In most cases, when you ask someone to name the capital city of a country, there is a very straightforward answer. However, this is not the case with Bolivia as the response may be either Pa Paz or Sucre. Strictly speaking, both of these responses are correct as the government of Bolivia is split across both cities. Therefore, both responses are accepted in quiz answers. Geography standards will often lean towards La Paz as this is the first capital city of Bolivia that was displayed in the CIA World Fact book. In some people’s opinions though, La Paz is not the correct answer and even the Bolivians are divided in their opinions and the debate has even caused protests in both cities. To have a clearer understanding of this situation, it is important to understand the history of Bolivia.
The History of the Two Capitals of Bolivia
During the 1500s, Spain began colonizing the Americas. Eventually, the continent was divided up into vice-royalties, which were large territories. The country which is now known as Bolivia was part of the Alto Peru Viceroyalty. This vice-royalty also contained Peru and sections of the country which is now known as Chile.
In 1825, Bolivia became independent and it was decided that Sucre would become the capital of this new and independent country. The reason for this decision was based on the location of Sucre as it is close to the mountains that are home to the silver mines. La Pas then began to emerge as an important city as tin mining became an important industry in that area. In terms of economic importance, La Paz soon became superior to Sucre.
In the early years after Bolivia became an independent country, the sovereignty was not smooth sailing. There was a struggle for political power between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party in 1899. While the silver mine owners of Sucre backed the Conservative Party, La Paz’s tin mine owners were predominantly supporters of the Liberal Party.
Eventually, the Conservatives were overthrown by the Liberals and there was a bid to make La Pez the seat of the Bolivian government. Instead, the parties reached a compromise that Sucre would remain the seat of the government’s judicial branch, while La Paz would become the seat of the legislative and executive branches. To this day, the only capital of Bolivia listed in the Bolivian constitution is Sucre. However, in many circles, the de facto or administrative capital of Bolivia is La Paz.
Sucre vs. La Paz
Even now, there are strong feelings regarding which city is the capital among the Bolivians. For this reason, people often make a direct comparison between the two cities in attempts to support arguments for which is the worthiest candidate for the capital city for Bolivia. The predominant reason why so many people believe that La Paz is the capital is that it is four times larger than Sucre and is also the location of the foreign embassies, the government ministries, and the central bank.
There are also factors in support of Sucre being considered the capital of Bolivia. First, there is a sign that welcomes travelers to the capital of Bolivia at the city’s airport. Second, Sucre has history on its side as it was the original capital of the country. Many people support the idea that the legislative and executive branches of the government should return to Sucre and believe that is will help the city grow and give the economy a boost.
This is something that the Bolivians are likely to continue to debate among themselves for some time. Therefore, most people who do not live in Bolivia simply accept that the country has two capitals and think it is a matter that only the Bolivians can resolve.