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Bolivia

Driving Directions Bolivia

BOLIVIA is one of only two South American countries that surround­ed by land on all sides, having lost its Pacific coastline to Peru and Chile in the late 1800s. The dominant topographical feature is the Andes mountain chain. This forms two main ranges, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental running from north to south in the southwest­ern third of the country. Lying in between them is a high, fairly barren, treeless plateau called the Altiplano, which is where most Bolivians live. Lake Titicaca, which straddles the border with Peru, is in the northern part of the Altiplano. The country’s administrative capital and largest city, La Paz, lies just to the south and the east of Lake Titicaca and is the high­est capital city in the world, built 3,612 meters or 11,850 feet above sea level.

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The lower, eastern slopes of the mountains form a region of forested, fertile valleys called the Yungas. In the southeastern corner, separated from the rest of the region by the Chiquitos Highlands, are the arid plains known as the Chaco. Farther north, there are hot savannah lands and dense tropical jungles blanketing the river valleys that traverse the region. The northeast experiences heavy rainfall while the southwest of the country has very little rain. Temperatures vary with altitude from extremely cold on the mountain summits to cool on the Altiplano and hot in the tropical areas.

Although rich in natural resources, Bolivia remains a developing country. A lack of investment in the country and political instability mean that there are not enough funds available to pay for the extraction of its natural resources of lead, silver, copper, zinc, oil, and tin.

However, Bolivia is self-sufficient in petroleum and exports natural gas. Agriculture produces soya beans, sugar cane, and cotton for export. Coca is also grown on a large scale to supply the illegal trade in cocaine, although the government is endeavoring to bring this to an end.

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