Bolivia Geography

The geographical location of the country allows you to understand a wide variety of landforms and climates. There is a wide biodiversity (considered among the largest in the world), as well as different ecoregions and ecological subunits such as the Altiplano, the Amazon plain, the dry valleys, the Yungas and the Chiquitanian highlands that are framed in diverse altitudinal variations ranging from 6,542 masl from Nevado Sajama to 70 masl near the Paraguay River.


As a country located in South America according to PROGRAMINGPLEASE.COM, Bolivia can be divided into three physiographic regions:

  • Andean Region in the southwest: It covers 28% of the national territory with an estimated area of 307,000 km². This area is more than 3000 meters above sea level located between the two great Andean branches: the Western and Eastern or Real mountain ranges, which have some of the highest peaks in America such as Nevado Sajama with 6542 meters above the sea level and the Illimani with 6462 meters above sea level. Here is Lake Titicaca, the highest in the world located at 3810 meters above sea level, with an area of ​​8100 km² and shared with Peru. It is also found in the highlands, the Salar de Uyuni which is the largest salt deposit and lithium reservoir in the world.
  • Sub-Andean Region in the center-south: Intermediate region between the highlands and the eastern plains that covers 13% of the territory, and includes the valleys and the Yungas (2,500 meters above sea level). It is characterized by its agricultural activity and its temperate to warm climate (15 to 25 ° C). This region includes the Bolivian valleys and Los Yungas.
  • Llanos region in the northeast: It covers 59% of the national surface and is located north of the Eastern or Real mountain range that extends from the foot of the Andes to the Paraguay River, it is a land of plains and low plateaus, covered by extensive forests rich in flora and fauna. The region is characterized by being at an altitude of less than 400 meters above sea level, having extensive rivers and the greatest biodiversity in the country. It registers an annual average temperature of 22 to 25 ° C.


Bolivia’s climate varies greatly from ecoregion to ecoregion, from tropical conditions in the eastern plains to a polar climate in the western Andes. Summers are hot, humid in the East and dry in the West with rains that modify the temperature, humidity, wind, atmospheric pressure, and evaporation, giving rise to different climates. When the climatological and erratically cyclical phenomenon called El Niño occurs, it generates great alterations in the climate. Winters in the west are quite cold with snow near the mountains, while the lowlands tend to have windy days. Fall is dry in non-tropical regions.


The country discharges its waters, fundamentally, in three main basins, the Amazon basin, the Río de la Plata basin, and the endorheic or Altiplano basin. The Pacific slope is marginal. These basins, in turn, are made up of 10 sub-basins, 270 main rivers, 184 lakes and lagoons, some 260 small or medium wetlands and six salt flats.

Amazon basin

The Amazon basin covers 65.9% of the country. Its rivers are usually mighty, navigable and meandering, with which numerous lakes and lagoons are formed. They are tributaries of the Amazon. The main Bolivian river in this region is the Mamoré with a length of 2,000 km, which runs north to the confluence with the Beni River, 1,113 km long, the second most important river. With the confluence the Madeira river, or Madera, is formed, a tributary of the Amazon and border with Brazil for 95 km.

Main rivers and lakes

Acre River, Abuna River, river Orthon, Madre de Dios River, River Beni, Mamore River, River Iténez or Guaporé. The most important lakes and lagoons in this region are the Rogaguado of 300 km², the Rogagua of 154 km² and the Huaytunas or Ginebra, the largest, with about 550 km². There are also an infinity of lakes and lagoons, among which the lagoons stand out: Huachi, San Jorge, Nuevo Mundo and Arani or Araré, all of them greater than 60 km².

River Plate Basin

The Río de la Plata basin covers 20.9% of the territory with the departments of Potosí, Oruro, Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz and Tarija. They are Bolivian tributaries of the system that flows into the Río de la Plata. They are less mighty rivers, but also navigable and meandering.

Main rivers and lakes

Paraguay River, River Pilcomayo and Bermejo River. The most important lagoons in this basin are: the Uberaba lagoon, shared with Brazil, of about 400 km²; the Mandioré lagoon of about 300 km², the La Gaiba lagoon with 200 km², the Cáceres lagoon with 200 km², the Mirim lagoon, all of them located in the Great Pantanal region.

Highland endorheic basin

The endorheic basin of the highlands comprises all the rivers and lakes found in the highlands. It represents 13.2% of the country. In the highlands there are a large number of rivers, lakes, lagoons and springs that do not flow into any ocean. The most important in this basin is the Desaguadero, which is 436 km long. It is the longest of the highland rivers. It is born in Lake Titicaca and runs in a southeastern direction until its mouth in Lake Poopó. Other important rivers in this basin are the Lauca, which is born in the Cotacotani lagoon, in Chile, has a length of 225 km and flows into the Coipasa salt flat. Laca Jahuira, 135 km long, is born in Lake Poopó.

Bolivia Geography