Bolivia is found right in the center of the continent of South America. Surrounded by other South American countries like Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, the country of Bolivia serves as a meeting place for a diverse cultural exchange. It has three major urban cities – Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz – where large populations converge. However, it’s not just Bolivia’s geographical location, culture, and people that makes it unique. It is a country that has two officially recognized capitals – La Paz and Sucre.

Sucre: The Land of Silver

Sucre, unlike its French connotation of sweetness, used to be filled with silver mines. Silver was the primary source of economic power early in the history of independent Bolivia. Many families who owned silver mines in Sucre were also supporters of the Conservatives. This potent combination of economic and political influence made Sucre a very rich city in Bolivia.

Sucre Bolivia Why Does Bolivia Have Two Capitals?

La Paz: The Land of Tin

However, silver had already been mined for several centuries. In 1898, the silver mines were largely exhausted. Tin mining, which was the main source of income for La Paz, had become a big, new money-maker for Bolivia. Tin was a newer industry, and had surpassed silver mining in terms of income generation for the country.

La Paz Bolivia Why Does Bolivia Have Two Capitals?

The Liberal Party’s Victory

This major shift in economic power made an impact in political circles. Because Sucre’s silver owners and large landowners supported the conservatives, the tin mining families in La Paz supported the Liberals. The Liberal Party overthrew the Conservative party, and immediately put into motion the bid to move the country’s capital from Sucre to La Paz, where their supporters lived.

A Compromise Was Reached

In the end, both parties reached a compromise. They agreed to separate the seats of government into two. The Conservatives were able to keep Sucre as the legal capital and the home of the Supreme Court of Justice. Therefore, Sucre became the home of the judicial branch of the government, making it the constitutional capital. La Paz, on the other hand, became the home of the Liberals, the president and the congress. Because of that, La Paz became the administrative capital.

Ask the Public

However, in Bolivia’s constitution only one capital is listed and that is Sucre When one ask’s Bolivians which city is their country’s capital, most will answer Sucre. To the rest of Bolivia, La Paz is just a place where the two other seats of the government reside, although people in La Paz will probably not agree.

In the latest update at Bolivia’s official site, the New Bolivian Constitution, proposed by President Evo Morales, was approved by a narrow margin of just over 50%. Sucre remains the capital of Bolivia and La Paz the seat of government.

Categories: Geography

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