"Bolivia - the secret heart of the Anden" Top 5 Page for this destination Bolivia by chancay

Bolivia Travel Guide: 2,156 reviews and 5,867 photos

Bolivia. When I was told for the first time to have the possibility to do a practical work in Bolivia I had absolutely no idea what would await me there. Then there was the "silly" question to me and my colleague who thinks to be more sportive t decide who goes up to almost 4000m and who only to around 2000m above sea level.... well, resulted that I chose the higher grounds, surely not of the mentioned sport reasons :-D

Anyway, I started to prepare myself for this adventure southamerica.
I read about Bolivia, learned about history, culture and people from books, started to learn spanish ...but still had no real idea what to expect.

so...several months after all that planning started, with some new antibodies against Hepatitis and more in my blood, with maybe 150 spanish vocabulars in my head and very excited the journey begun.

After a long flight with stop over in Miami we arrived in El Alto / La Paz. WOW!!!! .... help me, I need to breath...
we were collected by an engineer from the offce who left us in our hotel and made us to drink a MATE DE COCA first, the one and only help in the altitude ;-).
and well.... the adventure Bolivia started...that was the beginning of my first time here, 1997...I stayed for 3 months, mainly in Oruro, before I started backpacking in Perú and Chile for 2 months more.
Around one year later I came back to Bolivia for another 4 months, mainly staying in Cochabamba.

So I may say that I had the chance to visit quite a lot of Bolivia, at least in the highlands "altiplano" and southwest of the country and all I can say is:
Bolivia is soooo beautiful.

This picture was taken in the evening near to the lake Uru Uru next to Oruro. One of the few railways in Bolivia passes here.

All my experiences in Bolivia had have really a great influence on my life, probably as well because of impressions of poor people I´ve never had before in my life (never left Europe before), but also and especially the different mentality impressed me a lot...I like it so much!

Some general information (copied)

The western parts (Andean region) of what is today Bolivia formed part of the Lake Titicaca) and in the valleys of the Cordillera Oriental. The Spaniards, whose main interest was precious metals, discovered in 1544 rich silver deposits in a mountain at the foot of which they founded the settlement of Potosi at an altitude of 4,200 meters (13,800 feet) above sea level. By the end of the sixteenth century, Potosi had a population of 120,000, the largest urban center in South America. It held its position troughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when its population exceeded 160,000. Potosi was preceded by Chuqisaca, later renamed Sucre, which was founded in 1538 and later became the administrative capital of the Spanish colonial rule.
Other Spanish settlements followed, including La Paz (1548), Cochabamba (1574), and Oruro (1604). Alto Peru (Upper Peru), as Bolivia was known during the period of Spanish rule, was at first a dependency of the Viceroyalty of Peru. In 1776 it was transferred to the newly formed Viceroyalty of La Plata.

Independence was declared in 1825 by an assembly which met in Chuqisaca (Sucre). General Antonio Jose de Sucre, who, in comand of Colombian troops, played a leading role in the defeat of the Spanish garrison, was elected as the first president. The following year a constitution was drawn up by Simon Bolivar and adopted. It was then that the country received the name of Bolivia. A long period of internal struggle and instability followed with dicators, mainly military, ruling the country. Some of these dictators involved themselves in the internal struggles of Peru (in which Chile also intervened), while others struggled to prevent the annexation of Bolivia by Peru. The position of Bolivia's boundaries was uncertain and subject to conflict. However, Bolivian territory extended to the Pacific and included most of the coast of the Atacama desert and the port of Antofagasta. The discovery of rich nitrate deposits in the Atacama desert and rising border tensions led the outbreak of war betweeen Chile and Bolivia (1879-1883), in which Peru participated on the side of Bolivia. Chile's victory in this war resulted in Bolivia's loss of its outlet to the Pacific. Efforts, mainly political, to regain some outlet to the sea failed. The railway which linked Bolivia with the Pacific coast (Oruro-Antofagasta) was inaugurated in 1892.

la bandera de Bolivia

The frequent changes in the regime were often accompanied by changes in the constitution. Thus, from the declaration of independence to the end of the nineteenth century, ten different constitutions were enacted. In 1904 Bolivia lost a substantial part of its possesions in the eastern lowlands to Brazil. Defeated in a war with Paraguay (1932-1935), Bolivia lost most of its territory in the Gran Chaco. At present, Bolivia extends over less than half the territory over which it claimed soveriegnty when it declared independence. The expansion of mining from the end of the nineteenth century attracted foreign investment. This led to the development of three large foreign mining corporations that became dominant in Bolivia's economic and political life. These, together with large landowners and the military, actually controlled the country.

In 1952 a revolutionary party (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario MNR) seized control of the government. This led to the expropriation of the mines by the state and to agrarian reform, by which the large estates were divided among former tenants and peasants. Before it was deposed by the army in 1964, the MNR introduced far-reaching economic and social changes. Over the next 25 years (1964-1989) Bolivia has 19 presidents (13 were generals), with only two completing a full term in office.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful landscapes, silence, lovely people
  • Cons:-
  • In a nutshell:Viva Bolivia!!
  • Last visit to Bolivia: Feb 1999
  • Intro Updated Feb 14, 2006
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Reviews (21)

Comments (33)

  • allelli's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2007 at 9:08 PM

    great tips- when is the nice time to visit Bolivia? thanks

  • sirenna's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2006 at 6:58 AM

    Beautiful photos and great tips - I'm thinking of giving that recipe a go!

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    Apr 16, 2006 at 9:17 AM

    A great tour and very useful tips, I will pass them on to my friend.

  • frankcanfly's Profile Photo
    Feb 23, 2006 at 1:21 AM

    I'm hoping to travel here later this year, I'll be back for more information from your excellent pages!!

  • trek06's Profile Photo
    Feb 16, 2006 at 9:07 AM

    I love that train cemetary photo!

  • codrutz's Profile Photo
    Nov 13, 2005 at 11:42 PM

    Bolivia is an "exotic" destination for me. I wonder when I will see South America? Greetings from Romania!

  • jenniferchin's Profile Photo
    May 4, 2005 at 7:50 AM

    SIBIRIA pic of lone horse for May !! ;-)) Yes, its gorgeous :-)))

  • munki's Profile Photo
    Apr 21, 2005 at 10:34 AM

    Nice one! la foto del cementerio de trenes!!! thanks for visiting my page.

  • AlbuqRay's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2005 at 5:59 PM

    EL, it seems to me that you are very knowledgable about Bolivia. You were lucky to spend considerable time in places and learn them well. Your travelogue "Notes on Walls" is a Must Read!!

  • Apr 3, 2005 at 11:54 AM

    Very good page! Especially liked your train cemetary tip. The magic forest too seems to be an interesting place. Again: Good job!

chancay

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