Oruro

Oruro, the largest settlement on the Altiplano, began in the 16th century as a mining community extracting silver, tin, antimony and lead from the hills to the west of town, and was formally founded in 1606 as the Villa Real de San Felipe de Austria de Oruro. It became the second largest city in the Americas after Potosí and later an important point in the Bolivian rail network. It is now the commercial and administrative centre of the central Altiplano. With the price of metals rising in 2008, mining was once again important. There are many small-scale operations as well as large enterprises such as the Inti Raymi gold mine and the Vinto tin smelter. The centre has many fine buildings and churches revealing the city's prosperous origins.

Oruro is cold, in the heat of the midday sun the temperature can reach 18°C, but at night it can plummet to -10°C. The biting cold, though, is forgotten in time for Carnaval when Oruro explodes with colour and life in the country's biggest and best-known celebration. Carnaval has made Oruro the official folklore capital of Bolivia.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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