Begun in 1835, the Catedral Metropolitana Nuestra Senora de La Paz (Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace or Metropolitan Cathedral) in La Paz was built in the neo-classical style and was not completed until 1987.
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Introduction

Background

Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825. Much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of coups and countercoups, with the last coup occurring in 1978. Democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced 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 and indigenous majority. In December 2009 and October 2014, President MORALES easily won reelection. His party maintained control of the legislative branch of the government, which has allowed him to continue his "process of change." In February 2016, MORALES narrowly lost a referendum to approve a constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to compete in the 2019 presidential election. However, a 2017 Supreme Court ruling stating that term limits violate human rights provided the justification for MORALES to be chosen by his party to run again in 2019. MORALES attempted to claim victory in the October 2019 election, but widespread allegations of electoral fraud, rising violence, and pressure from the military ultimately forced him to flee the country. An interim government, led by President Jeanine ANEZ Chavez, prepared new elections that took place in October 2020; President Luis Alberto ARCE Catacora took office the following month.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Central South America, southwest of Brazil

Geographic coordinates

17 00 S, 65 00 W

Map references

South America

Area

total: 1,098,581 sq km

land: 1,083,301 sq km

water: 15,280 sq km

country comparison to the world: 29

Area - comparative

slightly less than three times the size of Montana

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 7,252 km

border countries (5): Argentina 942 km; Brazil 3,403 km; Chile 942 km; Paraguay 753 km; Peru 1,212 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid

Terrain

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

Elevation

highest point: Nevado Sajama 6,542 m

lowest point: Rio Paraguay 90 m

mean elevation: 1,192 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 34.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 3.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 30.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 52.5% (2018 est.)

other: 13.2% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,000 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lago Titicaca (shared with Peru) - 8,030 sq km

salt water lake(s): Lago Poopo - 1,340 sq km

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Amazon (6,145,186 sq km), Paraná (2,582,704 sq km)

Major aquifers

Amazon Basin

Population distribution

a high altitude plain in the west between two cordillera of the Andes, known as the Altiplano, is the focal area for most of the population; a dense settlement pattern is also found in and around the city of Santa Cruz, located on the eastern side of the Andes

Natural hazards

flooding in the northeast (March to April)

volcanism: volcanic activity in Andes Mountains on the border with Chile; historically active volcanoes in this region are Irruputuncu (5,163 m), which last erupted in 1995, and the Olca-Paruma volcanic complex (5,762 m to 5,167 m)

Geography - note

note 1: landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru

note 2: the southern regions of Peru and the extreme northwestern part of Bolivia are considered to be the place of origin for the common potato, while southeast Bolivia and northwest Argentina seem to be the original development site for peanuts

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Bolivian(s)

adjective: Bolivian

Ethnic groups

Mestizo (mixed White and Amerindian ancestry) 68%, Indigenous 20%, White 5%, Cholo/Chola 2%, African descent 1%, other 1%, unspecified 3%; 44% of respondents indicated feeling part of some indigenous group, predominantly Quechua or Aymara (2009 est.)

note: results among surveys vary based on the wording of the ethnicity question and the available response choices; the 2001 national census did not provide "Mestizo" as a response choice, resulting in a much higher proportion of respondents identifying themselves as belonging to one of the available indigenous ethnicity choices; the use of "Mestizo" and "Cholo" varies among response choices in surveys, with surveys using the terms interchangeably, providing one or the other as a response choice, or providing the two as separate response choices

Languages

Spanish (official) 60.7%, Quechua (official) 21.2%, Aymara (official) 14.6%, Guarani (official) 0.6%, other native languages 0.4%, foreign languages 2.4%, none 0.1%; note - Bolivia's 2009 constitution designates Spanish and all indigenous languages as official; 36 indigenous languages are specified, including a few that are extinct (2001 est.)

major-language sample(s):
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Spanish audio sample:

Religions

Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 14.5%, Adventist 2.5%, Church of Jesus Christ 1.2%, agnostic 0.3%, atheist 0.8%, other 3.5%, none 6.6%, unspecified 0.6% (2018 est.)

Demographic profile

Bolivia ranks at or near the bottom among Latin American countries in several areas of health and development, including poverty, education, fertility, malnutrition, mortality, and life expectancy. On the positive side, more children are being vaccinated and more pregnant women are getting prenatal care and having skilled health practitioners attend their births.

