Bolivia: Ten Quick Facts About One of Our Most Favorite Countries

Sure enough y’all. It is absolutely one of our favorite countries on earth! And apart from being so widely misunderstood, Bolivia is home to a variety of spectacular landscapes, amazing food, a rich and fascinating history, and warm, friendly and beautiful people. Here are a few quick facts about this country in the heart of South America:

Bolivia actually has two capitals, and it’s one of only a handful of countries that do. Sucre in the southern highlands of Bolivia is the country’s constitutional capital. And La Paz – Bolivia’s administrative capital – is the highest capital in the world, resting on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at just under 12,000 feet above sea level.

Panoramic View of La Paz

La Paz has without question what is one of the most fantastic public transportation on the planet. Cable cars (or telefericos) aren’t typically what you think of when you think of public transportation, but that’s one of the best ways to get around the city for sure. La Paz’s yellow line operating at over 13,000 feet above sea level is the highest cable car in the world connecting La Paz to El Alto. And the views from the cars (and the top of the line, of course) are absolutely breathtaking!

This is the very cool and very modern public transportation system in La Paz! And these telefericos also provide the BEST way to get spectacular views of this city. Great way to spend the day!

Boliva also has a fascinating way of directing traffic. Zebras! Yep, you heard us right. Zebras, or folks dressed up in zebra-ish costumes anyway. The zebras are a public road safety initiative that was launched in 2001. The country’s cebritas program is apparently a successor to a Colombian initiative launched by Antanas Mockus, Bogotá’s mayor at the time, who sent out mimes to applaud courteous drivers and tease and shame the city’s not so courteous drivers. The zebra-striped cats we met up with in the city of Potosi were happy to help us across the street and pose for a pretty great selfie with Dusty. Too cool!

Celebrating the fact that we survived the mine, with new friends in central Potosi! 🙂

Bolivia is named after Simon Bolivar (Bolivia’s first president) who led Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Columbia, and Bolivia to independence in 1852. Its name changed from Republic of Bolivar to Bolivia when it was approved by the Republic on October 3, 1825.

Simon Bolivar

Bolivia is one of two land-locked countries in the Americas (Paraguay being the other).

The Salar de Uyuni, elevation 11,995 feet above sea level, is the largest salt flat in the world at over 4,000 square miles. It’s also known as the largest mirror in the world. When it rains and the salt is covered in water, it creates a mirror effect that makes for some of the most incredible pictures we’ve ever seen. It’s otherworldly landscapes are truly breathtaking. And because of miles and miles of nothing but salt, it sure makes for some fun photo ops as well.

Howdy y’all! On the Salar de Uyuni.

A hotel dedicated to Salar de Uyuni was completed in 1995 and was built using blocks of salt for floors, walls, ceiling, and even furniture. The building now stands as an outpost of sorts for folks from all over the world. You can walk through its rooms, buy some snacks (and/or photo props), and check out all of the flags outside planted from travelers from far and wide.

Flags of many nations on the Salar de Uyuni.

The Road of Death, also known as the world’s most dangerous road, is in Bolivia! And believe it or not, it’s one of the top tourist attractions in Bolivia. Despite it’s nickname, the Camino de las Yungas is actually not the most dangerous road in Bolivia. But it’s certainly claimed many lives. Thousands of thrill seekers set out to bike the dangerous road each year with their initial ascent on the one lane road being 15,260 feet high. No guardrails. Steep slopes. Rain. Fog. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Bolivia’s Road of Death

Potosi’s Cerro Rico Silver Mine, known as the Mountain that Eats Men, is one of the most dangerous active working silver mines in the world. In 2014, Unesco added Cerro Rico and Potosí to its list of endangered sites, owing to “uncontrolled mining operations” that risk “degrading the site”. Today there are over 15,000 miners still working in life endangering conditions. The average life span is 45-55 years old. And most of all of the women working outside of the mine are widows or caretakers of sick, dying husbands.

Cerro Rico rises above the city of Potosi.

Bolivia is one of our all time favorite countries. Will its rich history, stunning landscapes, and beautiful people, Bolivia never ceases to amaze us. It’s one of a handful of places on this Earth that we’ve been to more than once and will happy go back to, time and time again. And we’re betting we’ll be there again one day.

So! Have you been to Bolivia? If not, have we convinced you to add it to your ever growing bucket list? Let us know! We’d love to hear from ya!

Until then, cheers y’all! And safe travels.

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