. You best book your tickets a few days before your trip. In La Paz booking office is at Fernando Guachalla No. 494, at the corner with Sánchez Lima (between the Plaza del Estudiante and Plaza Abaroa). Main stops are Uyuni, Tupiza and Villazon, on the Argentine border. Travel times here. [9].

Between Santa Cruz and the Pantanal it is more straightfoward to organize a trip. Just go to the Terminal Bimodal in Santa Cruz, or the train station on the border in Puerto Quijarro. The train is also convenient for trips to the Jesuit Missions. Check the website [10] for timetables.

By taxi

For longer trips between towns and cities that aren't served by bus, shared taxis are common. Shared taxi is not safe for tourist, especially if you are solo female traveller.


Bolivia has three official languages : Spanish (often called Castellano), Quechua, and Aymara. In rural areas, many people do not speak Spanish. Nevertheless, you should be able to get by with some basic Castellano. Bolivia is one of the best places in which to learn or practice your Spanish because of their very clean, deliberate accent. There are many options for studying Spanish in Bolivia, and they are usually very good (often, the program includes a very good homestay component).

Foreign currency

It can be difficult to change money other than euros and US dollars, even currency from neighboring countries! You might find more flexible exchange offices at airports, but be prepared for service fees and poor exchange rates.

The national currency is the boliviano. As of July 2008, the exchange rate is generally Bs7.11/$USD. Bills come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10; coins are in 5, 2, and 1 bolivianos, and 50, 20, and you will find sometimes 10 centavos (1/100 of a boliviano). Bills larger than Bs20 can be hard to break, but a quick phone call or internet session at a Punto Entel (see Contact, below) will usually get you change.

Currency can be exchanged for US dollars and most South American currencies at casa de cambio agencies or street vendors. Expect to negotiate for a favorable exchange rate, as most vendors will try to make money off a tourist.

U.S. dollars are widely accepted in hotels, tourist shops, and for large purchases.

Coca leaves

Coca has been part of Andean culture for centuries, and chewing is still very common (and perfectly legal) in Bolivia. You should be able to buy a big bag of dried leaves at the local market. Coca is a stimulant, and it also suppresses hunger. Chewing a wad of leaves for a few minutes should bring slight numbness to your lips and throat. Remember the slogan (printed on souvenir T-shirts): Coca no es Cocaina ("The coca leaf is not cocaine"). But cocaine most definitely is an illegal drug. Remember this, only chew the leaf; if you eat the coca leaf you will get a very sick stomach.

The cuisine of Bolivia might be called the original "meat and potatoes" -- the latter (locally called papas from the Quechua) were first cultivated by the Inca before spreading throughout the world. The most common meat is beef, though chicken and llama are also easily found. Pork is relatively rare. Deep frying (chicharron) is a common method of cooking all sorts of meat, and fried chicken is a very popular quick dish; at times the smell permeates the streets of Bolivian cities. Guinea pigs (cuy) and rabbits (conejo) are eaten in rural areas, though you can sometimes find them in urban restaurants as well. A common condiment served with Bolivian meals is llajhua, a spicy sauce similar to Mexican salsa.

Some notable Bolivian dishes:

  • Pique a lo macho - grilled chunks of meat in a slightly spicy sauce with tomatoes and onion, on potatoes
  • Silpancho - beef pounded to a thin, plate-sized patty, served on a bed of rice and potatoes, with a fried egg on top (Similar to wiener schnitzel).

Street food and snacks:

  • Anticucho - Beef hearts grilled on a skewer, served with potatoes and a spicy corn sauce
  • Salchipapa - Thinly sliced sausage fried with potatoes
  • Choripan - Chorizo (spicy sausage) sandwich, served with grilled onions and lots of sauce

Breakfast (desayuno) typically consists of any of several of meat-filled buns:

  • Salteña - A baked bun filled with meat and potatoes in a slightly sweet or spicy sauce. Be careful when you take a bite, as the sauce will drip all over!
  • Tucumana - Like a salteña but fried
  • Empanada - Similar to a saltena, often filled with cheese as well as meat
  • Cuñape - A small roll filled with cheese, similar to Brazilian pão de queijo. The bread is made from cassava flour.

Many people also start off the day with some concoction involving fruit:

  • Ensalada de frutas - Many different fruits chopped in a bowl of yogurt. Very filling. Some stalls may have honey, nuts or gelatin on top, if you like.


Juice bars appear at most markets. Shakes (either with water or milk) are 2-3Bs. Locals can be seen to drink Vitaminico an egg, beer and sugar concoction or "Vitima" which includes coca leaves.

  • Licuado - Water or milk blended with your favorite fruit combination. A big spoonful of sugar will be added unless you specifically ask them not to. Try the milk and papaya licuado.
  • Vitaminico - Don't ask what's in here. Many fruits, milk, sugar, a shot of beer, and, if you wish, a whole egg (with shell).
  • Mocochinchi - A drink made by brewing peaches and spices together in water. Very good but some people are turned off by the shriveled peach which is typically served with each glass.
  • Api - A traditional corn base drink usually found in the open-air markets. If you didn't know it was corn you'd never guess it though because this stuff is good.


Bolivia's traditional alcoholic drink is chicha, a whitish, sour brew made from fermented corn and drunk from a hemispherical bowl fashioned from a hollowed gourd (round-bottomed so you can't put it down). It's customary to spill a bit of chicha on the ground before and after drinking it as an offering to Pachamama, the Inca earth godess.

  • Singani is a grape liquor that's mixed with Sprite or ginger ale with lime garnish to make a cocktail called chuflay.
  • There are a number of local beers, the largest being Paceña and its high-end brand Huari. El Inca is a very sweet low-alcohol beer. Orange Cocktails are a popular drink too!


Offering a favorable exchange for Western tourists, lodging can be found at very reasonable prices throughout the country, from hostels to luxury hotels. During a 3 week trip in 2003 I stayed in hostals and the going rate per night was never more than the equivalent of US $ 3.50.

  • (Bolivia Hostels and Hotels), Bolivia, [11]. Is the largest bolivian site offering budget accommodation in Bolivia, tours, city maps and free online reservations is available.  edit
  • Bolivian Spanish School [12]
  • Fox Language Academy [13]
  • Speak Easy Institute [14]

Probably the best-trusted language institute in La Paz. Offers many different types of classes to all levels and for all specialities if you're going to live and work in Bolivia.

Stay safe

Apply common sense and take precautions that apply elsewhere. All tourists should be careful when selecting a travel guide and never accept medication from unverifiable sources. Women tourists should be cautious when traveling alone. If possible try to take "radio taxis" private cabs by calling them since there have been some incidents at night of fake cabs taken from the streets that are used to steal their occupants and raping women tourists. Women tourist never take a unregistered taxi or fake cab even if they offer you cheaper price. It is a good idea to register with the consulate of your country of residence upon entry into the country.

Stay healthy

Some parts of Bolivia like La Paz (3650), Potosí (4010), Oruro (3950) and the Lake Titicaca region are high altitude, so adequate precautions against "soroche" altitude sickness should be taken.

At local pharmacies they sell soroche pills, that are supposed to help with altitude problems. In many parts of the Altiplano you can purchase coca leaves, which are reputed to be useful against soroche. Coca tea ("mate de coca") is available in tea bags in many markets.

However, severe cases of high altitude disease can be treated at the High Altitude Pathology Institute at Clinica IPPA [15]. This Clinic has the most advanced technology including a hyperoxic/hypoxic adaptation chamber. In addition, the sun's ultraviolet rays are much stronger -- up to 20 times -- than at sea level. A sun hat, sunglasses, and skin protection (sunblock or long sleeves) are advised.

  • Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for those who plan on spending time in the Bolivian Amazon. It must be taken 10 days prior to the person’s arrival into the country if the visitor plans to visit rural areas.
  • Malaria prophylaxis is recommended if the visitor plans to visit tropical-rural areas.
  • As a preventive measure, taking the following vaccines is recommended: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Tetanus, Diphtheria and Measles Booster-Vaccines.


Do not use the word "indio" in Bolivia to describe indigenous people. It is considered offensive. The term they use is "campesino" or "indigena" which translates to peasant. "Cholo" is a campesino who moved to the city, and though originally derogatory, has become more of a symbol of indigenous power. Nevertheless, some locals still use the word cholo as a derogative term.


Bolivia's national phone company Entel has outlets on practically every block in major cities. Most Punto Entel shops also have internet-connected PCs, typically Bs4/hr.

While traditional payphones still exist, you can also make local calls for Bs1 from cellular phones at kiosks or "walking phone booths" - look for a guy in a green vest with a cellphone on a chain.

If you are staying for a while, consider buying SIM cards for your cellphones. They are quite cheap and you get good network coverage in all main cities and towns.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BOLIVIA, an inland republic of South America, once a part of the Spanish vice-royalty of Peru and known as the province of Charcas, or Upper Peru. It is the third largest political division of the continent, and extends, approximately, from 9° 44' to 22° 50' S. lat., and from 58° to 70° W. long. It is bounded N. and E. by Brazil, S. by Paraguay and Argentina, and W. by Chile and Peru. Estimates of area vary widely and have been considerably confused by repeated losses of territory in boundary disputes with neighbouring states, and no figures can be given which may not be changed to some extent by further revisions. Official estimates are 640,226 and 703,633 sq. m., but Supan (Die Bevolkerung der Erde, 1904) places it at 515,156 sq. M.