Bolivia’s income inequality is the highest in Latin America and one of the highest in the world. Public education is of poor quality, and educational opportunities are among the most unevenly distributed in Latin America, with girls and indigenous and rural children less likely to be literate or to complete primary school. The lack of access to education and family planning services helps to sustain Bolivia’s high fertility rate—approximately three children per woman. Bolivia’s lack of clean water and basic sanitation, especially in rural areas, contributes to health problems.

Between 7% and 16% of Bolivia’s population lives abroad (estimates vary in part because of illegal migration). Emigrants primarily seek jobs and better wages in Argentina (the principal destination), the US, and Spain. In recent years, more restrictive immigration policies in Europe and the US have increased the flow of Bolivian emigrants to neighboring countries. Fewer Bolivians migrated to Brazil in 2015 and 2016 because of its recession; increasing numbers have been going to Chile, mainly to work as miners.

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.34% (male 1,799,925/female 1,731,565)

15-24 years: 19.21% (male 1,133,120/female 1,103,063)

25-54 years: 38.68% (male 2,212,096/female 2,289,888)

55-64 years: 6.06% (male 323,210/female 382,139)

65 years and over: 5.71% (male 291,368/female 373,535) (2020 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 60.5

youth dependency ratio: 48.5

elderly dependency ratio: 12

potential support ratio: 8.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 25.3 years

male: 24.5 years

female: 26 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 160

Birth rate

18.61 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Death rate

6.48 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Net migration rate

-0.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

Population distribution

a high altitude plain in the west between two cordillera of the Andes, known as the Altiplano, is the focal area for most of the population; a dense settlement pattern is also found in and around the city of Santa Cruz, located on the eastern side of the Andes

Urbanization

urban population: 70.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.87% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.908 million LA PAZ (capital), 1.784 million Santa Cruz, 1.369 million Cochabamba (2022); 278,000 Sucre (constitutional capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

21.1 years (2008 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

155 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

Infant mortality rate

total: 22.28 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 24.5 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 19.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 72.5 years

male: 71.04 years

female: 74.02 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.2% of population

rural: 80.2% of population

total: 93.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.8% of population

rural: 19.8% of population

total: 6.5% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

6.9% of GDP (2019)

Physicians density

1.03 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 97.8% of population

rural: 48.4% of population

total: 83.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.2% of population

rural: 51.6% of population

total: 16.9% of population (2020 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

(2020 est.) <200

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 2.98 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 2.22 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.14 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.54 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.08 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 115

Tobacco use

total: 12.7% (2020 est.)

male: 20.5% (2020 est.)

female: 4.8% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 120

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 3.4%

women married by age 18: 19.7%

men married by age 18: 5.2% (2016 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 92.5%

male: 96.5%

female: 88.6% (2015)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 16.1%

male: 15.7%

female: 16.6% (2020 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

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

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands,

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 20.24 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 21.61 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 21.01 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid

Land use

agricultural land: 34.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 3.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 30.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 52.5% (2018 est.)

other: 13.2% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 70.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.87% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 2,219,052 tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 268,727 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 12.1% (2015 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lago Titicaca (shared with Peru) - 8,030 sq km

salt water lake(s): Lago Poopo - 1,340 sq km

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Amazon (6,145,186 sq km), Paraná (2,582,704 sq km)

Major aquifers

Amazon Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 136 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 32 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 1.92 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

574 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Plurinational State of Bolivia

conventional short form: Bolivia

local long form: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia

local short form: Bolivia

etymology: the country is named after Simon BOLIVAR, a 19th-century leader in the South American wars for independence

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: La Paz (administrative capital); Sucre (constitutional [legislative and judicial] capital)

geographic coordinates: 16 30 S, 68 09 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: La Paz is a shortening of the original name of the city, Nuestra Senora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace); Sucre is named after Antonio Jose de SUCRE (1795-1830), military hero in the independence struggle from Spain and the second president of Bolivia

note: at approximately 3,630 m above sea level, La Paz's elevation makes it the highest capital city in the world

