Cochabamba Department

Coordinates: 17°20′S 65°30′W / 17.333°S 65.500°W / -17.333; -65.500
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Cochabamba Department
Quchapampa suyu
Flag of Cochabamba Department
Coat of arms of Cochabamba Department
"City of Eternal Spring"
Location within Bolivia
Location within Bolivia
Country Bolivia
Established as department by law1826
Autonomous department by referendum2009
 • BodyDepartmental Legislative Assembly of Cochabamba
 • GovernorHumberto Sánchez (MAS-IPSP)
 • Department55,631 km2 (21,479 sq mi)
2,574 m (8,445 ft)
 • Department1,758,143
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC-4 (BOT)
HDI (2019)0.708[1]
high · 7th of 9
ISO 3166-2BO-C
WebsiteOfficial website

Cochabamba (Aymara: Quchapampa Jach'a Suyu, Spanish: Departamento de Cochabamba pronounced [kotʃaˈβamba] , Quechua: Quchapampa Suyu), from Quechua qucha or qhucha, meaning "lake", pampa meaning "plain",[2] is one of the nine departments of Bolivia. It is known to be the "granary" of the country because of its variety of agricultural products from its geographical position. It has an area of 55,631 km2. Its population in the 2012 census was 1,758,143. Its capital is the city of Cochabamba, known as the "City of Eternal Spring" and "The Garden City" because of its spring-like temperatures all year.


The Cochabamba valley was inhabited for over a thousand years due to its fertile productive soils and climate. Archaeological evidence suggests that the initial valley inhabitants were of various ethnic indigenous groups. Tiwanaku, Tupuraya, Mojocoya, Omereque and Inca inhabited the valley at various times before the Spanish arrived.

The first Spanish inhabitant of the Valley was Garci Ruiz de Orellana in 1542. He purchased the majority of the land from local tribal chiefs Achata and Consavana through a title registered in 1552 at the Imperial City of Potosí. The price paid was 130 pesos. His residence, known as the House of Mayorazgo, still stands in the Cala Cala neighbourhood of the city.

The city, called Villa de Oropesa was founded on 2 August 1571 by order of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa. It was to be an agricultural production centre to provide food for the mining towns of the relatively nearby Altiplano region, particularly the city of Potosí which became one of the largest and richest cities in the world during the 17th century – funding the vast wealth that ultimately made Spain a world power at the time. With the silver mining industry in Potosi at its height, Cochabamba thrived during its first centuries of existence. The city entered a period of decline during the 18th century as mining began to wane.

In 1786, King Charles III of Spain renamed the city to the 'loyal and valiant' Villa of Cochabamba. This was done to commend the city's pivotal role in suppressing the indigenous rebellions of 1781 in Oruro by sending armed forces to Oruro to quell the uprisings. Since the late 19th century it has again been generally successful as an agricultural centre for Bolivia.

The 1793 census shows that the city had a population of 22,305 persons. There were 12,980 mestizos, 6,368 Spaniards, 1,182 indigenous natives, 1,600 mulattos and 175 African slaves.

In 2000, Cochabamba was wracked by large-scale protests over the privatisation of the city's water supply, known as the Water War.

In January 2007 city dwellers clashed with mostly rural protestors, leaving four dead and over 130 injured. The democratically elected Prefect of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, a former military aide to the Luis García Meza dictatorship of the 1980s, had allied himself with the leaders of Bolivia's eastern departments in a dispute with President Evo Morales over regional autonomy and other political issues. The protestors blockaded the highways, bridges, and main roads, having days earlier set fire to the departmental seat of government, trying to force the resignation of Reyes Villa. Citizens attacked the protestors, breaking the blockade and routing them, while the police did little to stop the violence. Further attempts by the protestors to reinstate the blockade and threaten the government were unsuccessful, but the underlying tensions have not been resolved.

In July 2007, a monument erected by veterans of January's protest movement in honour of those killed and injured by government supporters was destroyed in the middle of the night, reigniting racial conflicts in the city.

