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Europe’s best Christmas markets
Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Christmas market
Christmas market in Alsace © by blieusong

Europe’s famous festive markets are a great way to infuse a little tradition, magic and authenticity into your Christmas (shopping). Here’s our pick of the best.

 

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Salar de Uyuni
Saturday, 28 April 2012

Image

One of my favorite recommendations is for a hotel made out of salt. We stayed at the Hotel Luna Salada when we visited Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, in Bolivia. There's a good entry over on this blog where mikehowie recounts the experience of walking on the salt flat. He says that "standing on the crisp salt crust, formed millions of years ago, and looking across miles upon miles of brilliant white emptiness, feels like being on another planet." I don't doubt it.

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    • The Wikipedia article about Bolivia

      Bolivia (/bəˈlɪviə/; Spanish: [boˈliβi̯a]; Guarani: Mborivia [ᵐboˈɾiʋja]; Quechua: Buliwya [bʊlɪwja]; Aymara: Wuliwya [wʊlɪwja]), officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia), is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. It is bordered to the north and east by Brazil, to the southeast by Paraguay, to the south by Argentina, to the southwest by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. One-third of the country is the Andean mountain range.

      The largest city and principal economic and financial center is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located on the Llanos Orientales (Tropical lowlands) mostly flat region in the East of Bolivia. Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries (the other is Paraguay) that lie outside Afro-Eurasia. Bolivia is geographically the largest landlocked country in the Americas, but remains a relatively small country in economic and military terms.

      Before Spanish colonization, the Andean region of Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire, while the northern and eastern lowlands were inhabited by independent tribes. Spanish conquistadors arriving from Cuzco and Asunción took control of the region in the 16th century. During the Spanish colonial period Bolivia was administered by the Royal Audiencia of Charcas. Spain built its empire in great part upon the silver that was extracted from Bolivia's mines.

      After the first call for independence in 1809, 16 years of war followed before the establishment of the Republic, named for Simón Bolívar, on 6 August 1825. Since independence, Bolivia has endured periods of political and economic instability, including the loss of various peripheral territories to its neighbors, such as Acre and parts of the Gran Chaco. It has been landlocked since the annexation of its Pacific coast territory by Chile following the War of the Pacific (1879–84), but agreements with neighboring countries have granted it indirect access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

      The country's population, estimated at 11 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The racial and social segregation that arose from Spanish colonialism has continued to the modern era. Spanish is the official and predominant language, although 36 indigenous languages also have official status, of which the most commonly spoken are Guarani, Aymara and Quechua languages.

      Modern Bolivia is constitutionally a unitary state, divided into nine departments. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country, with a medium ranking in the Human Development Index and a poverty level of 53 percent. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin.

      Etymology

      Bolivia is named after Simón Bolívar, a leader in the Spanish American wars of independence. The leader of Venezuela, Antonio José de Sucre, had been given the option by Bolívar to either unite Charcas (present-day Bolivia) with the newly formed Republic of Peru, to unite with the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, or to formally declare its independence from Spain as a wholly independent nation. Sucre opted to create a brand new nation and, with local support, named it in honor of Simón Bolívar.

      The original name was Republic of Bolívar. Some days later, congressman Manuel Martín Cruz proposed: "If from Romulus comes Rome, then from Bolívar comes Bolivia" (Spanish: Si de Rómulo Roma, de Bolívar Bolivia). The name was approved by the Republic on 3 October 1825. In 2009, a new constitution changed the country's official name to "Plurinational State of Bolivia" in recognition of the multi-ethnic nature of the country and the enhanced position of Bolivia's indigenous peoples under the new constitution.

      © This material from Wikipedia is licensed under the GFDL.