With a land area of more than a million square kilometres, Bolivia is the fifth largest country in South America. The western part of the country is high and generally mountainous, with two Andean ranges running north to south. The Cordillera Real is the more easterly of these ranges and rises above the high plain of the 'altiplano' and above Lake Titicaca, at 3800 metres above sea level, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. To the east extends the vast lowland area of the Amazon Basin, which includes half of Bolivia's total land area. With six 6000-metre peaks, the Cordillera Real is the country's most impressive mountain range and has one of the finest trekking routes in the whole of South America. From Sorata in the north, the rarely-undertaken trek along the spine of the range crosses several 5000 metre passes, visits isolated villages of the Inca-descended Quechua people and provides spectacular mountain views. Exploring the capital city La Paz, hiking on Lake Titicaca's Island of the Sun or climbing the 6000 metre peak of Huayna Potosi are other highlights of this charming Andean country.


Despite the losses of territory which have occurred during the last 100 years or so, Bolivia remains the fifth largest country in South America, with a land area of more than 1,000,000 square kilometers . This enormous territory is divided into a number of distinct and very different geographical regions. The western part of the country is high and generally mountainous, with two prominent ranges of mountains, each of them running north to south. These two ranges are part of the Andean Chain and each of them includes peaks of over 6000 metres. The Cordillera Occidental lies along the extreme western edge of the country, whilst the Cordillera Real (and to the south of this an extension of the range known as the Cordillera Central) is situated between 100 and 200 kilometres to the east. Between these two ranges is the high, arid and desolate plain of the altiplano which is at a height of between 3500 and 4000 metres. At the northern end of the altiplano, on the border with Peru, is Lake Titicaca, 170 kilometres long and almost 100 kilometres across, which is the highest navigable lake in the world. To the east of the Cordillera Real and the Cordillera Central lies the vast lowland area of the Amazon Basin, which make up half of Bolivia’s total land area. The lowest parts of the Bolivian Amazon Basin are only a few hundred metres above sea-level. Moisture from the Amazon Basin wells up against the ramparts of the Andes to the west and is deposited as rain on the foothills which are, as a result, the most fertile and productive areas of Bolivia. In the north these foothills are known as the Yungas, whilst to the south they are known as the Highland Valleys.

Time Zone

The time in Bolivia is GMT - 5 hours.

Additional Sources/Information

Trekking and Climbing in the Andes.  Val Pitkethly and Kate Harper.
Bolivia - a Travel Survival Kit.  Lightbody.
Eight Feet in the Andes.  Dervla Murphy.
South American Handbook.
Latin America Spanish phrasebook - Lonely Planet.

BOCR Liam O'Brien.  1:135,000  Cordillera Real. This map can be bought in La Paz.

Lonely Planet - www.lonelyplanet.com
Rough Guides - www.roughguides.com