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Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the third largest city in Bolivia with a metropolitan population of more than 900,000 people. The name derives from a compound of the Quechua words qhocha, or lake, and pampa, or open plain. Residents of the city and surrounding areas are commonly referred to as Cochabambinos. Cochabamba is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" and "The Garden City" due to its spring-like temperatures year round.


The Cochabamba valley has been populated for over a thousand years due to its fertile productive soils and climate. Archealogical evidence suggests that the initial valley inhabitants were of various ethnic indigenous groups. Inca, Tupuraya, Mojocoya, Omereque, and Tiwanaku inhabited the valley at various times before the Spanish arrived.

The first Spanish inhabitant of the Valley was Garci Ruiz de Orellana in 1542. He purchased the majority of the land from local tribal chiefs Achata and Consavana through a title registered in 1552 at the Imperial City of Potosi. The price paid was 130 pesos. His residence known as the House of Mayorazgo still stands in the Cala Cala neighborhood of the city.

Villa de Oropesa (as Cochabamba was first called) was founded on 2 August 1571 by order of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa. It was to be an agricultural production center to provide food for the mining towns of the relatively nearby Altiplano region, particularly the city of Potosi which became one of the largest and richest cities in the world during the 17th century - funding the vast wealth that ultimately made Spain a world power at the time. With the silver mining industry in Potosi at its height, Cochabamba thrived during its first centuries of existence. The city entered a period of decline during the 18th century as mining began to wane.

In 1786, King Charles III of Spain renamed the city to the 'loyal and valiant' Villa of Cochabamba. This was done to commend the city's pivotal role in suppressing the indigenous rebellions of 1781 in Oruro by sending armed forces to Oruro to quell the uprisings. Since the late 19th century it has again been generally successful as an agricultural centre for


The 1793 census shows that the city had a population of 22,305 persons. There were 12,980 mestizos, 6,368 Spaniards, 1,182 indigenous natives, 1,600 mulattos and 175 African slaves.

In 2000, Cochabamba was wracked with large-scale protests over the privatisation of the city's water supply. See Cochabamba protests of 2000.

In January 2007 city dwellers clashed with mostly rural protestors, leaving three dead and over 130 injured. The democratically-elected Prefect of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, a former military aide to the Luis Garcia Meza dictatorship of the 1980s, had allied himself with the leaders of Bolivia's Eastern Departments in a dispute with President Evo Morales over regional autonomy and other political issues. The protestors blockaded the highways, bridges, and main roads, having days earlier set fire to the departmental seat of government, trying to force the resignation of Reyes Villa. Citizens attacked the protestors, breaking the blockade and routing them, while the police did little to interfere to stop the violence. Further attempts by the protestors to reinstate the blockade and threaten the government were unsuccessful, but the underlying tensions have not been resolved.

In July of 2007, a monument erected by veterans of January's protest movement in honor of those killed and injured by government supporters was destroyed in the middle of the night, reigniting racial conflicts in the city.

People and culture

Currently, Cochabamba is an economically active city and tends to be one of the more socially liberal locations in the nation. Like other large cities in the Andes, Cochabamba is a city of contrasts. Its downtown core, around areas such as Plaza Colon or Plaza 14 de Septiembre, is generally quite modern. There are bright lights, bustling streets, and countless automobiles and internet cafes. It is in these locations where the majority of the city's business and commercial industries are found. An active nightlife is centred around Calle Espana(Spain Street) and also along a broad tree-lined boulevard called El Prado. As one moves further out from the city centre, however, the communities become less technologically advanced. Cochabamba's outlying neighborhoods often find themselves with higher crime rates and lacking electricity, indoor plumbing, and paved streets. An extreme example of this is the area immediately south of the airport where half built adobe homes lie on unpaved dirt streets - which is often the first impression visitors get when flying into the city.

The most widely spoken language in the city of Cochabamba is Spanish . Although the Spanish that is spoken in the Cochabamba region is generally regarded as rather conservative in its vocabulary, some Quechua and Aymara words have been incorporated into everyday use due to large migration of Aymara peasants into the city.

As with most cities around the globe, the English language is increasingly spoken and understood, particularly among business executives and westernized Cochabambinos. English-language instruction has become incorporated into various levels of Bolivian education from elementary to college-level.

The city's racial demographics consist of the following visible groups in order of prevalence: western hemispheric Indigenous (mainly of Quechua ethnicity), Mestizo, Castizo, and Caucasoid.

Places of interest

South America's biggest open-air market, called La Cancha, is open seven days a week in Cochabamba, with Wednesday and Saturday being the busiest days of operation. Here merchants sell everything imaginable from witchcraft talismans to LCD TVs and iPods. The market is organized and divided in areas depending on the wares being sold.