Administrative divisions

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

Independence

6 August 1825 (from Spain)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 August (1825)

Constitution

history: many previous; latest drafted 6 August 2006 to 9 December 2008, approved by referendum 25 January 2009, effective 7 February 2009

amendments: proposed through public petition by at least 20% of voters or by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly; passage requires approval by at least two-thirds majority vote of the total membership of the Assembly and approval in a referendum; amended 2013

Legal system

civil law system with influences from Roman, Spanish, canon (religious), French, and indigenous law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 3 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: President Luis Alberto ARCE Catacora (since 8 November 2020); Vice President David CHOQUEHUANCA Cespedes (since 8 November 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Luis Alberto ARCE Catacora (since 8 November 2020); Vice President David CHOQUEHUANCA Cespedes (since 8 November 2020)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot one of 3 ways: candidate wins at least 50% of the vote, or at least 40% of the vote and 10% more than the next highest candidate; otherwise a second round is held and the winner determined by simple majority vote; president and vice president are elected by majority vote to serve a 5-year term; no term limits (changed from two consecutive term limit by Constitutional Court in late 2017); election last held on 18 October 2020 (next to be held in October 2025)

election results:
2020: Luis Alberto ARCE Catacora elected president; percent of vote - Luis Alberto ARCE Catacora (MAS) 55.1%; Carlos Diego MESA Gisbert (CC) 28.8%; Luis Fernando CAMACHO Vaca (Creemos) 14%; other 2.1%

2018: Juan Evo MORALES Ayma reelected president; percent of vote - Juan Evo MORALES Ayma (MAS) 61%; Samuel DORIA MEDINA Arana (UN) 24.5%; Jorge QUIROGA Ramirez (POC) 9.1%; other 5.4%; note - MORALES resigned from office on 10 November 2019 over alleged election rigging; resignations of all his constitutionally designated successors followed, including the Vice President, President of the Senate, President of the Chamber of Deputies, and First Vice President of the Senate, leaving the Second Vice President of the Senate, Jeanine ANEZ Chavez, the highest-ranking official still in office; her appointment to the presidency was endorsed by Bolivia's Constitutional Court, and she served as interim president until the 8 November 2020 inauguration of Luis Alberto ARCE Catacora, who was winner of the 18 October 2020 presidential election

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Plurinational Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional consists of:
Chamber of Senators or Camara de Senadores (36 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (130 seats; 70 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 53 directly elected in single-seat constituencies by closed party-list proportional representation vote, and 7 (apportioned to non-contiguous, rural areas in 7 of the 9 states) directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections:
Chamber of Senators - last held on 18 October 2020 (next to be held in 2025)
Chamber of Deputies - last held on 18 October 2020 (next to be held in 2025)

election results:
Chamber of Senators - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - MAS 21, ACC 11, Creemos 4; composition as of March 2022 - men 16, women 20, percent of women 55.6%
Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - MAS 75, ACC 39, Creemos 16; composition as of March 2022 - men 70, women 60, percent of women 46.2%; note - total Plurinational Legislative Assembly percent of women as of March 2022 - 48.2%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (consists of 12 judges or ministros organized into civil, penal, social, and administrative chambers); Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (consists of 7 primary and 7 alternate magistrates); Plurinational Electoral Organ (consists of 7 members and 6 alternates); National Agro-Environment Court (consists of 5 primary and 5 alternate judges; Council of the Judiciary (consists of 3 primary and 3 alternate judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court, Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, National Agro-Environmental Court, and Council of the Judiciary candidates pre-selected by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly and elected by direct popular vote; judges elected for 6-year terms; Plurinational Electoral Organ judges appointed - 6 by the Legislative Assembly and 1 by the president of the republic; members serve single 6-year terms

subordinate courts: National Electoral Court; District Courts (in each of the 9 administrative departments); agro-environmental lower courts

Political parties and leaders

Community Citizen Alliance or ACC [Carlos Diego MESA Gisbert]
Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Juan Evo MORALES Ayma]
National Unity or UN [Samuel DORIA MEDINA Auza]
Revolutionary Left Front or FRI [Edgar GUZMAN Jauregui]
Social Democrat Movement or MDS [Ruben COSTAS Aguilera]
We Believe or Creemos [Luis Fernando CAMACHO Vaca]

note: We Believe or Creemos [Luis Fernando CAMACHO Vaca] is a coalition comprised of several opposition parties that participated in the 2020 election, which includes the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) and Solidarity Civic Unity (UCS)

