Friday, 12 July 2013


Main article: Geography of Bolivia Satellite image of Bolivia

Bolivia is located in the central zone of South America, between the meridians 57° 26´ and 69° 38´ longitude west of the Prime Meridian, and the parallels 9° 38´ and 22° 53´ of southern latitude. At 1,098,580 square kilometres (424,160 sq mi), Bolivia is the world's 28th-largest country. Its surface extends from the Central Andes, going partially through the Gran Chaco, as far as the Amazon. The geographic center of the country is the so-called Puerto Estrella ("Star Port") on the Río Grande, in Ñuflo de Chávez Province, Santa Cruz Department.

The geographic location of the country comprises a great variety of terrains and climates. Bolivia has a huge degree of biodiversity, considered one of the greatest in the world; as well as several ecoregions with such ecological subunits as the Altiplano, tropical rainforests (including Amazon rainforest), dry valleys, and the Chiquitania, which is a tropical savanna. All of these feature enormous variations in altitude, from an elevation of 6,542 meters above sea level in Nevado Sajama, to nearly 70 meters along the Paraguay River. Despite this great geographic contrast, Bolivia has remained a landlocked country since the War of the Pacific.

Bolivia can be divided into three physiographic regions. The Andean Region in the southwest spans 28% of the national territory, extending over 307,603 km². This area is located above 3000 meters altitude, and is located between two big Andean chains: the Cordillera Occidental ("western range") and the Cordillera Central ("central range"), with some of the highest spots in the Americas, such as the Nevado Sajama, with 6,542 meters, and the Illimani with 6,462 meters. Here also is located Lake Titicaca, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, and also the largest lake in South America, shared with Peru. Also in this region are the Altiplano and the Salar de Uyuni, which is the largest salt flat of the world and an important source of lithium. The Sub-Andean region in the center and south is an intermediate region between the Altiplano and the eastern llanos, it comprises 13% of the territory, extending over 142,815 km². It encompasses the Bolivian valleys and the Yungas region. It is distinguished by its farming activities and its temperate climate. The Llanos region in the northeast comprises 59% of the territory with 648,163 km². It is located to the north of the Cordillera Central; it extends from the Andean foothills to the Paraguay River. It is a region of flatland and small plateaus, all covered by extensive rainforests with enormous biodiversity. The region is located below 400 meters above sea level.

Bolivia has three drainage basins that flow into the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. Amazon Basin, also called the North Basin (724,000 km² / 66% of the territory). The rivers of this basin generally have big meanders, thereby forming lakes such as the Murillo Lake in Pando Department. The main Bolivian tributary to the Amazon basin is the Mamoré River, with a length of 2000 km running north to the confluence with the Beni River, 1,113 km of length and the second most important river of the country. The Beni River, along with the Madeira River, forms the main tributary of the Amazon River. From east to west, the basin is formed by other important rivers such as the Madre de Dios River, Orthon River, Abuna River, Yata River and the Guaporé River. The most important lakes are the Rogaguado Lake, the Rogagua Lake and the Jara Lake. Rio de la Plata Basin, also called the South Basin (229,500 km² / 21% of the territory). The tributaries are in general less abundant than the ones forming the Amazon basin. It is mainly formed by the Paraguay River, Pilcomayo River and Bermejo River. The most important lakes are the Uberaba Lake and the Mandioré Lake, both located in the Bolivian marshland. The Central Basin, which is an endorrheic basin (145,081 km² / 13% of the territory). The Altiplano has large numbers of lakes and rivers that do not run into any ocean, as they are enclosed by the Andean mountains. The most important river is the Desaguadero River, with a length of 436 km, the longest river of the Altiplano; it begins in Lake Titicaca and then runs in a southeast direction to the Poopó Lake. The basin is then formed by the Lake Titicaca, Lake Poopó, the Desaguadero River and great salt flats as the Salar de Uyuni and the Coipasa Lake.

The geology of Bolivia comprises a variety of different lithologies as well as tectonic and sedimentary environments. On a synoptic scale, geological units coincide with topographical units. Most elementally, the country is divided into a mountainous western area affected by the subduction processes in the Pacific and an eastern lowlands of stable platforms and shields.

Climate Los Yungas, La Paz

The climate of Bolivia varies drastically from one ecoregion to the other, from the tropics in the eastern llanos to polar climates in the western Andes. The summers are warm, humid in the east and dry in the west, with rains that often modify temperatures, humidity, winds, atmospheric pressure and evaporation, giving place to very different climates. When the climatological phenomenon known as El Niño takes place, it provokes great alterations in the weather. Winters are very cold in the west, and it snows around the mountain ranges, while in the western regions, windy days are more usual. The autumn is dry in the non-tropical regions.

Llanos. A humid tropical climate with an average temperature of 30°C. The wind coming from the Amazon rainforest causes significant rainfall. Starting in May, there is low precipitation because of dry winds, and most days have clear skies. Even so, winds from the south, called surazos, can bring cooler temperatures lasting several days. Altiplano. Desert-Polar climates, with strong and cold winds. The average temperature ranges from 15 to 20°C. At night, temperatures descend drastically to slightly above 0°C, while during the day, the weather is dry and solar radiation is high. Ground frosts occur every month, and snow is frequent. Valleys and Yungas. Temperate climate. The humid northeastern winds are pushed to the mountains, making this region very humid and rainy. Temperatures are cooler at higher elevations. Snow occurs at altitudes of 2000 meters. Chaco. Subtropical Semi-arid climate. Rain and humidity in January and the rest of the year, with warm days and cool nights. Biodiversity

Bolivia is part of the "Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries", and has an enormous variety of organisms and ecosystems.

Bolivia's variable altitudes, ranging from 90 to 6,542 meters above sea level, allow for a vast biologic diversity. The territory of Bolivia comprises 4 types of biomes, 32 ecological regions, and 199 ecosystems. Within this geographic area there are several natural parks and reserves, such as the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, the Madidi National Park, the Tunari National Park, the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, and the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area, among others.

Bolivia boasts over 200,000 species of seeds, including over 1,200 species of fern, 1,500 species of marchantiophyta and moss, and at least 800 species of fungus. In addition, there are more than 3,000 species of medicinal plants. Bolivia is considered the place of origin for such species as peppers and chilli peppers, the peanut, the common bean, the yucca, and several species of palm. Bolivia also naturally produces over 4,000 kinds of potato.

Bolivia has more than 2,900 species, including 398 mammals, over 1,400 birds (70% of birds known in the world, being the sixth most diverse country ), 204 amphibians, 277 reptiles, and 635 fresh water fish (as Bolivia is a landlocked country). In addition, there are more than 3,000 types of butterfly, and more than 60 domestic animals.

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