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La Paz (Official Name: Nuestra Señora de La Paz) is the administrative capital of Boliviamarker, as well as the departmental capital of La Paz Departmentmarker. Located at an elevation of 3660 meters, it is the world's highest capital city. La Paz sits in a bowl surrounded by the high altiplano. As it grows, La Paz climbs the hills, resulting in varying elevations from 3000 meters to 4100 meters. Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, always snow covered and majestic. As of the 2001 census, the city of La Paz had a population of 877,363, and together with the neighboring cities of El Altomarker and Viachamarker, make the most populous urban area of Bolivia, with a population of over 1.6 million inhabitants (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica).La Paz is also known as Chuquiago Marka or Chuqiyapu from Aymara "chuqi," meaning gold, and "yapu", meaning farm.


Founded in 1548 by the Spanishmarker conquistadors at the site of the Native American settlement, Lajamarker, the full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz (meaning Our Lady of Peace). The name commemorated the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors four years earlier against Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Perumarker. The city was later moved to its present location in the valley of Chuquiago Marka.

Control over the former Inca lands had been entrusted to Pedro de la Gasca by the Spanish king (and Holy Roman Emperor) Emperor Charles V. Gasca commanded Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city commemorating the end of the civil wars in Peru; the city of La Paz was founded on October 20, 1548.
La Paz Fundation.

In 1549, Juan Gutierrez Paniagua was commanded to design an urban plan that would designate sites for public areas, plazas, official buildings, and a cathedral. La Plaza de los Españoles, which is known today as the Plaza Murillo, was chosen as the location for government buildings as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Spain controlled La Paz with a firm grip and the Spanish king had the last word in all matters political. In 1781, for a total of six months, a group of Aymara people laid siege to the no longer peaceful city of La Paz. Under the leadership of Tupac Katari, they destroyed churches and government property. Thirty years later Indians laid a two-month siege on La Paz - where and when the legend of the Ekeko is set. In 1809 the struggle for independence from the Spanish rule brought uprisings against the royalist forces. It was on July 17, 1809 that Pedro Domingo Murillo famously said that the Bolivian revolution was igniting a lamp that nobody would be able to turn-off. This formally marked the beginning of the Liberation of South America from Spainmarker. Pedro Domingo Murillo was hanged at the Plaza de los Españoles that night, but his name would be eternally remembered in the name of the plaza, and he would be remembered as the voice of revolution across South America.

In 1825, after the decisive victory of the republican at Ayacuchomarker over the Spanish army in the course of the South American Wars of Independence, the city's full name was changed to La Paz de Ayacucho (meaning The Peace of Ayacucho).

In 1898, La Paz was made the de facto seat of the national government, with Sucremarker remaining the nominal historical as well as judiciary capital. This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the largely exhausted silver mine of Potosímarker to the exploitation of tin near Oruro, and resulting shifts in the distribution of economic and political power among various national elites.

La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, and is home to the world's highest golf course, football stadium, velodrome (where the world record currently stands), and landing strip.

Government Palace of Bolivia in downtown La Paz
View of La Paz from Av. del Ejército.
The Americas Building in Isabel La Católica Square.
Metropolitan Cathedral.
Central Bank.