Perched atop the San Pedro hill, the 33 m (109 ft) tall statue of the Cristo de la Concordia (seen at right) is the tallest of its kind in the world (although it is commonly believed that the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is the tallest). Visitors can climb inside up to the arms for a panoramic view of the city.

The Palacio Portales is an eclectic style mansion with French Renaissance architectural influences. It includes a Louis XVI room, a moor themed room and influences of Alhambra de Granada. It is located in the northern neighborhood of Queru Queru. It was built for Simon Patino, Bolivia's wealthiest industrialist. Currently the Palacio Portales holds tours as well as a library, art galleries and many gardens on the property.

The Tunari National Park flanks the city like a crescent to the north and northwest. Paragliding, trekking and bird watching tours are offered by several tourist agencies.

Villa Tunari (not to be confused with the Tunari National Park) is a small town in the eastern Cochabamba rainforest where visitors often go to see the animal refuge Inti Wara Yassi that houses several monkey species, pumas and exotic birds. An annual fish fair is held, where many varieties of trout and surubi fish can be delected.

The Parque Mariscal Santa Cruz is a recreational park located in the Chimba neighborhood. There is Gaudi inspired architecture in the quaint aquarium and surroundings. There is an artificial lake where paddle boats can be driven around fountains. There are also sports fields, dirt bike hills, picnic areas and giant slides.

El Prado is a prominent commercial strip centered along the tree-lined boulevard, Avenida Ballivian. Attractions include an active night life, upscale restaurants and cafes, and upper-income condominium highrises.

On the Northern side of Rio Rocha is La Recoleta and Avenida Pando. This is the modern and chic area, center of the night life, where you'll find Cochabamba's 10-pin bowling alley, 10-screen movie theatre, a Mercedes-Benz dealership and many restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.

The Cochabamba Country Club is located between Laguna Alalay and San Pedro Hill. There is an 18-hole golf course, 15 clay tennis courts, a swimming pool, skeet shooting, and horseback riding.

The Cochabamba Bolivia Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated on April 30, 2000 and is located in the neighborhood of Queru Queru Alto.

Cochabamba is home to several Catholic churches including the Convento de San Francisco built in 1607 which is made of rainforest wood and has a gold leaf altar. The Main Plaza Cathedral's facade reflects a mestizo fusion of Spanish Baroque and Indigenous architectural styles.

There are two shopping malls operating in Cochabamba. The larger of the two is located next to the IC Norte Supermarket in the Sarco neighborhood on Avenida Melchor Perez de Olguin. It includes an arcade, several levels of shopping boutiques, a food court and a movie theatre. Seasonal fashion shows are held on the first level. The second mall is located in the Torres Sofer highrise building near downtown Cochabamba. Here you'll find boutiques, travel agencies, commercial offices (including plastic surgeons) and expensive imported merchandise.

The CineCenter is Cochabamba's largest movie theater circuit located in the La Recoleta district. It features 16 movie auditoriums, arcade and an 11 station food court.


The city is the home of the Universidad Mayor de San Simon, one of the largest and most prominent public universities in Bolivia; the Universidad Catolica Boliviana "San Pablo"; and several smaller private universities such as the Universidad Privada Boliviana, Universidad del Valle, Universidad de Aquino Bolivia and others.


Cochabamba is served by the modern Jorge Wilstermann International Airport (IATA code CBB), which handles domestic and international flights. It also houses the headquarters of Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, Bolivia's national airline. TAM Mercosur and Aerosur are two airlines that also service this airport.


Cochabamba is a steadily emerging market within the Bolivian real estate industry. An annual mild climate, abundant greenery, mountain vistas, and a progressive local economy are factors that have contributed to the city's appeal for Bolivian nationals, expatriates and foreigners alike. Historic and affluent neighborhoods such as Cala Cala, El Mirador, and Lomas de Aranjuez showcase some of the city's most distinguished residences.

Queru Queru - North

La Recoleta - North

Cala Cala - North

Lomas de Aranjuez - North

El Mirador - North

Las Brisas - North

Sarco - Northwest

Mayorazgo - Northwest

Barrio Profesional - Northwest

America Oeste - Northwest

Colquiri - Northwest

Muyurina - Northeast

Tupuraya - Northeast

Hippodromo - West

Villa Busch - West

Temporal - North

La Chimba - Southwest

Aeropuerto - Southwest

Ticti Norte - Fringe North

Jaihuayco - South

Zona sud - South

Ticti - South

Valle Hermoso - South

Satellite cities and towns









Additional notes of interest

A scene in the 1983 remake of Scarface is based in Cochabamba, albeit in actuality, was filmed in Montecito, California.

