Geomorphology of Natural Hazards and Human-induced Disasters in Bolivia

Edgardo M. Latrubesse, Paul A. Baker, Jaime Argollo Bautista

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Bolivia is a large and diverse nation in its geography, its culture, and its economy. Poverty levels are high throughout the nation, with a large part of the population having only limited access to essential services, including education, health, and sound housing. In 2007, Bolivia was ranked 117th out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index, a standardized measure combining life expectancy, literacy, education, and overall standard of living (UNDP, 2007). This is the third lowest index in the Western Hemisphere. Because of these socioeconomic conditions, Bolivia is highly vulnerable to hazards, both natural and man-made. The political, economic, and physical geography of Bolivia has been thoroughly reviewed by Montes de Oca (1997). Although Bolivia is in a tectonically and volcanically active region, neither seismic nor volcanic events have historically produced as large an impact (measured by total loss of life or livelihood) as have hydrometeorological events, including floods, landslides, droughts, and frost. Climate change is predicted to increase future temperatures in all parts of the nation, further accelerating the loss of mountain glaciers and snowpack and exacerbating the impact of drought in semiarid agricultural regions. Predictions of future precipitation changes vary according to the particular climate model, but the most robust result points to a possible increase in the intensity of wet-season precipitation (more wet days per year) over large parts of Amazonia and southern South America (IPCC, 2007, p. 896). The latter would increase the flooding hazard of much of lowland Bolivia that has already been subjected to widespread flooding for the past three years (2006-2008).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-194
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopments in Earth Surface Processes
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2009


  • Bolivia
  • Disasters
  • ENSO
  • Floods
  • Hazards
  • Landslides


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