Bolivia Discovery Guide

Overview

Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America. The Altiplano dominates the west of Bolivia, while the east is covered by a lowland plain called the Oriente. At about 3,800 m above sea level, the Altiplano is a vast windswept, almost treeless plateau. It lies between two ranges of Bolivian Andes. Despite its cold, arid climate, more than half of Bolivia’s population lives here that grows crops and rear animals like llamas and alpacas. Bolivia’s Altiplano has a cool, crisp, dry climate. The eastern part of the country is warm and humid.

The Aymara in Bolivia are a group of Native South Americans who have farmed on the Bolivian Altiplano for hundreds of years. They have strongly resisted cultural changes. With the Quechua, another native group, they make up more than half of Bolivian’s population. However, they suffer discrimination and do not contribute to the politics or economy. The state has successfully persuaded many Aymara to move into towns.

Although Sucre is Bolivia’s official capital, the country is governed from La Paz, which also has capital status. At 3,631 m, La Paz is the world’s highest capital and largest city in Bolivia with a population of 2,515,000 souls of whom half are Native Americans. La Paz has chemical and textile industries.

Bolivia was earlier part of one of the most powerful empires that ruled the Western world: the Incan Empire. In the 13th century, the Incan Empire covered not only what is now modern-day Bolivia, but nearly the entire South America region, making this period as the Golden Age of the Incan Empire. The western region of Bolivia is the location of the historic Incan capital of Tiwanaku, an agricultural village which archaeologists have dated its establishment to as far back to 1500 BC. During the height of the empire, Tiwanaku was home to approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. In the 16th century, the Spanish invasion made its way through the capital and invaded the city, causing its eventual downfall.

It is no wonder then that travelers visiting Bolivia are treated to a wide spectrum of different cultures and traditions that may be present in other Latin American countries, but still uniquely Bolivian. If you are planning a visit to Bolivia, make sure to time your trip to the annual carnival held in the town Oruro. While this carnival is not as popular as that held in neighboring Brazil, it is nevertheless the biggest annual event held in Bolivia. Held for three whole days and nights, travelers and locals are treated to a whirlwind of dance parades, religious processions, electrifying music and medieval mystery plays.

Bolivia is also a perfect getaway for those who want to just simply get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. The country is home to spectacular caves where one can travel through and marvel at the wonderful natural sculptures in the form of stalactites and stalagmites. The Great Devil Canyon is a great place where extreme sport enthusiasts can experience the adrenaline rush during white water rafting.
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