What is the Capital of Bolivia?

  • The official capital is Sucre, the government is based in La Paz and the largest city is Santa Cruz de la Sierra

A Very Brief History of Bolivia

  • The country was once the centre of the ancient Tiwanaku Empire and from the fifteenth to the early sixteenth century it was ruled by the Incas. After the arrival of Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors, Bolivia was subsumed within the Viceroyalty of Peru. Spain built its empire in great part upon the silver that was extracted from Bolivia's mines.
  • Independence was finally won, by Venezuelan Simón Bolívar, El Libertador, in 1825, after many years of war, (along with Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).
  • Venezuela’s then-leader Antonio José de Sucre was given the choice of uniting Charcas (modern-day Bolivia) with either the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata or the newly formed Peru Republic or, to declare independence from Spain and go it alone.
  • Sucre chose the latter and named the new republic after Simón Bolívar.
  • More war followed, a Civil War and conflicts with all of its neighbours: Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, at different times. Bolivia eventually lost control of several parts of its territory, including its access to the Pacific coastline, (to Chile in 1879). This loss is bitterly resented by the Bolivians. They say that the Chileans invaded at carnival, when everyone was drunk and that this was therefore totally unfair. They still, hopefully, maintain a navy and celebrate Sea Day annually.

Is Bolivia a Poor Country?

  • Though historically rich in mineral and energy resources, Bolivia is the poorest of South America's countries. Almost 40 percent of Bolivians live in extreme poverty.

Is Bolivia Safe to Visit?

  • There are the usual warnings about petty crime, travelling at night and avoiding con men, especially in La Paz. Intriguingly, the FCO also says this: 'Avoid prison tours. They are illegal and unsafe. There are no guarantees for your safety inside prison premises.'

Facts and Factoids

  • One third of the country is in the Andes, making Bolivia one of the highest countries in the world. Lake Titicaca, straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, is the highest and largest navigable lake in the world. Hence the nickname, The Tibet of the Americas.
  • In 2009, President Evo Morales changed the country's name to the Plurinational State of Bolivia, to reflect the multiethnic nature of the population
  • The age at which you can vote, in Bolivia, depends on your marital status. If you are married, you can vote at the age of 18. However, if you’re single, you’ll need to wait until you reach 21. And voting is mandatory.
  • Bolivia has the only Bolivianite (ametrine) mine in the world
  • People dressed as zebras help children to cross the road (lollipop ladies)

What Language is Spoken in Bolivia?

  • Bolivia has over 30 official languages.
  • The most prominent indigenous languages include Quechua and Aymara, while Spanish is the most widely-spoken language in the country.

What To See in Bolivia?

  • Landlocked Bolivia is the highest, poorest and most isolated country in South America. It is also the cheapest and the most surprising.
  • La Paz is a reinvented city
  • The people are friendly and the scenery on the route from the Atacama, across the Altiplano and up to Uyuni (the largest salt deposit in the world) is absolutely astonishing. Surreal painted mountains, vivid lakes, colourful bubbling geysers, a rock city in the desert. Not to be missed.

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