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Table of contents


The boundary line between Bolivia and Brazil has its origin in the limits between the Spanish and Portuguese colonies determined by the treaties of Madrid and San Ildefonso (1750 and 1777), which were modified by the treaties of 1867 and 1903. Beginning at the outlet of Bahia Negra into the Paraguay river, lat. 28° 08' 35" S., the line ascends the latter to a point on the west bank 9 kilometres below Fort Coimbra, thence inland 4 kilometres to a point in lat. 19° 45' 36" S. and long. 58° 04' 12.7" W., whence it follows an irregular course N. and E. of N. to Lakes Mandiore, Gaiba or Gahiba, and Uberaba, then up the San Matias river and N. along the Sierra Ricardo Franco to the headwaters of the Rio Verde, a tributary of the Guapore. This part of the boundary was turned inland from the Paraguay to include, within Brazilian jurisdiction, Fort Coimbra, Corumba and other settlements on the west bank, and was modified in 1903 by the recession of about 1158 sq. m. to Bolivia to provide better commercial facilities on the Paraguay. The line follows the Verde, Guapore, 1Vlamore and Madeira rivers down to the mouth of the Abuna, in about lat. 9° 44' S., as determined by the treaty of 1903. This is a part of the original colonial frontier, which extended down the Madeira to a point midway between the Beni and the Amazon, and then ran due W. to the Javary. The treaty of 1867 changed this startingpoint to the mouth of the Beni, in lat. 10 20' S., and designated a straight line to the source of the Javary as the frontier, which gave to Brazil a large area of territory; but when the valuable rubber forests of the upper Purus became known the Brazilians invaded them and demanded another modification of the boundary line. This was finally settled in 1903 by the treaty of Petropolis, which provided that the line should ascend the Abuna river to lat. 10 20' S., thence along that parallel W. to the Rapirran river which is followed to its principal source, thence due W. to the Ituxy river which is followed W. to its source, thence to the source of Bahia Creek which is followed to the Acre or Aquiry river, thence up the latter to its source, whence if east of the 69th meridian it runs direct to the 1 ith parallel which will form the boundary line to the Peruvian frontier. This frontier gave about 60,000 sq. m. of territory to Brazil, for which the latter gave an indemnity of £2,000,000 and about 1158 sq. m. of territory on the Matto Grosso frontier. The boundary with Paraguay is unsettled, but an unratified treaty of the 23rd of November 1894 provides that the line shall start from a point on the Paraguay river 3 m. north of Fort Olimpo and run south-west in a straight line to an intersection with the Pilcomayo in long. 61° 28' W., where it unites with the Argentine boundary. The boundary with Chile was greatly modified by the results of the war of 1879-83, as determined by the treaties of 1884, 1886 and 1895, Bolivia losing her department of the littoral on the Pacific and all access to the coast except by the grace of the conqueror. Provisions were made in 1895 for the cession of the port of Mejillones del Norte and a right of way across the province of Tarapaca, but Peru protested, and negotiations followed for the cession of Cobija, in the province of Antofagasta. These negotiations proved fruitless, and in 1904 Bolivia accepted a pecuniary indemnity in lieu of territory. The new boundary line starts from the summit of the Sapaleri (or Zapalegui), where the Argentine, Bolivian and Chilean boundaries converge, and runs west to Licancaur, thence north to the most southern source of Lake Ascotan which it follows to and across this lake in the direction of the Oyahua volcano, and thence in a straight line to the Tua volcano, on the frontier of the province of Tarapaca. From this point the line follows the summits of the Cordillera Silillica north to the Cerro Paquiza, on the Tacna frontier, and to the Nevado Pomarape, near the frontier of Peru. Thence it continues north to an intersection with the Desaguadero, in about 16° 45' S. lat., follows that river to the Winamarca lagoon and Lake Titicaca, and crosses the latter diagonally to Huaicho on the north shore. From this point the line crosses the Cordillera Real through the valley of the San Juan del Oro to Suches Lake, follows the Cololo and Apolobamba ranges to the headwaters of the Sina river, and thence down that stream to the Inambari. Thence the line either follows the latter to its confluence with the Madre de Dios, or the water-parting between that river and the Tambopata or Pando, to the valley of the Madre de Dios, from which point it runs due north to 12° 40' S. lat., and north-west to the new Brazilian frontier. The N.W. angle on the map represents the Bolivian claim until the settlement of 1909, which gave the territory to Peru.


Roughly calculated, two-fifths of the total area of Bolivia is comprised within the Andean cordilleras which cross its south-west corner and project east toward the Brazilian highlands in the form of a great obtuse angle. The cordilleras, divided into two great parallel chains, with flanking ranges and spurs to the east, reach their greatest breadth at this point and form the massif of the Andean system. It is made up of a number of parallel ranges enclosing great elevated plateaus broken by transverse ranges and deep ravines. North-east of Lake Titicaca there is a confused mass or knot (the Nudo de Apolobamba) of lofty intersecting ridges which include some of the highest peaks in South America. Below this mountainous area the ranges open out and enclose extensive plateaus. The western range, the Cordillera Occidental, a part of the boundary between Bolivia and the northern provinces of Chile, closely follows the coast outline and forms the western rampart of the great Bolivian tableland or alta-planicie, which extends from the Vilcanota knot in Peru, south to the Serrania de Lipez on the Argentine frontier, is 500 m. long, and about 80 m. broad, and contains about 40,000 sq. m. The northern part of this plateau is commonly called the Puna; the southern part, the " desert of Lipez," in character and appearance is part of the great Puna de Atacama. This plateau has an average elevation of about 12,650 ft. near Lake Titicaca, but descends about 1000 ft. toward its southern extremity. It is a great lacustrine basin where once existed an inland sea having an outlet to the east through the La Paz gorge. The plateau is bleak and inhospitable in the north, barren and arid toward the south, containing great saline depressions covered with water in the rainy season, and broken by ridges and peaks, the highest being the Cerro de Tahua, 17,454 ft. Overlooking the plateau from the west are the snowclad peaks of Pomarape (20,505 ft.), Parinacota (20,918 ft.), Sajama (21,047), Huallatiri (21,654), Lirima (19,128), and the three volcanic peaks, Oyahua (19,226), San Pedro y Pablo (19,423) and Licancaur (19,685). The eastern rampart of this great plateau is formed by the Cordillera Oriental, which extends north-west into Peru under the name of Carabaya, and south to the frontier in broken ranges, one of which trends southeast in the vicinity of Sucre. The main part of this great range, known as the Cordillera Real, and one of the most imposing mountain masses of the world, extends from the Peruvian border south-east to the 18th parallel and exhibits a series of snowcrowned peaks, notably the triple-crested Illampu or Sorata (21,490 ft.), Illimani (Conway, 21,204), Cacaaca (20,571) and Chachacomani (21,434). Of the ranges extending south from the Cordillera Real and branching out between the 18th and 19th parallels, the more prominent are the Frailes which forms the eastern rampart of the great central plateau and which is celebrated for its mineral deposits, the Chichas which runs south from the vicinity of Potosi to the Argentine frontier, and the Livichuco which turns south-east and forms the watershed between the Cachimayo and Pilcomayo. The more prominent peaks in and between these ranges are the Asanaque (16,857), Michaga (17,389), Cuzco (17,930), Potosi (15,381), Chorolque (18,480) and Tuluma (15,584). At the southern extremity of the great plate to is the transverse Serrania de Lipez, the culminating crest of which stands 16,404 ft. above sea-level. The eastern rampart of the Bolivian highlands comprises two distinct chains - the Sierra de Cochabamba on the north-east and the Sierra de Misiones on the east. Between these and the Cordillera Oriental is an apparently confused mass of broken, intersecting ranges, which on closer examination are found to conform more or less closely to the two outside ranges. These have been deeply cut by rivers, especially on the north-east, where the rainfall is heavier. The region enclosed by these ranges is extremely rugged in character, but it is esteemed highly for its fertile valleys and its fine climate, and is called the " Bolivian Switzerland." Lying wholly within the tropics, these mountain masses form one of the most interesting as well as one of the most imposing and difficult regions of the world. At their feet and in their lower valleys the heat is intense and the vegetation is tropical. Above these are cool, temperate slopes and valleys, and high above these, bleak, wind-swept passes and snowclad peaks. West of the Cordillera Oriental, where special conditions prevail, a great desert plateau stretches entirely across one corner of the republic. Apart from the Andean system there is a group of low, broken, gneiss ranges stretching along the east side of Bolivia among the upper affluents of the Mamore and Guapore, which appear to belong to the older Brazilian orographic system, from which they have been separated by the erosive action of water. They are known as the Sierras de Chiquitos, and are geologically interesting because of their proximity to the eastern projection of the Andes. Their culminating point is Cerro Cochii, 3894 ft. above sea-level, but for the most part they are but little more than ranges of low wooded hills, having in general a north-west and south-east direction between the 15th and 19th parallels.

The popular conception of Bolivia is that of an extremely rugged mountainous country, although fully three-fifths of it, including the Chiquitos region, is composed of low alluvial plains, great swamps and flooded bottomlands, and gently undulating forest regions. In the extreme south are the Bolivian Chaco and the llanos (open grassy plains) of Manzo, while above these in eastern Chuquisaca and southern Santa Cruz are extensive swamps and low-lying plains, subject to periodical inundations and of little value for agricultural and pastoral purposes. There are considerable areas in this part of Bolivia, however, which lie above the floods and afford rich grazing lands. The great drawback to this region is defective drainage; the streams have too sluggish a current to carry off the water in the rainy season. Between the Chiquitos sierras and the Andes are the Llanos de Chiquitos, which have a higher general elevation and a more diversified surface. North of this elevation, which formed the southern shore of the ancient Mojos Lake, are the llanos of Guarayos and Mojos, occupying an extensive region traversed by the Guapore, San Miguel, Guapay, Mamore, Yacuma, Beni and Madre de Dios rivers and their numerous tributaries. It was once covered by the great Mojos Lake, and still contains large undrained areas, like that of Lake Rojoagua (or Roguaguado). It contains rich agricultural districts and extensive open plains where cattle-raising has been successfully followed since the days of the Jesuit missions in that region. The lower slopes of the Andes, especially toward the north-west, where the country is traversed by the Beni and Madre de Dios, are covered with heavy forests. This is one of the richest districts of Bolivia and is capable of sustaining a large population.

The river-systems of Bolivia fall naturally into three distinct regions - the Amazon, La Plata and Central Plateau. The first includes the rivers flowing directly and indirectly into the Madeira, one of the great tributaries of the Amazon, together with some small tributaries of the Acre and Purus in the north, all of which form a drainage basin covering more than one-half of the republic. The two principal rivers of this system are the Mamore and Beni, which unite in lat. 10 20' S. to form the Madeira. The Mamore, the upper part of which is called the Chimore, rises on the north-east slopes of the Sierra' de Cochabamba a little south of the 17th parallel, and follows a northerly serpentine course to its confluence with the Beni, the greater part of which course is between the 65th and 66th meridians. The river has a length of about 600 m., fully three-fourths of which, from Chimore (925 ft. above sea level) to the rapids near its mouth, passes across a level plain and is navigable. The principal Bolivian tributary of the Mamore, the Guapay or Grande, which is larger and longer than the former above their confluence and should be considered the main stream, rises in the Cordillera Oriental east of Lake Pampa Aullaguas, and flows east to the north extremity of the Sierra de Misiones, where it emerges upon the Bolivian lowlands. Turning to the north in a magnificent curve, it passes around the south-east extremity of the Sierra de Cochabamba, skirts the Llanos de Chiquitos, and, turning to the north-west, unites with the Mamore at Junta de los Rios in about 15° 20' S. lat. and 64° 40' W. long. It has a tortuous course of over 700 m., which is described as not navigable. The principal tributaries of the Guapay are the Mizque, Piray or Sara and Yapacani, the last rising on the east slopes of the Cordillera Real, flowing east by Cochabamba to the sierras of that name where it breaks through with a great bend to the north. The other large Bolivian tributaries of the Mamore, all rising on the north-east flanks of the Andes, are the Chapare, Secure, Manique or Apere and Yacuma, the last draining a region of lakes and swamps north of the Sierra Chamaya. The Beni and its great affluent, the Madre de Dios, though of smaller volume and extent than the Mamore, are of much greater economic importance, owing to their navigability, the fertility of the region they drain, and the great forests along their banks. North of the Beni, the Abuna flows into the Madeira. Several of its south tributaries belong to Bolivia. The Guapore, or Itenez, an affluent of the Mamore, is the third large river of this Bolivian drainage basin, but it rises in Brazil, on the south slopes of the Sierra dos Parecis, where it flows in a great bend to the south and then west of north to the Bolivian frontier in 14° S. lat. From this point to its junction with the Mamore, a little north of the 12th parallel, it flows in a northwesterly direction and forms the boundary line between the two republics. Its Brazilian tributaries are comparatively unimportant, but from Bolivia it receives the Baures and the San Miguel, both rising in the Sierras de Chiquitos and flowing north-west across the llanos to the Guapore. The Baures has one large tributary, the Blanco, and the Itonama (San Miguel) has its origin in Lake Concepcion, lying among the west ranges of the Chiquitos mountains 952 ft. above sea-level.

