Bolivia is a country with beautiful scenery, but also is one of the poorest countries on the continent. It can be described as a country of contrasts. The few rich people contrast with enormous mass, living below the poverty line. The humid tropical forests contrast with the dry, arid deserts and icy peaks.
The geographical situation of Bolivia is not advantageous for the country, because it has no outlet to the ocean and that strongly limits the economic contacts with the world.
This is an opportunity to become closer with its neighbours. The territory of Bolivia is not among the largest nor yet the smallest countries on the continent.
It occupies an area of about 1 098 580 sq. km Bolivia lies entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, between 9 and 22° south latitude. The two most distant points of the country extends at more than 1470 km apart.
The terrain of Bolivia is very diverse. In the west dominate the high mountains. The highest point of the country is Mount Nevado, which rises to 6542 meters, not far from the border with Chile.
Among the mountains is situated the high, cool and dry plateau of Altiplano. It rises to about 3700 meters altitude.
The northern and eastern part of the country are occupied by lowland plains and areas, which are in many places swampy, because of the weak gradient, slow river run-off waters and heavy rains.
The climate in Bolivia is extremely diverse, but this is mainly due to the large differences in the altitude. The country gets into two climatic zones – subequatorial and tropical in the southernmost parts.
The western part of Bolivia, however is not influenced by the latitude, but the altitude, as gets in the mountain climate zone of the continent.
About 1 / 3 of the country is located very high in the Andes. There is a mountainous climate and the temperatures are lower in height. On the sites with less altitude, however, is hot and humid throughout the year.
The coldest months are May and June with temperatures around 29°C. The hottest is August – about 32°C. There is a pronounced seasonality of the rainfall, which is one of the hallmarks of the subequatorial climate.
In January can drop to 250 mm of rain. This is the wettest month. The driest is July, when the winter in the southern hemisphere is in its high. Then fall no more than 20 mm.
– the tropical climate zone covers the southern-most parts of the country. A representative of this climate zone is the city of Santa Cruz – one of the largest and most important centers in the country.
There is considerable difference in the temperatures. Summers are very hot, even warmer than those in the subequatorial zone. The temperatures often reach 35-36°C.
The night temperatures are about 22°C. The high temperatures, combined with heavy rainfalls make the climate to be hard bearable during the summer months.
The maximum temperature coincides with that of the precipitation. Coldest month is July. Then the daytime temperatures are about 25°C. Rainfall is scarce.
Nights are cool with temperatures around 8 – 10°C. This makes the winter the best season to visit Bolivia, as the summers could be too hot and humid.
– the mountainous climate is widespread in the western parts of Bolivia. It covers about 1 / 3 of the total area of the country. In height the climate becomes colder and crude.
The higher parts of mountains are covered with ice throughout the year. The temperatures are almost ever below freezing.
Nature. The nature of Bolivia is beautiful and exotic. The variety of landscapes is impressive. The western parts of the country are occupied by the widest part of the Andes.
In their lower parts, the Andes are covered with thick rain forests, which in high yield to meadows and open spaces. In the mountains there are numerous lakes.
On the border with Peru is located Titikaka lake, which is the highest floatable lake on the planet.
Among the mountains in many places there are high, cold and dry plateaus and desert landscapes which are devoid of almost any vegetation, except for some resistant species such as cacti.
East of the mountains are large plains and lowlands, covered with tropical rain forests that are home to many rare tree species. The jungle is part of the Amazon rain forest.
Here you can find some very rare animal species, such as jaguar for example. In the mountains inhabit the typical Andean animal – llama.
One of the most interesting tourist sites in the country is the plateau Altiplano. It is situated in the Andes at about 3700 m altitude. On the plateau you can find many saline lakes with shallow and calm waters as a mirror.
Besides the salt water lakes here you can find also some freshwater lakes, such as the Lake of Poopo.
Population and settlements. The population of Bolivia is about 9 000 000 people. The ethnically structure is dominated by Metis and Indians.
The European settlers are relatively small number. The largest city in the country is Santa Cruz. It is located just over 400 meters above the sea level in the southern parts of Bolivia.
It has a population of about 1 600 000. Today it is the heart of the Bolivian economy. The second largest city is the capital La Paz, which has a population of about 1 300 000 people.
This is the highest capital on the planet. The central parts of the town are located at more than 3 700 meters altitude, but some quarters are rising even at more than 4 000 meters.
In fact it is a very rare sight to see a tropical city, which is covered by snow. Here, however, this is a fact. The snowfall is something usual, but in other circumstances would be something unknown in these latitudes.
However, Bolivia has one more capital – the administrative capital. Its name is Sucre and it has a population of 200 000 inhabitants. It is situated at about 2 800 m altitude.
The third largest city in the country is Cochabamba. This city is also located in significant altitude. It is at about 2 570 m altitude in the Andes.
Economy. Bolivia is a poor country with a growing economy and low living standard. Much of the population lives below the poverty line.
There are very small number of rich people as a percentage of the population. It is assumed that the country is one of the poorest on the continent.
The majority of revenues come from Bolivia mining, at which the country is quite rich. The country extracts oil, tin, copper, silver, zinc, antimony, and many others.
Much of the population working in the mines. Another big part is employed in the agriculture. The main crops are coffee, sugar cane, potatoes and tobacco.
The poverty is a very serious problem for the country, because many people are forced to grow illicit crops such as coca to obtain funds with which to live.
The country has a poorly developed infrastructure, because the relief is very specific and difficult to mastery. The high mountains and dense, impassable tropical forests are very serious obstacle to the development of the transport.
History. The country is named after Simon Bolivar. Obtained its independence in 1825. From 1879 to 1885, (over six years) Bolivia is in a war with its neighbour – Chile.
As a result of hostilities, Bolivia lost its outlet to the Pacific ocean and this strongly determines the development of the country.
From 1932 to 1935, the country leads another historic war, but this time with Paraguay. Then lost many lands that are rich in minerals.
Since then, Bolivia seeks all means to get out of the poverty, but the country still remains among the poorest on the continent.
Landmarks. Titicaca lake, salt water lakes on the plateau of Altiplano, the biosphere reserve “Beni” and national Park „Madidi“, which is located in the northern parts of the country.
The architecture of the capital La Paz is also very impressive and should be seen.