Cochabamba, Bolivia: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Cochabamba is a vibrant and friendly city that is conveniently located on the way between La Paz and Sucre in central Bolivia. The city that is also known as Quchapampa is surrounded by mountains and is located within a valley of the same name in the Andes mountain range. The name is a combination of two Quechua words qucha which means lake and pampa which means open plain. Other names used to refer to this city are La Llajta which means town in Quechua as well as the City of Eternal Spring and The Garden City which is because Cochabamba has temperatures like that in the spring season throughout the year. The residents of the city and its surrounding areas are referred to as Cochalas.
Cochabamba is among the most economically and socially progressive cities in Bolivia but has contrasting levels of development in various sections of the city. The central commercial districts of Cochabamba are urbanized with modern amenities and the majority of the business and commercial industries are based are based here. Plaza Colón and Plaza 14 de Septiembre are also located in this area. Cochabamba also has an active nightlife that is centered around Calle España and along the broad, tree-lined boulevard in El Prado. In contrast, the remote area of Cochabamba that is adjacent to the Wilstermann International Airport is notably poor with adobe homes and unpaved roads.
Spanish combined with a few Quechua and Aymara terminology is the most widely spoken language in Cochabamba. English is also a widely spoken language among the business-minded residents of Cochabamba.
The main thoroughfare in Cochabamba is the Avenida de las Heroinas which runs in the east-west direction and the one running in the north-south direction is the Avenida Ayacucho. The city's post office is at the intersection of these two avenues which is known as the Correo. Plaza 14 de Septiembre which is more widely known as the Plaza Principal is considered to be the center of the city. Most of the well known restaurants and hotels in the city are found on Avenida Ballivian which is also called El Prado which is a tree-lined boulevard running north from the Plaza Colon. Most of the affluent residents of the city stay in the northern section of the city whereas the poorer ones stay in southern section.
Cochabamba is one of the safest cities in Bolivia where it is safe enough to walk or take a cab on the deserted streets even at night. However, it is advisable for girls who are traveling alone to use a radio taxi instead of regular taxis. Just like the streets, parks are also safe both during the day and night.
The Cochabamba valley which had fertile productive soil and good climate was inhabited by indigenous ethnic groups from Tiwanaku, Tupuraya, Mojocoya, Omereque, and the Inca civilization until the Spanish invasion.
The first Spanish inhabitant of the valley was Garci Ruiz de Orellana who purchased majority of the land from local tribal chiefs and built his house. The house is known as House of Mayorazgo and is located in the Cala Cala neighborhood of Cochabamba. The city faced a lot of trials and upheavals before becoming the most economically and socially progressive city of Bolivia.
Cochabamba enjoys a semi-arid climate and is known for the Eternal Spring that continues all year round with tropical days being balanced by the cool weather of the mountain nights. The dry season lasts from May to October the wet season generally begins in November and continues until March.
The climate of Cochabamba is suitable for agriculture and hence grains, potatoes and coffee are cultivated in the highland region whereas sugar cane, cocoa beans, tobacco and fruit as well as coca-leaf are cultivated in the Chapare tropical lowlands of the city. Construction has rapidly increased in the city which is also one of the main hubs for cocaine dealers of South America who are also believed to be the major investors in condominiums, real estate and other profit making industries like meat processing and other such industries.
Cochabamba is also the industrial hub of Bolivia and has industries that produce cars, cleaning products, cosmetics, and chemicals as well as other items like cement.
The headquarters of Boliviana de Aviación airline is in Cochabamba and the management offices of the Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB) airlines is also based on the grounds of Jorge Wilstermann Airport on Cochabamba.