The Tiwanaku culture flourished until the kingdom was conquered by the Incas in the 15th century. Soon afterward, the Spanish conquistadors toppled the empire and founded the city of La Paz in 1548. Under Spanish colonization present-day Bolivia was known as Alto Peru (Upper Peru) and was under the authority of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
Silver mines in Alto Peru provided the majority of the wealth gathered by the Spanish Empire, and thousands of natives died while mining in dangerous conditions. In 1776, Alto Peru became part of the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. Spanish colonial rule was a traumatic experience for indigenous groups. In addition to mining, the native population decreased rapidly due to their susceptibility to European diseases and several revolts were quelled by the Spanish.
Finally in 1825, Alto Peru joined the rest of the South American nations to win independence from Spain. The new country was named Bolivia after Simón Bolívar, the famous liberator and hero. However, independence did not alleviate the country’s problems.
In 1879, after the country had increased taxes on nitrate mines, the War of the Pacific against Chile devastated Bolivia. Chile emerged victorious and Bolivia lost its only strip of Pacific coast and rich nitrate mining areas to Chile, thus becoming a landlocked nation.
The 20th century was marked by more tumult, social unrest, various coup d’etats and brutal military dictatorships as well as hyperinflation, poverty and a rise in drug trafficking. In 2005, left-wing Evo Morales was elected president and began to implement several controversial policies, including nationalization of industries. In 2009, Morales created a new Constitution formally declaring Bolivia a “plurinational state”, in recognition of the various indigenous cultures within the country. Although it is still one of the poorest nations in South America, Bolivia is currently entering a period of stability and economic growth and in recent years, a Bolivia tour is completely safe.
Bolivia tours reward visitors with unparalleled cultural authenticity and stunning natural beauty at this relatively undiscovered destination.
Top Bolivia Tour Tip – History:
The Tiwanaku civilization from 13th century BCE was the most advanced of ancient Bolivian cultures, and the ruins of their capital city Tiwanaku can be visited today on one of our private Bolivia tours.