In the early nineteenth century, a military leader named Simon Bolivar, motivated by philosophies of the European Enlightenment, pried Bolivia from the hands of Spanish imperialists and became one of the few men in history to have a country named after them. After establishing a democracy in 1982, Bolivia has paid increasing attention to the rights of the country’s indigenous populations and environmental issues.
Today, Bolivia is nearly racially homogenous. Recent studies show that 86 percent of Bolivians can be genetically classified as indigenous Amerindians, the largest populations of which, in Bolivia, are Quechua and Aymara Native Indians. Nearly 70 percent of Bolivians reside in urban areas, a percentage that climbs every year.
- The Bolivian city La Paz is the world’s most highly elevated administrative capital city. It is situated at 3,630 meters.
- Bolivia has a whopping 24,000 hectares of coca, a cash crop, which makes it the world’s largest cultivator of the plant.
- In Sucre, Bolivia, there is a 300-foot wall of limestone called Cal Orcko with 5,000 dinosaur footprint impressions. This makes it the largest concentration of dinosaur footprints in the world.
- In the city of La Paz, there is an almost magical Witches Market, where witches trade magic spells, potions and other sorcery.
- San Pedro is a unique prison in La Paz, Bolivia where the inmates have cultivated a developed society within the prison walls. Inmates have jobs, the option to move their families into their cells with them, restaurants, and vast entertainment options.
- Bolivia’s salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, constitute the largest concentration of salt in the world. It holds over 64 million tons of salt.
- Cerro Rico is a Bolivian mountain rich in silver known for its deadly mines. Over the last 500 years, the silver mines of Cerro Rico have killed nearly eight million miners looking to claim its wealth. Locals call it ‘The Mountain That Eats Men’.
- Despite being a landlocked nation, Bolivia maintains a navy.
- A Bolivian festival called Tinku takes place every year in early May. During the festival, residents form teams and engage in violent combat for several days before society seamlessly returns to normal. Though police are instructed to interfere if participants fall, people die each year.
- There is a wall in Bolivia called Cal Orcko covered in over 5,000 dinosaur footprints. The prints are thought to be 68 million years old.