La Paz serves as Bolivia’s administrative and de facto capital city, where the government’s executive and legislative branches are located. Sucre is the South American nation’s constitutional capital and is home to Bolivia’s Supreme Court.
Of the two cities, La Paz receives the most publicity due to its standing as the world’s highest national capital elevated 11,942 feet (3,640 meters) above sea level. Sucre has an altitude of 9,022 square feet (2,750 meters), and is the world’s third-most elevated national capital behind La Paz and Quito in Ecuador.
La Paz is short for “Our Lady of Peace” in Spanish, while Sucre is nicknamed “The White City” because many of its colonial-style houses are painted white.
Research website numbeo ranks La Paz near the bottom 10 compared to the 250 cities evaluated on its overall quality of life index at June 2020. La Paz scored poorly on index factors such as longest traffic commute time (top 3%), pollution (bottom 10%), purchasing power (bottom 15%) and safety (bottom 28%). However, La Paz did rank relatively well on its comparative cost of living (lowest 28%).
Numbeo has not yet ranked Bolivia’s constitutional capital Sucre.
La Paz was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the site for the world’s largest public-transit cable car network. As of March 2019, La Paz’s cable car network had a total track length of 20.05 miles (33 kilometers) with 32 stations along 10 cable car lines. Over 1,500 individual cable cars with an overall capacity of up to 34,000 passengers per hour can run on the system in each direction.
The Guinness World Record for cable car network illustrates La Paz’s challenging terrain centered on a steep valley high in the Andes mountains. Conventional rail or subway mass transit is impractical for La Paz.
From an international trade perspective, Bolivia shipped an estimated US$7.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. Its most valuable exports include petroleum gas (34.1% of Bolivia’s global total), zinc ores and concentrates (12.1%), gold (11.7%), oilcake and other solid residues (7.4%), tin (4.4%), soya-bean oil (3.9%), lead ores and concentrates (3.8%), precious-metal ores and concentrates (3.7%) and jewelry (1.8%), according to the International Trade Centre.
Capital Facts for Bolivia: Quick Reference
Capital landmarks: Yungas Road (La Paz), Presidential Palace (La Paz), San Francisco Church (Sucre) and Church of San Felipe Neri (Sucre)
Below, you will find 10 of the most famous people born in La Paz, Bolivia.
- Carlos Mesa, former president (born Aug. 12, 1953)
- Ben Mikaelsen, children’s book author (born Dec. 8, 1952)
- Ximena Herrera, actress (born Oct. 5, 1979)
- Marina Núñez del Prado, sculptor (born Oct. 17, 1910)
- Ximena Herrera, soap opera actress (born Oct. 5, 1979)
- Verona Pooth, former Miss Germany (born Apr. 30, 1968)
- María Renée Prudencio, writer & actress (born Oct. 28, 1974)
- Jorge Sanjinés, director (born Jul. 31, 1937)
- Alberto Villalpando, composer (born Nov. 21, 1940)
- Jac Avila, director & producer (born Oct. 7, 1952)
- Jaime Mendoza-Nava, composer & conductor (born Dec. 31, 1925)
Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches mostly targeting published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.
Demonym for a Bolivia resident: Bolivian
Population: 1,857,797 (La Paz) at July 22, 2020
Density: 10,208 people per square mile (3,936 per square kilometer)
Population: 224,838 (Sucre)
Density: 329 people per square mile (127 per square kilometer)
Population: 11,682,811 (Bolivia) at July 22, 2020
Density: 28 people per square mile (11 per square kilometer)
Median age for all Bolivians: 25.6 years old
GDP: US$94.4 billion in 2019 (Bolivia)
GDP per person: $8,172
Note: The above country-level GDP metrics are on a Purchasing Power Parity basis and are in U.S. dollars. Credible city GDP statistics for La Paz or Sucre were unavailable.
Official currency used in La Paz and Sucre: boliviano
Brookings Institution, Global Metro Monitor Report (includes GDP data).
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Field Listing: Major Urban Areas.
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, South America: Bolivia.
CityMetric, Where are largest cities in the world? 2015 edition.
Demographia, World Urban Area, 12th Annual Edition.
Guinness World Records, Largest public transit cable car network.
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Numbeo, Quality of Life Index by City.
Official Government Website, Autonomous Municipal Government of Sucre.
Wikimedia Commons, City Flags.
Note: Some city flags were unavailable. If so, attribution belongs to Wikimedia Commons for pertinent country flags.
Wikipedia, La Paz.
Wikipedia, List of capital cities by altitude.
Wikipedia, Mercer Quality of Living Survey.
WorldOMeter, Bolivia Population.
Bolivia broke free from Spain on August 6, 1825. Therefore, Bolivians celebrate Independence Day as a public holiday each August 6.
La Paz has a land area measuring 182 square miles (472 square kilometers) within which an estimated 1.9 million people lived in 2020. In contrast, Sucre’s population is 224,838 inhabitants living over 683 square miles (1,768 square kilometers).
At the country level, Bolivia’s land area covers 418,264 square miles (1,083,300 square kilometers). The nation’s population count was 11.7 million inhabitants as of July 2020.
Population density is more concentrated within La Paz averaging 10,208 residents per square mile (3,936 per square kilometer).
Sucre’s average density is 329 people per square mile (127 per square kilometer).
Zooming out to Bolivia’s overall land boundaries, population density dilutes to an average 28 inhabitants per square mile (11 per square kilometer).