In August 2008, a nationwide referendum was held, and while President Evo Morales had 67% support in Bolivia, the Prefect of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, was not confirmed by the voters of the department.

In 2018 Cochabamba hosted the 2018 South American Games ODESUR.

Around 74% of Cochabambinos identify as indigenous, while most of the remaining population is mestizo.[3]


Cochabamba Department is bordered by Chuquisaca and Potosi Departments to the south, Oruro and La Paz Departments to the west, Beni Department to the north, and Santa Cruz Department to the east. The borders are formed mainly by rivers, like Ichilo to the east, Rio Grande to the south and Cotacajes to the west.[4]

Geographically and climatically, Cochabamba is one of Bolivia's most diverse regions, with a similar orography and diversity to La Paz department. Cochabamba is made up of a variety of regions. The northern portions of the department, known as the Chapare, is a region of moist Southwestern Amazonian moist forests with high levels of precipitation between 2,000mm and 7,000mm a year. This region is marked by steep hills and mountains at the edge of the Central Andes descending into the flat floodplains of the Llanos de Moxos to the north of Cochabamba. Further east of this region is a transition zone between the Tropical Wet-and-Dry forests of Santa Cruz and the Chapare, where Monsoonal climates predominate with an average annual precipitation between 1,800mm and 3,000mm.

South of the Tropical lowlands of Cochabamba lies a thin band of montane cloud forests that run slightly southeast from north to south in Cochabamba. This region features an unusual subtropical highland climate and Oceanic climate, with precipitation year-round, with some drying periods. Precipitation in this region ranges between 1,000mm and 2,500mm.

The center of the department is marked by the temperate xeric valleys of Cochabamba (known as Kanata), Alto Cochabamba, and Capinota. These valley areas are marked by dry montane forests, and semi-arid orographies. Temperate climates year-round feature considerable diurnal temperature variation due to the high altitude. A majority of the department's population lives in this area, where major cities are located like Cochabamba, Cliza, Punata, Sacaba, Quillacollo, Arani, Santivańez, Capinota, Irpa Irpa, among others.

Surrounding the smaller valleys of the department's center from the west to the east, is a region of Andean highlands, featuring a subtropical highland climate, with annual precipitation averaging between 400mm and 1,400mm. This region of rocky valleys and moderately sized mountains features mosaics of high altitude forests and agricultural heartland. This region features dramatic and diverse geographies, with a considerable historical and archaeological importance.

To the southeast of the highlands of Cochabamba, are semi-arid valleys and mountains terminating at the banks of the Wapaymayu or Río Grande. This area, famous for its cultural history, is marked by dry valleys and mountains, with agricultural lands bordering rivers throughout the region. Precipitation in this region is generally sparse, oscillating between 300mm and 600mm per year, bordering on a Desert climate

To the extreme southwest, is a small tract of Puna which features a cold Tundra climate, with unusual subpolar oceanic characteristics. Precipitation in this area ranges between 300mm and 650mm per year.


Executive offices[edit]

Since May 2010, the chief executive officer of Bolivia departments has been the governor; before then, the officer was called the prefect, and until 2006, the prefect was appointed by the president of Bolivia. The current governor, Humberto Sánchez of the Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS–IPSP) was elected on 7 March 2021 and took office on 4 May.[5]

The MAS–IPSP has been the dominant political party in the department since the 2008 recall referendum.

