Landlocked by the Cordillera Real and the Amazon Basin, Bolivia's location makes it perhaps the highest and most rugged nation in South America. In fact, it has often been dubbed as the “Tibet of the Americas.” It is incredibly rich in natural resources, laying claim to Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, as well as El Cerro Mutun which contains the largest iron ire deposits on the planet.
Despite this apparent abundance, Bolivia has remained as the poorest in the entire continent. This dilemma is believed to be caused by its reluctance to exploit nature - unearthing its minerals would mean the uprooting of forests and extensive quarrying. The downside of course, is that roughly 64 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. Not to mention that it has largely been forgotten by tourists.
Bolivia has a colorful history spanning millennia, two thousand of which had passed with the country being under foreign rule. Perhaps the most prominent of these was being a part of the legendary Inca Empire. The Spanish forces occupied the land in the 16th century under the Viceroyalty of Peru, until it finally gained independence in 1825. Since then, however, the country has battled not enemy soldiers, but political instability and economic woes.
There is one bright spot left by foreign occupation on Bolivia, though: the nation's incredible multiethnicity. Of its more than nine million-strong population, over 60 percent claim to have indigenous heritages. It has some 30 ethnic groups, such as the Aymara, Guarani, and Quechua, as well as exotic races like Amerindians, Mestizos, and Asians.
While the nation may be financially-challenged, there is no denying that Bolivia is a place of natural beauty. It is known as the home of one of the largest lakes in South America - Lake Titicaca. The Yungas Jungle is a sanctuary for diverse flora and fauna, while also boasting mountain bike trail touted as the most dangerous road in the world.
Bounded by the Cordillera Real mountains, mountain climbing is also at a premium here, especially the 6,452-meter high Nevado Sajama which is the tallest in the land. To the southeast are wildlife-rich grasslands, while the town of Sorata is an ideal travel base for trekkers and hikers.
Bolivia Traveler Advice
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