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History South America

Understanding Bolivia

A Traveller's History

by (author) Vivien Lougheed

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
May 2008
South America, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2008
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 14
  • Grade: 9


Bolivia is an isolated, land-locked, sparsely populated country--a land that has Amazon jungle, snow covered mountain peaks and every ecological niche in between. Within the country's borders are the world's most dangerous roads, highest navigable lake, richest silver mine and largest salt lake.

Understanding Bolivia is a traveller's history that reveals the backbone of local cultures from the Tihuanacans and Inca to present day Aymara and Quechua. The book describes what made Bolivia the second poorest country in the Americas and how it disposed of almost 200 presidents in the same number of years. It shows an indigenous, rural economy struggling inventively and sometimes successfully with the global economy--McDonald's (three outlets!) gave up on Bolivia, much better and cheaper food being available from salteña stands. Bolivians successfully fought American corporate control of their water and gas supplies.

The book is also a history of travellers. Some, like Colonel Percy Fawcett and his quest for the lost mines of the Muribeco, come to Bolivia with impossible dreams. A magnet for adventureseekers, the country's isolation has also attracted those on the run--the "Butcher of Leon" Klaus Barbie, revolutionist Che Guevara and bank robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid all sought haven in Bolivia.

Understanding Bolivia takes over where the rest of the guidebooks end, offering visitors and armchair travellers a fascinating story of rich cultures and colourful characters in a land of extremes.

About the author

Born in Winnipeg in 1943, Vivien Lougheed was raised by her Polish grandparents who instilled within her a desire for adventure. From her home base of Prince George she has travelled extensively throughout British Columbia, China, Pakistan, the Mediterranean, Central and South America, Africa, the Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal. In her first book, Central America by Chickenbus (1986), she all but coined the term that is now synonymous with local transportation and travelling on the cheap. Since then she has written more than ten books including Kluane National Park
Hiking Guide, Forbidden Mountains, Tungsten
John, (co-written with her husband) and From the Chilcotin to the Chilkoot: Selected Hikes of Northern BC

Vivien Lougheed's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Understanding Bolivia: A Traveller’s History

This book is intended as an historical guide to the country of Bolivia for travelers and others interested in a general history of the country and culture. Written in an engaging, narrative style, the book covers Bolivia’s history from preColumbian times to the present day as well as information relevant to travelers such as customs, traditions and tourism, and the environment. It relates historical events to the places that tourists would be likely to visit. The author also includes some information on her personal experiences while traveling in Bolivia. This is a good supplementary information book both for travelers and those looking for information on the history of Bolivia.

Lougheed has written over ten previous books.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

Other titles by Vivien Lougheed