International organization participation

CAN, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNAMID, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHRC, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Maysa Rossana URENA MENACHO (since 1 September 2022)

chancery: 3014 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 483-4410

FAX: [1] (202) 328-3712

email address and website:
embolivia.wdc@gmail.com

consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Maple Grove (MN), Miami, New York, Washington, DC

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Charisse PHILLIPS (since August 2020)

embassy: Avenida Arce 2780, La Paz

mailing address: 3220 La Paz Place, Washington DC  20512-3220

telephone: [591] (2) 216-8000

FAX: [591] (2) 216-8111

email address and website:
ConsularLaPazACS@state.gov

https://bo.usembassy.gov/

note: in September 2008, the Bolivian Government expelled the US Ambassador to Bolivia, Philip GOLDBERG, and both countries have yet to reinstate their ambassadors

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), yellow, and green with the coat of arms centered on the yellow band; red stands for bravery and the blood of national heroes, yellow for the nation's mineral resources, and green for the fertility of the land

note: similar to the flag of Ghana, which has a large black five-pointed star centered in the yellow band; in 2009, a presidential decree made it mandatory for a so-called wiphala - a square, multi-colored flag representing the country's indigenous peoples - to be used alongside the traditional flag

National symbol(s)

llama, Andean condor, two national flowers: the cantuta and the patuju; national colors: red, yellow, green

National anthem

name: "Cancion Patriotica" (Patriotic Song)

lyrics/music: Jose Ignacio de SANJINES/Leopoldo Benedetto VINCENTI

note: adopted 1852

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 7 (6 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: City of Potosi (c); El Fuerte de Samaipata (c); Historic Sucre (c); Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos (c); Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (n); Tiahuanacu (c); Qhapaq Ñan/Andean Road System (c)

Economy

Economic overview

Bolivia is a resource rich country with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports – to Brazil and Argentina. However, the country remains one of the least developed countries in Latin America because of state-oriented policies that deter investment.

 

Following an economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms in the 1990s spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates. The period 2003-05 was characterized by political instability, racial tensions, and violent protests against plans - subsequently abandoned - to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large Northern Hemisphere markets. In 2005-06, the government passed hydrocarbon laws that imposed significantly higher royalties and required foreign firms then operating under risk-sharing contracts to surrender all production to the state energy company in exchange for a predetermined service fee; the laws engendered much public debate. High commodity prices between 2010 and 2014 sustained rapid growth and large trade surpluses with GDP growing 6.8% in 2013 and 5.4% in 2014. The global decline in oil prices that began in late 2014 exerted downward pressure on the price Bolivia receives for exported gas and resulted in lower GDP growth rates - 4.9% in 2015 and 4.3% in 2016 - and losses in government revenue as well as fiscal and trade deficits.

 

A lack of foreign investment in the key sectors of mining and hydrocarbons, along with conflict among social groups, pose challenges for the Bolivian economy. In 2015, President Evo MORALES expanded efforts to court international investment and boost Bolivia’s energy production capacity. MORALES passed an investment law and promised not to nationalize additional industries in an effort to improve the investment climate. In early 2016, the Government of Bolivia approved the 2016-2020 National Economic and Social Development Plan aimed at maintaining growth of 5% and reducing poverty.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$92.59 billion (2020 est.)

$100.45 billion (2019 est.)

$98.27 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 93

Real GDP growth rate

2.22% (2019 est.)

4.23% (2018 est.)

4.19% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

Real GDP per capita

$7,900 (2020 est.)

$8,700 (2019 est.)

$8,700 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 152

GDP (official exchange rate)

$40.822 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.8% (2019 est.)

2.2% (2018 est.)

2.8% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 98

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2020)

Moody's rating: B2 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2020)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 13.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 37.8% (2017 est.)

services: 48.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 67.7% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 17% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 21.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 3.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 21.7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -31.3% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, soybeans, potatoes, maize, sorghum, rice, milk, plantains, poultry, bananas

Industries

mining, smelting, electricity, petroleum, food and beverages, handicrafts, clothing, jewelry

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 29.4%

industry: 22%

services: 48.6% (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

4% (2017 est.)