Took office Office expired Prefect/Governor Party Notes
10 Jun 1999 8 Apr 2000 Hugo Galindo Saucedo Appointed prefect by President Hugo Banzer through Supreme Decree 25411. Resigned during the 2000 Cochabamba water protests after his advice to concede protester demands was ignored.
8 Apr 2000 10 Apr 2000 Eduardo Wayar Cortéz Police commander. Appointed interim prefect via Supreme Decree 25734 on the same day a state of siege was declared by President Hugo Banzer.
10 Apr 2000 Walter Céspedes Ramallo Appointed prefect via Supreme Decree 25735.
23 Jan 2006 12 Aug 2008 Manfred Reyes Villa New Republican Force First elected prefect. Elected in Bolivian general election, December 2005, and removed by the 2008 recall election.
12 Aug 2008 26 Aug 2008 Johnny Gutierrez Ferrel (acting, de facto)
29 Aug 2008 12 Dec 2008 Rafael Puente Calvo (acting) MAS-IPSP
12 Dec 2008 30 May 2010 Jorge Ledezma Cornejo (interim) MAS-IPSP Final prefect
30 May 2010 31 May 2015 Edmundo Novillo Aguilar MAS-IPSP Elected in regional election on 4 April 2010; first governor
31 May 2015 11 Nov 2019 Iván Canelas MAS-IPSP Elected in regional election on 29 March 2015.
14 Nov 2019 3 May 2021 Esther Soria Gonzáles MAS-IPSP Elected by the Legislative Assembly of Cochabamba following the resignation of Canelas.[6]
3 May 2021 Humberto Sánchez Sánchez MAS-IPSP Elected in the first round of the regional election on 7 March 2021.

Legislative Assembly[edit]

Under the 2009 Constitution, Bolivian departments have an elected legislature, the Departmental Legislative Assembly. The Cochabamba Assembly has 34 members including two indigenous representatives. The first elections were held 4 April 2010 and the current composition was determined at the regional election on 7 March 2021.

The current executive committee, elected on 3 May 2022, consists of Elena Aine Espinoza as president, Fransisco Otalora Ticona as first vice-president, Pedro Andrés Badran Leon as second vice-president and Julieta Veizaga Guevara as first secretary.[7][8]



Cochabamba Department is divided into 16 provinces (provincias), which are further subdivided into 47 municipalities[9] (municipios) and – on the fourth level – into 144 cantons.

The provinces with their capitals and population according to census 2012 are listed as follow:

Province Capital Area (km2) Population
(2012 census)
Arani Arani 506 18,444
Arque Arque 1.077 20,630
Ayopaya Ayopaya 9.620 54,408
Bolívar Bolívar 413 7,279
Capinota Capinota 1.495 29,659
Carrasco Totora 15.045 135,097
Cercado Cochabamba 391 630,587
Chapare Sacaba 12.445 262,845
Esteban Arce Tarata 1.245 37,152
Germán Jordán Cliza 305 34,342
Mizque Mizque 2.730 35,586
Narciso Campero Aiquile 5.550 35,763
Punata Punata 850 54,409
Quillacollo Quillacollo 720 335,393
Tapacarí Tapacarí 1.500 24,595
Tiraque Tiraque 1.739 41.954


The municipalities in Cochabamba Department can also be grouped informally into large regions.[10][11][12] Provinces are not subsumed under regions, which have rather different borders. The five regions are:


The languages spoken in Cochabamba Department are mainly Spanish and Quechua. The following table shows the number of those belonging to the recognised group of speakers.[13]

Language Department Bolivia
Quechua 872,010 2,281,198
Aymara 84,921 1,525,321
Guaraní 1,379 62,575
Another native 3,351 49,432
Only native 269,588 960,491
Native and Spanish 648,195 2,739,407
Spanish 1,101,822 6,821,626
Foreign 40,579 250,754
Spanish and foreign 454,273 4,115,751

Population and demographics[edit]

Description Department 1976 Department 1992[14] Department 2001[14] Department 2012[15]
Inhabitants 720.952 1.110.205 1.455.711 1.758.143
Rural - - 41 % -
Urban - - 59 % -
Total fertility rate - 4.00
Infant mortality - 72.00
decade growth rate
- 3.46 2.93 1.68
Net migration rate - - 2.40 -


Cochabamba is home to a diverse amount of religious adherents, with 42% identifying as Catholics, 32% as Evangelical Christians, 0.67% as Muslims, and the remaining 27% as identifying with either no religion or other religions.[16]