The south-east drainage basin, which is smaller and economically less important than that of the Madeira, discharges into the Paraguay and extends from the Sierras de Chiquitos south to the Argentine frontier, and from the Cordillera Oriental east to the Paraguay. It possesses only one large river in Bolivia, the Pilcomayo, which rises on the east slopes of the Cordillera Oriental opposite the south end of Lake Pampa Aullaguas and flows east and south-east through the sierra region to the Bolivian Chaco. It flows through a nearly level country with so sluggish a current that its channels are greatly obstructed. Nothing definite is known of its tributaries in the Chaco, but in the sierra region it possesses a number of small tributaries, the largest of which are the Cachimayo, Mataca and Pilaya or Camblaya, the latter formed by the Cotagaita and San Juan. The Bermejo, which is an Argentine river, receives one large tributary from the Bolivian uplands, the Tarija or Rio Grande, which drains a small district south-east of the Santa Victoria sierra. The Bolivian tributaries of the upper Paraguay are small and unimportant. The Otuquis, the most southern of the group, is formed by the San Rafael and Tucabaca, which drain both slopes of the Cerro Cochii range; but is lost in some great marshes 50 m. from the Paraguay. Another considerable stream of this region, which is lost in the great marshy districts of the Bolivian plain, is the Parapiti, which rises on the eastern slopes of the Sierra de Misiones and flows north-east through a low plain for about 150 m. until lost.

The third drainage basin is that of the great central plateau, or alta-planicie. This is one of the most elevated lacustrine basins in the world, and though it once drained eastward, now has no surface outlet. Lake Titicaca receives the waters of several short streams from the neighbouring heights and discharges through the Desaguadero, a sluggish river flowing south for 184 m. with a gradually diminishing depth to Lake Pampa Aullaguas or Poopo. The Desaguadero is navigable for small craft, and has two or three small tributaries from the west. Two small streams empty into Lake Pampa Aullaguas, which has a small outlet in the Lacahahuira flowing west for 60 m. to the Cienegas de (salt-swamps of) Coipasa. The drainage of this extensive district seems to be wholly absorbed by the dry soil of the desert and by evaporation. In the extreme south the Rio Grande de Lipez is absorbed in the same way.

Few of the Bolivian lakes are at all well known. The great lacustrine basin between the Beni and the Mamore contains several lakes and lagoons, two of them of large size. These are Lake Rogagua whose waters find their way into the Beni through Rio Negro, and the Roguaguado lagoon and marshes which cover a large area of territory near the Mamore. The latter has an elevation little, if any, above the level of the Mamore, which apparently drains this region, and its area has been estimated at about 580 sq. m. Lake Concepcion, in the Chiquitos mountains, belongs to this same hydrographic area. In the south-east there are several large shallow lakes whose character and size change with the season. They fill slight depressions and are caused by defective drainage. Near the Paraguay there are several of these lakes, partly caused by obstructed outlets, such as Bahia Negra, Caceres, Mandiore, Gaiba and Uberaba, some of them of sufficient depth to be navigable by small craft. Above the latter are the great Xarayes swamps, sometimes described as a lake. This region, like that of the north, is subject to periodical inundations in the summer months (November - March or even May), when extensive areas of level country are flooded and traffic is possible only by the use of boats. The two principal lakes of the plateau region are Titicaca and Pampa Aullaguas or Poopo. The former lies near the north end of the great Bolivian alta-planicie, 12,644 ft. above sea-level, being one of the most elevated lakes of the world. It is indented with numerous bays and coves; its greatest length is 138 m., and its greatest breadth 69 m. According to a survey made by Dr M. Neveau-Lemaire (La Geographic, ix. p. 409, Paris, 1904), its water surface, excluding islands and peninsulas, is 1969 sq. m., and its greatest depth is 892 ft. The level of the lake rises about 5 in. in summer; the loss in winter is even greater. The lake belongs to both Bolivia and Peru, and is navigated by steamers running between Bolivian ports and the Peruvian railway port of Puno. The outlet of the lake is through the Desaguadero river. It has several islands, the largest of which bears the same name and contains highly interesting archaeological monuments of a prehistoric civilization usually attributed to the Incas. Lake Pampa Aullaguas or Poopo is about 180 m. south-east of Titicaca, and is fed principally by its outflow. It lies 505 ft. below the level of Titicaca, which gives an average fall for the Desaguadero of very nearly 24 ft. per mile. The Pampa Aullaguas has an estimated area of 386 sq. m., and has one large inhabited island. The lake is shallow and the district about it is sparsely populated. Its outlet is through the Lacahahuira river into the Coipasa swamp, and it is estimated that the outflow is much less than the inflow, showing a considerable loss by evaporation and earth absorption.

Having no sea-coast, Bolivia has no seaport except what may be granted in usufruct by Chile.


The eastern ranges of the Bolivian Andes are formed of Palaeozoic rocks with granitic and other intrusions; the Western Cordillera consists chiefly of Jurassic and Cretaceous beds, together with the lavas and ashes of the great volcanoes; while the intervening plateau is covered by freshwater and terrestrial deposits through which rise ridges of Palaeozoic rock and of a series of red sandstones and gypsiferous marls of somewhat uncertain age (probably, in part at least, Cretaceous). The Palaeozoic beds have yielded fossils of Cambrian, Ordovician, Devonian and Carboniferous age. In southern Bolivia Cambrian and Ordovician beds form the greater part of the eastern Andes, but farther north the, Devonian and Carboniferous are extensively developed, especially in the northeastern ranges. The hills, known as the Chiquitos, which rise from the plains of eastern Bolivia, are composed of ancient sedimentary rocks of unknown age. The Palaeozoic beds are directly overlaid by a series of red sandstones and gypsiferous marls, similar to the formacion petrolifera of Argentina and Brazil. At the base there is frequently a conglomerate or tuff of porphyritic rocks. Marine fossils found by Gustav Steinmann in the middle of the series are said to indicate an age not earlier than the Jurassic, and Steinmann refers them to the Lower Cretaceous. It is, however, not improbable that the series may represent more than one geological system. No later marine deposits have been found either in the eastern Andes or in the plains of Bolivia, but freshwater beds of Tertiary and later date occupy a wide area. The recent deposits, which cover so large a part of the depression between the Eastern and the Western Cordillera, appear to be partly of torrential origin, like the talus-fans at the foot of mountain ranges in other dry regions; but Lakes Titicaca and Pampa Aullaguas (Poopo) were undoubtedly at one time rather more extensive than they are to-day. The volcanoes of Bolivia lie almost entirely in the Western Cordillera - the great summits of the eastern range, such as Illimani and Sorata, being formed of Palaeozoic rocks with granitic and other intrusions. The gold, silver and tin of Bolivia occur chiefly in the Palaeozoic rocks of the eastern ranges. The copper belongs mostly to the red sandstone series.


Iv. 6 a Climate. - Bolivia lies wholly within the torrid zone, and variations in temperature are therefore due to elevation, mountain barriers and prevailing winds. The country possesses every gradation of temperature, from that of the tropical lowlands to the Arctic cold of the snow-capped peaks directly above. This vertical arrangement of climatic zones is modified to some extent (less than in Argentina) by varying rainfall conditions, which are governed by the high mountain ranges crossing one corner of the republic, and also by the prevailing winds. The trade winds give to S. Bolivia a wet and dry season similar to that of N. Argentina. Farther north, and east of the Cordillera Oriental, rains fall throughout the year, though the summer months (November - March) are usually described as the rainy season. On the west side of the Cordillera, which extracts the moisture from the prevailing easterly winds, the elevated plateaus have a limited rainfall in the north, which diminishes toward the south until the surface becomes absolutely barren. Brief and furious rain-storms sometimes sweep the northern plateau, but these are not frequent and occur during a short season only. Electrical wind storms are frequent in these high altitudes.

Bolivia has a wide range of temperature between places of the same latitude. The natives designate the Bolivian climatic zones as yungas, valle or medio yungas, cabezera de valle, puna and puna brava. The yungas comprises all the lowlands and the mountain valleys up to an elevation of 5000 ft. The temperature is tropical, winter is unknown and the atmosphere is exceedingly humid. The mean temperature, according to official estimates, is 70° F., but this probably represents the average between the higher elevations and the low country. The valle zone includes the deep valleys from 5000 to 9500 ft., has a warm climate with moderate variations in temperature and no cold weather, is sub-tropical in character and productions, and is sometimes described as a region of perpetual summer. The cabezera de valle, as the name indicates, includes the heads of the deep valleys above the valle zone, with elevations ranging from 95 00 to 11,000 ft.; its climate is temperate, is divided into regular seasons, and is favourable to the production of cereals and vegetables. The puna, which lies between 11,000 and 12,500 ft., includes the great central plateau of Bolivia. It has but two seasons, a cold summer or autumn and winter. The air is cold and dry, and the warmer season is too short for the production of anything but potatoes and barley. The mean temperature is officially estimated as 54° F. The puna brava extends from 12,500 ft. up to the snow limit (about 17,500 ft.), and covers a bleak, inhospitable territory, inhabited only by shepherds and miners. Above this is the region of eternal snow, an Arctic zone within the tropics. In general, the sub-tropical (valle) and temperate (cabezera de valle) regions of Bolivia are healthy and agreeable, have a plentiful rainfall, moderate temperature in the shade, and varied and abundant products. There is a high rate of mortality among the natives, due to unsanitary habits and diet, and not to the climate. In the tropical yungas the ground is covered with decaying vegetation, and malaria and fevers are common. There are localities in the open country and on exposed elevations where healthy conditions prevail, but the greater part of this region is considered unhealthy. The prevailing winds are easterly, bringing moisture across Brazil from the Atlantic, but eastern Bolivia is also exposed to hot, oppressive winds from the north, and to violent cold winds (surazos) from the Argentine plains, which have been known to cause a fall of temperature of 36° within a few hours. According to the Sinopsis Estadistica y Geogrcifcca de la Republica de Bolivia (La Paz, 1903), the average mean temperature and the annual rainfall in eastern Bolivia are as follows: 10° S. lat., 90 8° F. and 31.5 in. rainfall; 15° S. lat., 86° F. and 30.7 in. rainfall; 20° S. lat., 81° F. and 30 in. rainfall; and 25° S. lat., 76.8° F. and 29.3 in. rainfall.