4% (2016 est.)

note: data are for urban areas; widespread underemployment

country comparison to the world: 58

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 16.1%

male: 15.7%

female: 16.6% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 0.9%

highest 10%: 36.1% (2014 est.)

Budget

revenues: 15.09 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 18.02 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

49% of GDP (2017 est.)

44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and includes debt instruments issued by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities

country comparison to the world: 104

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$2.375 billion (2017 est.)

-$1.932 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

Exports

$7.55 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$10.26 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$10.35 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 110

Exports - partners

Argentina 16%, Brazil 15%, United Arab Emirates 12%, India 10%, United States 6%, South Korea 5%, Peru 5%, Colombia 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

natural gas, gold, zinc, soybean oil and soy products, tin, silver, lead (2019)

Imports

$8.27 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$11.95 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$12.44 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 116

Imports - partners

Brazil 22%, Chile 15%, China 13%, Peru 11%, Argentina 8%, United States 7% (2017)

Imports - commodities

cars, refined petroleum, delivery trucks, iron, buses (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$10.26 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$10.08 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

Debt - external

$12.81 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$7.268 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107

Exchange rates

bolivianos (BOB) per US dollar -

6.91 (2020 est.)

6.91 (2019 est.)

6.91 (2018 est.)

6.91 (2014 est.)

6.91 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 93% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 99.3% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 79% (2019)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 3.834 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 8,756,690,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.227 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 64.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 2.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 30.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 1.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 1 million metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 65,400 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 87,800 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 240.9 million barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 15,328,422,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 2,918,839,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 11,818,215,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 302.99 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

17.786 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 12.071 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 5.715 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 598,082 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 87

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 11,804,343 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 101 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the structure of Bolivia’s fixed telecom market is different from most other countries; local services are primarily provided by 15 telecom cooperatives; these are non-profit-making companies privately owned and controlled by their users; since the market was liberalized, the cooperatives have also provided long-distance telephony, while several also offer broadband and pay TV service; they have invested in network upgrades in a bid to improve services for customers, and to expand their footprints; Bolivia has a multi-carrier system wherein consumers can choose a long-distance carrier for each call by dialing the carrier’s prefix; several operators have also adopted fixed-wireless technologies, and some rent fiber-optic capacity; the fixed broadband services remain expensive, though the cost of bandwidth is only a fraction of what it was only a few years ago; services are still unavailable in many rural and remote areas, and even in some of the major urban areas; being a landlocked country, Bolivia had no direct access to submarine cable networks, and relies on satellite services or terrestrial links across neighboring countries; in September 2020 a new cable running via Peru, has increased capacity and contributed to a dramatic fall in end-user prices; fixed broadband services are fast migrating from DSL to fiber, while there are also cable broadband services available in some major cities; in 2007 the focus was on providing telecom services in rural areas under a project known as ‘Territory with Total Coverage’; this project aims to increase telecom coverage through mobile rather than through fixed networks; Bolivia has almost twenty times as many mobile phone subscribers as fixed line connections, and the trend towards fixed-mobile substitution continues; all the mobile companies offer 3G and LTE services; due to the poor quality, high cost, and poor reach of DSL, mobile networks have become the principal platform for voice services and data access; by early 2021 companies’ networks reached more than 95% of the population; about 92% of all internet accesses are via smartphones (2021)

domestic: 5 per 100 fixed-line, mobile-cellular telephone use expanding rapidly and teledensity stands at 101 per 100 persons; most telephones are concentrated in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and other capital cities (2020)

international: country code - 591; Bolivia has no direct access to submarine cable networks and must therefore connect to the rest of the world either via satellite or through terrestrial links across neighboring countries; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

large number of radio and TV stations broadcasting with private media outlets dominating; state-owned and private radio and TV stations generally operating freely, although both pro-government and anti-government groups have attacked media outlets in response to their reporting (2019)

Internet users

total: 7,003,817 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 60% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 931,918 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 76

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 7 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 39

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 4,122,113 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 13.73 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 21

over 3,047 m: 5

2,438 to 3,047 m: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 6

914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 834

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 47

914 to 1,523 m: 151

under 914 m: 631 (2021)

Pipelines

5,457 km gas, 51 km liquid petroleum gas, 2,511 km oil, 1,627 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 3,960 km (2019)

narrow gauge: 3,960 km (2014) 1.000-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 51