History Timeline of La Paz

Year Event
1548 The city of La Paz was founded by Spanishmarker settlers on the pre- existing site of Choqueyapu, an ancient Aymara village. It was founded as Nuestra Senora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace) by Alonso de Mendoza, commissioned by Pedro de la Gasca, to commemorate the "pacification" of Peru. It was started as a commercial city, lying on the main gold and silver route to the coast. The Spaniards came for the Bolivian gold found in the Choqueapu River that runs through present-day La Paz. The Spaniards took the gold mines away from Aymara people and made them work as slaves. The primarily male Spanish population soon mixed with the indigenous people, creating a largely mestizo, or mixed, population.
1549 In November of this year, Juan Gutierrez was given the task of designing an urban plan, in keeping with the Code of the Indies (regulations on Spanish Colonial Cities from Spain). As such, he was to lay out plazas and public lands and designate sites for public buildings. The Plaza Murillo (pictured below) was later selected as the site for the city Cathedral, elite homes, and government buildings.
1600 As the gold slowly diminished, the city's location between Potosi (the primary silver mining town) and Limamarker grew in importance, as La Paz became a main stop on the trade route. Soon La Paz was the most flourishing town in the Altiplano area of the Andes, although it was not as wealthy as Potosi.
1800 La Paz emerges as the largest city of Upper Peru (the early name for Bolivia) in the late eighteenth century, acting as the center for the population and agricultural production zone. The heavily populated Altiplanomarker hinterland above La Paz fed its growth. Many large estate land holders, known as hacendados, lived in La Paz throughout most of the year while they maintained a small community of indigenous people to live and work on their haciendas (landed estates).
1800 La Paz emerged as the capital of the Intendencia, the home of a thriving commercial community, and the center of an important network of interregional and international trade routes. The majority of the absentee landed elite resided in La Paz, creating the commerce and royal treasury from which more wealth could be generated for investment in the rural zones of the Intendencia. At that time in history, the capital and its provincial hinterland were one of the wealthiest tax-producing areas in all of the Andes. This early beginning, as the home of the rich land-lords of the haciendas, is still evident in the structure of the city today, as the finest example of old Spanish Colonial Architecture seen in houses is located close to the central plazas and offices of the city.
1809 July 16: the first South American libertarian scream against the Spanish Crown is given in La Paz, in a rebellion led by Pedro Domingo Murillo and the others revolutionaries.
1825 Bolivia gained independence, which sparked even more growth in the city. Simon Bolivar was the first president of the Republic. The country was divided in 5 departments: La Paz, Cochabambamarker, Potosímarker, Charkas and Santa Cruz de la Sierramarker.
1840 Bolivia started exporting more than it imported, allowing the government to engage in infrastructural investments with the surplus funds. This led to a growth of La Paz as the financial, commercial, and political capital of the area. "With new urban classes emerging, and new capital to spend, there was both increased demands for foodstuffs production and an aggressive class of urban-based capitalists willing to engage in agricultural production"(Klien 1993 134). However, at this time La Paz was virtually isolated from the rest of the world due to the poor roads and lack of rail lines leading over the harsh Altiplano to ports in Perumarker and Chilemarker. Contact between La Paz and the eastern part of the country, surrounded by rainforest, was even more difficult.
1879 The Pacific War with Chile. The Chileans entered the country at the coast for the salitre and the guano(Nitrate-rich bird dung). The result of this brutal war was the loss of Bolivia's coast land to Chilemarker.
1898 La Paz becomes de facto Bolivia's new administrative capital and the seat of the government, thus starting the process of development into the large city it is today.
1900 Construction began on the international railroad network linking La Paz to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, thus solidifying the future role of La Paz as a primate city. At this period in time the Bolivian government spent an annual spendings of $5,986,384.
1921 The first oil company came to Bolivia. Bolivia was found to have great reservoirs of oil, in addition to all the precious minerals.
1952 The great national revolution when the revolutionaries won the rights for the indigenous people. Their biggest accomplishment was agrarian land reform, which allowed peasants to have freedom from the obligations of working on the elite-owned land, diffusing the long-established hacienda system. This in turn sparked a great growth spurt in the city, as many working-class and poor migrated to urban areas.
1963 Playing at home, Bolivia wins South American football (soccer) championships.
1964 Military revolution, with the help of the United Statesmarker, that established the dictatorial rule that would remain until 1980. The last dictator was General Hugo Banzer. He held elections in 1980, although, suspiciously, Banzer's candidate won and was president until the year 1982.
2009 La Paz City met the Bicentenary, celebrating in Plaza Villarroel and in the Stadium the 1809 revolution.


