Bolivia

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Bolivia is a beautiful, geographically cool, and multiethnic country in the heart of South America. It is surrounded by Brazil to the northeast, Peru to the northwest, Paraguay to the southwest, Argentina and Chile to the south. It shares with Peru control of Lake Titicaca (Lago Titicaca), the world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,821 m). Sometimes referred to as the Tibet of South America, Bolivia is one of the most "remote" countries in the Western Hemisphere; except for the navigable Paraguay River stretching to the distant Atlantic, Bolivia and Paraguay are the only two landlocked nations in the Americas. It is also the most indigenous country in the Americas, with 60% of its population being of pure Native American ancestry. (less...) (more...)

Population: 10,461,053 people
Area: 1,098,581 km2
Highest point: 6,542 m
Coastline: 0 km
Life expectancy: 68.22 years
GDP per capita: $5,200
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About Bolivia

History

Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simón Bolívar, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups. Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in the 2000's, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and drug use. Current goals include attracting foreign investment, strengthening the hygiene system, and waging an anti-corruption campaign on poor citizens.

The current President is Evo Morales who won majority in a 2005 election and inaugurated at the historical Tiwanaku archeological sites. Morales and his party, the Movement for Socialism, were re-elected in 2009, with another majority. There are often large protests in Bolivia considering issues like environmental protection, logging, hydrocarbon extraction, auto imports, mining, construction of highways, as well as other issues. These protests often cause the shutdown of streets in La Paz, specifically the area surrounding the Plaza Murillo, and the creation of blockades along major inter-city travel routes. If traveling between cities by bus it can be common for the trip to be stalled by several hours due to these protests.

Climate

Bolivia's climate remains relatively similar from one climatic zone to another. It ranges from humid and tropical to slightly humid and tropical. In most parts of the country winters are dry and summers are somewhat wet. Despite its tropical latitude, the altitude of cities like La Paz keeps things cool, and warm clothing is advised during the months of April and May. The summer months in Bolivia are November through March. The weather is typically warmer and wetter during these months. April through October, the winter months, are typically colder and drier.

Activities

  • The Death Road:from La Cumbre to Coroico. A mountainbike tour of 64km where you'll be able to see the diversity of Bolivia. Leave from La Cumbre at 5000mts, in a cold and windy environment, and get to Coroico, in a wet and tropical environment.
  • Explore the Provinces: Bolivia is a place to explore, it is mostly still untouched. The people are friendly in the countryside. There are hundreds of off the map, mostly out-of-the-guide places to go in Bolivia, and far more exciting than what the tour agencies and guide books offer. In the La Paz department for example you can easily catch transport to places like Pelechuco, the east side of Lake Titicaca, Achacachi, Isla del Sol, or Quime... not to mention scores of other villages and small towns. The free govt. tour agencies at the Plaza Estudiantes or Prado can help you find transport anywhere and tell you about it.

Food

The cuisine of Bolivia might be called the original "meat and potatoes" -- the latter (locally called papas from the Quechua) were first cultivated by the Inca before spreading throughout the world. The most common meat is beef, though chicken and llama are also easily found. Pork is relatively common. Deep frying (chicharron) is a common method of cooking all sorts of meat, and fried chicken is a very popular quick dish; at times the smell permeates the streets of Bolivian cities. Guinea pigs (cuy) and rabbits (conejo) are eaten in rural areas, though you can sometimes find them in urban restaurants as well. A common condiment served with Bolivian meals is ll'ajwa, a spicy sauce similar to Mexican salsa.

