Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America. It was named after the Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan political leader who led Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela to independence. The country is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west. Bolivia covers an area of 1,098,581 square kilometers (424,163 sq miles), roughly twice the size of Texas, but has a population of only 10 million people.
A native on a floating island at Lake Titicaca, Bolivia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Titicaca_9921a.jpg Yves Picq
The capital of Bolivia, La Paz, is the highest capital in the world. With a population of 835,000, is not the biggest city, rather the third behind Santa Cruz (1,450,000) and El Alto (860,000).
The highest peak in Bolivia is Nevado Sajama, at 6,542m (21,463 ft). Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, sits on the border between Bolivia and Peru, at an elevation of 3,805m. On the southwest of Bolivia is Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat.
The majority of the population of Bolivia are South Americans speaking Quechua and Aymara. After breaking away from Spain in 1825, Bolivia has gone through close to 200 coups and counter coups. Although a nation rich in natural resources - it has the second largest natural gas field in South America after Venezuela - Bolivia is still the poorest country in the continent, with the lowest GDP in South America.
La Paz, Bolivia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Paz-center.jpg Paul Richter
You will encounter every climatic zone in Bolivia, from the hot tropics to arctic cold to semi-arid regions.
Summers are wet, and roads muddy and travel difficult. Best ideal time to explore Bolivia is in winter, from May to October, as you are more assured of dry weather and clear skies. The peak period for travelling to Bolivia is from late June to early September. That's when you can view most of Bolivia's major festivals. However, it is also summer vacation time in Europe and North America, so this period may see higher prices than the rest of the year.
Street demonstrations are fairly common in Bolivia, and have a tendency of becoming violent. By all means, stay away from them. The resulting effect of such demonstrations is road blockades that will disrupt your itinerary. This is fairly frequent for the road between La Paz and Cochabamba, and the blockade that last for days. Check local news updates and avoid volatile areas.
What to wear
Lightweight clothing is good enough for the day time. You will need warmer clothes, if you are in the Altiplano and the Puna regions, including La Paz, Oruro and Potosi.
Getting into Bolivia
Entering Bolivia by air is going to be a challenge since the national airline of Bolivia, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, suspended services in March 2007 due to financial difficulties. Presently you can enter Bolivia taking American Airlines from Miami.
The La Paz International Airport (LPB) is located 14km southwest of La Paz, and coach services to the city is available whenever there are scheduled flights. There's a departure tax of US$25 payable when on your departure flight.
Planning your travel within Bolivia
Transportation strikes are fairly common in Bolivia, and can disrupt your plans, so keep yourself updated to the local news. In Bolivia, be prepared for general delays and unreliabilities of schedules. Cross country bus rides are fairly cheap, but often they only travel at night.
Stormy clouds over Lake Titicaca http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tormenta_titicaca.JPG Pallares1
Principal Cities of Bolivia
La Paz Capital and second largest city in Bolivia. The La Paz Metropolitan Area is however the most populous urban area in the country.
Cochabamba Located in an Andean valley in central Bolivia, Cochabamba is the fourth largest city in the country.
Copacabana Major town on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Sucre Constitutional capital of Bolivia, Sucre is very Spanish in character, with elements of Andalusian culture in its architecture. The inner city, titled the Historic City of Sucre, is a World Heritage Site.
Tarija Town in the Andean highlands founded by the Spanish in 1574.
Uyuni Gateway town to the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.
Major Attractions of Bolivia
Lake Titicaca The highest commercially navigable lake in the world.
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