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The system in Bolivia is dominated by two great parallel ranges.To the west along the border with Chile is the Cordillera Oriental, whose spectacular northern section near La Paz is called Cordillera Real (“Royal Range”).Bolivia’s mountainous western region, which is one of the highest inhabited areas in the world, constitutes an important economic and political centre.There the Andes reach their greatest breadth and complexity.The reality of life for the urban poor, however, is far from the ideal.
Northward from the Chaco the relief of the Santa Cruz department is somewhat more varied, exhibiting a gentle downward slope to the north.
Bolivia shares Lake Titicaca, the in South America (after Lake Maracaibo), with Peru.
The country has been landlocked since it lost its Pacific coast territory to Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879–84), but agreements with neighbouring countries have granted it indirect access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
In the late 20th century, however, the demographic and economic landscape began to change as the eastern lowlands—particularly the department of Santa Cruz—developed rapidly. It was once the centre of the ancient Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) empire, and from the 15th to the early 16th century it was a part of the Inca empire.
After the arrival of the conquistadores, Bolivia was subsumed within the Viceroyalty of Peru, and it provided Spain with immense wealth in silver.