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Bolivia is a landlocked country in central South America and is bordered by Brazil on the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina on the south, and Chile and Peru on the west. It is made up primarily of six regions: The Andes, the Altiplano, the Yungas, the highland valleys, the Gran Chaco, and the tropical lowlands of the Parana and Amazon basins.

The Andes:
Volcan Sajama click on the image to enlarge
Two major braches of the Andes make up Bolivia's mountain territory. The Andes run through western Bolivia in two separate principal Cordilleras. The Cordillera Occidental is closer to the Pacific and has many isolated summits made primarily of volcanoes. This is where Sajama, Bolivia's highest peak at 6,542m/21,465ft can be found. The Cordillera Real has steep and rugged mountains with permanent snow, glaciers and contains the origins of many whitewater rivers.

The Altiplano:
Laguna Verde click on the image to enlarge
Altiplano literally means high plain, the altiplano is actually made up of valleys, small hills and rolling areas, volcanoes, rivers and lakes as well as salt flats, including the world's biggest salt flat (Salar de Uyuni). It is generally cold, windy, and mostly treeless, covered with native ‘ichu’ grass, Thola bushes, and ocassional stands of native trees called Quenua. The Altiplano contains freshwater Lake Titicaca, which is north-west of the Bolivian capital, La Paz. Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest, large navigable lake. The lake borders both Bolivia and neighboring Peru. The Desaguadero River, outlet for Lago Titicaca, feeds Lago Poopó, a saltwater lake, to the southeast. The huge expanse of Lake Titicaca, is the highest navigable body of water in the world.

The Yungas:
The Yungas click on the image to enlarge
The Yungas are on the eastern side of the Andes and are primarily the steep jungle-covered mountains. The upper reaches are made of cloud forests with rivers that cascade off the high glaciated summits and cut their way down into the upper Amazon Basin. They are rich in flora and fauna and some of Bolivia's most spectacular parks, including Madidi National Park, are located here. Here you can find thermal baths, good fishing, trekking, rafting and nature tours and ancient Inca trails. This region provides the bulk of fruits and vegetables for the highlands and is home to coca plant cultivation. The climate is hot and there is a lot of rain, especially in the summer time.

The Highland Valleys:
Cochabamba Valley click on the image to enlarge
The Highland Valley region lies east and southeast of the Altiplano and has the most hospitable climate in the whole country, with rolling hills, valleys and basins that are part of the Central Cordillera. The soil is fertile and the climate is Mediterranean-like, except that it rains in the summer (just like the rest of Bolivia) as opposed to the winter time. The Highland Valleys, where a large majority of the colonial Spanish cities were founded, is the second most populous region of Bolivia with cities such as Cochabamba, Sucre, Tarija and Potosi. Many of the luxurious mansions and estates of colonial times are being renovated to accommodate tourists. Major roads connect all of these cities and a few modern highways have brought these areas into the 21st century only recently. In-country flights give easy access to these areas from cities across the country.

The Gran Chaco:
Santa Cruz: Parque Noel Kempff click on the image to enlarge
This region, located in the south-eastern corner of the department of Santa Cruz and bordering with Argentina and Paraguay, has been characterized as a harsh but beautiful land of thick brush, cactus, and grassy expanses where temperatures can reach the high 40s (C) /105-113 (F). It boasts one of the most diverse regions for wildlife (like peccary and jaguar) and flora. Much petroleum production also comes from this area. Very few and isolated settlements are in this region. The only large town, Villamontes, is situated on the railway and is said to be Bolivia's hottest spot.

The Tropical Lowlands:
Santa Cruz: Parque Noel Kempff click on the image to enlarge
This region is made up of two major basins the Upper Amazon in the north and east and the Parana in the south-east. In the north lie the vast savannahs, thick jungles and broad rivers of the Beni, Pando and La Paz departments. In the East, the grasslands and jungles of Santa Cruz and the jungles and rivers of Cochabamba in the Chapare region. The meetingplace of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz is the elbow of the Andes.  It contains a wide range of ecosystems from high mountains and cloud forests to semi-tropical valleys and thick jungles and rivers. Amboro and Carrasco National Parks, the Chaco National Park, and the Noel Kempf Mercado National Park are located here. This region is hot and humid and rains anytime throughout the year.
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