Geography in Bolivia
Bolivia and neighboring Paraguay are the only landlocked states in South America without their own access to the sea. The approx. 1.1 million km² state area borders on Brazil in the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina in the south and Chile and Peru in the west.
Bolivia is traversed in the west by two large and widely spaced chains of the Andes, the highest peaks of which rise above 6500 m in the peaks of Sajama and Illimani. In between lies the central highlands (Altiplano) at an altitude of 3000 to 4000 m. Around 60 percent of all Bolivians live in this area, which extends into the neighboring countries of Peru and Argentina, although it only makes up around a third of the area of Bolivia. In the middle of the Altiplano lie the Salar de Uyuni, which is the world’s largest salt lake with an area of 12,000 km², and Lake Titicaca, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, through whose center the border with neighboring Peru runs. On the eastern slope of the Andes, in some of the valleys between about 1200 and 1800 m high, there are growing areas known as wet forests or Yunga,
The largest part of Bolivia in terms of area are the Llanos, which extend from the eastern edge of the Andes to the eastern and southeastern border with Brazil and Paraguay. This tropical and hot lowland, which is only sparsely populated outside the city of Santa Cruz, is subdivided into the dry savannas of the Gran Chaco in the south and the tropical rainforest areas of Amazonia in the north.
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Flora and fauna in Bolivia
Due to the special geographical and climatic conditions, the biodiversity of animals and plants in Bolivia is great. The vegetation of the lowlands in particular is characterized by many different tree species such as rubber trees, mahogany trees and palm trees or the special ant tree that forms a symbiosis with the Aztec ants that is useful for both partners. The biodiversity is particularly great in the rainforest. The red cinchona tree, cedars, mahogany trees, cat’s claws and various orchids grow here. Further higher, cinchona trees, bromeliads, tree ferns and passion flowers characterize the picture in the mountain and cloud forests of the so-called Yungas.
In the Bovilian highlands practically no trees grow anymore due to the climatic conditions. For this, the climatic adapted Ichu grasses, dwarf shrubs, lichens and other cushion and rosette plants, as well as the largest bromeliad in the world.
In the dry valleys of the eastern Andes, the vegetation is dominated by thorn bushes and cacti, while the eastern mountain ranges are lined with laurel and myrtacea forests. The coca bush, which originally came from Peru, also grows here.
There are over 2500 animal species in Bolivia. The mammals include the jaguar, jaguarundi, ocelot, puma, coati, tiger cat, crab raccoon and long-tailed cat, who enjoy the trees in the forests. The Andes jackal and the spectacled bear live in the Andes. The extremely rare mountain cat can still be found in a small area of distribution in Bolivia. Smaller mammals are the marten belonging to the tayra, the makibear or the squirrel monkey.
Umbilical pigs also live in the arid south. Capybaras are also part of Bolivia’s wildlife.
Typical of Bolivia are the llamas kept as pets, whose game species guanaco and vicunja have recovered after many years of hunting in the herd.
One of the largest birds in Bolivia is the Andean condor. Andean goose, Andean woodpecker and Andean tern also live in the high mountains of Bolivia. The muddy salt lakes on the highlands are preferred by the Andean flamingo, while the Titicaca diver lives on the Titicaca and other lakes in the highlands. The showy Hornhokko is endemic to Bolivia.
In addition to many other reptiles, amphibians and fish, the Bolivian dolphin, which is endemic here, as well as the giant Titicaca frog, which can measure up to 20 cm, should be emphasized. Bolivia’s insect world is also very extensive with 3000 species of butterflies, including the blue, 15 centimeter tall Morpho Menelaus.
National parks and nature conservation in Bolivia
In Bolivia there are 13 national parks and around 25 nature reserves, some of which overlap, with different protection status. The most important national park is the 15,000 km² Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in the Amazon basin, near the Brazilian border, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. The almost 19,000 km² Madidi National Park, which stretches from the eastern foothills of the snow-covered Andean cordillera to the western part of the tropical Amazon river basin, is one of the places with the greatest biodiversity in the world. The Carrasco National Park is located on the eastern slope of the Andes and stretches from the lowlands to 4717 meters above sea level. In the high mountains of the Andes are the national parks Tunari and Sajama. In order to preserve this and many other natural beauties of the country.