Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon
Bolivar, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups
Location Central South America, southwest of Brazil
Area: total: 1,098,580 sq km water: 14,190 sq km land: 1,084,390 sq km
Land boundaries total: 6,743 km border countries: Argentina 832 km, Brazil 3,400 km, Chile 861 km, Paraguay 750 km, Peru 900 k
Terrain: rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin
Population 8,445,134 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups Quechua 30%, mestizo (mixed white and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, white 15%
Bolivia lies in the heart of South America, stretching from hights of the Andes Mountains to the tropical Amazon River Basin, with a population composed mainly of Native Indian ethnical groups and Mestizos.
Touristic attractions in Bolivia tend to be as diverse and fascinating as its people or its landscape; the cultural richness inherited from ancient civilizations and the abruptly changing geography Bolivian's are used to, invite the foreigner to discover the countless wonderfull touristic sites one can visit, and be a part of the events and festivities that mark the rythm of Bolivia's every day life.
the highest navigable lake in the world, is mystical not only in feeling but, according to many, in reality as well. This is where the Inca Empire is said to have been founded, and legend has it that centuries ago the Incas made a yearly sacred pilgrimage from Copacabana to the Sun Island.
Bolivia features a complex geological landscape which incorporates several rich ecosystems ranging across different altitudes. This landscape covers the Andes, cloud forests, rainforests, and savannahs. These ecosystems form one of Earth's special places, unparalleled in biodiversity. No wonder this country is considered to be one of the "megadiverse" countries.
Although it is rich in natural resources, Bolivia is continuously fighting to overcome poverty and unemployment, two of many difficult social and economic problems that affect the nation. Among many alternatives, experts have recommended tourism as a feasible strategy for Bolivia to improve its economy and thus the conditions of its people. In 1997 alone, more than three hundred and fifty thousand tourists arrived in Bolivia; this was 19.9% more than in 1995. This is an encouraging and promising trend.
More and more visitors are coming to Bolivia for its incredible natural diversity, including some of the most fascinating and beautiful places in the Andes and the Amazon. It has been shown that once Ecotourism is well implemented, it can improve the economic conditions of rural populations by offering jobs and improving living conditions.
We are proud to be a part of this strategy: helping to preserve our cultural identity and biodiversity by means of a sound industry like Ecotourism.
When to Go
Bolivia lies in the southern
hemisphere; winter runs from May to October and summer from November to
April. The most important climatic factor to remember is that it's
generally wet in the summer and dry in the winter. While the highlands and
altiplano can be cold in the winter and wet in the summer, the only
serious barrier to travel will be the odd road washout. In the tropical
lowlands, however, summer can be miserable with mud, steamy heat, bugs and
relentless downpours. Travel is difficult, and services may be stifled by
mud and flooding. Also consider that the high tourist season falls in the
winter (late June to early September), due not only to climatic factors,
but also to the timing of European and North American summer holidays and
the fact that it's also Bolivia's major fiesta season. This means that
both overseas visitors and lots of South Americans are traveling during
Neighbors: Bolivia shares a border with
five other countries: Brazil on the north and east, Paraguay on the
southeast, Argentina on the south, and Chile and Peru on the west.
Bolivia is one of
two South American countries without direct access to the sea. Its
principal physical feature is the Andes mountain range, which extends
generally north to south across western Bolivia. Near the border with
Chile is the Cordillera Occidental, or western range, and on the northeast
is the Cordillera Real, the main range. Bolivia has three distinct
regions: the altiplano, or plateau region, which lies between the
Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Central; the yungas, a series of
forested and well-watered valleys embracing the eastern Andes slopes and
valleys; and the llanos, or the Amazon–Gran Chaco lowlands, which stretch
east and northeast from the mountains. They contain large grassy tracts
and, along the rivers, dense tropical forests. Much of this region becomes
swampland during the wet season (December through February); large areas,
however, lie above the flood line and provide rich grazing lands. In the
southeast, separated from the Amazonian plains by the Chiquitos highlands,
are the dry, semitropical plains of the Gran Chaco.
Major Rivers and Lakes
drain Bolivia’s northern and northeastern valleys and plains: the Río Beni
and its main affluent, the Río Madre de Dios; the Rio Guaporé, which forms
part of the boundary with Brazil; and the Río Mamoré. In the southeast,
the Río Pilcomayo flows through the Gran Chaco region to feed the Río
Paraguay, eventually draining into the Río de la Plata.
Altiplano contains freshwater Lago Titicaca, the world’s highest, large
navigable lake which Bolivia shares with neighboring Peru. The Desaguadero
River, outlet for Lago Titicaca, feeds Lago Poopó, a saltwater lake, to
Weather and Climate
lies entirely within the tropics, its varied elevation gives it a wide
range of climate types. In the higher elevations, conditions are cold and
dry but generally healthful, in spite of the cutting winds, the thinness
of the atmosphere, and the daily temperature extremes. The climate is
warmer in the lower-lying regions. Mean annual temperatures range from
about 8°C (about 46°F) in the Altiplano to about 26°C (about 79°F) in the
Deforestation is a
critical threat to the health of Bolivia's environment. The country's rain
forests are extremely rich in biodiversity, with a high proportion of
endemic plant species. Bolivia has 48 million hectares (119 million acres)
of forestland, covering 44.6 percent (1995) of the country's land area.
During the 1980s about 800,000 hectares (about 2 million acres) were lost
to deforestation each year. Between 1990 and 1995 another 3 million
hectares (7 million acres) of forest were lost. Bolivia's forests are
cleared primarily for cropland, for livestock grazing, and for tropical
timber, which is harvested for export.
A small minority of
Bolivia's population resides in the huge rain forests of the lowlands.
These people depend on livestock raising and agriculture for their
livelihood. Overgrazing and the use of traditional farming techniques such
as slash-and-burn agriculture have led not only to deforestation, but also
to soil erosion and a consequent loss of soil fertility. Because the rain
forests make up such a large percentage of the country's total land area,
the government is trying to draw a larger segment of the population to the
area, thereby exacerbating the problem.
Bolivia protects 14.4
percent (1997) of its land area in parks or other reserves. It was the
first country to enter into a debt-for-nature swap, a type of agreement
allowing developing countries to pay off national debt through nature
conservation. Bolivia's swap covered about 800,000 hectares (about 2
million acres), mostly of rain forest.
Bolivia is party to treaties
concerning biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered
species, tropical timber, and wetlands.