Some notable Bolivian dishes:

  • Pique a lo macho - grilled chunks of meat in a slightly spicy sauce with tomatoes and onion, on potatoes
  • Silpancho or Milanesa - beef pounded to a thin, plate-sized patty, served on a bed of rice and potatoes, with a fried egg on top (Similar to wiener schnitzel).
  • Picante de Pollo
  • Fritanga (Bolivian style fried pork)

Street food and snacks:

  • Anticucho - Beef hearts grilled on a skewer, served with potatoes and a spicy peanut sauce
  • Salchipapa - Thinly sliced sausage fried with potatoes
  • Choripan - Chorizo (spicy sausage) sandwich, served with grilled onions and lots of sauce

Mid-Morning snacks typically consists of any of several of meat-filled buns:

  • Salteña - A baked bun filled with meat and potatoes in a slightly sweet or spicy sauce. Be careful when you take a bite, as the sauce will drip all over!
  • Tucumana - Like a salteña but fried
  • Empanada - Similar to a saltena, often filled with cheese as well as meat
  • Cuñape - A small roll filled with cheese, similar to Brazilian pão de queijo. The bread is made from cassava flour.

Many people also start off the day with some concoction involving fruit:

  • Ensalada de frutas - Many different fruits chopped in a bowl of yogurt. Very filling. Some stalls may have honey, nuts or gelatin on top, if you like.

Vegetarians will find decent to very good options in Gringo-places around the country. But also at market places, there are good vegeratian options on offer (usually potatoes, rice, fried egg and salad for about 7Bs.) In bigger cities, there are some (decent to good) fully vegetarian restaurants.

Drinks

Juice bars appear at most markets. Shakes (either with water or milk) are 2-3Bs. Locals can be seen to drink Vitaminico an egg, beer and sugar concoction or "Vitima" which includes coca leaves.

  • Licuado - Water or milk blended with your favorite fruit combination. A big spoonful of sugar will be added unless you specifically ask them not to. Try the milk and papaya licuado. You should probably ask whether the water added is from botella (bottle) or from the tap (not recommended).
  • Vitaminico - Don't ask what's in here. Many fruits, milk, sugar, a shot of beer, and, if you wish, a whole egg (with shell).
  • Mocochinchi - A drink made by brewing peaches and spices together in water. Very good but some people are turned off by the shriveled peach which is typically served with each glass.
  • Api - A traditional corn base drink usually found in the open-air markets. If you didn't know it was corn you'd never guess it though because this stuff is good.


Alcohol

Bolivia's traditional alcoholic drink is chicha, a whitish, sour brew made from fermented corn and drunk from a hemispherical bowl fashioned from a hollowed gourd (round-bottomed so you can't put it down). It's customary to spill a bit of chicha on the ground before and after drinking it as an offering to Pachamama, the Inca earth goddess.

  • Singani is a grape liquor that's mixed with Sprite or ginger ale with lime garnish to make a cocktail called chuflay.
  • There are a number of local beers, the largest being Paceña and its high-end brand Huari. El Inca is a very sweet low-alcohol beer. Orange Cocktails are a popular drink too!

Tarija is located at 1924 meters above sea level, and is known for it's wine-making, vast vineyards, and award-winning wines. Hence you can visit and taste wine at its beautiful wineries, such as: Campos De Solana, Kohlberg, Casa Vieja, Valle De Concepción, and Casa Real, where the famous Singani is made.

Shopping

The national currency is the Boliviano. As of January 2010, the exchange rate is generally Bs6.97/$USD or Bs10/EUR. Bills come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10; coins are in 5, 2, and 1 Bolivianos, and 50, 20, and you will find sometimes 10 centavos (1/10 of a Boliviano). Bills larger than Bs50 can be hard to break, but a quick phone call or internet session at an Internet Café (see Contact, below) will usually get you change.

Currency can be exchanged for US dollars and most South American currencies at Casa De Cambio agencies or street vendors. Expect to negotiate for a favorable exchange rate, as most vendors will try to make money off a tourist.

U.S. dollars are widely accepted in hotels, tourist shops, and for large purchases.