Roadways

total: 90,568 km (2017)

paved: 9,792 km (2017)

unpaved: 80,776 km (2017)

country comparison to the world: 53

Waterways

10,000 km (2012) (commercially navigable almost exclusively in the northern and eastern parts of the country)

country comparison to the world: 15

Merchant marine

total: 45

by type: general cargo 29, oil tanker 2, other 14 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 121

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Puerto Aguirre (Paraguay/Parana)

note: Bolivia has free port privileges in maritime ports in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Bolivian Armed Forces: Bolivian Army (Ejercito de Boliviano, EB), Bolivian Naval Force (Fuerza Naval Boliviana, FNB), Bolivian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Boliviana, FAB); Ministry of Government: National Police (Policía Nacional de Bolivia, PNB) (2022)

note: the PNB includes two paramilitary forces, the Anti-Narcotics Special Forces (Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Narcotráfico, FELCN) and the Anti-Terrorist Group (GAT); the PNB is part of the reserves for the Armed Forces; the police and military share responsibility for border enforcement

Military expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2021 est.)

1.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.4% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $980 million)

1.5% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $1 billion)

1.5% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $1.01 billion)

country comparison to the world: 96

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies widely; approximately 40,000 active troops (28,000 Army; 5,000 Navy; 7,000 Air Force); note - a considerable portion of the Navy personnel are marines and naval police; approximately 40,000 National Police (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Bolivian Armed Forces are equipped with a mix of mostly older Brazilian, Chinese, European, and US equipment; since 2010, China and France have been the leading suppliers of military hardware to Bolivia (2022)

Military service age and obligation

compulsory for all men between the ages of 18 and 22; men can volunteer from the age of 16, women from 18; service is for 12 months; Search and Rescue service can be substituted for citizens who have reached the age of compulsory military service; duration of this service is 24 months (2022)

note: foreign nationals 18-22 residing in Bolivia may join the armed forces; joining speeds the process of acquiring Bolivian citizenship by naturalization

Military - note

Bolivia has a small naval force for patrolling some 5,000 miles of navigable rivers to combat narcotics trafficking and smuggling, provide disaster relief, and deliver supplies to remote rural areas, as well as for maintaining a presence on Lake Titicaca; the Navy also exists in part to cultivate a maritime tradition and as a reminder of Bolivia’s desire to regain the access to the Pacific Ocean that the country lost to Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879-1884); every year on 23 March, the Navy participates in parades and government ceremonies commemorating the Día Del Mar (Day of the Sea) holiday that remembers the loss (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Contraband smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal narcotic trafficking are problems in the porous areas of its border regions with all of its neighbors (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru).

Bolivia-Chile: Despite tariff-free access to ports in southern Peru and northern Chile, Bolivia persists with its long-standing claims to regain sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

Bolivia-Peru: Despite tariff-free access to ports in southern Peru and northern Chile, Bolivia persists with its long-standing claims to regain sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Smuggling of archaeological artifacts from Peru to Bolivia, illegal timber and narcotics smuggling, human trafficking, and falsified documents are current issues. 

Bolivia-Brazil: The Roboré Accord of March 29, 1958 placed the long-disputed Isla Suárez/Ilha de Guajará-Mirim, a fluvial island on the Río Mamoré, between the two towns of Guajará-Mirim (Brazil) and Guayaramerin (Bolivia), under Bolivian administration but did not resolve the sovereignty dispute

Bolivia-Argentina: Contraband smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal narcotic trafficking are problems in the porous areas of the border. 

Bolivia-Paraguay: On April 27, 2009, the president of Argentina hosted the presidents of Bolivia and Paraguay together with representatives of the fiver other guarantor states -- Brazil, Chile, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay -- to the signing for the Final Record of the Boundary Commission in execution of the 1938 Peace Treaty between Bolivia and Paraguay.

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 12,400 (Venezuela) (2022)

Illicit drugs

third-largest source country of cocaine and a major transit for Peruvian cocaine; in 2020 coca cultivation totaled 39,400 hectares (ha); illicit drug consumption is low in Bolivia;  most cocaine is exported to other Latin American countries, such as  Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, for domestic consumption, or for onward transit to West Africa and Europe, not the United States