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Bolivia is a small landlocked country, much of which is made up of gaunt mountain ranges and the high harsh, tough beautiful altiplano. The central western part of the country is the most inhabited and contains the capital, La Paz.This fascinating city is of a mostly Indian population and is stunningly located - in a great deep "bowl" several hundred metres below the level of the surrounding altiplano. This odd location was chosen by the Spanish founding fathers of the city in 1548 to avoid the cold winters suffered above on the plateau.The streets of the city slope steeply in places, with the Indian population living on the terraced sides of the "bowl" above the business, shopping and wealthier residential districts.
Lake Titicaca, which forms part of the border between Peru and Bolivia is also in this region. This is a huge inland sea - at 12,500' (3,800m) the highest navigable waterway in the world.
The altiplano is a high and rather bleak land with very clear air, little rainfall and very little true agriculture. The poor soil is mainly given over to the grazing of the famous animals of the region - namely the llama, alpaca and wild vicuna.The llamas are a pack animal and both the llama and especially the alpaca arebred for their wool.Farming on the whole is unrewarding here - mostly potatoes, maize and millet is grown. Much of this plateau stands above a breathtaking 4,000 metres (13,100') and the population here is almost exclusively Aymara and Quechua.