Bolivia's only female President, Lydia Gueiler Tejada was born in Cochabamba. She is a distant relative of Raquel Welch (born Jo Raquel Tejada) who visited with President Gueiler and her Bolivian family in 2002. Ironically, President Lydia Gueiler Tejada's term was cut short by a bloody coup led by another distant relative of the Tejada family, Luis Garcia Meza Tejada with the backing of notorious Nazi Klaus Barbie.

Famed teacher Jaime Escalante, upon whom the American movie Stand and Deliver was based, retired to Cochabamba with his wife in 2001 and teaches occasionally at the local university.

Bolivia's richest man, Simon Patino, was born into a poor mestizo family in Santivanez, one of Cochabamba's outlying valleys. He became a clerk at a tin mine and eventually amassed wealth by selling tin to Europe as Europe's mines were running empty in the late 1800s. He eventually controlled 35% of the world's tin production valued at over 1 billion dollars. In 1924 he returned to Cochabamba to settle down but was socially discriminated against by the local Eurocentric aristocracy for being a "cholo". He left for Paris, France and only returned to be buried at his blue marble mausoleum in his beloved Cochabamba.

The Cochabambino folkloric musical group Los Kjarkas composed the song titled, "Llorando Se Fue" which earned national popularity. During the late 1980s, the French/Brazilian group Kaoma recorded a song tited "Lambada" which contained the melody and lyrical content (translated to Portuguese) from the original Los Kjarkas song. Kaoma's "Lambada" went on to sell over 5 million copies worldwide and became the signature track of the Brazilian Lambada dance and music genre . Los Kjarkas filed and won a lawsuit against Kaoma on the grounds of unauthorized use of their material.

The "Butcher of Lyon" Klaus Barbie went by the name Klaus Altmann and lived near the Santa Ana de Cala Cala church before he was sent to France in the early 1980s to face criminal charges for the atrocities committed during World War II.

On May 27 1812 during the Colonial Revolution, Cochabamba's women, children, and elderly residents, led by the 60-year-old nearly-blind Josefa Manuela Gandarillas, waged a heroic defense of Cochabamba against Spanish Royalist troops seeking to quell the revolution. The defenders were massacred, but their patriotism was commemorated on 8 November 1927 when May 27 was formally established as Mother's Day in Bolivia.

Leading Peruvian novelist and essayist Mario Vargas Llosa lived in Cochabamba from 1937 to 1945.

Tadeo Haenke (born 1751) was a Bohemian botanist/naturalist who organized and founded Latin America's first botanical garden in Cochabamba, whilst collaborating under the command of the Italian-descended/Spanish-born explorer Alejandro Malaspina. Haenke resided in Cochabamba for several years up until the time of his death in 1817.

Cochabamba is also mentioned in the Documentary "The Corporation", about their fight against privatization of water by a US owned company. The people protested against this and won. The privatization had gone to such an extent that even rain water was not allowed to be collected. Read Cochabamba protests of 2000.

Cochabambino emigration

Historically, Cochabamba has been a destination for many Bolivians from the western highlands due to relatively improved economic opportunities and a more temperate climate. Bolivia's current President Evo Morales and ex-president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada were both Senators representing Cochabamba, although they were born in Oruro and La Paz respectively and immigrated to Cochabamba at the start of their political careers.

After the road to the then-isolated eastern town of Santa Cruz de la Sierra was completed in the 1950s, thousands of Cochabambinos migrated to the lowlands and permanently settled there causing the population of that city to mushroom from 50,000 in 1950 to over 1,500,000 today. Many Cochabambino migrants and their descendants now identify themselves as Cambas after absorbing the regional Bolivian culture of the eastern lowlands, but maintain familiar ties with relatives that remained in Cochabamba.

Within the Greater Washington, D.C.-Baltimore-Northern Virginia area, there is a large population of Bolivian and Bolivian-descended residents , with the highest concentration in Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.; however, these figures may represent a Census undercount of undocumented Bolivian alien residents. These combined communities have become the center for recent and established Bolivian immigrants, most of whom are from the department and city of Cochabamba, hence, locally regarded as Little Cochabamba or Arlibamba. Situated within Little Cochabamba are Bolivian-cuisine restaurants and the Escuela Bolivia; a school-within-a-school program for children and adults.

After to the mid-1990s decade, lower-income Cochabambinos have immigrated to Bergamo, Italy in search of work. Most of the 16,400 (2005 estimate) Bolivians in Bergamo are from Cochabamba, which includes both legal and work visa-expired immigrants. The emigration from Cochanamba to Bergamo is a consequence of the strong relationship between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bergamo and tha Archdiocese of Cochabamba.

External links

The History of Cochabamba

Escuela Bolivia in Little Cochabamba, Arlington, Virginia, USA

Bolivia-Online.net Information about Cochabamba

Cbba.info Map of Cochabamba City

3dLatinAmerica.com Many 3-dimensional high-quality images of Cochabamba (also viewable in standard 2-D)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cochabamba

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