About Bolivia

The Plurinational State of Bolivia, in South America, is landlocked by its neighbors Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. About one-third of Bolivia’s area is located within the Andean Mountains. Bolivia’s 11.8 million people are distributed around the country, with a high-altitude plain in the west the most densely populated. Other population hubs include the city of Santa Cruz and the capital, La Paz. The Bolivian population is ethnically diverse, with a majority being Mestizo. There are several languages that are considered the official language of Bolivia, including Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani. At least 36 other indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country. Almost 80 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, with smaller proportions of evangelicals and Pentecostals, as well as Protestants. Lake Titicaca, the lake with the highest elevation above sea level (12,507 feet), is located there, as is the world’s largest salt flat, which contains 50 percent to 70 percent of the world’s lithium.

A former colony of Spain, Bolivia gained independence in 1825 after a 16-year war. Modern-day Bolivia has significantly decreased poverty rates; however, it is still considered the second poorest country in South America. Education is low quality, and access to educational opportunities is unevenly distributed among the rural and indigenous populations. Bolivia is rich in natural resources and mineral deposits, such as petroleum, natural gas, tin, silver, lithium, and copper. Other economic sectors include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing.

In addition to a high rate of poverty, Bolivia also ranks poorly in health metrics. The risk of major infectious diseases is considered high, with high incidence rates of bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, dengue fever, and malaria. Leading causes of death in Bolivia include ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, stroke, chronic kidney disease, neonatal disorders, diabetes, cirrhosis, stomach cancer, COPD, road injuries, congenital defects, and tuberculosis. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include malnutrition, high body-mass index, high fasting plasma glucose, air pollution, high blood pressure, dietary risks, kidney dysfunction, alcohol and tobacco use, high LDL, and a lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene.

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Montero, Bolivia


Cochabamba, Bolivia


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