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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 countercoups. Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production. In December 2005, Bolivians elected Movement Toward Socialism leader Evo MORALES president - by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 - after he ran on a promise to change the country's traditional political class and empower the nation's poor majority.


Central South America, southwest of Brazil

Geographic coordinates:

17 00 S, 65 00 W


total: 1,098,580 sq km
land: 1,084,390 sq km
water: 14,190 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 6,743 km
border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,400 km, Chile 861 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 900 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid


rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Rio Paraguay 90 m
highest point: Nevado Sajama 6,542 m

Natural resources:

tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 2.78%
permanent crops: 0.19%
other: 97.03% (2005)

Irrigated land:

1,320 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

flooding in the northeast (March-April)

Environment - current issues:

the clearing of land for agricultural purposes and the international demand for tropical timber are contributing to deforestation; soil erosion from overgrazing and poor cultivation methods (including slash-and-burn agriculture); desertification; loss of biodiversity; industrial pollution of water supplies used for drinking and irrigation

Geography - note:

landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru


8,989,046 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 35% (male 1,603,982/female 1,542,319)
15-64 years: 60.4% (male 2,660,806/female 2,771,807)
65 years and over: 4.6% (male 182,412/female 227,720) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 21.8 years
male: 21.2 years
female: 22.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.45% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

23.3 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

7.53 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 51.77 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 55.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 65.84 years
male: 63.21 years
female: 68.61 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.85 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

4,900 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 500 (2003 est.)


noun: Bolivian(s)
adjective: Bolivian

Ethnic groups:

Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%


Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) 5%


Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.2%
male: 93.1%
female: 81.6% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Bolivia
conventional short form: Bolivia
local long form: Republica de Bolivia
local short form: Bolivia

Government type:



La Paz (seat of government); Sucre (legal capital and seat of judiciary)

Administrative divisions:

9 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Tarija


6 August 1825 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 6 August (1825)


2 February 1967; revised in August 1994

Legal system:

based on Spanish law and Napoleonic Code; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age, universal and compulsory (married); 21 years of age, universal and compulsory (single)

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (27 seats; members are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms) and Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (130 seats; 69 are directly elected from their districts and 61 are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Senators and Chamber of Deputies - last held 18 December 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PODEMOS 13, MAS 12, UN 1, MNR 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - MAS 73, PODEMOS 43, UN 8, MNR 6

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges appointed for 10-year terms by National Congress); District Courts (one in each department); provincial and local courts (to try minor cases)

Economy - overview:

Bolivia, long one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries, reformed its economy after suffering a disastrous economic crisis in the early 1980s. The reforms spurred real GDP growth, which averaged 4% in the 1990s, and poverty rates fell. Economic growth, however, lagged again beginning in 1999 because of a global slowdown and homegrown factors such as political turmoil, civil unrest, and soaring fiscal deficits, all of which hurt investor confidence. In 2003, violent protests against the pro-foreign investment economic policies of President SANCHEZ DE LOZADA led to his resignation and the cancellation of plans to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large northern hemisphere markets. In 2005, the government passed a controversial natural gas law that imposes on the oil and gas firms significantly higher taxes as well as new contracts that give the state control of their operations. Bolivian officials are in the process of implementing the law; meanwhile, foreign investors have stopped investing and have taken the first legal steps to secure their investments. Real GDP growth in 2003-05 - helped by increased demand for natural gas in neighbouring Brazil - was positive, but still below the levels seen during the 1990s. Bolivia's fiscal position has improved in recent years, but the country remains dependent on foreign aid from multilateral lenders and foreign governments to meet budget shortfalls. In 2005, the G8 announced a $2 billion debt-forgiveness plan over the next few decades that should help reduce some fiscal pressures on the government in the near term.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$23.73 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$9.848 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.4% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,700 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 12.6%
industry: 35%
services: 52.4% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

4.22 million (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:

8% in urban areas; widespread underemployment (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

64% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 32% (1999)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

60.6 (2002)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.9% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

9% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $2.848 billion
expenditures: $3.189 billion; including capital expenditures of $741 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

soybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes; timber


mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing

Industrial production growth rate:

5.7% (2004 est.)

Electricity - production:

4.25 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

3.963 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

10 million kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

42,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

48,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

458.8 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

6.72 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

1.74 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

2.9 billion cu m (2001 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

679.6 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

$376 million (2005 est.)


$2.371 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

natural gas, soybeans and soy products, crude petroleum, zinc ore, tin

Exports - partners:

Brazil 32.1%, US 16.2%, Venezuela 11%, Peru 6.2%, Argentina 5.9%, Colombia 5.4% (2004)


$1.845 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum products, plastics, paper, aircraft and aircraft parts, prepared foods, automobiles, insecticides, soybeans

Imports - partners:

Brazil 25.8%, Argentina 15.6%, US 13.8%, Peru 6.7%, Chile 5.9%, China 5.7%, Japan 5.6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.688 billion (December 2005)

Debt - external:

$6.43 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$221 million (2005 est.)

Currency (code):

boliviano (BOB)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

625,400 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,800,800 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: new subscribers face bureaucratic difficulties; most telephones are concentrated in La Paz and other cities; mobile cellular telephone use expanding rapidly
domestic: primary trunk system, which is being expanded, employs digital microwave radio relay; some areas are served by fiber-optic cable; mobile cellular systems are being expanded
international: country code - 591; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 171, FM 73, shortwave 77 (1999)

Television broadcast stations:

48 (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

16,045 (2005)

Internet users:

350,000 (2005)


1,067 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 16
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1,051
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 60
914 to 1,523 m: 207
under 914 m: 780 (2005)


gas 4,860 km; liquid petroleum gas 47 km; oil 2,457 km; refined products 1,589 km; unknown (oil/water) 247 km (2004)


total: 3,519 km
narrow gauge: 3,519 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 60,762 km
paved: 4,314 km (including 11 km of expressways)
unpaved: 56,448 km (2003)


10,000 km (commercially navigable) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 25 ships (1000 GRT or over) 125,674 GRT/193,117 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 10, chemical tanker 1, container 1, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 8 (Argentina 1, Egypt 1, Iran 1, Singapore 2, Taiwan 1, US 1, Yemen 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Puerto Aguirre (on the Paraguay/Parana waterway, at the Bolivia/Brazil border); also, Bolivia has free port privileges in maritime ports in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay

Military branches:

Army (Ejercito Boliviano), Navy (Fuerza Naval; includes Marines), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Boliviana) (2004)

Disputes - international:

Chile rebuffs Bolivia's reactivated claim to restore the Atacama corridor, ceded to Chile in 1884, offering instead unrestricted but not sovereign maritime access through Chile for Bolivian natural gas and other commodities

Illicit drugs:

world's third-largest cultivator of coca (after Colombia and Peru) with an estimated 26,500 hectares under cultivation in August 2005, an 8% increase from 2004; intermediate coca products and cocaine exported mostly to or through Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to European drug markets; cultivation steadily increasing despite eradication and alternative crop programs; money-laundering activity related to narcotics trade, especially along the borders with Brazil and Paraguay