Banco de Credito is a good bank to take cash from. Banco Union should be avoided if possible as it charges a 5% surcharge (as of May 2012), although they do not make any mention of this.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Bolivia on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Bolivia

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For other places with the same name, see La Paz (disambiguation) La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, while Sucre is the constitutional capital and the seat of the Supreme Court. La Paz was established in 1548, and is in the Andes. Altitude of the city ranges from about 4,058 m (13,313 ft) above ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Plaza San Francisco
  • San Francisco Church
  • Museo de la Coca
  • Palacio Presidential
  • National Museum of Art
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Santa Cruz is the most populous city and heart of the second most populous metropolitan area in Bolivia, and is the capital of the department of Santa Cruz. It is considered the most economically prosperous city in the country.

Interesting places:

  • Plaza 24 de Septiembre
  • San Lorenzo Cathedral
  • Municipal Library
  • Plaza Blacutt
  • Ramon Tahuichi Aguilera Stadium
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Cochabamba, or simply Cocha, the fourth largest city in Bolivia, is located some 240km southeast of La Paz. The city, set on a plain surrounded by mountains, is known for its moderate climate and is often called Bolivia's "resort city". Other nicknames for Cochabamba include the "Garden City" and the "City of ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Cochabamba Cathedral
  • Plaza 14 de Septiembre
  • Cristo de la Concordia
  • Plaza Colon
  • Simon I. Patino Cultural Center
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Sucre is in the Department of Chuquisaca, Bolivia. The city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Interesting places:

  • Casa de la Libertad
  • Sucre Cathedral
  • Plaza de 25 de Mayo
  • National Archive and Library of Bolivia
  • Universidad de San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca
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Uyuni is in the Potosí Department of Bolivia.

Interesting places:

  • Plaza Arce
  • Train Cemetery
  • Salar de Uyuni
  • Archaeological Museum
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Copacabana is a small town located on the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca. Situated relatively close to the capital of La Paz, it's a popular resort destination for foreign travellers and locals alike.

Interesting places:

  • Cerro Calvario
  • Copacabana Cathedral
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Potosí is, at around 4000 metres, the worlds highest city. It is located in the Potosí Department of Bolivia.

Interesting places:

  • Compania de Jesus
  • Plaza Principal
  • National Mint of Bolivia
  • Cerro Rico
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Tarija is a city in the Tarija Department of Bolivia.

Interesting places:

  • Parque de la Flores
  • El Castello Azul
  • Mirador de los Suenos
  • National Archaeological Museum of Paleontology
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Coroico is a hill top town in in the Yungas region of Bolivia and is a good place to spend a night before heading to La Paz, or further north toward the Jungle. Because of the lower elevation, the weather is quite nice by comparison to La Paz, and has a resort-like feel to it. Weekends are busier with ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Main Square
  • Church of Coroico
panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Bolivia

Bolivia has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the eastern department of Santa Cruz there are the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, the Inca site El Fuerte in Samaipata and the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos. Near the capital there is Tiwanaku, an archeological site with the remains of an pre-Incan city. Finally there are Sucre and Potosí, two cities founded by the Spanish in the 16th century.

Furthermore Bolivia boasts the world's largest salt flat Salar de Uyuni, a portion of Lake Titicaca with Isla del Sol and being located in the middle of the Andes — mountain peaks higher than 6,000m.

Plaza San Francisco - La Paz

Compania de Jesus - Potosi

Cerro Calvario - Copacabana

Casa de la Libertad - Sucre

Plaza 24 de Septiembre - Santa Cruz

Cochabamba Cathedral - Cochabamba

Plaza Arce - Uyuni

El Fuerte de Samaipata - Samaipata

Main Square - Coroico

Madidi National Park - Apolo

San Francisco Church - La Paz

Museo de la Coca - La Paz

Palacio Presidential - La Paz

National Museum of Art - La Paz

Plaza Murillo - La Paz

La Paz Cathedral - La Paz

Tambo Quirquincho Museum - La Paz

Tiwanaku - La Paz

Copacabana Cathedral - Copacabana

Sucre Cathedral - Sucre

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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