Landlocked high in central South America, Bolivia is one of the region’s poorest countries. La Paz is the world’s highest capital city: 13,385 feet (3631 m) above sea level.
Geography: A high windswept plateau, the altiplano, lies between two Andean mountain ranges. Semiarid grasslands to the east; dense tropical forests to the north.
Climate: Altiplano has extreme tropical climate, with night-frost in winter. North and east are hot and humid.
People and Society: The indigenous majority faces widespread discrimination. Wealthy Spanish-descended families have traditionally controlled the economy. Amerindian Evo Morales, president from 2005, pledged to cut poverty, legalize coca, and redistribute land.
The Economy: Gold, silver, zinc, tin, oil, natural gas: all vulnerable to world price fluctuations. Social issues and nationalization of natural gas sector deter investors. Major coca producer. Lack of manufacturing. Rich eastern provinces want autonomy.
Insight: Between 1825 and 1982 Bolivia averaged more than one armed coup a year
Official Name: Republic of Bolivia
Date of Formation: 1825
Capital: La Paz (administrative); Sucre (judicial)
Population: 9.86 million
Total Area: 424,162 sq. miles (1,098,580 sq. km)
Density: 24 people per sq. mile
Languages: Aymara*, Quechua*, Spanish*
Religions: Roman Catholic 93%, other 7%
Ethnic Mix: Quechua 37%, Aymara 32%, mixed 13%, European 10%, other 8%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Boliviano = 100 centavos