Your guide to being an expatriate in Bolivia

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Bolivia, officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is the poorest country in South America. Despite this, it is a culturally rich nation that remains largely rural. The country is divided into nine administrative departments and one autonomous municipality (La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Tarija, Chuquisaca, Potosí, Beni, Pando, and Amazonas). Bolivia's economy is diverse, ranging from agriculture and mining to energy and finance. expats moving to Bolivia will enjoy the country's vibrant culture, warm people, and stunning landscapes.


Expat destinations in Bolivia

Demographics of Bolivia:

Ethnic groups

53.6% Indigenous, 35.3% Mestizo, 7.7% White, 2.4% Afro-Bolivian, and 0.1% Other.


Spanish (official), Quechua, Guarani, Aymara

Religion Overview

Bolivia is predominantly Roman Catholic, with over 76% of the population identifiying as Catholic. Other religions and belief systems include Protestantism (10%), Jehovah's Witnesses (1.2%), Adventists (0.7%), and Baha'i (0.3%).

Major Religions


Bolivia's climate varies greatly due to its high altitude and diverse topography. The eastern region of the country is dominated by the Amazon rainforest and experiences hot, humid conditions year-round, while the western region, known as the Andes, is characterized by a dry and cool climate. La Paz, the capital city, has a cool highland climate with mild temperatures year-round.

Economy Overview

Bolivia's economy is diverse, with a mix of traditional and modern industries. The country is rich in natural resources, including lithium, tin, and oil, which contribute significantly to its exports. Agriculture also plays a significant role in the economy, with crops such as quinoa, corn, and sugarcane being grown in diverse regions. The service industry is rapidly growing, fueled by a booming tourism sector and growing financial sector.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture
  • Mining (lithium, tin, and oil)
  • Tourism
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Energy (hydroelectric)
  • Finance

Major Companies

  • Banco Centro
  • Banco Internacional
  • Banco BISA
  • Mi Banco
  • Banco Patria
  • Banco Continental
  • Banco FEMUGE
  • YPFB (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos)
  • Empresa Minera Huanuni
  • Compañía Minera San Cristóbal
  • Madre de Dios Mining SA
  • Fábrica Nacional de Químicos

Culture and Language Overview

Bolivia's rich cultural heritage is a product of the fusion of indigenous, European, and Afro-Bolivian influences. The country is known for its vibrant festivals, traditional music and dance, and unique cuisine. The indigenous cultures, including the Aymara and Quechua, have played a significant role in shaping Bolivia's identity. Spanish is the official language, but Quechua, Guarani, and Aymara are also widely spoken.

Cultural Highlights

  • Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) - a traditional Andean festival celebrated in June
  • Alasitas - Miniature handmade sculptures created in La Paz during Carnaval
  • La Diablada - Annual Devil Dance Festival in Oruro
  • Cholitas - Traditional Andean women's clothing and hairstyles that blend native and colonial styles
  • Salteña - A traditional pastry filled with meat and vegetables that originated in Bolivia
  • Pique Macho - A typical Bolivian dish made with steak, onions, and spices
  • Cumbia - A popular Latin American music that originated in Colombia but has gained significant popularity in Bolivia
  • Porombonides, Cochabamba Carnaval dancers, and dances with sheep - Unique folk cultural festivals that showcase Bolivian heritage
  • Natas: Traditional dish made with cheese and potatoes that is typically eaten for breakfast or as an appetizer
  • Andean Football: Despabido D6 culture is popular in Bolivia for international football teams given a unique experience by Andean music and dancing traditions
  • Andean Pablito Tours: Tuk-tuks or Tuk-tuks known as Andean Pablito lead tourists through Nuestro Mundo Street in La Paz, with every honk of the horn accompanied by music
  • La Chola: Made popular by Evangelina Estero, a Bolivian singer and composer who specializes in cumbia music.

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Bolivia's geography is diverse, with the country split between the Andean highlands, Amazon rainforest, and Chaco plain. The country is home to some of South America's most iconic landmarks, including Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in the region shared by Bolivia and Peru. Other noteworthy landmarks include the Samaipata archaeological site, Sangay National Park, and Torotoro National Park.

Notable Landmarks

  • Lake Titicaca - The largest lake in the region, shared by Bolivia and Peru
  • Mi Teleferico - A cable car system connecting three neighborhoods in El Alto, La Paz
  • The Witches'' Market in La Paz - A colorful market selling traditional medicinal items, crafts, and souvenirs
  • Potosi - A silver mining town that was once the largest city in South America in the 17th century
  • La Casa de la Moneda - The former mint in Sucre, which is now a museum and cultural center
  • Lero - A mystical and ancient site featuring indigenous architecture, monumental staircases, and religious architecture
  • Sopocachi Ruins - The once-great city of the Tiwanaku culture that predates the Inca civilization
  • Valle de la Luna - A unique landscape with odd-shaped sandstone formations created by ancient floods
  • Cordillera Real - A series of snow-capped peaks in the Andes mountain range
  • Torotoro National Park - A UNESCO World Heritage Site with prehistoric cave paintings and fossils over 10,000 years old
  • Sangay National Park - Home to an active volcano and diverse wildlife, including the Andean Condor
  • Arabic Garden - An enchanting garden in Santa Cruz featuring unique Arabic designs and landscaping.

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Carnaval (40 days before Easter Sunday)
  • Good Friday
  • Saturday - Holy Saturday
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Labor Day (May 1)
  • Battle of Sangasiga Day (May 2)
  • Corpus Christi
  • Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day (June 29)
  • Assumption Day (August 15)
  • Independence Day (August 6)
  • All Saints' Day (November 1)
  • All Souls' Day (November 2)
  • Christ the King Day (Last Sunday in November)
  • Immaculate Conception Day (December 8)
  • 25th of December (Christmas)
  • Holy Innocents' Day (December 28) - Also known as 'Dia de los Santos Inocentes'
  • Rosary Foundation Day (August 31)
  • Our Lady of Candelaria Day (February 2)
  • Saint Francis of Assisi Day (October 4)
  • Flag Day (February 28)
  • Air Force and Space Force Day (August 25)
  • Navidad Grande Day (September 8)
  • National Coat of Arms Day (July 21)
  • Indigenous New Year's Day (February 2)
  • Indigenous Peoples Day (September 23)
  • National Dialogue Week (May 1-7)

Political Stability

Bolivia has experienced significant political instability in recent years, with multiple coups d'état in the past decade. The country is currently led by President Luis Arce Catacora, who was elected in 2020. The economy remains a significant challenge for the government, with high inflation, income inequality, and poverty levels. Bolivia's political stability continues to be closely watched by international observers.

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