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Bolivia Images

Photos from Bolivia - Andes Mountain Range Photography - South America Images

Bolivia has a surface of 1.098.580 km2 (424.135 mi2). It is landlocked, having lost its access to the Pacific Ocean in the War of the Pacific in 1879 with Chile. The eastern part of the country consists of the lowlands of the Amazonian rainforests and the Chaco. In the western part the Andes Mountains rise high into the sky, forming the altiplano between the western and eastern Andean mountain chains, where llamas and alpacas are domesticated for their wool. The highest mountain is Nevado Sajama at 6.542 m (21.463 ft). Lake Titicaca, which is the highest navigable lake in the world, lies north at the border with Peru. The Southwest of Bolivia is characterized by the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, and vast volcanic deserts.

Bolivia is rich in minerals and gas fields. Bolivia owns the second largest natural gas field of South America after Venezuela. In the lowlands, 70% of the world's iron and magnesium are located.

La Paz
, in the shadow of Mt. Illimani, is the administrative capital of Bolivia. La Paz is the world's highest capital city at 3.600 meters (11.800 ft.). It is famous for its Witches Market, so called because its fortune tellers. They sell llama fetuses and other strange medicines there and offer alpaca furs and colorful textiles. The seat of the government is at the Plaza Murillo, which is surrounded by the Presidential Palace, (the Palacio Quemado), the  Bolivian Congress Building and the Cathedral. Colonial architecture can be admired in the Calle Jaen which has been beautifully restored and painted. Outside of Las Paz is the Moon Valley, Valle de la Luna, an area of erosion, which has sculpted the earth into fantastic shapes. Further north are the remains a pre Inca culture in Tiwanaku. These people had a 3000 year old history while the Incas only ruled for 100 years. Serious archeologically digs are in progress there.

Sucre is the official capital and has the old colonial charm and the largest plaza in Bolivia, the Plaza de 25 de Mayo. The Cathedral and the Prefectura are imposing buildings. It has a University and a number of famous churches such as the Santa Monica Church and San Francisco Church. One has a beautiful view of the city from the Convento de la Recoleta. Since the independence of Bolivia was declared in Sucre, the Casa de la Libertad is situated in this city as well.

Another centre is Cochabamba, a sprawling metropolis with another noteworthy plaza, the Plaza Colon. Cochabamba is most famous for having the largest and tallest Christ statue in the world, the Cristo de la Concordia. Some of the very rich Bolivians lived in Cochabamba. Simon I Patino was one of them. He left a breathtaking estate with an imposing house which now is a tourist attraction.

Isla de Sol in Lake Titicaca is a place where the Incas used to live. Still today you can see the Inca stairs. Llamas, Alpacas and Tortora boats are all part of the scene.
The Spaniards were most interested in the city of Potosi. It is said to be highest inhabited city in the world at an elevation of 3.967m (12.037ft). Here they found the “Cerro Rico”, a mountain made out of silver. At one point Potosi was the richest city in the world and the printing presses in Casa de la Moneda produced most of the coins for the Spanish Empire. The city has a beautiful Plaza Mayor in front of the Cathedral. The Convents of San Francisco and Santa Teresa are main attractions today and represent Potosi’s Catholic past. Potosi is famous for the Chutillos Festival for which Bolivians from all regions congregate there, performing dances in costumes from all parts of Bolivia.

The Southwestern part of Bolivia must be one of the most surreal places on earth. The Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world and has an area of 10.582 square km (4.085 square miles). It lies at an altitude of 3.650 meters (11.975 ft). Apart from salt, halite and gypsum are found in these salt flats. The thickness of the salt is 6 to 10 meters (about 20 ft), containing about 10 billion tons of salt.

The origin of the Salar de Uynui is the prehistoric Lake Minchin that existed some 40.000 years ago. Adjacent to the Salar de Uyuni is the Salar de Coipasa, also a remnant of the aforementioned prehistoric lake.

Another feature in the Salar de Uyuni are the Los Ojos de Salar or the eyes of the salar. These are springs which form underground rivers meandering through the salar which surface at this point in fingerlike appearances. The water is cold but contains algae and other microorganisms which give the water a brownish tinge. The famous salt hotel, a structure completely made out of salt blocks, lies in the middle of the salar.

There are 20 islands in the salar, Incahuasi or Isla Del Pescado (Fish Island) being the largest and most interesting. The cactus forest on this island is stunning indeed. It consists of 4.030 adult cactuses some 10 meters (30 ft) high. The island is composed of petrified limestone in which a lot of coral remains are embedded.

Farther south stretches a volcanic desert of huge proportions dominated by the volcanoes Ollague and Lincanabur. Other notable mountains in the area are Mount Tomas Amil, Ejera Mountain, Cerro Nelli  and Corina Mountain. Strange plants grow in these deserts e.g. the Yareta plant. It looks like bubble bath but is hard and takes a long time to grow. There are the Siloli Desert and the Desert of Dali (Desierto de Dali) because they look so surreal and abstract. In some places you have volcanic activity like in the Sol de la Manana (Valley of the Morning Sun), where fumaroles issue large amounts of hot steam and sulphurous gases escape from bubbling mud pools. In one lake in the area a hot spring heats a bay of the otherwise frozen lake so that one can take a swim there. It is called Aguas Termales de Polquis. The most spectacular aspects of this otherwise desolate area are the lagoons. There are two lagoons where flamingoes congregate: the Laguna Hedionda and the Laguna Colorada. There are three types of flamingos in both of these lagoons: The most prevalent flamingo in these waters is the James Flamingo also known as Jututu. The other two South American flamingos are the Chilean Flamingo, and the Andean Flamingo.