The indigenous fauna of Bolivia corresponds closely to that of the neighbouring districts of Argentina, Brazil and Peru. Numerous species of monkeys inhabit the forests of the tropical region, together with the puma, jaguar, wildcat, coati, tapir or anta, sloth, ant-bear, paca (Coelogenys paca) and capybara. A rare species of bear, the Ursus ornatus (spectacled bear) is found among the wooded Andean foothills. The chinchilla <C. laniger), also found in northern Argentina and Chile, inhabits the colder plateau regions and is prized for its fur. The plateau species of the viscacha (Lagidium cuvieri) and the widely distributed South American otter (Lutra paranensis) are also hunted for their skins. The peccary, which prefers a partially open country, ranges from the Chaco to the densely wooded districts of the north. There are two or three species of deer, the most common being the large marsh deer of the Chaco; but the deer are not numerous. The armadillo, opossum, ferret and skunk are widely distributed. The amphibia are well represented throughout the lower tropical districts. Alligators are found in the tributaries of the Paraguay and their lagoons, lizards and turtles are numerous, and the batrachians are represented by several species. Snakes are also numerous, including rattlesnakes and the great boa-constrictors of the Amazon region.

The most interesting of all the Bolivian animals, however, are the guanaco (Auchenia huanaco) and its congeners, the llama (A. llama), alpaca (A. pacos) and vicuña (A. vicugna), belonging to the Camelidae, with the structure and habits of the African camel, but smaller, having no hump, and inhabiting a mountainous and not a level sandy region. They are able to go without food and drink for long periods, and inhabit the arid and semiarid plateaus of the Andes and the steppes of Patagonia. The guanaco is supposed to be the original type, is the largest of the four, and has the greatest range from Peru to Tierra del Fuego. The llama and alpaca were domesticated long before the discovery of America, but the guanaco and vicuña are found in a wild state only. The llama is used as a pack animal in Bolivia and Peru, and its coarse wool is used in the making of garments for the natives. The alpaca is highly prized for its fine wool, which is a staple export from Bolivia, but the animal is reared with difficulty and the product cannot be largely increased. The vicuna also is celebrated for its wool, which the natives weave into beautiful and costly ponchos (blanket cloaks) and other wearing apparel. The guanaco is hunted for its skin, which, when dressed, makes an attractive rug or robe. The slaughter of the guanaco and vicuña is rapidly diminishing their number. The rearing of llamas and alpacas is a recognized industry in the Bolivian highlands and is wholly in the hands of the Indians, who alone seem to understand the habits and peculiarities of these interesting animals.

Of birds and insects the genera and species are very numerous and interesting. The high sierras are frequented by condors and eagles of the largest size, and the whole country by the common vulture, while the American ostrich (Rhea americanus) and a species of large stork (the bata or jaburu, Mycteria americans; maximum height, 8 ft.; spread of wings, 8 ft. 6 in.) inhabit the tropical plains and valleys. Waterfowl are numerous and the forests of the warm valleys are filled with song-birds and birds of beautiful plumage. Many species of humming-birds are found even far up in the mountains, and great numbers of parrots, araras and toucans, beautiful of feather but harsh of voice, enliven the forests of the lowlands.

Like other South American states, Bolivia benefited greatly from the introduction of European animals. Horses, cattle, sheep, goats, swine and poultry were introduced, and are now sources of food and wealth to a large part of the population. Mules are used to a large extent as pack animals, but they are imported from Argentina. Silkworms have been bred with success in some departments, and the cochineal insect is found wherever the conditions are favourable for the cactus.


Owing to the diversities in altitude the flora of Bolivia represents every climatic zone, from the scanty Arctic vegetation of the lofty Cordilleras to the luxuriant tropical forests of the Amazon basin. Between these extremes the diversity in vegetable life is as great as that of climate and soil. The flora of Bolivia has been studied less than the flora of the neighbouring republics, however, because of the inaccessibility of these inland regions. Among the more important productions, the potato, oca (Oxalis tuberosa), quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and some coarse grasses characterize the puna region, while barley, an exotic, is widely grown for fodder. Indian corn was cultivated in the temperate and warm regions long before the advent of Europeans, who introduced wheat, rye, oats, beans, pease and the fruits and vegetables of the Old World, for each of which a favourable soil and climate was easily found. In the sub-tropical and tropical zones the indigenous plants are the sweet potato, cassava (Manihot utilissima and M. aipi), peanuts, pineapple, guava, chirimoya (Anona cherimolia), pawpaw (Carica papaya), ipecacuanha (Cephaelis), sarsaparilla, vanilla, false jalap (Mirabilis jalapa), copaiba, tolu (Myroxylon toluiferum), rubber-producing trees, dyewoods, cotton and a great number of beautiful hardwoods, such as jacaranda, mahogany, rosewood, quebracho, colo, cedar, walnut, &c. Among the fruits many of the most common are exotics, as the orange, lemon, lime, fig, date, grape, &c., while others, as the banana, caju or cashew (Anacardium occidentale) and aguacate avocado or alligator pear, have a disputed origin. Coca, one of the most important plants of the country, is cultivated on the eastern slopes of the Andes at an altitude of 5000 to 6000 ft., where the temperature is uniform and frosts are unknown. Quina or calisaya is a natural product of the eastern Andes, and is found at an altitude of 3000 to 9000 ft. above sea-level. The calisaya trees of Bolivia rank among the best, and their bark forms an important item in her foreign trade. The destructive methods of collecting the bark are steadily diminishing the natural sources of supply, and experiments in cinchona cultivation were undertaken during the last quarter of the 19th century, with fair prospects of success. The most important of the indigenous forest products, however, is rubber, derived principally from the Hevea guayanensis (var. brasiliensis), growing along the river courses in the yungas regions of the north, though manicoba rubber is also obtained from Manihot Glaziovii on the drier uplands. Among the exotics, sugar-cane, rice and tobacco are cultivated in the warm districts.


The population of Bolivia is composed of Indians, Caucasians of European origin, and a mixture of the two races, generally described as mestizos. There is also a very small percentage of Africans, descendants of the negro slaves introduced in colonial times. A roughly-taken census of 1900 gives the total population as 1,816,271, including the Litoral department, now belonging to Chile (49,820), and estimates the number of wild Indians of the forest regions at 91,000. Of this total, 5 0.7% were classed as Indians, 12.8% as whites, 26.8% as mestizos, 0.3% as negroes, and 9.4% as unknown. In 1904 an official estimate made the population 2,181,415, also including the Litoral (59,784), but of course all census returns and estimates in such a country are subject to many allowances. The Indian population (920,860) is largely composed of the so-called civilized tribes of the Andes, which once formed part of the nationality ruled by the Incas, and of those of the Mojos and Chiquitos regions, which were organized into industrial communities by the Jesuits in the 17th century. The former, which are chiefly Aymaras south of the latitude of Lake Titicaca, attained a considerable degree of civilization before the discovery of America and have been in closer contact with Europeans than the other tribes of Bolivia. It is doubtful, however, whether their condition has been improved under these influences. The Mojos and Chiquitos tribes, also, have been less prosperous since the expulsion of the Jesuits, but they have remained together in organized communities, and have followed the industries and preserved the religion taught them as well as circumstances permitted. Both these groups of Indians are peaceable and industrious, and form an important labouring element. They are addicted to the excessive use of chica (a native beer made from Indian corn), and have little or no ambition to improve their condition, but this may be attributed in part to their profound ignorance and to the. state of peonage in which they are held. Inhabiting the southern part of the Bolivian plain are the Chiriguanos, a detached tribe of the Guarani race which drifted westward to the vicinity of the Andes long ago. They are of a superior physical and mental type, and have made noteworthy progress toward civilization. They are agriculturists and stock-raisers and have the reputation of being peaceable and industrious. The remaining native tribes under the supervision of the state have made little progress, and their number is said to be decreasing (notwithstanding the favourable climatic conditions under which most of them live) because of unsanitary and intemperate habits, and for other causes not well understood, one being the custom noticed by early travellers among some of the tribes of the La Plata region of avoiding the rearing of children. (See Southey's History of Brazil, iii. pp. 402, 673.) Of the wild Indians very little is known in regard to either numbers or customs.

The white population (231,088) is descended in great part from the early Spanish adventurers who entered the country in search of mineral wealth. To these have been added a small number of Spanish Americans from neighbouring republics and some Portuguese Americans from Brazil. There has been no direct immigration from Europe, though Europeans of various nationalities have found their way into the country and settled there as miners or traders. The percentage of whites therefore does not increase as in Argentina and Brazil, and cannot until means are found to promote European immigration.

The mestizos (486,018) are less numerous than the Indians, but outnumber the whites by more than two to one. It has been said of the mestizos elsewhere that they inherit the vices of both races and the virtues of neither. Yet, with a decreasing Indian population, and with a white population wanting in energy, barely able to hold its own and comprising only one-eighth of the total, the future of Bolivia mainly depends on them. As a rule they are ignorant, unprogressive and apathetic, intensely superstitious, cruel and intemperate, though individual strong characters have been produced. It may be that education and experience will develop the mestizos into a vigorous progressive nationality, but the first century of self-government can hardly be said to have given much promise of such a result.

Divisions and Towns

The republic is divided into eight departments and one territory, and these are subdivided into 54 provinces, 415 cantons, 232 vice-cantons, 18 missions and one colony. The names, areas and populations of the departments, with their capitals, according to the census of 1900, to which corrections must be made on account of the loss of territory to Brazil in 1903, are as follows: - The total area according to Gotha computations, with corrections for loss of territory to Brazil in 1903, is 515,156 sq. m.

There are no populous towns other than the provincial capitals above enumerated. Four of these capitals - Sucre or Chuquisaca, La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro - have served as the national capital, and Sucre was chosen, but after the revolution of 1898 the capital was at La Paz, which is the commercial metropolis and is more accessible than Sucre. Among the smaller towns prominent because of an industry or commercial position, may be mentioned the Huanchaca mining centre of Pulacayo (pop. 6512), where 3200 men are employed in the mines and surface works of this great silver mining company; Uyuni (pop. 1587), the junction of the Pulacayo branch with the Antofagasta and Oruro railway, and also the converging point for several important highways and projected railways; and Tupiza (pop. 1644), a commercial and mining centre near the Argentine frontier, and the terminus of the Argentine railway extension into Bolivia. All these towns are in the department of Potosi. Viacha (pop. 1670), a small station on the railway from Guaqui to Alto de La Paz, 14 m. from the latter, is the starting point of an important projected railway to Oruro. In the department of Cochabamba, 1 The figures for population include a 5% addition for omissions, sundry corrections and the estimated number of wild Indians.


