Bolivia

About Bolivia

Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America; Paraguay is the other. Bolivia is bordered by Peru and Chile in the west, Argentina and Paraguay in the south and Brazil in the north and east. The western 1/3 part of the country consists of the Andean Highlands where the two ranges of the Andes mountains divide to form a high altitude plain called the puna or altiplano. This is where you will find interesting sights such as Lake Titicaca, the ruins of Tiwanaku, the principal city La Paz (where the government is settled), and the city of Oruro, which is known for its colorful folkloric carnival. Located in the southern highlands are Potosi with its famous mountain of silver, Cerro Rico and Sucre, a beautiful colonial town that is still the legal capital of the country. The lowland eastern portion of Bolivia, also called the Oriente, is the tropical Amazon basin which has a hot, humid climate. Economically progressive Santa Cruz is the largest city in this area. Dividing the cold highlands from the tropical lowlands are the Andean valley areas including the Yungas and Cochabamba.

Bolivia has the distinction of having the highest capital city in the world. La Paz sits at an altitude of some 4,000 m. Potosi and Oruro are even higher. Santa Cruz on the other hand, is located at only 416 m above sea level. Within a matter of hours, it is possible for overland travelers to pass through three and even four climatic zones.

Bolivia is essentially an Indian nation. The population of the country is for the most part of indigenous origin. Approximately 40 percent are Quechuas, the descendents of the Incas. Another 25 percent are Aymara who populate the area around Lake Titicaca. Another 5 percent consist of the Guarani and other groups in the Amazon basin. Another 20 percent are mestizos, persons of mixed indigenous and European heritages. These individuals live primarily in the cities and larger towns of the country. The remaining 10 percent of Bolivia's inhabitants are of European heritage, primarily Spanish but with siginificant clusters of German Jews, Canadian Mennonites, and Okinawan Japanese.

The Vice-Ministerio de Turismo's slogan is Lo autentico aun existe which roughly translates as "The real thing still exists". This refers to the fact that many aspects of Bolivia have changed very little over the centuries. The country is underdeveloped which means that it still has virgen forests, pristine waterways, and untouched rural landscapes. Many indian groups have maintained their cultures, languages, and folk traditions. Colonial architecture in places such as Potosi, Sucre, Tarija, and Cochabamba have not given way to modern development. Since 1982 the country has had a democratic government and relative political stability. This means that Bolivia is now able to offer international visitors a unique, safe, affordable, and extremely interesting place to visit.

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