5 Surprising Facts About Bolivia
Bolivia is a beautiful Andean country known for some amazing landscapes and natural wonders like the Uyuni Salt Flats and Lake Titicaca. But, did you know it was also where the infamous “cowboy” bank-robber Butch Cassidy died in a shootout? Or that first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong visited after seeing the salt flats from space? Read on to find out about these and other surprising Bolivia facts.
1. Potosí was the Greatest Producer of Silver in the World
The city of Potosí in southwest Bolivia is home to one of the richest silver mines of all times. During the 16th century, the mountain of “Cerro Rico” produced well over half the silver in the world on behalf of the Spanish crown.Potosí became one of the largest cities in the New World with a population of more than 200,000 people, more so than many European cities at that time. Today, Cerro Rico continues to be mined for other metals but the silver deposits have almost been completely depleted.
2. Neil Armstrong Saw the Uyuni Salt Flats Reflect from Space
Famed astronaut Neil Armstrong was not only the first man to step on the moon, he was one of the first tourists to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats decades ago. He recalled that, while in space, he witnessed what looked like a giant mirror reflecting out of South America. He was so taken by what he saw that he made the decision to visit that peculiar place with his family.
The Salar turns into a giant mirror that reflects the sky during the rainy season, and lucky for Mr. Armstrong, he experienced this natural phenomenon from space!
3. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid’s Last Shootout
The infamous 19th century American bank-robbing duo, “Butch Cassidy” and the “Sundance Kid” met their deaths in Bolivia. After many years of narrowly escaping law enforcement in the United States, they decided to escape to Argentina and then Bolivia where they reportedly got involved in a shootout with Bolivian police and were killed. The exact details of their demise are still up for debate.
4. “Che” Guevara’s Last Guerilla Campaign is a Tourist Attraction
“The Che Guevara Route” is a popular tour in Bolivia retracing the guerilla campaign of famed communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. He fought the Bolivian army over several months, in 1966 and 1967, in an effort to overthrow the Bolivian elitist government. He was finally captured and executed in the small community of La Higuera, which is also part of the tour.
5. Bolivia is the Heart of South America
Bolivia is known in the region as the “Heart of South America”. The reason is simple. Geographically, it sits in the middle of South America, sharing borders with Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Many people are now visiting Bolivia with one or two other countries in the region as flights are very short and infrastructure continues to improve.
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