La Paz, officially Nuestra Señora de La Paz, is the seat of government and de facto capital of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. With an estimated 816,044 residents as of 2020, La Paz is the third-most populous city in Bolivia. Its metropolitan area, which is formed by La Paz, El Alto, Achocalla, Viacha, and Mecapaca makes up the second most populous urban area in Bolivia, with a population of 2.2 million, after Santa Cruz de la Sierra with a population of 2.3 million. It is also the capital of the La Paz Department.

The city, in west-central Bolivia 68 km (42 mi) southeast of Lake Titicaca, is set in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River. It is in a bowl-like depression, part of the Amazon basin, surrounded by the high mountains of the Altiplano. Overlooking the city is the towering, triple-peaked Illimani. Its peaks are always snow-cove...Read more

La Paz, officially Nuestra Señora de La Paz, is the seat of government and de facto capital of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. With an estimated 816,044 residents as of 2020, La Paz is the third-most populous city in Bolivia. Its metropolitan area, which is formed by La Paz, El Alto, Achocalla, Viacha, and Mecapaca makes up the second most populous urban area in Bolivia, with a population of 2.2 million, after Santa Cruz de la Sierra with a population of 2.3 million. It is also the capital of the La Paz Department.

The city, in west-central Bolivia 68 km (42 mi) southeast of Lake Titicaca, is set in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River. It is in a bowl-like depression, part of the Amazon basin, surrounded by the high mountains of the Altiplano. Overlooking the city is the towering, triple-peaked Illimani. Its peaks are always snow-covered and can be seen from many parts of the city. At an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world. Due to its altitude, La Paz has an unusual subtropical highland climate, with rainy summers and dry winters.

La Paz was founded on 20 October 1548, by the Spanish conquistador Captain Alonso de Mendoza, at the site of the Inca settlement of Laja as a connecting point between the commercial routes that led from Potosí and Oruro to Lima; the full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz (meaning Our Lady of Peace) in commemoration of the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors against the first viceroy of Peru. The city was later moved to its present location in the valley of Chuquiago Marka. La Paz was under Spanish colonial rule as part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, before Bolivia gained independence. Since its founding, the city was the site of numerous revolts. In 1781, the indigenous leader and independence activist Túpac Katari laid siege to the city for a total of six months, but was finally defeated. On 16 July 1809, the Bolivian patriot Pedro Domingo Murillo ignited a revolution for independence, marking the beginning of the Spanish American Wars of Independence, which gained the freedom of South American states in 1821.

As the seat of the government of Bolivia, La Paz is the site of the Palacio Quemado, the presidential palace. It is also the seat of the Bolivian legislature, the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, and numerous government departments and agencies. The constitutional capital of Bolivia, Sucre, retains the judicial power. The city hosts all the foreign embassies as well as international missions in the country. La Paz is an important political, administrative, economic, and sports center of Bolivia; it generates 24% of the nation's gross domestic product and serves as the headquarters for numerous Bolivian companies and industries.

La Paz is also an important cultural center of South America, as it hosts several landmarks belonging to the colonial times, such as the San Francisco Church, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Plaza Murillo and Jaén Street. La Paz is also situated at the confluence of archaeological regions of the Tiwanaku and Inca Empire. The city is renowned for its unique markets, particularly the Witches' Market, and for its vibrant nightlife. Its unusual topography offers unique views of the city and the surrounding mountains of the Cordillera Real from numerous natural viewing points. The city is considered to be a unique metropolitan structure, where a majority of the city has been built into the canyon of the Chuqiyapi and Irpavi Rivers. La Paz is also home to the largest urban cable car network in the world. In May 2015, it was officially recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities together with Beirut, Doha, Durban, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and Vigan. La Paz is listed on the Global Cities Index 2015, and is considered a global city type "Gamma" by Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC).

 View of La Paz between 1909 and 1920

This area had been the site of an Inca city on a major trading route.

Although the Spanish conquistadors entered the area in 1535, they did not found La Paz until 1548. Originally it was to be at the site of the Native American settlement, Laja. The town site was moved a few days later to its present location in the valley of Chuquiago, which is more clement.[1]

Control over the former Inca lands had been entrusted to Pedro de la Gasca by the Spanish king (and Holy Roman Emperor) Emperor Charles V. Gasca commanded Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city commemorating the end of the civil wars in Peru; the city of La Paz was founded on 20 October 1548, by Alonzo de Mendoza, with Juan de Vargas appointed as its first mayor.[2]

In 1549, Juan Gutierrez Paniagua was commanded to design an urban plan that would designate sites for public areas, plazas, official buildings, and a cathedral. These were meant to express the ideals and relationships of Spanish colonial society. La Plaza de los Españoles, which is known today as the Plaza Murillo, was chosen as the location for government buildings as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Spain controlled La Paz with a firm grip and the Spanish king had the last word in all matters political, but consultation was extended, taking months or longer by sea. Indigenous and other unrest was repeated around the turn of the nineteenth century. In 1781, for a total of six months, a group of Aymara people laid siege to La Paz. Under the leadership of Tupac Katari, they destroyed churches and government property. Thirty years later Indians conducted a two-month siege against La Paz. This incident was the setting for the origin of the legend of the Ekeko. In 1809 the struggle for independence from the Spanish rule brought uprisings against the royalist forces. On 16 July 1809 Pedro Domingo Murillo said that the Bolivian revolution was igniting a lamp that nobody would be able to turn off. This uprising formally marked the beginning of the liberation of South America from Spain. The first open rebellions against the Spanish Crown took place in La Paz and the city of Sucre simultaneously. This event is known as the Primer Grito Libertario de América and brought about the Bolivian War of Independence.

 Plaza Murrillo, the city's main square, seen in 1987.

Pedro Domingo Murillo was hanged at the Plaza de los Españoles several months later, on 29 January 1810. After Bolivia gained independence, La Paz named this plaza after him, to commemorate him always. He is remembered as the voice of revolution across South America.

 The Palace of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

In 1898, La Paz was made the de facto seat of the national government, with Sucre remaining the nominal historical as well as judiciary capital. This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the largely exhausted silver mines of Potosí to the exploitation of tin near Oruro, and resulting shifts in the distribution of economic and political power among various national elites.[3]

The segregation of Cholitas (women of Andean indigenous background) continued until the 1980s. They were not allowed to enter certain public places and were banned from cinemas and some restaurants, with more emphasis in Bolivian eastern cities like Santa Cruz De La Sierra.[4]

^ Crespo, Alberto (Alberto Crespo Rodas) [in Spanish] (1998). 450 Anos De La Fundación De La Paz. Cochabamba, Bolivia: Canelas. ^ Crespo, Alberto (Alberto Crespo Rodas) [in Spanish] (1980). Alonzo de Mendoza: Fundador de La Paz. La Paz, Bolivia: Biblioteca Popular Boliviana de Última Hora. ^ "La Paz," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2008. Archived 31 October 2009. ^ Colanzi, Liliana (18 April 2015). "La rebelión de las cholas". El País. Archived from the original on 19 February 2023. Retrieved 19 February 2023 – via elpais.com.
Photographies by:
Roderick Peel - CC BY-SA 4.0
Roderick Peel - CC BY-SA 4.0
Caleidoscopic - CC BY-SA 4.0
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