Landlocked Bolivia is a country of dramatic contrasts. The largest city, La Paz, is situated at an altitude of 3636 meters (11,930 feet). Bowler-hatted women sell their wares on its narrow streets, and traditional markets coexist with the glass-fronted skyscrapers of the business district.
From the city, a single, narrow road crosses the snowline to drop almost 4000 meters (13,000 feet) in just 80 kilometers, into dense, tropical forests. Bolivia’s rainforest national parks combine with Peru’s reserves to form the largest area of protected Amazon forests on the continent. South of La Paz, the vast salt pans of the Salar de Uyuni, produced by Lake Titicaca, stretch blindingly white to the horizon. And on the high Andean plains, the infamous silver mines of Potosi that once bankrolled the development of Europe continue to be worked.
In the southeast of the country, the colonial charm of the white city of Sucre gives way to lowland plains and the more tropical character of the city of Santa Cruz, the country’s second city, located just a day’s journey from the border with Brazil.