Area sq. m.

from Official






La Paz.. .



La Paz


El Beni.. .










Cochabamba.. .





Santa Cruz.. .



Santa Cruz de

la Sierra


Potosi. ... .





Chuquisaca .





Tarija.. .





Nat. Territory .






Tarata (4681) and Totora (3501) are two important trading centres, and in the department of Santa Cruz, Ascension (pop. 4784) is a large mission station in the Chiquitos hills.


Under a treaty with Brazil in 1903 and with Chile in 1904 (ratified 1905) provisions were made for railway construction in Bolivia to bring this isolated region into more effective communication with the outside world. Brazil agreed to construct a railway around the falls of the Madeira (about 180 m. long) to give north-eastern Bolivia access to the Amazon, and paid down £2,000,000 in cash which Bolivia was to expend on railway construction within her own territory. Chile also agreed to construct a railway from Arica to La Paz, 295 m. (the Bolivian section becoming the property of Bolivia fifteen years after completion), and to pay the interest (not over 5%) which Bolivia might guarantee on the capital invested in certain interior railways if constructed within thirty years, providing these interest payments should not exceed £100,000 a year, nor exceed 1,600,000 in the aggregate. Argentina had already undertaken to extend her northern railway from Jujuy to the Bolivian frontier town of Tupiza, and the Peruvian Corporation had constructed for the Bolivian government a short line (S4 m. long) from Guaqui, on Lake Titicaca, to Alto de La Paz, which is connected with the city of La Paz, 1493 ft. below, by an electric line 5 m. long. This line gives La Paz access to the Peruvian port of Mollendo, 496 m. distant, and promises in time to give it railway communication with Cuzco. Rivalry for the control of her trade, therefore, promises to give Bolivia the railways needed for the development of her resources. Up to 1903 the only railways in Bolivia were the Antofagasta and Oruro line, with a total length of 574 m., of which 350 m. are within Bolivian, territory, a private branch of that line (26 m. long) running to the Pulacayo mines, and the line (54 m. long) from Guaqui to Alto de La Paz - a total of only 430 m. As a result of her war with Chile in 1878-81, the railways (282 m. long) of her Litoral department passed under Chilean control. Lines were in 1907 projected from La Paz to the navigable waters of the Beni, from La Paz to Cochabamba, from Viacha to Oruro, from Uyuni to Potosi and Sucre, from Uyuni to Tupiza, and from Arica to La Paz via Corocoro. The central northern line of the Argentine government was completed to the Bolivian frontier in 1908, and this line was designed to extend to Tupiza. The undertaking of the Arica-La Paz line by the Chilean government, also, was an important step towards the improvement of the economic situation in Bolivia. Both these lines offer the country new outlets for its products.

Public highways have been constructed between the large cities and to some points on the frontiers, and subsidized stage coaches are run on some of them. The roads are rough and at times almost impassable, 'however, and the river crossings difficult and dangerous. The large cities are connected with one another by telegraph lines and are in communication with the outside world through Argentina, Chile and Peru. Telegraph service dates from 1880, and in 1904 there were 3115 m. in operation, of which 1936 belonged to the state and 1179 to private corporations. The latter includes the lines belonging to the Antofagasta and Oruro railway, which are partly within Chilean territory. Bolivia is a member of the International Postal Union, and has parcel and money order conventions with some foreign countries. Special agreements have been made, also, with Argentina, Chile and Peru for the transmission of the Bolivian foreign mails.

The loss of her maritime department has left Bolivia with no other ports than those of Lake Titicaca (especially Guaqui, or Huaqui, which trades with the Peruvian port of Puno), and those of the Madeira and Paraguay rivers and their affluents. As none of these can be reached without transhipment in foreign territory, the cost of transport is increased, and her neighbours are enabled to exclude Bolivia from direct commercial intercourse with other nations. An exception formerly existed at Puerto Acre, on the Acre river, to which ocean-going steamers could ascend from Para, but Brazil first closed the Purus and Acre rivers to foreign vessels seeking this port, and then under a treaty of 1903 acquired possession of the port and adjacent territory. Since then Bolivia's outlet to the Amazon is restricted to the Madeira river, the navigation of which is interrupted by a series of falls before Bolivian territory is reached. The Bolivian port of entry for this trade, Villa Bella, is situated above the falls of the Madeira at the confluence of the Beni and Mamore, and is reached from the lower river by a long and costly portage. It is also shut off from the navigable rivers above by the falls of the Beni and Mamore. The railway to be built by Brazil will remedy this unfavourable situation, will afford a better outlet for north-eastern Bolivia, and should promote a more rapid development of that region, which is covered with an admirable system of navigable rivers above the falls of the Beni and Mamore. Connected with the upper Paraguay are Puerto Pacheco on Bahia Negra, Puerto Suarez (about 1600 m. from Buenos Aires by river), on Lake Caceres, through which passes the bulk of Bolivian trade in that direction, and Puerto Quijarro, on Lake Gaiba, a projected port said to be more accessible than any other in this region. Whenever the trade of southern Bolivia becomes important enough to warrant the expense of opening a navigable channel in the Pilcomayo, direct river communication with Buenos Aires and Montevideo will be possible.


Stock-raising was one of the earliest industries of the country after that of mining. Horses, formerly successfully raised in certain parts of the north, have not flourished there since the introduction of a peste from Brazil, but some are now raised in La Paz and other departments of the temperate region. The Jesuit founders of the Mojos missions took cattle with them when they entered that region to labour among the Indians, with the result that the Mojos and Chiquitos llanos were soon well stocked, and have since afforded an unfailing supply of beef for the neighbouring inland markets. Their inaccessibility and the costs of transportation have prevented a development of the industry and a consequent improvement in stock, but the persistency of the industry under conditions so unfavourable is evidence that the soil and climate are suited to its requirements. Farther south the llanos of Chuquisaca and Tarija also sustain large herds of cattle on the more elevated districts, and on the well-watered plains of the Chaco. There are small districts in La Paz, Potosi and Cochabamba, also, where cattle are raised. Apart from the cattle driven into the mining districts for consumption, a number of saladeros are employed in preparing (usually salting and sun-drying) beef for the home markets. The hides are exported. Goats are raised in the warm and temperate regions, and sheep for their wool in the latter. On the higher and colder plateaus much attention is given to the breeding of llamas and alpacas. Another industry of a different character is that of breeding the fur-bearing chinchilla (C. laniger), which is a native of the higher plateaus. The Bolivian government has prohibited the exportation of the live animals and is encouraging their production.

The agricultural resources of the republic are varied and of great value, but their development has been slow and hesitating. The cultivation of cereals, fruits and vegetables in the temperate and warm valleys of the Andes followed closely the mining settlements. Sugar-cane also was introduced at an early date, but as the demand for sugar was limited the product was devoted chiefly to the manufacture of rum, which is the principal object of cane cultivation in Bolivia to-day. The climatic conditions are highly favourable for this product in eastern Bolivia, but it is heavily taxed and is restricted to a small home market. Rice is another exotic grown in the tropical districts of eastern Bolivia, but the quantity produced is far from sufficient to meet local requirements. Tobacco of a fair quality is produced in the warm regions of the east, including the yungas valleys of La Paz and Cochabamba; cacao of a superior grade is grown in the department of Beni, where large orchards were planted at the missions, and also in the warm Andean valleys of La Paz and Cochabamba; and coffee of the best flavour is grown in some of the warmer districts of the eastern Andes. The two indigenous products which receive most attention, perhaps, are those of quinoa and coca. Quinoa is grown in large quantities, and is a staple article of food among the natives. Coca is highly esteemed by the natives, who masticate the leaf, and is also an article of export for medicinal purposes. It is extensively cultivated in the departments of Cochabamba and La Paz, especially in the province of Yungas.

In the exploitation of her forest products, however, are to be found the industries that yield the greatest immediate profit to Bolivia. The most prominent and profitable of these is that of rubber-collecting, which was begun in Bolivia between 1880 and 1890, and which reached a registered annual output of nearly 35 oo metric tons just before Bolivia's best rubber forests were transferred to Brazil in 1903. There still remain extensive areas of forest on the Beni and Madre de Dios in which the rubberproducing Hevea is to be found. Although representing less value in the aggregate, the collecting of cinchona bark is one of the oldest forest industries of Bolivia, which is said still to have large areas of virgin forest to draw upon. The Bolivian product is of the best because of the high percentage of quinine sulphate which it yields. The industry is destructive in method, and the area of cinchona forests is steadily diminishing. Many other Bolivian plants are commercially valuable, and organized industry and trade in them will certainly be profitable.

The industrial activities of the Bolivian people are still of a very primitive character. An act was passed in 1894 authorizing the government to offer premiums and grant advantageous concessions for the development of manufacturing industries, especially in sugar production, but conditions have not been favourable and the results have been disappointing. Spinning and weaving are carried on among the people as a household occupation, and fabrics are made of an exceptionally substantial character.It is not uncommon to see the natives busily twirling their rude spindles as they follow their troops of pack animals over rough mountain roads, and the yarn produced is woven into cloth in their own houses on rough Spanish looms of colonial patterns. Not only is coarse cloth for their own garments made in this manner from the fleece of the llama, but cotton and woollen goods of a serviceable character are manufactured, and still finer fabrics are woven from the wool of the alpaca and vicuña, sometimes mixed with silk or lamb's wool. The Indian women are expert weavers, and their handiwork often commands high prices. In the Mojos and Chiquitos districts the natives were taught by the Jesuit missionaries to weave an excellent cotton cloth, and the industry still exists. Cashmere, baize, waterproof ponchos of fine wool and silk, and many other fabrics are made by the Indians of the Andean departments. They are skilled in the use of dyes, and the Indian women pride themselves on a large number of finely-woven, brilliantly-coloured petticoats. Tanning and saddlery are carried on by the natives with primitive methods, but with excellent results. They are skilful in the preparation of lap robes and rugs from the skins of the alpaca and vicuna. The home markets are supplied, by native industry, with cigars and cigarettes, soap, candles, hats, gloves, starch, cheese and pottery. Sugar is still made in the old way, and there is a small production of wine and silk in certain districts. No country is better supplied with water power, and electric lighting and electric power plants have been established at La Paz.


The foreign trade of Bolivia is comparatively unimportant, but the statistical returns are incomplete and unsatisfactory; the imports of 1904 aggregated only £1,734,551 in value, and the exports only £1,851,758. The imports consisted of cottons, woollens, live-stock, provisions, hardware and machinery, wines, spirits and clothing. The principal exports were (in 1903) silver and its ores 0636,743), tin and its ores (b,039,298), copper ores 0157,609), bismuth (b6,354), other minerals (20,948),rubber (260,559), coca 028,907), and cinchona 09 1 97) - total exports, £2,453,638. These figures, however, do not correctly represent the aggregates of Bolivian trade, as her imports and exports passing through Antofagasta, Arica and Mollendo are to a large extent credited to Chile and Peru. The import trade of Bolivia is restricted by the poverty of the people. The geographical position limits the exports to mineral, forest and some pastoral products, owing to cost of transportation and the tariffs of neighbouring countries.


