34 Interesting Facts About Bolivia

Bolivia, officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a landlocked country located in western-central South America.  It is a developing country with a medium ranking in the Human Development Index and a poverty level of 53 percent. With these 34 interesting facts about Bolivia, let’s learn about its culture, history, economy, people, industries, tourism, tradition, religion and more.

Map of Bolivia
Bolivia on World Map

Fact 1: Bolivia is a landlocked South American country.

Facts about famous tourist attractions in Bolivia

Fact 2: The world’s largest butterfly sanctuary, which spans 24 hectares, is in Bolivia. It is located 20 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz, and is open 365 days a year.

A variety of amenities are available inside the sanctuary for the visiting guests. There are restaurants, bars, tent-camping facilities, bungalows, a resort hotel, picnic and barbeque areas, a huge children’s playground, biolabs and much more. You can spend weeks — not just days — inside the sanctuary without running out of things to see.

Fact 3: The North Yungas Road, which is also known as the Road of Fate or Death Road, is in Bolivia. It is 56 kilometers long, and as per an estimate, nearly 200-300 people died from falling off the road every year until recent improvements were made to the road to avoid casualties. The road also has cross markings on the places where vehicles have fallen in the past to alert passing drivers.

Fact 4: Bolivia has the world’s largest salt flat, which covers 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi) of area and is 3,656 meters above sea level. It contains 50 to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves.

Kids please note that the altimeters of Earth observation satellites are calibrated on the salt desert due to its large area, clear skies and exceptional flatness.

Salt flat in Bolivia.
Interesting facts about Bolivia: Salt flat. Image source: http://petapixel.com/

Fact 5: Madidi National Park, with an area of 18,958 square kilometers, is part of one of the largest protected areas in the world.

Fact 6: Tiwanaku, located in Bolivia, is among South America’s most intriguing archeological sites.

Fact 7: Bolivia also has Lake Titicaca, which is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet above sea level. It has a surface area of 8,300 square kilometers. It is shared between Bolivia and Peru.

Fact 8: San Pedro prison in Bolivia is another tourist attraction. Unlike other prisons around the world, this special prison permits its inmates to live with their families, work, earn and even buy or rent their accommodations.

View of San Pedro prison, Bolivia.
Interesting Facts About Bolivia: View of San Pedro prison. Image credit: http://www.lapazlife.com/

Fact 9: A hotel in Bolivia­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­–The Hotel Luna Salad–is built entirely from salt blocks including the interior and the furniture.

Fact 10: For those who have a special interest in dinosaurs, it will be interesting to know that there are 5055 footprints from at least 8 different species of dinosaurs in Bolivia on Cal Orko, an imposing limestone slab 1.5 km long and more than 100 meters high. The marks are 68 million years old. And they are on a vertical wall.

Amazed? Want to know how was it possible for the dinosaurs to walk on a vertical wall?

The interesting fact is that tectonic plate activity pushed the flat ground at such an incredible angle that it became a famous tourist spot for visitors from all over the world. Mother Nature has her own ways of preserving and revealing things…

Facts about Bolivia’s History

Fact 11: During the 18th century, Bolivia was known as Upper Peru. It got its name from Simon Bolivar, the military and political leader.

Fact 12: Bolivia became independent on August 6, 1825 (from Spain).

Fact 13: An estimated eight million Andean Indians died because of the mining of Cerro Rico (Rich Hill). The mine is 4,860 meters above sea level. Each day, approximately 3,000 tons of minerals are brought out of it by around 15,000 miners. The mine has provided these resources for the past 460 years.

Fact 14: Bolivia is home to the highest administrative capital city in the world, La Paz. It is roughly 11,975 ft above sea level. It has one airport, and has a population of 877,363 (2008). However, the official capital city of Bolivia is Sucre. Thus, it is the only country in the world with two capital cities.

Fact 15: Bolivians become eligible to vote at the age of 18 if they are married, and at 21 if they are single.

Fact 16: Interestingly, there are 37 official languages in Bolivia.

Fact 17: Bolivia contributes 70% of all Brazil nuts produced worldwide.

Fact 18: Bolivia gets over 8000 mm of rain, on average, per year, which makes it one of the wettest countries in the world.

Fact 19: The dolphins in the Amazon in Bolivia are pink.

Fact 20: More than 40% of all animal and plant life on planet Earth is found in Bolivia in its tropical rainforests and Pantanal Wetlands.

Fact 21: Guinea pig is a delicacy in Bolivia. It is usually served whole, with the legs and head pointing up.

A view of La Paz
A view of La Paz. Image credit: http://www.goairporttaxibolivia.com/

Famous people from Bolivia

Fact 22: Soccer is the main sport in Bolivia. It is also its national sport. Below are some famous people from Bolivia from various categories and fields of work.

