Geographical Location of Bolivia

Bolivia is located in South America and borders Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile. Bolivia is a landlocked country, with the great Andes Mountains dominating the landscape to the west. The mountains are divided into two ranges: the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental. Between the two ranges lies the high plain of the Altiplano, where most of the population lives. The plateau is also home to Latin America's largest lake: Lake Titicaca.

To the north and east of the Andes, two-thirds of the landscape is covered by plains. Here, vegetation increases as you move north, from semi-arid landscapes in the south through savannas to tropical forests in the northeast. The Cordillera Occidental mountain range is made up of extinct volcanoes, and Bolivia's largest mountain peak, Sajama, is 6,542 meters above sea level. The climate varies widely due to large differences in altitude. The west is cold and dry, while the north and east are tropical.

Bolivia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Climate change poses a threat to this diversity. Additionally, a warmer climate will mean even poorer access to water as glaciers melt. Pollution also affects water quality, and forest cough leads to soil erosion.

Brief History of Bolivia

3,000 years ago, an agricultural community arose around Lake Titicaca in what is now Bolivia. The agricultural culture around Lake Titicaca, also called the Tiahuanaco culture, was lost in the 11th century for unknown reasons.

In the 15th century, Bolivia became part of the great Inca Empire, which was the Indian Empire. The Inca Empire fell during the Spanish invasion in the 1530s, and Bolivia was conquered by Spain in 1538. Indigenous people were kept as slaves and forced to work in the mines. Eventually a large resistance movement emerged that wanted independence. In 1825, Bolivia separated from Spain under the leadership of General Sucre and freedom hero Bolivar. The country was named after Bolivar, and Sucre became the first president.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Bolivia lost much of its territory to neighboring countries. They ceded their coastal strip to Chile, most of the Amazon to Brazil, and most of the Chaco region to Paraguay. Military coups and dictatorship characterized the country for much of the 20th century. Great divisions between the majority of poor workers and the small wealthy elite led to the 1952 revolution. The radical left won and carried out economic and social reforms. However, economic decline led to the strengthening of the military, and from the mid-60s until 1982, Bolivia was ruled by various military governments and a record number of coups d'état occurred.

Since 1982, the country has again become democratic. Even after the establishment of democracy, Bolivia's history was characterized by regular economic crises, high unemployment and popular protests. The 2019 elections were marred by a series of corruption allegations and were therefore annulled. The right-wing transitional government acted temporarily until the Socialists won new elections again in 2020.

Society and Politics of Bolivia

Bolivia is a republic where the president is the head of state and government. The president is elected for a term of five years. Basically, a president can only be re-elected once, but Evo Morales has managed to get around this rule by being re-elected twice since 2005. In 2009, Bolivia adopted a new constitution that provided rights for 36 indigenous groups, gave the state control over natural resources such as oil, gas and water, and increased self-government in various regions.

The traditional parties and the old landowning elite in Bolivia have lost much of their power in recent years, and the Socialist Party is by far the largest party. He has the strongest support from poor Indians in rural areas and parts of the middle class. Morales' policies intensified divisions between poor Indians in the west and rich landowners in the east. Traditionally, the conflict has revolved around land rights. Now we are talking no less about the utilization of natural gas. Unions and indigenous groups want more government control over gas revenues, while landowners want more decentralization. Social and political conflicts continue to characterize Bolivia. The political system is riddled with corruption and the judiciary is weak.

Economy and Trade of Bolivia

After Evo Morales became president, economic policies turned in a socialist direction and the state took responsibility for the oil and gas sector. Higher taxes and duties led to increased treasury revenue, which in turn was used to develop the school and medical sectors in the country. Bolivia is experiencing economic growth, the gap between rich and poor has narrowed and the proportion of extreme poor has decreased. The government and Morales were praised by the international community for the economic policies they implemented during their reign (from 2005 to 2019).

However, the country remains one of the poorest in South America. Bolivia is aid dependent and has large foreign loans. Economic development is unevenly distributed within the country. The plains to the east and south are home to natural gas and oil fields and high-tech agriculture, while the mountainous areas to the west suffer from low technological development and poverty.

Bolivia has large reserves of natural gas, minerals and oil. The economy is mainly based on the export of raw materials. Other important export commodities include tin, zinc, silver and soybeans. Brazil is the country's most important trading partner, followed by Argentina, the United States, Japan and China. Coca and cocaine smuggling is widespread from Bolivia.

Flag of Bolivia
Coat of Arms of Bolivia

Basic Information About Bolivia

  • Full name - Plurinational State of Bolivia
  • Capital - Sucre (capital) and La Paz (seat of government)
  • Language - Spanish
  • Population - 11,350,000
  • Form of government - republic
  • Area - 1,098,580 km2
  • Currency - Bolivian Boliviano
  • National Day – August 6