COUNTRYAAH, Bolivia has large assets on natural gas, minerals and
oil. In 2006, the gas industry was nationalized and since
then production has doubled to 60 million cubic meters per
day. Previously, Bolivia exported natural gas and oil in
commodity form, but since 2013 there is domestic oil
refining and production of liquid gas. Gas, minerals and oil
account for a majority of the country's exports and go
mainly to Brazil and Argentina.
The country's economic policy has undergone two major
changes in the last 30 years. At the end of the 20th
century, a severe financial tightening was carried out in
which subsidies were abolished and many state companies
privatized. This policy led to a more stable economy but had
severe social consequences and also led to major protests.
In 2006, left-wing President Evo Morales took office. He
started a new economic direction by nationalizing companies
in the natural gas and oil sector as well as in
telecommunications. Likewise, a land reform was initiated.
During the 1990s, Bolivia has had higher GDP growth than
many other countries in the region, but the country still
has high unemployment. Furthermore, the extensive illegal
cocaine trafficking has not come to fruition.
Agriculture employs just over a third of the working
population, but only 2% of Bolivia's land is agricultural
land. The country has a skewed ownership structure where
large farmers own the majority of land, while small farmers
have only very small shares. At Evo Morale's take-over as
president in 2006, a redistribution program introduced which
meant that state land was distributed to landless peasants,
that the state could coerce unused land and that a limit on
the size of newly purchased land to 5,000 be introduced.
These rules have met strong opposition from the large
The cultivated land is largely found on the densely
populated plateau, Altiplano, where the climatic conditions
are not very favorable. Primarily, potatoes, seeds etc. are
grown for self-sufficiency. Furthermore, sheep management is
significant. In the sparsely populated eastern lowland area,
new cultivation is underway with more modern methods.
Products from here are soybeans, sugarcane, rice and cotton.
Oriente has also focused on large-scale livestock
management, which has entailed deforestation with the
ecological problems that this entails. Indians have reacted
to forest logging and want a sustainable utilization of
In the Andes slope zone, ie between Altiplano and
Oriente, there are fertile but narrow and partially
overcrowded valleys (Yungas). Here, bananas, coffee and
citrus fruits are grown, but above all there are crops of
coca bushes, which in the 1980s and 1990s became the
country's most important crop. In 1988, all coca cultivation
was banned except for a smaller cultivation for traditional
use. By the beginning of the 1990s large areas of coca
cultivation had been destroyed, but after 2006 the illegal
cultivation has again increased. Half of Bolivia's area is
forested, but forestry is of little importance due to
Minerals and energy
Bolivia is known for its mineral deposits. Originally,
silver (in Potosí) and later tin (in Oruro and Potosí) were
the major sources of income. Mining in the highland areas
(3,500–5,500 m above sea level) has always taken place under
For many years the country was one of the world's leading
tin producers, but in the mid-1980s production fell sharply
as a result of a large price race on the world market.
Instead, production of gold, silver and zinc. Some time in
the 00s, the tin market recovered, and together with zinc,
tin is again of great importance for the country's exports.
Most of the mining operations are run by private companies,
but the state mining company COMIBOL has become increasingly
important during Evo Morale's term of office. In addition to
gold, silver, tin and zinc, the country also has one of the
world's largest assets of lithium.
Oil and natural gas are extracted in southeastern Bolivia
(Santa Cruz area). In recent years, oil production has
declined, which is offset by a sharp increase in the natural
gas sector. Gas exports to Brazil increased sharply in 1999
when a gas pipeline from the Santa Cruz area to the
industrial metropolis of São Paulo in Brazil was put into
operation. Oil and natural gas account for almost 50% of the
country's export revenue. In terms of water energy, Bolivia
has tremendous potential in the Andes slopes towards the
Bolivia's industrial sector is poorly developed and
employs 17% of the workforce. The domestic market lacks
purchasing power and export conditions are limited. The
production of consumer goods (food, textiles, etc.) for
one's own market is most important. Production is usually
small-scale, partly of a craftsmanship. In addition, there
is some industry related to the mining and energy sectors.
Industrial development is hampered by the lack of capital.
Like most small countries, Bolivia has extensive foreign
trade and is sensitive to changes in world trade conditions.
In addition, the country is particularly vulnerable in view
of its one-sided exports, which officially comprise 80 per
cent of natural gas and metals.
In addition to these, the export of soybeans is also
important. Brazil is the most important trading partner,
followed by Chile, Argentina and the United States. Bolivia
is a member of the Andean Community and is an associate
member of Mercosur.
Tourism and gastronomy
Bolivia's development as a tourist country is hampered by
poor infrastructure and social unrest. Every year about
400,000 foreign visitors visit the country, most of them
from China, France, Spain and the United States. What mainly
attracts tourists are the major cities of La Paz, Sucre and
Potosí, the distinctive Native American culture and the
magnificent mountain landscape with, among other things,
The country's second largest city La Paz is located in a
valley. The international airport is the highest in the
world and is over 4,000 meters above sea level, and from
there you travel on a winding highway down to the center of
3,600 meters above sea level. The colonial center around
Murillo Square offers picturesque neighborhoods with low
houses. The Museo Nacional de Arqueología, or
MuseoTiahuanaco as it is also called, in La Paz is a good
preparation for a day trip to the world heritage site
Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku), with the country's strangest ancient
heritage site inhabited 400 BC-1100 AD. This is located near
Lake Titicaca with its bright lights, clear air and stately
The country's formal capital Sucre is worth a visit with
its many Baroque churches and monasteries and its special
architecture from the 19th century. From there, you can
safely reach the city of Potosí at 4,070 m above sea level.
The city and its mining environment are listed on UNESCO's
World Heritage List; not much remains of the mine but the
renaissance and baroque city is so much more interesting.
Hikers and ski enthusiasts have nice terrain east of La Paz.
A basic rule is that travelers to the Bolivian highlands
should be prepared for problems with mountain sickness
(tiredness and headaches) and shortness of breath even in
Food management in Bolivia is characterized by the
country's geographical location; without coast, ie referred
to freshwater fish, and high level, which gives longer
cooking times. Bolivia is counted alongside Peru as the
country of origin of the potatoes. The food is generally
spicy by Swedish standards; locoto is the local
variety of chili pepper that is used extensively in most
dishes, for example the very common dish picante de
pollo which is a chicken stew with onions, locoto, red
pepper, garlic, tomatoes, parsley and thyme. Distinctive
Bolivian is the conejo estirado, rabbit that has
been stretched to make the meat even darker. For this you
can drink Bolivia's excellent beer or the country's own