Sports: Maria Fernanda Álvarez (tennis), Geovana Irusta (running), Bernardo Guarachi (mountain climbing), Paulo Víctor Aguilera (BMX racing), Marco Antonio Etcheverry (soccer), Mariel Diamond and Carola Nostas (bodybuilding) are some famous athletes from Bolivia.

Acting: Reynaldo Pacheco, Raquel Welch, Jorge Ortiz, Arturo Lora, David Mondacca, David Santalla, Eduardo Hoffmann, Milton Córtez, Carla Ortiz, Peter Travesí and Marcos Malavia are some famous actors from Bolivia.

Science: Noel Kempff Mercado, José Steinbach, Martín Cárdenas and Iván Guzmán de Rojas are some famous scientists from Bolivia.

Literature: Edmundo Paz Soldán, Eduardo Scott-Moreno, Giovanna Rivero, Adolfo Costa du Rels, Antonio Díaz Villamil, Adela Zamudio, Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, Maria Josefa Mujia, Alcides Arguedas, Javier del Granado, Nataniel Aguirre, Tomás O’Connor d’Arlach, Yolanda Bedregal, Jaime Saenz and Juan de Recacoechea are some of the prolific writers from Bolivia. 

Bolivia’s Economy

Fact 23: Bolivia is the 88th-largest export economy in the world and the 93rd-most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).

Petroleum gas, zinc ore, soybean meal, precious metal ore and crude petroleum are among the Bolivia’s top exports.

It imports refined petroleum, cars, delivery trucks, heating machinery, planes, helicopters and/or spacecraft.

Fact 24: The economy of Bolivia is the 95th-largest in the world in nominal terms, and the 87th-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity.

Fact 25: As per World Bank’s report, nearly 800,000 tourists visited Bolivia each year in the last few years. And this count is rising every year.

Fact 26: Only about 30% of all roads in Bolivia are paved.

Death Road Bolivia
Interesting facts Bolivia: Death Road – Image source: http://www.history.co.uk/

Interesting facts about Bolivian Culture and Tradition

Fact 27: There are 36 indigenous cultures in Bolivia. Each has its own customs and languages. The Quechua are the largest culture of Bolivia, while the Aymara are the second largest in the region. For further in-depth information regarding Bolivian cultures, visit this link.

Fact 28: Families are closely knit in Bolivia. In rural regions, multiple generations live in a single house together. The family plays a significant role in social life and structure. Men are predominantly the bread winners, while women look after the household work.

Fact 29: A husband’s first surname is added to his wife’s name after the marriage with the connector “de”. So if Jennifer Maria Lopez marries Manuel Sebastien Costa, she would be called Jennifer Maria de Costa.

Fact 30: Bolivians exchange gifts at several different occasions. If you want to gift someone in Bolivia when you visit their house, avoid yellow and purple flowers, as they have negative connotations.

Fact 31: Some phrases that you may find useful when travelling to Bolivia –

Hello – Hola; Please – Por favor; Thank you – Gracias; Goodbye – Adiós; Yes – Si; No – No.

Fact 32: When a passenger boards a bus, it is customary to greet other passengers with “buen dia” or “buenas tardes”.

Fact 33: Do not be amazed if you find a driver’s son, daughter, wife or girlfriend in the front seats of Bolivia’s taxis. Also, travel, hotels and meals are very cheap in Bolivia.

Fact 34: Bolivians eat coca to combat the effects of altitude. As a result of the habit, you can see a bulge in their cheeks.

Bolivians are also famous for drinking juice out of plastic bags.

Quick facts about Bolivia

Capital CitySucre 19°3′0″S 65°15′0″W
Largest CitySanta Cruz de la Sierra
17°48′S 63°10′W
Total area1,098,581 sq km
Population10,800,882 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageSpanish Quechua Aymara Guarani
and 33 other native languages
BordersBrazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru.
CurrencyBoliviano (BOB)
ReligionCatholic Christians
Life expectancy68.86 years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatevaries with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid
Terrainrugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin
Natural resourcestin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower
Agricultural land34.3%
Birth rate22.76 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate6.52 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence6 August 1825 (from Spain)
National symbolllama, Andean condor; national colors: red, yellow, green
National anthem"Cancion Patriotica" (Patriotic Song)
Industriesmining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing, jewelry
Exports$9.591 billion (2015 est.)
natural gas, mineral ores, gold, soybeans and soy products, tin
Imports$10.43 billion (2015 est.)
machinery, petroleum products, vehicles, iron and steel, plastics
GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,500 (2015 est.)
Internet country code.bo
Internet users4.871 million
percent of population: 45.1% (July 2015 est.)
Time ZoneBOT (UTC−4)
Calling Code+591
Drives on theRight