Principal Neighborhoods and Zones

  • Casco Viejo: is the historic and ancient center of La Paz. It now houses museums, hotels, shops and buildings as the Mayor City of La Paz and the Central Bank of Bolivia. In the Old Quarter is the Plaza Murillo, which is home to the Government Palace and the National Congress.
  • Downtown: locally known as "Downtown", comprises the center of La Paz and the neighborhoods of San Jorge and Sopocachi. It´s the main financial center of the city and where almost every government office is located.
  • Sopocachi: probably one of the oldest residential neighborhoods, located 10 minutes from the center of the city. Despite the expansion and development of the area, this quarter maintained its residential property.
  • San Pedro: Built around the "Plaza de San Pedro" (official name: Plaza Sucre) on the right bank of the river Choqueyapu, is home to numerous shops, businesses and small enterprises, especially printing, spare parts and auto maintenance and repair shops. San Pedro´s "Rodriguez Market" remains as one of the most important and oldest of the city.
  • Miraflores: Miraflores district is separated from downtown by a long barrel (now called Parque Urbano Central) and connected by the Bridge of the Americas and two avenues. Originally a residential zone, its growth has led it to become a major recreational center. It houses universities (including the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés's faculty of medicine), hospitals and the Estadio Hernando Silesmarker(cap. 45,000 people).
  • 'North Side:' has a significant industrial activity (mainly food), being the Cervecería Boliviana Nacional (Bolivian National Brewery) the most significant industry in the city and one of the biggest in the country. It connects La Paz with the city of El Alto by the "autopista".
  • 'South Side:' has less height than the rest of La Paz (3,200 to 2,800 meters). This area houses the most affluent business and the richest neighborhoods of the city, like Calacoto, La Florida, Achumani, among others. It has been benefited from steady economic growth and is now the second commercial and financial center of the city, housing international firms like Moody's, Citibank, Aon Corporation, Huawei, Millicom International Cellular, Pan American Silver Corporation, a Sumitomo Corporation branch, Ernst & Young, among others, and the Mega Center, one of the biggest shopping malls in South America.


The economy of La Paz has improved greatly in recent years, mainly as a result of improved political leaders. Due to the long period of high inflation and economic struggle faced by Bolivians in the 1980s and early 1990s, a large Informal Economy developed. Evidence of this is provided by the markets found all around the city. While there are stable markets, almost every street in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods has at least one vendor on it. La Paz remains the principal center of manufacturing enterprises that produce finished-product goods for the country, with about two-thirds of Bolivia's manufacturing located nearby. Historically, industry in Bolivia has been dominated by mineral processing and the preparation of agricultural products. However, in the urban centre of La Paz, small plants carry out a large portion of the industry. Food, tobacco products, clothing, various consumer goods, building materials, and agricultural tools are produced. "The tin quotations from London are watched in La Paz with close interest as an index of the country's prosperity; a third of the national revenue and more than half of the total customs in 1925 were derived from tin; in short, that humble but indispensable metal is the hub around which Bolivia's economic life revolves. The tin deposits of Bolivia, second largest in the world, ... invite development."

Geography and climate

Located at (-16.5, -68.1333), La Paz is built in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River (now mostly built over), which runs northwest to southeast. The city's main thoroughfare, which roughly follows the river, changes names over its length, but the central tree-lined section running through the downtown core is called the Prado.

The geography of La Paz (in particular the altitude) reflects society: the lower areas of the city are the more affluent areas. While many middle-class residents live in high-rise condos near the center, the houses of the truly affluent are located in the lower neighborhoods southwest of the Prado. And looking up from the center, the surrounding hills are plastered with makeshift brick houses of those of less economic fortune.

The satellite city of El Alto, in which the airport is located, is spread over a broad area to the west of the canyon, on the Altiplanomarker.

La Paz is renowned for its unique markets, very unusual topography, and traditional culture.

Under the Koppen climate classification, La Paz has a Subtropical highland climate. Owing to the altitude of the city, temperatures are consistently cool throughout the year, though the diurnal temperature variation is typically large. The city has a relatively dry climate, with rainfall occurring mainly in the slightly warmer months of November to March. The sun passes directly overhead in late October and mid February.

La Paz is located in the valleys of the Andes, and is closer to the Eastern split of the Altiplano region. Therefore, it is closer to the famous mountains such as the Illimani (guardian of La Paz), Huayna Potosi, Mururata, and Illampu. On the Western side of the Altiplano divide, about an hour to the West of the La Paz, is the site of the tallest mountain in Bolivia and 9th tallest mountain in the Andes, the Sajama Volcano. In July 1994, an earthquake rated at 8.2 struck just 200 miles north of La Paz, the largest earthquake since the Sumbawa earthquake of 1977.


