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Bolivia

Uru People: Water people of the Andes who face extinction

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, July 23, 2011 at 13:34:07 :: Bolivia

The Uros (Uru people) are a pre-Incan people who live on forty-two self-fashioned floating islands in Lake Titicaca Puno, Peru and Bolivia. They form three main groups: Uru-Chipayas, Uru-Muratos and the Uru-Iruitos. The latter are still located on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and Desaguadero River.

The Uros use bundles of dried totora reeds to make reed boats (balsas mats), and to make the islands themselves.

The Uros islands at 3810 meters above sea level are just five kilometers west from Puno port. Around 2,000 descendants of the Uros were counted in the 1997 census, although only a few hundred still live on and maintain the islands; most have moved to the mainland. The Uros also bury their dead on the mainland in special cemeteries.

Lago Titicaca, ilhas flutuantes de Uros, Peru - Uros people floating islands, Lake Titicaca in Peru


An article from the Guardian magazine, dated Friday 24 April 2009, explains why these people face extinction:

"Its members belong to what is thought to be the oldest surviving culture in the Andes, a tribe that has survived for 4,000 years on the barren plains of the Bolivian interior. But the Uru Chipaya, who outlasted the Inca empire and survived the Spanish conquest, are warning that they now face extinction through climate change.

The tribal chief, 62-year-old Felix Quispe, 62, says the river that has sustained them for millennia is drying up. His people cannot cope with the dramatic reduction in the Lauca, which has dwindled in recent decades amid erratic rainfall that has turned crops to dust and livestock to skin and bones.

"Over here used to be all water," he said, gesturing across an arid plain. "There were ducks, crabs, reeds growing in the water. I remember that. What are we going to do? We are water people."

The Uru Chipaya, who according to mythological origin are "water beings" rather than human beings, could soon be forced to abandon their settlements and go to the cities of Bolivia and Chile, said Quispe. "There is no pasture for animals, no rainfall. Nothing. Drought."

The tribe is renowned for surviving on the fringe of a salt desert, a harsh and eerie landscape which even the Incas avoided, by flushing the soil with river water. As the Lauca has dried, many members of the Uru Chipaya have migrated, leaving fewer than 2,000 in the village of Santa Ana and the surrounding settlements.

"We have nothing to eat. That's why our children are all leaving," said Vicenta Condori, 52, dressed in traditional skirt and shawl. She has two children in Chile.

Some members of the tribe blame the crisis on neglect of the deities. The chief has lobbied for greater offerings and adherence to traditional customs. "This is in our own hands," he said.

Scientists say rising temperatures have accelerated the retreat of Andean glaciers throughout Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. A ski resort in Bolivia's capital, La Paz, the highest in South America, closed several years ago because of the retreat of the Chacaltaya glacier. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in 2007 that warmer temperatures could melt all Latin America's glaciers within 15 years. A recent World Bank study sounded fresh alarm on the issue.

Indigenous groups from around the world are meeting in Alaska this week to discuss global warming. "Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of climate change," said the host, the Inuit Circumpolar Council. A new Oxfam report, meanwhile, has warned that within six years the number of people affected by climate-related crises will jump by 54% to 375 million.

Evo Morales, Bolivia's president, told the Guardian that his government would form a united front with indigenous groups for a "big mobilisation" at a summit in Denmark this year to draw up a successor to the Kyoto treaty. They intend to push industrialised countries to cut carbon emissions. "We are preparing a team from the water and environment ministries to focus not only on the summit but beyond that."

One of South America's poorest countries, Bolivia is struggling with competition for natural resources. Water scarcity has hit La Paz and its satellite city, El Alto, prompting conservation campaigns. The shortage is nationwide. The Uru Chipaya accuse Aymara communities, living upriver from the Lauca, of diverting more and more water supplies. "It's a dual cause: climate change and greater competition. The result is an extremely grave threat to this culture. I am very worried," said Alvaro Díez Astete, an anthropologist who has written a book on the tribe.

With so many of the young people migrating to cities, where they speak Spanish, the Uru language could disappear within a few generations. Some Uru Chipaya fear the battle for cultural survival could already be lost. The rutted streets of Santa Ana are largely deserted and little disturbs the stillness of the dry plains that once were fields."

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Laguna Verde

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, February 12, 2007 at 11:12:01 :: Bolivia

Laguna Verde is a Nuclear Power Plant in Mexico! (sic!)

But Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) is also a salt lake in the southwest of the altiplano of Bolivia, on the Chilean border at the foot of the volcano Licancabur.

Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon), salt lake in the southwest of the altiplano of Bolivia, on the Chilean border at the foot of the volcano Licancabur, Bolivia


The laguna verde is well known for its spectacular scenery and hot springs.

Hot springs at Laguna Verde on a beautiful sunset, Bolivia


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UNESCO World Heritage

Bolivia, Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 14, 2013 at 05:50:18

Location Province of Ingavi, Department of La Paz, Bolivia
Coordinates S16 33 30 W68 40 40.008
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/567 )

The city of Tiwanaku, capital of a powerful pre-Hispanic empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond, reached its apogee between 500 and 900 AD. Its monumental remains testify to the cultural and political significance of this civilisation, which is distinct from any of the other pre-Hispanic empires of the Americas.

Photos from Landolia

Ponce stela, Tiwanaku Gate of the Sun, Tiwanaku

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Bolivia, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 14, 2013 at 05:43:44

Location Velasco Province, Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia
Coordinates S14 16 0.012 W60 52 0.012
Property 1,523,446 ha
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/967 )

The National Park is one of the largest (1,523,000 ha) and most intact parks in the Amazon Basin. With an altitudinal range of 200 m to nearly 1,000 m, it is the site of a rich mosaic of habitat types from Cerrado savannah and forest to upland evergreen Amazonian forests. The park boasts an evolutionary history dating back over a billion years to the Precambrian period. An estimated 4,000 species of flora as well as over 600 bird species and viable populations of many globally endangered or threatened vertebrate species live in the park.

Photos from Landolia

Arcoiris Falls, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park Fall, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park

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Bolivia, Fuerte de Samaipata

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 14, 2013 at 05:22:41

Location Province of Florida, Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Coordinates S18 10 0 W63 49 0
Date of Inscription 1998

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/883 )

The archaeological site of Samaipata consists of two parts: the hill with its many carvings, believed to have been the ceremonial centre of the old town (14th–16th centuries), and the area to the south of the hill, which formed the administrative and residential district. The huge sculptured rock, dominating the town below, is a unique testimony to pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs, and has no parallel anywhere in the Americas.

Photos from Landolia

Fuerte de Samaipata Fuerte de Samaipata

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Bolivia, Historic City of Sucre

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 14, 2013 at 05:15:53

Location Department de Chuquisaca, Province Oropeza, Bolivia
Coordinates S19 2 35.016 W65 15 33.012
Date of Inscription 1991

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/566 )

Sucre, the first capital of Bolivia, was founded by the Spanish in the first half of the 16th century. Its many well-preserved 16th-century religious buildings, such as San Lázaro, San Francisco and Santo Domingo, illustrate the blending of local architectural traditions with styles imported from Europe.

Photos from Landolia

Historic City of Sucre Basilica of San Francisco, Historic City of Sucre

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Bolivia, Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, December 30, 2009 at 17:12:20

Location Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Coordinates S16 0 0 W60 30 0
Type Cultural
Date of Inscription 1990

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/529 )

Between 1696 and 1760, six ensembles of reducciones (settlements of Christianized Indians) inspired by the ‘ideal cities’ of the 16th-century philosophers were founded by the Jesuits in a style that married Catholic architecture with local traditions. The six that remain – San Francisco Javier, Concepción, Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Rafael and San José – make up a living heritage on the former territory of the Chiquitos.

Photos from Landolia

Concepcion, Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos San Jose de Chiquitos, Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos San Miguel de Velasco, Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Bolivia, City of Potosi

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, December 30, 2009 at 16:56:59

Location Potosi, Province of Potosi, Bolivia
Coordinates S19 35 0.996 W65 45 11.016
Type Cultural
Date of Inscription 1987

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/420 )

In the 16th century, this area was regarded as the world’s largest industrial complex. The extraction of silver ore relied on a series of hydraulic mills. The site consists of the industrial monuments of the Cerro Rico, where water is provided by an intricate system of aqueducts and artificial lakes; the colonial town with the Casa de la Moneda; the Church of San Lorenzo; several patrician houses; and the barrios mitayos, the areas where the workers lived.

Photos from Landolia

Cerro de Potosi San Bernando church, Potosi Church, Potosi

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