Bolivia Geography

Bolivia Geography

According to dentistrymyth, Bolivia shares its borders in the west with Peru, in the east and north with Brazil, in the south-east with Paraguay, in the south with Argentina and in the south-west with Chile.

The geography of Bolivia is unusual for South America. Besides Paraguay, it is the only landlocked country on the continent and has several of the highest peaks in America. Particularly striking features of the geography of Bolivia are the Andean plateau Altiplano and South America’s largest lake, Lake Titicaca (Lago Titicaca).

The Andes describe an arc through the western Bolivia and also define the three geographical zones in the country: Mountains and Altiplano in the west, the subtropical Yungas and temperate valleys of the eastern foothills of the Andes and the tropical lowlands (llanos) in eastern Bolivia (Oriente).

The Andes run through Bolivia in two large, parallel mountain ranges (cordilleras). In the west (Cordillera Occidental) is the mountain range along the borders with Chile and Peru. The Eastern Cordillera (Cordillera Oriental) are wider and run from Peru to Argentina. In the space between these cordilleras is the largely barren Altiplano, an extensive plateau (about 805 km long and 129 km wide), which makes up about a third of the country’s area of ​​Bolivia. About 70 percent of the population live on this plateau, about two thirds of them in cities.

The most prominent feature of the Altiplano in the northern region is the vast Titicaca Lake. It lies at an altitude of 3,810 m, making it the world’s highest commercially navigable waterway. It covers an area of ​​9,064 km² (about half the size of the federal state of Saxony) and is therefore also the largest lake in South America. The average water depth is 215 m, the maximum values ​​reach up to 370 m. that the lake can maintain a constant temperature of 10 ° C. Lake Titicaca has a moderating effect on the region surrounding the climate, which enables maize and wheat to be grown on protected areas.

The current of Lake Titicaca moves slowly to the south through the Río Desaguadero, (a reed-covered river), into Lake Poopó. While Lake Titicaca is filled with fresh water, the shallow (rarely more than 4 meters deep) Lake Poopó consists of salt water. Lake Poopó is dependent on seasonal precipitation and the inflow of Lake Titicaca. Therefore, the size of the Poopósee can change quite a lot. In the 20th century, low rainfall or silting up of the Desaguaredo River caused the Poopósee to almost completely dry out several times. In contrast, when there was heavy rainfall, Lake Poopó flooded the Coipasa salt basin in the west.

In the northeast of the Cordillera Real (in the northeast of La Paz) is the spectacular, semi-tropical Yungas (Aymar for “warm valleys”). The steep walls and peaks make this region one of the most spectacular landscapes in Bolivia. Heavy rainfall can cause rich vegetation to develop here, covering the banks and walls of the narrow river valleys. The region is fertile, but difficult transport conditions prevent extensive agricultural use. A railway line was supposed to be built through the Yungas in 1917 and connect La Paz with the eastern lowlands. However, the construction of the railway line was canceled again after 150 kilometers.

The lowlands of Bolivia cover the land area in the north and east of the Andes. They cover around two thirds of the area of ​​Bolivia, but the region is only sparsely populated and plays a subordinate role economically.

The lowlands can be divided into three areas based on topographical and climatic criteria. The area in the north (Beni and Pando departments and the northern part of Cochabamba department) is flat and mainly covered by tropical rainforest. The soil is supported by a clay subsoil, so precipitation can hardly be stored. Heavy rainfall can quickly turn the region into a swamp.

In the central area (northern half of the Department of Santa Cruz) one finds hilly country with a drier climate than in the northern lowlands. The vegetation consists of forests that alternate with savannah. Much of the region has been cleared and is used for agriculture. This is where Santa Cruz is located, the largest city in the lowlands, and a large part of the oil and gas reserves in Bolivia were discovered here.

The southeastern lowlands are formed by the continuation of the Chaco Paraguay. During nine months, this region is mostly dry, only to be transformed into a swamp during the rainy three months. Due to these extremely different amounts of precipitation, only bushes and shrubs thrive here, and livestock farming is also possible. Crude oil and natural gas were recently discovered here in the foothills of the Andes, which has attracted some settlers.

Almost all of the important rivers in Bolivia flow through the water-rich northern lowlands, for example in the Alto Beni, where coffee and cocoa can be grown. The three largest rivers are Mamoré, Beni and Madre de Dios. All three flow north into Madeira and from there into the Amazon. Freight and passenger ships operate on Beni and Mamoré. A transport to Brazil is prevented by rapids, however.

Bolivia Geography