Bolivia, a large and remote nation of contrasts, remains a diverse land of many cultures. It boasts some incredible natural parks and cultural sites.
With mountainous landscapes, the country also has the world’s highest capital and scenic rural villages. Bolivia was once a part of the great Inca Empire and was besieged by the Spaniards for its mineral wealth.
Throughout its recent history, Bolivia has had vast economic and social inequalities and remains one of the poorest nations despite its rich natural resources.
With the arrival of the Spanish, indigenous groups in remote areas were protected by their distance, but many groups were under the colonizer’s rule.
Bolivia won independence in 1825 and struggled with internal conflict and instability throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Following a violent guerrilla movement and several military coups, the government returned to civilian rule, yet has continued to face unrest. Today, Bolivia has a stratified society with millions of farmers and miners living in abject poverty. The leadership of the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, has helped alleviate poverty and given a voice to marginalized peoples.
Bolivia is extremely ethnically diverse, and has 37 official languages. While Spanish, along Quechua and Aymara, are the main languages, many people in rural areas do not speak Spanish. Over 60% of Bolivia’s population is of pure indigenous ancestry, the highest rate in Latin America.
Bolivia lies in the heart of South America. It is bordered by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Peru. While it is landlocked, Bolivia has lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
Its climate ranges from tropical and humid to cold and dry, varying by altitude and climatic zones. Summers are typically warm and wet, while winters are dry. The West is a plateau of the Andes, where almost half the population lives. The northern and eastern lowlands have grasslands, forests and more. Within La Paz, the nation’s capital, the altitude is very high, yet varied and the weather can vary within the city.
Built into a canyon, La Paz is an impressive and scenic city. The capital offers markets, churches and cable car rides. La Paz also has several enchanting streets, view points and museums. Allow time to adjust to the altitude – this city is at almost 12,000 feet above sea level. With access by bus, bike and train, La Paz is a great starting location to for exploring Bolivia.
Bolivia offers incredible scenic areas and natural landscapes. Some day trips from La Paz include a day hike to Muela del Diablo, Lake Titicaca and Chacaltaya, the world’s highest ski resort. The Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. Bolivia is also home to the World’s Most Dangerous Road – ‘Yungas Road’ leads along a cliff side through a jungle. Daring mountain bikers will tour this road. Some impressive remoteness!