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4.26.2005

 

La Paz: a city with altitude


Children posing above their home, overlooking downtown La Paz. Photo by Scott Henderson.

At a height that puts the Mile-High City to shame, La Paz, Bolivia, is perched at 12,000 feet, making it the loftiest capital city in the world.

At these altitudes, the difference of a few hundred feet can make all the difference. The lower you go in the La Paz Valley, the more oxygen and the warmer the temps. Consequently (and somewhat ironically) the cheapest real estate is up in the hills, 1,000 or more feet above the city. There, the view is grand, but the winds and cold are formidable. The folks with money tend to huddle on the valley floor where they have a constant view of the poor neighborhoods in the hills. Poetic, isn't it?

Interestingly, the city's full name is La Paz de Ayacucho, a reference to the 1824 victory at the Battle of Ayacucho (Peru), which resulted in Bolivia's independence from Spain.

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