Named after Venezuelan revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar, the Plurinational State of Bolivia is seated in western-central South America, along with its neighboring countries - Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The landlocked nation has an estimated population of 11 million that consists of Mestizos, Asians, Amerindians, Europeans, and Africans. Spanning from the Central Andes through the Gran Chaco Pantanal to the Amazon, the country is considered to be the fifth-largest in South America.
Bolivia holds the second largest reserve of natural gas in the continent, however, it is still recorded as the poorest nation in the region with a GDP of only $27.43 billion in 2012.
After a significant crisis that impacted Bolivia’s economy in the early 1980s, the government initiated social and economic reforms to address poverty issues that propelled economic growth in the 1990s. Despite these ameliorations that had slashed the nation’s poverty rate, Bolivia is still one of the extremely poor nations in Latin America.
The years 2003 - 2005 had been challenging for Bolivia with political instability, racial conflicts, and vicious oppositions against proposals to make its natural gas reserves available for larger foreign markets. The Bolivian government passed a hydrocarbons law in 2005. The new law bound foreign enterprises to operate under risk distribution agreements and forced them to surrender their output to the state energy institution for a fee. The law also obliged these firms to pay higher royalty fees, producing a budget surplus in 2008. However, the economic downturn that took place in 2009 had dropped off Bolivia’s progress.
Aside from natural gas reserves, tourism that highlights the nation’s ethnic diversity also plays an important role in its economic recovery. Although the country’s growth rate was the highest across South America during 2009 and the price hike of commodities worldwide had brought out the most substantial surplus ever in Bolivian history, it is the low rate of foreign investment in the hydrocarbons and mining industries as well as high prices of food and commodities that pulled the Bolivian economy down.
The country has been using the Bolivian boliviano as its national currency since its first issue in 1864. Bolivian banknotes issued by the Treasury of the Republic of Bolivia in 1902 featured the country’s crest on their front design.
In 1911, the Bank of the Bolivian Nation was established and released banknotes that portrayed Mercury holding a caduceus on the front side and the national emblem on the back. When the bank transitioned into a central bank, it released its first set of banknotes bearing a portrait of Simon Bolivar and the country’s coat of arms.
Because of the Second World War, Bolivia suffered from inflation in 1942 which triggered the central bank to introduce banknotes in 5,000 and 10,000 denominations. On January 1, 1963, a monetary reform replaced the boliviano with the peso boliviano, which was then again reverted to the boliviano at the beginning of 1987.
Modern-day banknotes of Bolivia were first introduced by the Banco Central de Bolivia in 2018. These paper bills focus on the country’s diverse culture, its people, and their lifestyle. During the High Security Printing Latin America Conference in 2009, this set of vibrant Bolivian banknotes won the Best New Series Award.