Major Rivers Of Bolivia

Although Bolivia is landlocked, it is home to many rivers.
Although Bolivia is landlocked, it is home to many rivers.

Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America. The geography of Bolivia is characterized by a great variety of terrain and climate with a high level of biodiversity. Bolivia has three distinct physiographic regions including the Andean, the Sub-Andean, and the Llanos Regions. The country is drained by three major basins; the Amazon Basin, Rio del la Plata Basin, and the Central Basin. Several rivers and lakes of different characteristics and length make up these drainage basins. Some rivers and lakes, especially in the Central Basin, do not run into any ocean because they are enclosed by the Andean Mountains.

Major Rivers Of Bolivia


Madeira River is a major water body in South America and the longest river in Bolivia measuring 2,020 miles. It is one of the biggest tributaries of the Amazon River. Water flows into the Madeira River from other large rivers including Guapore, Blanco, and Beni. The upper branches of the Madeira River find their way to Beni plains. From its source in Beni and Mamore Rivers, Madeira River flow northwards forming Bolivia-Brazil border before changing its course towards the Rondonia state of Brazil. Madeira is an active waterway facilitating exports of millions of tons of grains. The river is inhabited by Amazon River dolphin and more than 900 species of fish.


Paraguay River flows through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina for about 1,629 miles from its source at Mato Grosso in Brazil to its end at Parana River. The river forms a border with Paraguay and Brazil and Paraguay and Argentina. It is a major geographic feature in Paraguay with which it shares its name. Paraguay River is one of the major rivers of Rio de la Plata. It drains significant portions of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It is an important shipping and trading route to the Atlantic Ocean for the landlocked Paraguay and Bolivia. It is also a major source of fish and irrigation water for communities living along its bank.


Mamoré River is a major river shared by Bolivia and Brazil which joins Beni to form Madeira River. It rises from the slopes of Sierra de Cochabamba down to its junction with the Chapare. The river is interrupted by rapids above its junction with Beni. A railway line has been constructed below the rapids. Most of the tributaries of Mamoré River are navigable for long distance. The Mamoré drains an area of 9,382 square miles and flows for a distance of 1,199 miles from its source to its junction with Beni.


Guaporé River is in the northeastern Bolivia and Western Brazil. The river is 950 miles long and forms the border between Brazil and Bolivia. It is part of the Madeira River Basin which empties into the Amazon River. Guaporé River feeds the Guaporé Biological Reserves. The river has over 250 species of fish of which 25 species are endemic. Guaporé River is important in the aquarium industry in both Brazil and Bolivia.

Threats to Rivers in Bolivia

Water pollution is an increasing concern in Bolivia. Agrochemicals like fertilizers and pesticides and untreated sewage products are some of the major river pollutants. Loss of biodiversity including the loss of Bolivian River Dolphin and several species of fish is also a threat to the aqua-life in Bolivia. Erosion and sedimentation as a result of human activities along the banks of Bolivian rivers have affected the floodplains.

Major Rivers Of Bolivia

RankMajor Rivers of BoliviaTotal Length
2,020 miles (shared with Brazil)
1,629 miles (shared with Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay)
1,199 miles (shared with Brazil)
950 miles (shared with Brazil)
5Grande (Guapay)
894 miles
732 miles (shared with Brazil)
7Pilcomayo684 miles (shared with Argentina and Paraguay)
659 miles (shared with Argentina)
9Madre de Dios
659 miles (shared with Peru)
242 miles

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