macrohistory & world report

Republic of Bolivia

Map of Bolivia

Bolivia (its capital La Paz) and neighboring states


World Factbook as of November 2014: "Bolivia is a resource rich country with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports. However, the country remains one of the least developed countries in Latin America because of state-oriented policies that deter investment and growth... 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, the government passed a controversial hydrocarbons law 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 global recession slowed growth, but Bolivia recorded the highest growth rate in South America during 2009. High commodity prices since 2010 sustained rapid growth and large trade surpluses. However, 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."

Economic growth rate
2011: 5.1%
2010: 4.1%
2009: 3.4%

Labor force in agriculture
2010: 32%

Unemployement rate
2011: 5.5%

Public debt
2011: 36.6% of GDP

Export commodities
Natural gas, soybeans and soy products, crude petroleum, zinc ore, tin

Export partners
2011: Brazil 43.5%, US 12.3%, Peru 6.8%, Colombia 5.5%, Japan 5.1%, Argentina 4.8%

Export/Import ratio
2011: exports $9.109 billion, imports $ $7.613

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 9th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 4.8% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 67%

Net migration rate
2012: A net loss of 1.05 persons per 1,000 population per year

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

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


South America, landlocked and mountainous.


Independence from Spain in 1825. Since then, according to the Factbook, "nearly 200 coups and counter-coups.

World Factbook (2011): "republic; note - the new constitution defines Bolivia as a 'Social Unitarian State'." Bolivia has a bicameral legislature.

Capital: La Paz

Recent History

Evo Morales first assumed office as president in January 2006. He was elected with 53.7% of the popular vote. In a recall referendum in August, 2008, more than two-thirds of the voters chose to keep him in office. Morales won a presidental election in December 2009 by 63% of the vote.

Morales describes himself as an Amerindian. He is of Aymara descent.

October 2009: President Morales is named "World Hero of Mother Earth" by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

February 10, 2011: President Morales is under pressure because of food shortages. He abandons a public event in the face of an angry protests in the mining city of Oruro. There have been protests in other Bolivian cities.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.