Country Listing

Bolivia Table of Contents



Bolivia's evolving communications industry helped to mitigate the regionalism that characterized the nation. In 1988 an estimated 3.5 million radios had access to over 125 radio stations ranging in power from 0.5 to 25 kilowatts. Both the size of the country and the mountainous terrain explained the proliferation of stations, about 80 percent of which were AM stations. La Paz was the site of forty stations, which broadcast in Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara (see Ethnic Groups , ch. 2). Most stations were privately owned.

The number of private television stations in La Paz increased during the 1980s to seven, five of which were private. Other cities hosted private stations as well. Although the National Television Company (Empresa Nacional de Televisión) directed all government programming, foreign programs dominated most stations. According to the United States Department of Commerce, Bolivia had 650,000 television sets in 1988.

Bolivia was served by six main daily newspapers ranging in circulation from 20,000 to 80,000. Última Hora, El Diario, Hoy, and Presencia were the largest periodicals. Santa Cruz's El Mundo and Cochabamba's Los Tiempos were smaller but were also circulated nationally.

The National Telecommunications Enterprise (Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones--Entel) managed the country's telephone system. Bolivia had only 65,000 telephones in 1988, or fewer than 3 sets per 100 inhabitants. Only users located in the major cities enjoyed direct-dialing services. Direct international dialing was introduced for the first time in the late 1980s. Installing a new telephone, however, was a bureaucratic and expensive endeavor. Nonetheless, Entel was in the process of upgrading the telephone system, with Swedish technical assistance, through a network of twenty ground satellites, a large satellite station in La Paz, a digital-switching system for La Paz and Santa Cruz and eventually other cities, and an expanded microwave system. In the 1980s, the telephone system also had limited capacity for facsimile, telex, and computer modem communications. That was expected to change by 1993, however, when the Caracas-based satellite communications system, Condor, would begin to service the Andean region, including Bolivia, and provide television, telephone, telex, and data transmission to rural and urban areas throughout Bolivia. Several hundred post offices existed, many of which had telegraph capability. Bolivia was a member of the Andean Postal Union and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT).

Data as of December 1989