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Salar de Uyuni
Written by Freddy Cook   
Saturday, 28 April 2012

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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.

Apparently, there are a handful of hotels made out of salt on the Salar de Uyuni. There aren't many construction materials out on the salt flat, so people cut blocks of salt from the Salar and build hotels out of them. It's a pretty ingenious strategy and I bet staying at one of these hotels is a very cool experience.

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If the hotels made out of salt aren't enough reason to plan a visit to the Salar de Uyuni, you should also know that the Salar becomes one of the largest mirrors on Earth when covered with water

 

 
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    • The Wikipedia article about Bolivia

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      Bolivia (/bəˈlɪviə/ ( listen); Spanish: [boˈliβja]; Guarani: Mborivia [ᵐboˈɾiʋja]; Quechua: Buliwya [bʊlɪwja]; Aymara: Wuliwya [wʊlɪwja]), officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Spanish: Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia), is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The capital is Sucre while the seat of government is located in La Paz. The largest city and principal economic and financial center is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located on the Llanos Orientales (tropical lowlands) a mostly flat region in the east of Bolivia.

      It 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 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 within the Andean mountain range. With 1,098,581 km (424,164 sq mi) of area, Bolivia is the 5th largest country in South America and the 27th largest in the world.

      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.

      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. Over the course of the 19th and early 20th century Bolivia lost control of several peripheral territories to neighboring countries including the seizure of its coastline by Chile in 1879. Bolivia remained relatively politically stable until 1971, when Hugo Banzer led a coup d'état which replaced the socialist government of Juan José Torres with a military dictatorship headed by Banzer; Torres was murdered in Buenos Aires, Argentina by a right-wing death squad in 1976. Banzer's regime cracked down on leftist and socialist opposition and other forms of dissent, resulting in the torture and deaths of a number of Bolivian citizens. Banzer was ousted in 1978 and later returned as the democratically elected president of Bolivia from 1997 to 2001.

      Modern Bolivia is a charter member of the UN, IMF, NAM, OAS, ACTO, Bank of the South, ALBA and USAN. For over a decade Bolivia has had one of the fastest economic growths in Latin America, however it remains one of the poorest countries in South America. It is a developing country, with a medium ranking in the Human Development Index, a poverty level of 38.6 percent, and it has one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very rich 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 on 6 August 1825, 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.

      History

      Pre-colonial

      The region now known as Bolivia had been occupied for over 2,500 years when the Aymara arrived. However, present-day Aymara associate themselves with the ancient civilization of the Tiwanaku culture which had its capital at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates from as early as 1500 BC when it was a small, agriculturally based village.

      The community grew to urban proportions between AD 600 and AD 800, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. According to early estimates, the city covered approximately 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles) at its maximum extent and had between 15,000 and 30,000 inhabitants. In 1996 satellite imaging was used to map the extent of fossilized suka kollus (flooded raised fields) across the three primary valleys of Tiwanaku, arriving at population-carrying capacity estimates of anywhere between 285,000 and 1,482,000 people.

      Around AD 400, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state. Tiwanaku expanded its reaches into the Yungas and brought its culture and way of life to many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Tiwanaku was not a violent culture in many respects. In order to expand its reach, Tiwanaku exercised great political astuteness, creating colonies, fostering trade agreements (which made the other cultures rather dependent), and instituting state cults.

      © This material from Wikipedia is licensed under the GFDL.