Salar de Uyuni © Judith Duk
Bolivia is known as the 'Tibet of the Americas', the highest and most remote of the countries in South America. It is a landlocked region with two Andean mountain ranges binding the Altiplano, or High Plain, between them. This plain has an altitude ranging from 9,000 to 13,000 feet (3,000 to 4,000m), and is where the majority of the population lives.
The history of the region dates back to the pre-Columbian times, from the ancient Aymará civilisation in 1500 BC who lived on Lake Titicaca, to the Tiahuanaco and the Inca Empire of the Altiplano, until the conquest of the Spanish in 1538. Traces of these civilisations are evident in the architecture of the colonial cities, and displayed in informative museums that can be visited at the sites of ancient ruins.
Bolivia is one of South America's most intriguing countries: it is known to be the nation with the most concentrated indigenous population on the continent, the majority of whom still maintain their traditional culture and beliefs. This living historical culture is one of the reasons that Bolivia is such an exciting and increasingly popular tourist destination. The landscape is imbued with traditional houses and age-old methods of agriculture, and visitors will find remarkable traditions kept alive in the ancient techniques of weaving, handcrafts and food production. The sounds of this cultural legacy echo in the haunting melodies of the panpipes from the high Altiplano or in the lively tunes emanating from the warmer lowlands.
The dramatic geography affords many adventure opportunities: explorers can track wildlife in the Amazonian basin, drive across the surreal landscape of the Salar de Uyuni, take a boat trip on the world's highest navigable lake, Titicaca, scramble through muddy shafts in the silver mines of Potosi, or hike in the magnificent Andes mountains. There is enough diversity to satisfy many tastes.
A holiday in Bolivia is a juxtaposition of extraordinary altitudes and spectacular landscapes, fascinating remains of ancient civilisations, a rich indigenous culture and vast colonial treasures. Travel here may not always be easy, but it is deeply rewarding.
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