A land divided between the Andes and the Amazon rainforest that contains an enormous biodiversity. The geography of the country exhibits a great variety of terrains and climates.
Bolivia is situated in the central zone of South America, extending from the Central Andes to the Gran Chaco in Amazon. The geographic center of the country is called Puerto Estrella on the Río Grande. Bolivia has a high level of biodiversity, considered one of the greatest in the world, it have a several ecoregions with ecological sub-units such as the Altiplano, tropical rainforests (including Amazon rainforest), dry valleys, and the Chiquitania, which is a tropical savanna. These areas feature enormous variations in altitude, from an elevation of 6,542 metres (21,463 ft) above sea level in Nevado Sajama to nearly 70 metres (230 ft) along the Paraguay River.
The climate varies drastically from one ecoregion to the other, from the tropics in the eastern llanos to a polar climate in the western Andes. The summers are warm, humid in the east and dry in the west, with rains that often modify temperatures, humidity, winds, atmospheric pressure and evaporation. When the climatological phenomenon known as El Niño takes place, it causes great alterations in the weather. Winters are very cold in the west, and it snows in the mountain ranges, while in the western regions, windy days are more common. The autumn is dry in the non-tropical regions.
The territory of Bolivia comprises four types of biomes, 32 ecological regions and 199 ecosystems, there are several natural parks and reserves such as the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, the Tunari National Park, the Madidi National Park and the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park. Bolivia boasts over 17,000 species of seed plants, there are more than 3,000 species of medicinal plants. Bolivia is considered the place of origin for such species as peppers and chili peppers, peanuts, the common beans, yucca, and several species of palm, also naturally produces over 4,000 kinds of potatoes. Bolivia has more than 2,900 animal species, including 398 mammals, over 1,400 birds (70% of birds known in the world, being the sixth most diverse country in terms of bird species), 204 amphibians, 277 reptiles, and 635 fish, more than 3,000 types of butterfly and more than 60 domestic animals.
The ethnic composition of Bolivia is diverse, there are approximately 60% of the Bolivian population, the largest proportion of indigenous people in Latin America. The Quechuas (2.5 million), Aymaras (2 million), then Chiquitano, so the full Amerindian population is at 55%, 30% are mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), around 15% are white.
The Indigenous peoples of Bolivia can be divided into two categories of ethnic groups: the Andeans, which are located in the Andean Altiplano and the valley region; and the lowland groups, who inhabit the warm regions of central and eastern Bolivia, including the valleys of Cochabamba, the Amazon Basin areas of northern La Paz, and the Gran Chaco region in the southeast of the country. Large numbers of Andean peoples have also migrated to form Quechua, Aymara, and intercultural communities in the lowlands.
Bolivian culture has been heavily influenced by the Quechua and the Aymara. The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local native, mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture. An important body of Native Baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994. Bolivia has a rich folklore, a regional folk music is distinctive and varied. The “devil dances” at the annual carnival of Oruro are one of the great folkloric events of South America, as is the lesser known carnival at Tarabuco. The best known of the various festivals found in the country is the “Carnaval de Oruro”, which was among the first 19 “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, as proclaimed by UNESCO in May 2001.
1. La Paz
La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia. Is situated in the Andes, the altitude of the city ranges from about 4,058 m (13,313 ft) above sea level in El Alto (where the airport is located) to 3,100 m (10,170 ft). It is the highest national capital in the world. La Paz was built in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River, which runs northwest to southeast.
What to see in La Paz?
Sagarnaga Street, it’s mainly a market street with artesano and souvenir stores, but you’ll also find budget hostels, tour and travel agencies, cafes.
The Witches’ Market, Linares street between Sagarnaga and Santa Cruz. Vendors sell llama fetuses and dried frogs for Aymara rituals, as well as soapstone figurines and aphrodisiac formulas. This street is also the best place to pick up a charango or other Bolivian musical instrument.
Plaza Murillo, contains government buildings and the city cathedral.
Circuit of Culture and Art: One ticket for three awesome museums, visit La Paz museums, one ticket for three within a week! With the aim of promoting the cultural and historical heritage of La Paz and Bolivia, we launched a single ticket to access the circuit, which will be sold at tourist agencies, hotels and The museums of the circuit. The Three Museums of the Circuit are San Francisco Museum: a Catholic-indigenous face, the National Ethnographic and Folk Museum: a Trip through Bolivian Cultures, and the National Museum of Art: exhibitions, collections, history and more.
Museum San Francisco, plaza San Francisco, this restored religious complex has housed some of Bolivia’s most important historical moments, including the birth of the Independence Revolution of 1809. Also, one can climb the church tower to get a panoramic view of both the indigenous and Mestiza quarters. Displays are in Spanish and English along with personal guide.
National Ethnographic and Folk Museum, shows us the Bolivian cultures in their historic dimension and their current situation. These cultures are alive in the cities and the countryside, in markets, schools and churches, in streets, the jungle or a minibus. Not a single corner of Bolivia escapes its diversity.
Musical Instrument Museum, displays a huge collection of sound-producing devices from Bolivia and beyond, some of which you can play yourself. The museum was founded by charango master and inventor Ernesto Cavour, and some of his creations on display (such as multi-bodied guitars) are downright bizarre.
Sucre is in the Department of Chuquisaca. The city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Sucre ‘la ciudad blanca’ or white city is probably the most quiet city in Bolivia or perhaps South America. While it offers specific attractions in the form of historic buildings and renowned theatre as well as indigenous culture and prehistoric sites in the surrounding towns and countryside, the highlight of Sucre might be its relaxed atmosphere, which detains many travellers for far longer than expected.
Potosí, is at around 4000 metres, one of the world’s highest cities, it is located in the Potosí Department of Bolivia. The wealthy history of Potosí is still reflected in the narrow streets, colonial mansions and the many churches, which makes the city a UNESCO World Heritage List. Potosí was founded in 1546 after the discovery of the rich silver deposits in the Cerro Rico. It soon became one of the wealthiest and largest cites in the Americas. The mines of the Cerro Rico are the richest mines in all of world history and may have produced 60,000 tons of silver.
4. The Andes
The Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world, it is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. In Bolivia Nevado Sajama is an extinct stratovolcano and the highest peak.
5. Bolivian history
The country is named after Simon Bolivar. Obtained the independence in 1825. From 1879 to 1885, Bolivia is in a war with its neighbor Chile, as a result of hostilities, Bolivia lost its outlet to the Pacific ocean and this strongly determines the development of the country. From 1932 to 1935, the country leads another historic war, but this time with Paraguay, then lost many lands that are rich in minerals.