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Tarija, Bolivia

Tarija [*] or San Bernardo de la Frontera de Tarija is a city in southern Bolivia. The city was founded in 1574; the population is 170,900 (2006 official estimate). Tarija is both the capital and largest city within the Tarija Department, with an airport (TJA) offering regular service to primary Bolivian cities, as well as a regional bus terminal with domestic and international connections. Its climate is Mediterranean (similar to the Bolivian cities of Cochabamba and Sucre), in contrast to the harsh cold of the Altiplano and humid heat of the Amazon Basin .

Although, in the local imaginary the name of Tarija is said to come from a certain Francisco de Tarija or Tarifa. However, researched information disproves that probability. The valley, of where present-day Tarija is situated, was identified as "Tarija" and shared an articulation similar to its current pronunciation, prior to Spanish expeditions and occupation. In testimonials by members of the first group of Spaniards entering the Valley, the name of Tarija was already mentioned. This group did not include anyone by the name of Francisco de Tarija. One should also note that similar sounding toponyms exist for surrounding places. Such are the cases of Tariquia and Taxara.

The city and valley of present-day Tarija was first occupied by Western Hemispheric indigenous groups, such as, the Churumatas and the Tomatas, among others. Subsequently, the Inca Empire--administered by the Quechua civilization--conquered these territories and dispersed the Churumatas and other local groups over wide territories of the Andes. Mitimaes is the Quechuan name that the Incas used for the resisting ethnic groups they uprooted and then dispersed geographically. When the Spanish conquerors and colonials first arrived to the valley of Tarija, they encountered several stone roads, most likely the remnants of pre-Incaic cultures, such as that of the Churumatas. However, during that period, the presence of indigenous peoples remained sparse within the valley. Several of the pre-Incaic roads and trials have been preserved, and currently function as a walking trail for Tarijenos.

Upon arrival to the city from its Oriel Lea Plaza airport, one will be greeted by a sign that reads, "Tarija, La Capital de la Sonrisa" referring to the city's purported, warm hospitality and friendly inhabitants. For many Tarijenos, the city's main plaza is regarded as a picturesque and pleasant place to take a break or stroll around. The plaza is aligned with restaurants of various cuisines, local handicraft shops, and internet cafes within the immediate vicinity. Within immediate walking distance is the public market, a university campus, and a number of sights including the world-renowned Paleantology Museum of Tarija City. The public water supply, while still not potable by North American or Western European standards, is relatively clean in contrast to other Bolivian cities of equal or larger size.

Tarija is commonly regarded by Bolivian nationals and tourists alike as the Bolivian Andalucia. The Guadalquivir River that borders the city was named after the Spanish river of the same name. Residents of Tarija are self-identified as Chapacos. The term is commonly accepted by all residents regardless of social class and racial background. Although the origin of the name is uncertain, there is the hypothesis that it is a variation of "chacapa", the name of an indigenous settlement in the region during early colonial times. During Bolivia's post-revolutionary period for independence, the Chapacos (or residents of Tarija) voted on a referendum in favor of opting to be annexed by Bolivia instead of Argentina. It's for that reason that Tarijenos are esteemed as Bolivia's most loyal and among Bolivia's most patriotic. Their local creed is best expressed by a famous, folkloric Cueca song titled, "Chapaco Soy":

Tarijenos enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and are sometimes particularly proud of a lackadaisical approach to punctuality. A two-hour siesta is practiced daily starting at midday. During the siesta, most offices and shops are closed and the city streets are emptied, all the while, families reunite to eat lunch followed by a short nap.

Tarija's land and climate are adequate for grape and wine production. The Festival of Wine and Cheese is held annually in Tarija. The San Jacinto dam is located a few kilometers south of Tarija. Also, the Chorros de Jurina falls located a few kilometers from the city is an enjoyable and popular local outing.

Tarija is also known for its various forms of youth entertainment. A small attraction is the famed Plazuela Sucre, which attracts all young people in the area. There are also various high-quality restaurants, such as El Gato Pardo, and Cafe Moca. There are also various fast food restaurants. The small town is also not lacking night life. CLubs such as Vertigo and Bunker can keep any vacationing peoples busy, despite roughness one might encounter from natives there.

From Tarija, primary destinations and land routes coincide with the cardinal directions: Paraguay/the Gran Chaco, to the east via Yacuiba; Argentina, to the south via Bermejo, Yacuiba or Villazon; Tupiza/the Salar de Uyuni, to the west via Villazon; and the central cities of Bolivia, to the north via Potosi.

External links

Bolivian Yellow Pages

Tarija profile

Tarija regional profile

Tarija tourism profile

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

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