Hernando Siles Stadiummarker, La Paz largest sports complex in Bolivia.]]La Paz is the home field of some of the biggest soccer teams in Bolivia.

  • Club Bolivar. Founded in 1925 and trains and plays some home games at its stadium, Libertador Simon Bolivar, the team has won most of the tournaments in the last 20 years, and has been playing very good in championships.
  • The Strongest. Founded in 1908 and hosts some of its games and trains on its home stadium. Is the oldest team, and the one that has won more tournaments during the 20th century. It has its own stadium named Rafael Mendoza. Don Rafael Mendoza was one of the most important presidents. In 1968 an airplane accident took the life of almost all the players, but Rafael Mendoza made many efforts so that the team rises again as one of the most importants of the country. For more info you can check
  • La Paz F.C..
However, both teams play the majority of their games in the city stadium, Estadio Hernando Silesmarker. It is host to several other teams that play in the first and second divisions such as: Mariscal Braun (2nd), Always Ready (2nd), Municipal (2nd), Chaco (2nd), and Iberoamericana (2nd).

La Paz also hosts the national football team and a plethora of international games.


La Paz as a modern city has the best universities of the country such as :

Tourism and Sites

La Paz is the cultural center of Bolivia.
Some of the notable sites are the marketplaces. These are located across the city and one will most likely run through one at some point. Also, the city is home to hundreds of museums and locations such as the Cathedral of San Francisco (where the saint is buried), the Metropolitan Cathedral (home of Sucre's remains), the Palacio Quemado (executive building), the Congress (which one may attend sometimes), the Calle Jaen (preserved from its Spanish days, home to 10 museums), the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), the Muela del diablomarker (Devil's Tooth), the Cine-Teatro Municipal (built in the 19th century), the largest state University (Universidad Mayor de San Andres), the Cementerio General (where many of Bolivia's presidents are buried), the house of Simon Bolivar, the Devil's Tooth (geological formation, hiking site), and many more.Supposable curses have been put on the land because of the disturbance in the ruins when Jose Galvaerio was murdered by Mateo Sanhosea.
The city is located near many natural and ancient ruins as well. Many tourists chose to take day trips to the Tiahuanacumarker ruins, which are thousands of years older than Macchu Picchu itself and of the same magnitude. Such is the interest in these ruins, that Chilean and Peruvian trips almost always include this site, even though it is in Bolivia. Another day trip visit tourists usually include is the Lake Titicacamarker and the lakeside city of Copacabana (its cathedral is visited by many Bolivians to see the Virgen de Copacabana figure, deity of the Lake).

Tourism in the City

Presidential Palace: Also known as the Palacio Quemado (Burnt Palace) due to repeated fire episodes the building endured in the past.

The Cathedral: Built in 1835, the cathedral is an impressive building worth seeing. It is located in the Plaza Murillo nest to the Presidential Palace.

Churches: San Francisco, Santo Domingo

Casa de Pedro Domingo Murillo: Once the house of Pedro Domingo Murillo, martyr of the independence revolution of 1809 (hanged in the plaza that now bores his name) the house displays a collection of furniture, textiles, and art from colonial times.

Museo Costumbrista: Displays amazing ceramic dolls wearing traditional customs that show how was life in the early 1800s. Also displays are photos of old La Paz.

Museo Nacional de Arqueología: Depicts a collection of artifacts of the Tiawanakumarker culture.Museo del Litoral: Displays objects from the 1879 war in which Bolivia lost its sea coast to Chilemarker.Museo del Oro: Depicts pre-Conquest works made of gold, silver and copper.

Museo de Etnografía y Folklore: House built in the late 1700s exhibits customs and art of two ethnic groups: Chipayas and Ayoreos.

Museo del Charango: Located in Calle Linares, the museum displays an incredible variety of charangos. Other native instruments are displayed as well.

Museo de Historia Natural: Exhibits on Bolivia's paleontology, geology, paleontology, zoology, and botany.

