Bolivia is sometimes called Latin Tibet, because a large part of the country is relatively isolated high up in the Andes. Bolivia is the least developed country in South America, but in return has great natural riches, charming cities, highly living traditions and a population that is fifty percent made up of Indians. Bolivia’s capital is the unique La Paz, located at an altitude of 3,600 meters in a valley in the Andes, surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks.
Population: 10.4 mill.
Language: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara
Bolivia has a very large diversity in terms of flora and fauna? About 40% of all the world’s animal species are in the country.
La Paz is the world’s highest capital? The city is located about 4000 meters above sea level.
Nature in Bolivia
Bolivia has no coastline and is closed behind Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru. To the west, the Andes border the large plateau Altiplano at an altitude of 4,000 meters. To the east, the soaring Andes glide over into dimly-swept jungle in large lowland areas with rainforest and swamps. Bolivia’s highest mountain is the Nevado del Sajama at 6,542 meters. The world’s highest lake, Lake Titicaca, stretches across the border into Peru and to the southwest is the world’s largest salt plain, the Salar de Uyuni, which looks like a huge area covered by a chalk-white blanket of snow. The huge plain covers over 10,000 km2 and is estimated to contain ten billion tons of salt.
Religion and population in Bolivia
About half of Bolivia’s nine million inhabitants are Indians who maintain old values and traditions. One third of the inhabitants are mestizos, the rest are European descendants. Official religion is Catholicism, but in the mountains and in remote areas, Catholicism is mixed with Native American folk beliefs into a peculiar mixture of strict Catholic doctrines and old folk beliefs. The Native American part of the population still speaks the Inca language Quechua or the ancient Native American language Aymara, which along with Spanish are the official languages of Bolivia.
History of Bolivia
The Bolivian mountains were inhabited several thousand years before the Inca Indians developed their vast empire that stretched across Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and northern Chile. The first Spanish conquerors arrived in 1531 and quickly gained the upper hand over most of the country. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, lots of silver were found and the Spaniards could look forward to a life of luxury for the next 200 years. In 1825, after 16 years of struggle, Bolivian nationalists expelled the Spaniards, but the problems of foreign conquerors persisted. At the end of the 19th century, constant wars with neighboring countries meant that Bolivia shrank and that Chile took over Bolivia’s small coastline towards the Pacific Ocean, thus making the country an inland state. The 20th century was marked by purely military coups and uprisings with democratic elections and short-lived constitutions as a result. In 2005, Bolivia made history when the country’s first Native American president, Evo Morales, was elected with an unusually large number of votes. Since then, he has tried to create a better balance between the country’s Indians and the Spanish descendants.
Attractions in Bolivia
The starting point for a trip to Bolivia is the capital La Paz, located in a huge valley between the soaring mountains of the Andes. Not far from La Paz is the huge Lake Titicaca beautifully situated at an altitude of almost 4,000 meters. The sun is shining intensely, the air is clear, the sea water is deep blue and the horizon is seemingly endless. On the shores of the Great Lake is the pleasant town of Copacabana. The city is characterized by Native American cultures and the area has many interesting sights such as a Maori-style cathedral, a relic of the Spanish colonial era. In the middle of Lake Titicaca lies Isla del Sol (Sun Lake). Here you get an insight into the Native American myths. According to legend, it was precisely on this small island that the mighty Inca kingdom arose. The legend is supported by a large temple and an ancient Inca spring that is believed to give eternal youth. The Bolivian lowlands are also well worth a visit. Here you can start in Santa Cruz. Despite its more than 800,000 inhabitants, the city has managed to preserve its cozy, rural atmosphere with beautiful colonial-style houses, winding small streets and beautiful squares.
Read about the climate and weather in Bolivia – see for example temperatures for the capital La Paz and Santa Cruz.
Up in the mountains the climate is cold, while it is tropical and warm in the lowlands. According to bridgat, the rainy season runs between October and March. The Bolivian winter (from May to October) offers the most pleasant temperatures with dry weather.