Bolivia has an area of 1,098,581 Km2 (approximately five times the area of Great Britain). Since gaining independence in 1825, Bolivia has lost about half of the area of its territory during successive conflicts against all the neighboring countries: loss of Litoral during the Pacific war (Chile), annexations of the area of Acre in the North and Matto Grosso in the West (Brazil), loss of Chaco Central (Argentina) and Chaco Boreal in the South-East (Paraguay).

Country totally enclosed in the middle of the South American continent without any access to the oceans. In 1992, presidents Fujimori (Peru) and Paz Zamora (Bolivia) signed agreements defining a Bolivian 'free zone' of 327 hectares in the Peruvian harbour of Ilo, à 500km de La Paz, about 500km from La Paz. This provides Bolivia with an economically important access to the Pacific coast.



Bolivia is divided into three main geographical areas, each one is covered by three departments.

  • Andean zone (alt. 2500m-6500m): This geographical region includes the departments of La Paz, Oruro and Potosí. It represents 28% of the national territory and comprises the mountainous regions of Cordillères Occidental, Real y Oriental and also the Andean plateau (altiplano: large and arid region 3500-4000m above sea level).
  • Sub-Andean zone (alt. 2000m-2500m): This geographical region includes the departments of Cochabamba, Chuquisaca and Tarija. It represents 13% of the national territory and consists of a succession of mountain ranges of medium altitude surrounding large valleys with temperate climate, like the Yungas near La Paz.
  • Lowlands (llanos) (<2000m): This geographical region includes the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando. It represents 59% of the national territory. These are warm regions of the Amazonian plains and also the dry region of Chaco.

Bolivia is commonly regarded as a mountainous country. Actually, more than half (59%) of the area of Bolivia is classified as lowland.


Major Bolivian Cities - Summary Information

Cities Inhabitants (2003) Altitude (m) Department
Santa Cruz de la Sierra 1,170,000 440 Santa Cruz
La Paz 830,000 3,640 La Paz
Cochabamba 815,000 2,560 Cochabamba
El Alto 730,000 4,050 La Paz
Oruro 210,000 3,710 Oruro
Sucre 205,000 2,790 Chuquisaca
Tarija 140,000 1,870 Tarija
Potosí 140,000 4,070 Potosí
Montero 80,000 300 Santa Cruz
Trinidad 70,000 240 Beni
Yacuíba 80,000 880 Tarija
Riberalta 65,000 130 Beni
Tupiza 20,000 3,170 Potosí
Cobija 20,000 220 Pando
San Ignacio de Velasco 20,000 590 Santa Cruz
Ascensión 13,000 240 Santa Cruz
Caranavi 13,000 1,020 La Paz
Uyuni 11,000 4,060 Potosí
Rurrenabaque 10,000 300 Beni
Concepción 6,000 500 Santa Cruz
Copacabana 4,200 3,820 La Paz
Coroico 3,500 1,800 La Paz
Sorata 2,200 2,700 La Paz


Famous Bolivian Summits

Summit Altitude (m)
Sajama 6,542
Illampu 6,485
Illimani 6,462
Parinacota 6,348
Huayna Potosí 6,088
Acotango 6,052
Lincancábur 5,930
Mururata 5,868


Bolivian World Heritage Sites Registered by UNESCO

  • Mining city of Potosí (1987)
  • Jesuit missions of Chiquitos (1990)
  • Historic city of Sucre (1991)
  • Fortress of Samaipata (1998)
  • Noel Kempff Mercado national park (2000)
  • Spiritual and political Centre of Tiwanaku (2000)
  • Qhapaq Ñan Andean road network (2014)