The government of Bolivia is a " unitarian " or centralized republic, representative in form, but autocratic in some important particulars. The constitution in force (1908) was adopted on the 28th of October 1880, and is a model in form and profession. The executive branch of the government is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by direct popular vote for a period of four years, and are not eligible for re-election for the next succeeding term. The president is assisted by a cabinet of five ministers of state, viz.: foreign relations and worship; finance and industry; interior and fomento; justice and public instruction; war and colonization. Every executive act must be countersigned by a minister of state, who is held responsible for its character and enforcement, and may be prosecuted before the supreme court for its illegality and effects. The legislative branch is represented by a national congress of two houses - a Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The Senate is composed of 16 members, two from each department, who are elected by direct popular vote for a period of six years, one-third retiring every two years. The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 72 members, who are elected for a period of four years, one-half retiring every two years. In impeachment trials the Chamber prosecutes and the Senate sits as a court, as in the United States. One of the duties of the Chamber is to elect the justices of the supreme court. Congress meets annually and its sessions are for sixty days, which may be extended to ninety days. The chambers have separate and concurrent powers defined by the constitution. The right of suffrage is exercised by all male citizens, twenty-one years of age, or over, if single, and eighteen years, or over, if married, who can read and write, and own real estate or have an income of 200 bolivianos a year, said income not to be compensation for services as a servant. The electoral body is therefore small, and is under the control of a political oligarchy which practically rules the country, no matter which party is in power.

The Bolivian judiciary consists of a national supreme court, eight superior district courts, lower district courts, and juzgados de instrucciOn for the investigation and preparation of cases. The corregidores and alcaldes also exercise the functions of a justice of the peace in the cantons and rural districts. The supreme court is composed of seven justices elected by the Chamber of Deputies from lists of three names for each seat sent in by the Senate. A justice can be removed only by impeachment proceedings before the Senate.

The supreme administration in each department is vested in a prefect appointed by and responsible solely to the president. As the prefect has the appointment of subordinate department officials, including the alcaldes, the authority of the national executive reaches every hamlet in the republic, and may easily become autocratic. There are no legislative assemblies in the departments, and their government rests with the national executive and congress. Subordinate to the prefects are the subprefects in the provinces, the corregidores in the cantons and the alcaldes in the rural districts - all appointed officials. The national territory adjacent to Brazil and Peru is governed by two delegados nacionales, appointees of the president. The department capitals are provided with municipal councils which have jurisdiction over certain local affairs, and over the construction and maintenance of some of the highways.


The military forces of the republic in 1905 included 2890 regulars and an enrolled force of 80,000 men, divided into a first reserve of 30,000, a second reserve of 40,000, and 10,000 territorial guards. The enrolled force is, however, both unorganized and unarmed. The strength of the army is fixed in each year's budget. That for 1903 consisted of 2933 officers and men, of which 275 were commissioned and 558 non-commissioned officers, 181 musicians, and only 1906 rank and file. A conscription law of 1894 provides for a compulsory military service between the ages of twenty-one and fifty years, with two years' actual service in the regulars for those between twentyone and twenty-five, but the law is practically a dead letter. There is a military school with 60 cadets, and an arsenal at La Paz.


Although Bolivia has a free and compulsory school system, education and the provision for education have made little progress. Only a small percentage of the people can read and write. Although Spanish is the language of the dominant minority, Quichua, Aymara and Guarani are the languages of the natives, who form a majority of the population. A considerable percentage of the Indians do not understand Spanish at all, and they even resist every effort to force it upon them. Even the clholos (mestizos) are more familiar with the native idioms than with Spanish, as is the case in some parts of Argentina and Paraguay. According to official estimates for 1901, the total number of primary schools in the republic was 733, with 938 teachers and 41,587 pupils - the total cost of their maintenance being estimated at 585,365 bolivianos, or only 14.07 bolivianos per pupil (about £1:4:6). The school enrolment was only one in 43.7 of population, compared with one in 10 for Argentina. The schools are largely under the control of the municipalities, though nearly half of them are maintained by the national government, by the Church and by private means. There were in the same year 13 institutions of secondary and 14 of superior instruction. The latter include so-called universities at Sucre (Chuquisaca), La Paz, Cochabamba, Tarija, Potosi, Santa Cruz and Oruro - all of which give instruction in law, the first three in medicine and the first four in theology. The university at Sucre, which dates from colonial times, and that at La Paz, are the only ones on the list sufficiently well equipped to merit the title. Secondary instruction is under the control of the universities, and public instruction in general is under the direction of a cabinet minister. All educational matters, however, are practically under the supervision of the Church. The total appropriation for educational purposes in 1901 was 756,943 bolivianos, or £ 66,232: 6s. There is a military academy at La Paz, an ` agricultural school at Umala in the department of La Paz, a mining and civil engineering school at Oruro, commercial schools at Sucre and Trinidad, and several mission schools under the direction of religious orders.


The constitution of Bolivia, art. 2, defines the attitude of the republic toward the Church in the following words: " The state recognizes and supports the Roman Apostolic Catholic religion, the public exercise of any other worship being prohibited, except in the colonies where it is tolerated." This toleration is tacitly extended to resident foreigners belonging to other religious sects. The census of 1900 enumerated the Roman Catholic population at 1,609,365, and that of other creeds at 24,245, which gives the former 985 and the latter 15 in every thousand. The domesticated Indians profess the Roman Catholic faith, but it is tinged with the superstitions of their ancestors. They hold the clergy in great fear and reverence, however, and are deeply influenced by the forms and ceremonies of the church, which have changed little since the first Spanish settlements. Bolivia is divided into an archbishopric and three bishoprics. The first includes the departments of Chuquisaca, Oruro, Potosi, Tarija and the Chilean province of Antofagasta, with its seat at Sucre, and is known as the archbishopric of La Plata. The sees of the three bishoprics are La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Mission work among the Indians is entrusted to the Propaganda Fide, which has five colleges and a large number of missions, and receives a small subvention from the state. It is estimated that these missions have charge of fully 20,000 Indians. The annual appropriation for the Church is about £17,150. The religious orders, which have never been suppressed in Bolivia, maintain several convents.


No itemized returns of receipts and expenditures are ever published, and the estimates presented to congress by the cabinet ministers furnish the only source from which information can be drawn. The expenditures are not large, and taxation is not considered heavy. The estimated revenues and expenditures for 1904 and 1905 at 21 pence per boliviano, were as follows: 1904, revenue £632,773: 15s., expenditure £74 8 ,57 1: 10s.; 1905, revenue £ 6 93,7 6 3: 17: 6, expenditure £ 828 ,937: 19: 9. The revenues are derived principally from duties and fees on imports, excise taxes on spirits, wines, tobacco and sugar, general, mining taxes and export duties on minerals (except silver), export duties on rubber and coca, taxes on the profits of stock companies, fees for licences and patents, stamp taxes, and postal and telegraph revenues. Nominally, the import duties are moderate, so much so that Bolivia is sometimes called a " free-trade country," but this is a misnomer, for in addition to the schedule rates of io to 40% ad valorem on imports, there are a consular fee of i-% for the registration of invoices exceeding 200 bolivianos, a consumption tax of 10 centavos per quintal (46 kilogrammes), fees for viseing certificates to accompany merchandise in transit, special " octroi " taxes on certain kinds of merchandise controlled by monopolies (spirits, tobacco, &c.), and the import and consumption taxes levied by the departments and municipalities. The expenditures are chiefly for official salaries, subsidies, public works, church and mission support, justice, public instruction, military expenses, and interest on the public debt. The appropriations for 1905 were as follows: war, 2,081,119 bolivianos; finance and industry, 1,462,259; government and fomento, 2,021,428; justice and public instruction, 1,878,941.

The acknowledged public debt of the country is comparatively small. At the close of the war with Chile there was an indemnity debt due to citizens of that republic of 6,550,830 bolivianos, which had been nearly liquidated in 1904 when Chile took over the unpaid balance. This was Bolivia's only foreign debt. In 1905 her internal debt, including 1,998,500 bolivianos of treasury bills, amounted to 6,243,270 bolivianos (LS46,286). The government in 1903 authorized the issue of treasury notes for the department of Beni and the National Territory to the amount of one million bolivianos (£87,500), for the redemption of which 10% of the customs receipts of the two districts is set apart. The paper currency of the republic consists of bank-notes issued by four private banks, and is therefore no part of the public debt. The amount in circulation on the 30th of June 1903 was officially estimated at 9,144,254 bolivianos (800,122), issued on a par with silver. The coinage of the country is of silver, nickel and copper. The silver coins are of the denominations of 1 boliviano, or 100 centavos, 50, 20, 10 and 5 centavos, and the issue of these coins from the Potosi mint is said to be about 1,500,000 bolivianos a year. The silver mining companies are required by law to send to the mint 20% of their product. The silver boliviano, however, is rarely seen in circulation because of the cheaper paper currency. To check the exportation of silver coin, the fractional denominations have been slightly debased. The nickel coins are of;5 and 10 centavos, and the copper i and 2 centavos.

The departmental revenues, which are derived from excise and land taxes, mining grants, tithes, inheritance taxes, tolls, stamp taxes, subsidies from the national treasury and other small taxes, were estimated at 2,296,172 bolivianos in 1903, and the expenditures at 2,295,791 bolivianos. The expenditures were chiefly for justice, police, public works, public instruction and the Church. The municipal revenues aggregated 2,317,670 bolivianos in 1902, and the expenditures 61,510 bolivianos in excess of that sum. These revenues are derived from a lighting tax, leases and ground rents, cemetery fees, consumption and market taxes, licences, tolls, taxes on hides and skins, personal and various minor taxes. There is a multiplication of taxes in trade which recalls the old colonial alcabala tax, and it serves to restrict commerce and augment the cost of goods in much the same way, if not to the same degree.