Casa Museo Marina Nuñez del Prado: Displays Quechua and Aymara-theme sculptures by Bolivian artist Marina Nuñez del Prado.

Museo Nacional de Arte: Located in calle Comercio, this former palace, built in 1775, houses works by Melchor Perez de Holguín and Marina Nuñez del Prado, among others.

Mercado de Brujas (Witches' Market): Merchandise sold here includes herbs, remedies as well as other ingredients used in Aymara traditions.

Feria de Alasitas: This fair is celebrated each year on January 24 in honor of a little god of abundance known as Ekeko, which means dwarf in Aymara.



New Look of El Alto International Airport
La Paz is served by El Alto International Airportmarker (IATA code: LPB), which is situated eight miles (14 km) south-west of La Paz. At an elevation of , it is one of the highest major airports in the world. Airport facilities include a bank, bars, car rentals, restaurants, and duty-free shops. The runway has a length of (or 2.5 miles).

Additionally, it is the second airport in the Western Hemispheremarker, and the third airport in the world, to successfully pass the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Universal Security Audit Program (USAP).


Bus Station.
La Paz Bus Station, previously bus and train station, was built by the French architect Gustave Eiffel who designed the Eiffel Tower in France. The main gateway for transporting intercities bus travel in La Paz with several daily departs to all the main Bolivian cities.Bus Terminal in La Paz is the main city bus station. The city is connected by road with the city of Oruro where you can access the cities of Sucremarker, Potosímarker and south of the country. There is an important road that connects the road to Oruro in the cities of Cochabambamarker and Santa Cruz. There are also access roads to paviementados Copacabana and Tiwanakumarker to the west, near the Lake Titicacamarker, which continues until the city of Cuzcomarker via the border town of Desaguadero. There are also roads north to get to The Yungas crossing the Andes Mountains.

The bus terminal has daily departures to major cities. There are also trips to other cities in countries like Chilemarker and Perumarker. For departures to smaller cities and towns within the department, using informal stations located in Villa Fatima (departures to Los Yungas, Benimarker and Pandomarker, Upper San Pedro (outputs Apolomarker) and near the General Cemetery (outputs Copacabana and other nearby cities to Lake Titicacamarker , and also Tiwanacu, Desaguadero where you can go to Peru).


  • The postal service is run by 'ECOBOL' (National Company) which has its headquarters in La Paz. There are other companies offering courier and transport logistics courier nationally and internationally.

  • The private telecommunications company 'Entel' is located in the city. Provides services telephony, Internet,cell phone, data and voice. The telephone cooperative Cotel is responsible for managing much of their phones and now offers Internet services and cable television among others.

  • Area Code: 2
  • Country Code: 591

  • The main daily newspapers in circulation are: 'La Razon', 'El Diario', 'La Prensa, 'Jornada' and 'El Alteño' . Other papers of local importance are: Extra and PEOPLE. There are also several other publications and weekly magazines.

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

La Paz is part of the Union of Capital CitiesLatin America from October 12, 1982 establishing brotherly relations with the following cities:

Additionally, agreement was reached by Twin Citiesmarker with:
In June 2008 it signed a twinning agreement with the City of Zaragozamarker,Spainmarker.

La Paz belongs to Merco Ciudades, signed by 180 urbes of the member countries of Mercosur, since 1999.


File:LPB vista nocturna final.jpg|Nighttime View of La PazFile:Center of La Paz 02.jpg|Downtown La PazFile:LaPaz Plaza Pedro Di Murillo 10.2004.jpg|Plaza Murillo with Government and Legislative Palaces in the backgroundFile:Place of San-Francisco Bolivia.jpg|Plaza San FranciscoFile:Lake Titicaca on the Andes from Bolivia.jpg|Titicaca Lakemarker near La Paz with the Andes in the backgroundFile:Church of copacabana.jpg|Copacabana (Bolivia)|Copacabana Church

File:La Paz-Calle Jaen.jpg|Calle Jaen.File:San-Francisco Bolivia.jpg|San Francisco Church.File:La Paz-center.jpg|Downtown La Paz view.

See also


External links

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