Chronography of Bolivia

Page last modified 19 August 2023


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Map of Bolivia geographical changes here

Demography of Bolivia


2006, Evo Mortales Aima became Bolivia�s first ever indogenous Presaident, for the Movement Towards Socialism Party. Gas was nationalised, and more rights given to indigenous peoples.

February 2000, 100,000 Bolivians protested against the government decision to privatise the water supply. The Government�s eradication of coca plantations also caused dissent.

1990, 16,000 square kilometres of Bolivian rainforest were recogtnised as Amerindian territory.

1989, The Movement For The Revolutionary Left took power after a close-run election.

1986, The world tin price collapsed, and 21,000 miners in Bolivia became unemployed.

1985, The Nationalist Revolutionary Movement won elections. Austerity measures were imposed, bringing inflation down to 20%.

1982, Return to civilian rule under the Leftist president Siles Zuazo. Bolivian inflation was running at 24,000%,

1979, A brief period of civilian rule in Bolivia, followed by a further military coup in 1980.

1975, Negotiations between Bolivia and Chile to restore Bolivian access to the sea were close to success, but they could not agree on an equivalent grant of Bolivian land to Chile. Moreover, Peru insisted it must approve any such agreement, as the proposed corridor would be on land formerly belonging to Peru.

19 August 1971, Unrest in Bolivia was triggered by the arrest of 30 leaders of a Right-wing demonstration in Santa Cruz. Leftist Bolivian President Juan Jose Torres was supported by peasants, students, miners and the air force, but opposed by the army and the conservative middle and upper classes. Then the air force defected to the Rightist rebels, and they captured the capital, La Paz. President Torres fled to Peru and then on to Chile, where he gained asylum. A military-civilian coalition government took control of Bolivia, led by Colonel Hugo Banzer Suarez.

9/1969, General Alfredo Ovando Candia deposed President Siles and became dictator. A decade of military rule, becoming increasingly harsh, ensued until 1979.

9 October 1967. The revolutionary Marxist leader Che Guevara was captured in Bolivia and shot. Bolivian troops killed Ernesto �Che� Guevara and six other guerrillas they had cornered in the village of La Higuera near Vallegrande. The Argentine born hero of Latin American revolutionaries, Guevara was a prominent figure in Fidel Castro�s successful Cuban Revolution of the 1950s and 60s. Guevara then decided to join other struggles of �liberation�. Guevara came from a middle class family and his travels convinced him that only violent revolution would solve the economic, political, and poverty problems facing many Latin American countries. The French philosopher Jean Paul Satre described him as �the most complete human being of our age�.

1964, Economic collapse in Bolivia; the military seized power.

1960, Paz Estenssoro regained the Presidency.

1956, Hernan Siles, Nationalist Revolutionary Movement, won the Presidential elections.

9 April 1952, Protests in Bolivia, led by Trotskyist unionised miners, against the military junta who had seized power in 1951. The miners were well organised and armed, and mounted blockade in La Paz to prevent te military from entering to regain power. Three days of fighting followed, after which the demoralised army gave up and Estenssoro became President. He fulfilled his political promises, granting universal suffrage, nationalising the tin industry, raising wages, and redistributing land to Bolivian peasants and the indigenous peoples.

1951, Presidential elections were won by Victor Paz Estenssoro, for the middle-class progressive National Revolutionary Movenent (NRM). However a military junta then seized power to prevent him taking government. This led to popular protests, see 9 April 1952.


President Villaroel, 1943-46

17 July 1946, After World War Two ended, Bolivia suffered from declining mineral prices, especially tin, and both unemployment and inflation rose. President Villaroel (see 21 December 1943) lost popularity and this day was hanged from a lamppost in front of the Presidential palace. The Bolivian Army did not try and halt the rebellion, mounted by soldiers, students and workers. A provisional Liberal Government was installed, and recognised by the USA and Argentina.

21 December 1943, In Bolivia, President Enrique Penaranda was deposed. Penaranda had declared war on the Axis powers in Europe in April 1943, and Bolivian tin was vital to the War effort. However in December 1943 a group of dissident Army Officers, led by Colonel Gualberto Villaroel, and backed by the Arhgentine Government and by German agents in Biuenos Aires, deposed Penaranda. The USA initially refused to recognise Villaroel as Bolivian President but later did so when he agreed co-operate with the Allies. However see 17 July 1946.


1932, The Chaco War with Paraguay, lasting until 1935. Bolivia lost thre quarters of the Chaco region.

For more details of the Chaco war see Paraguay


1923, Miners revolt in Bolivia.

1920, Amerindian rebellion in Bolivia.

1914, The Republican Party was founded.

1903, Bolivia ceded Acre Province,rich in rubber production, to Brazil. The provoince had been disputed between the two nations.

1880, Bolivia enjoyed a period of stable government, lasting until 1930, with mninerals exports creating prosperity.

1879, The War of the Pacific. Bolivia was defeated by Chile, losing its coastline and the nitrate rich province of Attacama. The War ended in 1884. For more details see Chile

1873, Concerned at increasing Chilean economic development of the nitrate resources on the Bolivian Pacific Coast, Bolivia and Peru made an alliance and imposed higher taxes on the Chilean companies working there. Chile respoinded by attacking both Bolivia and Peru, gaining considerable territory tpo its nporth and depriving Bolivia of its Pacific Coast.

1866, Bolivia and Chile made an informal agreement that their Pacific Coast border whould be at 24 degrees south. Bolivia at the time did not have the capability to develop any resourcxes found in its Pacific Coast lands north of 24 deg. South, so they agreed that Chile would develop this area, in exchange for a share of the revenue from these resources. Valuable guano 9fertiliser) deposits were discovered there.

1864, The dioctatorship of Matiano Melgarejo began, lasting until 1871. Three Amerindian revolts over the seizure of ancestral lands were crushed.

1836, Bolivia formed a short-lived unuion with Peru, which failed in 1839, leading to internal unrest.

1826, Chuquisaca was renamed Sucre, after the General who liberated it from the Spanish.

6 August 1825, Bolivia proclaimed itself a Republic, independent from Spain, after nearly 300 years of Spanish rule.Antonio Sacre was the first President.

17 December 1819, Simon Bolivar, who had already secured the independence of Venezuela, became the President of the newly independent Bolivia.

16 July 1809, Anti-Spanish uprising inspired by Simon Bolivar took place in Chuquisaca (Sucre), La Paz and Cochabamba. They all failed.

1776, Upper Peru was assigned by the Spanish to the ViceRoyalty of Rio de la Plata, centred on Buenos Aires.

1545, Cerro Rico, the �Silver Mountain�, was discovered at Potosi. Wiuthin 3 decades Potosi grew to 120,000 people, the biggets city in the Americas.

30/11/1538, Sucre, Bolivia, was founded under the name of Ciudad de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo.

1532, The Bolivia area was conquered by the Spanish. The last indoigenous resistence was finally supressed in 1538. The region was governed as part of �Upper Peru�.


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