Authorities. - M. V. Ballivian, Apuntes sobre la industria de goma elastica, &c. (La Paz, 1896); Noticia Politica, Geogrdfica, Industrial, y Estadistica de Bolivia (La Paz, 1900); Breves Indicaciones Tiara el Inmigrante y el Viajero a Bolivia (La Paz, 1898); Monografias de la Industria Minera en Bolivia, three parts (La Paz, 1899-1900); Relaciones Geogrdficas de Bolivia existentes en el Archivo de la Oficina Nacional de Inmigracion, &c. (La Paz, 1898); M. V. Ballivian and Eduardo Idiaquez, Diccionario Geogrdfico de la Republica de Bolivia (La Paz, 1999); Andre Bresson, Sept annees d'explorations, de voyages et de sejours dans l'Amirique australe (Paris, 1886); Enrique Bolland, Exploraciones practicadas en el Alto Paraguay y en la Laguna Gaiba (Buenos Aires, 1901); G. E. Church, The Route to Bolivia via the River Amazon (London, 1877); G. E. Church, " Bolivia by the Rio de la Plata Route," Geogr. Jour. xix. pp. 64-73 (London, 1902); C. B. Cisneros and R. E. Garcia, Geografia Comercial de la America del Sur (Lima, 1898); Sir W. M. Conway, Climbing and Exploration in the Bolivian Andes (London, 1903); M. Dalence, Bosquejo estadistico de Bolivia (Chuquisaca, 1878); J. L. Moreno, Nociones de geografia de Bolivia (Sucre, 1889); Edward D. Mathews, Up the Amazon and Madeira Rivers, through Bolivia and Peru (London, 1879); Carlos Matzenauer, Bolivia in historischer, geographischer and cultureller Hinsicht (Vienna, 18 97); M. F. Soldan, Narracion de Guerra de Chile contra Peru y Bolivia (La Paz, 1884); C. M. Pepper, Panama to Patagonia (Chicago, 1906); A. Petrocokino, Along the Andes, in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador (London, 1903); Comte C. d'Ursel, Sud Amerique: Seiours et voyages au Bresil, en Bolivie, &c. (Paris, 1879); Charles Wiener, Perou et Bolivie (Paris, 1880); Bolivia, Geographical Sketch, Natural Resources, 'c., Intern. Bur. of the American Republics (Washington, 1904); Boletin de la Oficina Nacional de Inmigracion, Estadistica y Propaganda Geografica (La Paz); Sinopsis estadistica y geogrdfica de la Republica de Bolivia (3 vols., La Paz, 1902-1904); G. de CrequiMontfort, " Exploration en Bolivie," in La Geographie, ix. pp. 79-86 (Paris, 1904); M. Neveau-Lemaire, " Le Titicaca et le Poopo," &c., in La Geographie, ix. pp. 409-430 (Paris, 1904); British Foreign Office Diplomatic and Consular Reports (London); United States Consular Reports; Stanford's Compendium of Geography and Travel, vol. i., South and Central America (London, 1904). For Geology see A. d'Orbigny, Voyage dans l'Amerique meridionale, vol. iii. pt. iii. (Paris, 1842); D. Forbes, " On the Geology of Bolivia and Peru," Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. vol. xvii. (London, 1861), pp. 7-62, pls. i.-iii.; A. Ulrich, "Palaeozoische Versteinerungen aus Bolivien," Neues Jahrb. f. Min. Band viii. (1893), pp. 5-116, pls. i.-v.; G. Steinmann, &c., " Geologie des siidostlichen Boliviens," Centralb. f. Min., Jahrg. (1904), PP. 1 -4. (A. J. L.) History The country now forming the republic of Bolivia, named after the great liberator Simon Bolivar, was in early days simply a portion of the empire of the Incas of Peru (q.v.). After the conquest of Peru by the Spaniards in the 16th century the natives were subjected to much tyranny and oppression, though it must in fairness be said that much of it was carried out in defiance of the efforts and the wishes of the Spanish home government, whose legislative efforts to protect the Indians from serfdom and ill-usage met with scant respect at the hands of the distant settlers and mine-owners, who bid defiance to the humane and protective regulations of the council of the Indies, and treated the unhappy natives little better than beasts of burden. The statement, moreover, that some eight millions of Indians perished through forced labour in the mines is a gross exaggeration. The annual diminution in the number of the Indian population was undoubtedly very great, but it was due far more to the result of European epidemics and to indulgence in alcohol than to hard work. The abortive insurrection of 1780-82, led by the Inca Tupac Amarti, was never a general rising, and was directed rather against Creole tyranny than against Spanish rule. The heavy losses sustained by the Indians during that outbreak, and their dislike and distrust of the colonial Spaniard, account for the comparative indifference with which they viewed the rise and progress of the 1814 colonial revolt against Spain, which gave the South American states their independence.

We are only concerned here with the War of Independence so far as it affected Upper Peru, the Bolivia of later days. When the patriots of Buenos Aires had succeeded in liberating War of from the dominion of Spain the interior provinces of Independ- the Rio de la Plata, they turned their arms against their enemies who held Upper Peru. An almost uninterrupted warfare followed, from July 1809 till August 1825, with alternate successes on the side of the Spanish or royalist and the South American or patriot forces, - the scene of action lying chiefly between the Argentine provinces of Salta and Jujuy and the shores of Lake Titicaca. The first movement of the war was the successful invasion of Upper Peru by the army of Buenos Aires, under General Balcarce, which, after twice defeating the Spanish troops, was able to celebrate the first anniversary of independence near Lake Titicaca, in May 1811. Soon, however, the patriot army, owing to the dissolute conduct and negligence of its leaders, became disorganized, and was attacked and defeated, in June 1811, by the Spanish army under General Goyeneche, and driven back into Jujuy. Four years of warfare, in which victory was alternately with the Spaniards and the patriots, was terminated in 1815 by the total rout of the latter in a battle which took place between Potosi and Oruro. To this succeeded a revolt of the Indians of the southern provinces of Peru, and the object being the independence of the whole country, it was joined by numerous Creoles. This insurrection was, however, speedily put down by the royalists. In 1816 the Spanish general Laserna, having been appointed commander-inchief of Upper Peru, made an attempt to invade the Argentine provinces, intending to march on Buenos Aires, but he was completely foiled in this by the activity of the irregular gaucho troops of Salta and Jujuy, and was forced to retire. During this time and in the six succeeding years a guerrilla warfare was maintained by the patriots of Upper Peru, who had taken refuge in the mountains, chiefly of the province of Yungas, and who frequently harassed the royalist troops. In June 1823 the expedition of General Santa Cruz, prepared with great zeal and activity at Lima, marched in two divisions upon Upper Peru, and in the following months of July and August the whole country between La Paz and Oruro was occupied by his forces; but later, the indecision and want of judgment displayed by Santa Cruz allowed a retreat to be made before a smaller royalist army, and a severe storm converted their retreat into a precipitate flight, only a remnant of the expedition again reaching Lima. In 1824, after the great battle of Ayacucho in Lower Peru, General Sucre, whose valour had contributed so much to the patriot success of that day, marched with a part of the victorious army into Upper Peru. On the news of the victory a universal rising of the patriots took place, and before Sucre had reached Oruro and Puno, in February 1825, La Paz was already in their possession, and the royalist garrisons of several towns had gone over to their side. The Spanish general Olaneta, with a diminished army of 2000 men, was confined to the province of Potosi, where he held out till March 1825, when he was mortally wounded in an action with some of his own revolted troops.

General Sucre was now invested with the supreme command in Upper Peru, until the requisite measures could be taken to establish in that country a regular and constitutional government. Deputies from the various provinces to the number of fifty-four were assembled at Chuquisaca, the capital, to decide upon the question proposed to them on the part of the government of the Argentine provinces, whether they would or would not remain separate from that country. In August 1825 they decided this question, declaring it to be the national will that Upper Peru should in future constitute a distinct and inde- a nation. a .nation. pendent nation. This assembly continued their session, although the primary object of their meeting had thus been accomplished, and afterwards gave the name of Bolivia to the country, - issuing at the same time a formal declaration of independence.

The first general assembly of deputies of Bolivia dissolved itself on the 6th of October 1825, and a new congress was summoned and formally installed at Chuquisaca on the 25th of May 1826, to take into consideration the constitution prepared by Bolivar for the new republic. A favourable report was made to that body by a committee appointed to examine it, on which it was approved by the congress, and declared to be the constitution of the republic; and as such, it was sworn to by the people. General Sucre was chosen president for life, according to the constitution, but only accepted the appointment for the space of two years, and on the express condition that 2000 Colombian troops should be permitted to remain with him.

The independence of the country, so dearly bought, did not, however, secure for it a peaceful future. Repeated risings occurred, till in the end of 1827 General Sucre and his Colombian troops were driven from La Paz. A new congress was formed at Chuquisaca in April 1828, which modified the constitution given by Bolivar, and chose Marshal Santa Cruz for president; but only a year later a revolution, led by General Blanco, threw the country into disorder and for a time overturned the government. Quiet being again restored in 1831, Santa Cruz promulgated the code of laws which bore his name, and brought the financial affairs of the country into some order; he also concluded a treaty of commerce with Peru, and for several years Bolivia remained in peace. In 1835, when a struggle for the chief power had made two factions in the neighbouring republic of Peru, Santa Cruz was induced to take a part in the contest; he marched into that country, and after defeating General Gamarra, the leader of one of the opposing parties, completed the pacification of Peru in the spring of 1836, named himself its protector, and had in view a confederation of the two countries. At this juncture the government of Chile interfered actively, and espousing the cause of Gamarra, sent troops into Peru. Three years of fighting ensued till in a battle at Jungay in June 1839 Santa Cruz was defeated and exiled, Gamarra became president of Peru, and General Velasco provisional chief in Bolivia. The Santa Cruz party, however, remained strong in Bolivia, and soon revolted successfully against the new head of the government, ultimately installing General Ballivian in the chief power. Taking advantage of the disturbed condition of Bolivia, Gamarra made an attempt to annex the rich province of La Paz, invading it in August 1841 and besieging the capital; but in a battle with Ballivian his army was totally routed, and Gamarra himself was killed. The Bolivian general was now in turn to invade Peru, when Chile again interfered to prevent him. Ballivian remained in the presidency till 1848, when he retired to Valparaiso, and in the end of that year General Belzu, after leading a successful military revolution, took the chief power, and during his presidency endeavoured to promote agriculture, industry and trade. General Jorge Cordova succeeded him, but had not been long in office when a new revolt in September 1857, originating with the garrison of Oruro, spread over the land, and compelled him to quit the country. His place was taken by Dr Jose Maria Linares, the originator of the revolution, who, taking into his own hands all the powers of government, and acting with the greatest severity, caused himself to be proclaimed dictator in March 1858. Fresh disturbances led to the deposition of Linares in 1861, when Dr Maria de Acha was chosen president. In 1862 a treaty of peace and commerce with the United States was ratified, and in the following year a similar treaty was concluded with Belgium; but new causes of disagreement with Chile had arisen in the discovery of rich beds of guano on the eastern coast-land of the desert of Atacama, which threatened warfare, and were only set at rest by the treaty of August 1866, in which the 24th parallel of latitude was adopted as the boundary between the two republics. A new military revolution, led by Maria Melgarejo, broke out in 1865, and in February of that year the troops of President Acha were defeated in a battle near Potosi, when Melgarejo took the dominion of the country. After defeating two revolutions, in 1865 and 1866, the new president declared a political amnesty, and in 1869, after imposing a revised constitution on the country, he became its dictator.