The Cochabamba economy is based mainly in services, but recently it is experiencing some diversification in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. The geographic location of Cochabamba makes it the main routes of transport joining the two main cities, the host government La Paz and the industrial hub Santa Cruz. Therefore, many cervices i.e. transport, banking, telecommunication, gastronomy, are economically important in the corridor La Paz – Santa Cruz. Extraction of oil was very important for the economy in the past; especially in Chapare where the wells are located. By 2013 many of the exploited wells were showing signs of depletion. Thus, investment is needed to find new productive wells. Once called “the basket grain of Bolivia” today Cochabamba produces just a portion of the agriculture output of the country. Overpopulation in the productive valleys and “minifundio” doomed the once competitive production. Nevertheless, Cochabamba is still important in poultry, dairy, tropical fruits, potatoes, among others. Recently, Cochabamba experiences some improvement in manufacturing and industry. The cement mill of COBOCE located in Capinota almost triples the production tapering the strong demand. The roads to the industrial park and other facilities of the park were improved making it more competitive for the local and new industries. Also, it is worth to mention the almost 1b USD government investment in the petro chemistry (urea plant) located in Bulo Bulo.

Places of interest[edit]

Towns and villages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  2. ^ Diccionario Bilingüe Iskay simipi yuyayk'ancha pdf
  3. ^ Gigler, Björn-Sören (2009). Poverty, inequality and human development of indigenous peoples in Bolivia (PDF). Working paper series ; no. 17. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Center for Latin American Studies. p. 6.
  4. ^ "Andes Travel Map". Archived from the original on 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  5. ^ "Cochabamba ya tiene nuevo Gobernador: Sánchez jura como autoridad". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 2021-05-04. Retrieved 2021-07-30.
  6. ^ Bolivia, Opinión (14 November 2019). "Asamblea escoge a Esther Soria como nueva gobernadora de Cochabamba". Opinión Bolivia (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  7. ^ Bolivia, Opinión (3 May 2022). "Elena Aine es la nueva presidenta de la Asamblea Departamental de Cochabamba". Opinión Bolivia (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Directiva Legislatura 2022-2023". (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  9. ^ (English)
  10. ^ "Regiones de Cochabamba". Asociacion de municipios de Cochabamba (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2020-09-23. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  11. ^ "[Dept. overview]". Gobierno Autónomo Departamental de Cochabamba (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2021-06-16. Retrieved 2020-10-27. Cochabamba cuenta con 47 municipios, dividida en cinco regiones.
    Región METROPOLITANA: Colcapirhua, Colomi, Vinto, Sacaba, Sipe Sipe, Tiquipaya Quillacollo.
    Región VALLES: Anzaldo, Arbieto, Capinota, Punata, Villa José Quintín Mendoza (San Benito), Sacabamba, Santiváñez, Tacachi, Cliza, Tarata, Toco, Tolata, Villa Gualberto Villarroel (Cuchumuela), Villa Ribero, Arani.
    Región TRÓPICO: Villa Tunari, Entre Rios, Puerto Villarroel, Shinahota, Chimoré.
    Región CONO SUR: Aiquile, Mizque Omereque, Pasorapa, Pocona, Tiraque, Totora, Pojo, Vaca, Villa Eufronio Viscarra (Vila Vila), Alalay.
    Región ANDINA: Arque, Bolívar, Independencia, Morochata, Tapacarí, Tacopaya, Sicaya, Cocapata.
  12. ^ "Estrategia Departamental de Turismo" (PDF). Gobierno Autónomo Departamental de Cochabamba. 2019. p. 59.
  13. ^ Archived February 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (Spanish)
  14. ^ a b "Cochabamba: indicadores Sociodemográficos por Provincia y Scciones de Provincia 1992–2001" (PDF). Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Bolivia: Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2012" (PDF). Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2014.
  16. ^
  17. ^ stadista nacional

External links[edit]

17°20′S 65°30′W / 17.333°S 65.500°W / -17.333; -65.500