In January 1871 President Melgarejo was in his turn deposed and driven from the country by a revolution headed by Colonel Augustin Morales. The latter, becoming president, succeeded by Colonel Adolfo Ballivian, who died in 1874. Under this president Bolivia entered upon a secret agreement with Peru which was destined to have grave consequences for both countries. To understand the reasons that urged Bolivia to take this step it is necessary to go back to the abovementioned treaty of 1866 between Chile and Bolivia. By this instrument Bolivia, besides conceding the 24th parallel as the boundary of Chilean territory, agreed that Chile should have a half share of the customs and full facilities for trading on the coast that lay between the 23rd and 24th parallels, Chile at that time being largely interested in the trade of that region. It was also agreed that Chile should be allowed to mine and export the products of this district without tax or hindrance on the part of Bolivia. In 1870, in further consideration of the sum of $10,000, Bolivia granted to an Anglo-Chilean company the right of working certain nitrate deposits north of the 24th parallel. The great wealth which was passing into Chilean hands owing to these compacts created no little discontent in Bolivia, nor was Peru any better pleased with the hold that Chilean capital was establishing in the rich district of Tarapaca. On 6th February 1873 Bolivia entered upon a secret agreement with Peru, the ostensible object of which was the preservation of their territorial integrity and their mutual defence against exterior aggression. There can be no doubt that the aggression contemplated as possible by both countries was a further encroachment on the part of Chile. Upon the death of Adolfo Ballivian, immediately after the conclusion of this treaty with Peru, Dr Tomas Frias succeeded to the presidency. He signed yet another treaty with Chile, by which the latter agreed to withdraw her claim to half the duties levied in Bolivian ports on condition that all Chilean industries established in Bolivian territory should be free from duty for twenty-five years. This treaty was never ratified, and four years later General Hilarion Daza, who had succeeded Dr Frias as president in 1876, demanded as the price of Bolivia's consent that a tax of 10 cents per quintal should be paid on all nitrates exported from the country, further declaring that, unless this levy was paid, nitrates in the hands of the exporters would be seized by the Bolivian government. As an answer to these demands, and in order to protect the property of Chilean subjects, the Chilean fleet was sent to blockade the ports of Antofagasta, Cobija and Tocapilla. On the 14th February 1879 the Chilean colonel Sotomayor occupied Antofagasta, and on 1st March, a fortnight later, the Bolivian government declared war.

An offer on the part of Peru to act as mediator met with no favour from Chile. The existence of the secret treaty, well known to the Chilean government, rendered the intervention of Peru more than questionable, and the law passed by the latter in 1875, which practically created a monopoly of the Tarapaca nitrate beds to the serious prejudice of Chilean enterprise, offered no guarantee of her good faith. Chile replied by curtly demanding the annulment of the secret treaty and an assurance of Peruvian neutrality. Both demands being refused, she declared war upon Peru.

The superiority of the Chileans at sea, though checked for some time by the heroic gallantry of the Peruvians, soon enabled them to land a sufficient number of troops to meet the allied forces which had concentrated at Arica and other points in the south. The Bolivian ports were already in Chilean hands, and a sea attack upon Pisagua surprised and routed the troops under the Peruvian general Buendia and opened the way into the southern territory of Peru. General Daza, who should have cooperated with Buendia, turned back, on receiving news of the Peruvian defeat, and led the Bolivian troops to Tacna in a hasty and somewhat disorderly retreat. The fall of San Francisco followed, and Iquique, which was evacuated by the allies without a struggle, was occupied. Severe fighting took place before Tarapaca surrendered, but the end of 1879 saw the Chileans in complete possession of the province.

Meanwhile a double revolution took place in Peru and Bolivia. In the former country General Prado was deposed and Colonel Pierola proclaimed dictator. The Bolivians followed the example of their allies. The troops at Tacna, indignant at the inglorious part they had been condemned to play by the incompetence or cowardice of their president, deprived him of their command and elected Colonel Camacho to lead them. At the same time a revolution in La Paz proclaimed General Narciso Campero president, and he was elected to that post in the following June by the ordinary procedure of the constitution. During 1880 the war was chiefly maintained at sea between Chile and Peru, Bolivia taking little or no part in the struggle. In January of 1881 were fought the battles of Chorillos and Miraflores, attended by heavy slaughter and savage excesses on the part of the Chilean troops. They were followed almost immediately by the surrender of Lima and Callao, which left the Chileans practically masters of Peru. In the interior, however, where the Peruvian admiral l'Iontero had formed a provisional government, the war still lingered, and in September 1882 a conference took place between the latter and President Campero, at which it was decided that they should hold out for better terms. But the Peruvians Recent was himself murdered in November 1872 and was history. wearied of the useless struggle. On the 10th of October 1883 they concluded a treaty of peace with Chile; the troops at Arequipa, under Admiral Montero, surrendered that town, and Montero himself, coldly received in Bolivia, whither he had fled for refuge, withdrew from the country to Europe. On the 9th of November the Chilean army of occupation was concentrated at Arequipa, while what remained of the Bolivian army lay at Oruro. Negotiations were opened, and on r 1th December a peace was signed between Chile and Bolivia. By this treaty Bolivia ceded to Chile the whole of its sea-coast, including the port of Cobija.

On the 18th of May 1895 a treaty was signed at Santiago between Chile and Bolivia, " with a view to strengthening the bonds of friendship which unite the two countries," and, " in accord with the higher necessity that the future development and commercial prosperity of Bolivia require her free access to the sea." By this treaty Chile declared that if, in consequence of the plebiscite (to take place under the treaty of Ancon with Peru), or by virtue of direct arrangement, she should " acquire dominion and permanent sovereignty over the territories of Tacna and Arica, she undertakes to transfer them to Bolivia in the same form and to the same extent as she may acquire them "; the republic of Bolivia paying as an indemnity for that transfer $5,000,000 silver. If this cession should be effected, Chile should advance her own frontier north of Camerones to Vitor, from the sea up to the frontier which actually separates that district from Bolivia. Chile also pledged herself to use her utmost endeavour, either separately or jointly with Bolivia, to obtain possession of Tacna and Arica. If she failed, she bound herself to cede to Bolivia the roadstead (caleta) of Vitor, or another analogous one, and $5,000,000 silver. Supplementary protocols to this treaty stipulated that the port to be ceded must " fully satisfy the present and future requirements " of the commerce of Bolivia.

On the 23rd of May 1895 further treaties of peace and commerce were signed with Chile, but the provisions with regard to the cession of a seaport to Bolivia still remained unfulfilled. During those ten years of recovery on the part of Bolivia from the effects of the war, the presidency was held by Dr Pacheco, who succeeded Campero, and held office for the full term; by Dr Aniceto Arce, who held it until 1892, and by Dr Mariano Baptista, his successor. In 1896 Dr Severo Alonso became president, and during his tenure of office diplomatic relations were resumed with Great Britain, Senor Aramayo being sent to London as minister plenipotentiary in July 1897. As an outcome of his mission an extradition treaty was concluded with Great Britain in March 1898.

In December an attempt was made to pass a law creating Sucre the perpetual capital of the republic. Until this Sucre had taken its turn with La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro. La Paz rose in open revolt. On the 17th of January of the following year a battle was fought some 40 m. from La Paz between the insurgents and the government forces, in which the latter were defeated with the loss of a colonel and forty-three men. Colonel Pando, the insurgent leader, having gained a strong following, marched upon Oruro, and entered that town on 11th April 1899, after completely defeating the government troops. Dr Severo Alonso took refuge in Chilean territory; and Colonel Pando formed a provisional government. He had no difficulty in obtaining his election to the presidency without opposition. He entered upon office on the 26th of October, and proved himself to be a strong and capable chief magistrate. He had to deal with two difficult settlements as to boundaries with Chile and Brazil, and to take steps for improving the means of communication in the country, by this means reviving its mining and other industries. The dispute with Brazil over the rich Acre rubberproducing territory was accentuated by the majority of those engaged in the rubber industry being Brazilians, who resented the attempts of Bolivian officials to exercise authority in the district. This led to a declaration of independence on the part of the state of Acre, and the despatch of a body of Bolivian troops in 1900 to restore order. There was no desire, however, on the part of President Pando to involve himself in hostilities with Brazil, and in a spirit of concession the dispute was settled amicably by diplomatic means, and a treaty signed in November 1903. A new boundary line was drawn, and a portion of the Acre province ceded to Brazil in consideration of a cash indemnity of $10,000,000.

The long-standing dispute with Chile with regard to its occupation of the former Bolivian provinces of Tacna and Arica under the Parto de Tregna of the 4th of April 1884 was more difficult to arrange satisfactorily. In 1895 there had been some prospect of Chile conceding an outlet on the sea in exchange for a recognition of the Chilean ownership of Tacna and Arica. The discovery, however, of secret negotiations between Bolivia and Argentina caused Chile to change its conciliatory attitude. Bolivia was in no position to venture upon hostilities or to compel the Chileans to make concessions, and the final settlement of the boundary dispute between Argentina and Chile deprived the Bolivians of the hope of obtaining the support of the Argentines. President Pando and his successor, Ismail Montes, who became president in 1904, saw that it was necessary to yield, and to make the best terms they could. A treaty was accordingly ratified in 1905, which was in many ways advantageous to Bolivia, though the republic was compelled to cede to Chile the maritime provinces occupied by the latter power since the war of 1881, and to do without a seaport. The government of Chile undertook to construct a railway at its own cost from Arica to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, and to give the Bolivians free transit through Chilean territory to certain towns on the coast. Chile further agreed to pay Bolivia a cash indemnity and lend certain pecuniary assistance to the construction of other railways necessary for the opening out of the country.

See C. Wiener, Bolivie et Perou (Paris, 1880); E. Mossbach, Bolivia (Leipzig, 1875); Theodore Child, The South American Republics (New York, 1891); Vicente de Ballivian y Rizas, Archive Boliviano. Collecion de documentes relativos a la historia de Bolivia (Paris, 1872); Ramon Sotomayor Valdes, Estudio historico de Bolivia bajo la administracion del General don Jose Maria Achd con una introducion que contiene el compendio de la Guerra de la independencies i de los gobiernos de dicha Republica hasta 1861 (Santiago de Chile, 1874). (W. HD.; G. E.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Bolívia, and Bólivía



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Simón Bolívar


Proper noun




  1. a country in South America. Official name: Republic of Bolivia.


See also


Proper noun


  1. Bolivia


Proper noun


  1. Bolivia



Proper noun


  1. Bolivia


Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Bolivia (stem Bolivi-*)

  1. Bolivia


Proper noun


  1. Bolivia


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Bolivia f.

  1. Bolivia

Derived terms



Proper noun


  1. Bolivia

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Proper noun


  1. Bolivia


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Wikipedia es


Proper noun

Bolivia f.

  1. Bolivia

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Proper noun


  1. Bolivia

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