The Chiquitania is a wide region in the eastern extreme of Bolivia, with warm weather all year long and a green territory, that is home to more than 1200 animal species, where birds – including exotic species - predominate. At the same time, the region is home to several ethnic groups and has small towns, some of which have great historical importance.
The origin of its name
The complete name of this region is Llanura de Chiquitos. The word "Chiquitos," which means "small ones," was given by Europeans who found houses with doors of less than one meter high, inferring that tiny people inhabited the land. What they did not know was that some natives of the area were even taller than them. In fact, the small doors were made to maintain the internal temperature of the houses and to make easier its protection from some wild animals. Nevertheless, the use of the name “Chiquitos” remained a way to designate the region – also called Chiquitania and the different ethnic groups who live there, also called Chiquitanos.
The towns of Chiquitos
Deciding which town to visit in the Chiquitania is not an easy task. Some towns are attractive because they reflect a past cultural mixture between European Jesuits and indigenous natives; those towns are called Jesuit Missions, and six of them have even been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Other towns might not have such historical importance but are gates to extremely beautiful natural spots, for example, the Chochis and Aguas Calientes towns.
Jesuit Mission of San Francisco XavierPFGV+5WJ, 10, San Javier, Bolivia
Jesuit Mission of ConcepciónVX7G+RXV, Concepcion, Bolivia
Jesuit Mission of San José de Chiquitos5735+QCC, 34, San José de Chiquitos, Bolivia
Jesuit Mission of Santa Ana de VelazcoC886+PX8, Santa Ana de Velasco, Bolivia
Nature in Chiquitos
While the Chiquitania has a tropical savanna ecosystem, it borders in the north with the Amazon Rainforest, in the south with the semi-arid Gran Chaco region and in the east with the muddy Pantanal, reflecting the natural diversity of Bolivia.
Every town of the Chiquitania is an access point to waterfalls, natural pools, mountain ranges, rivers, woods, thermal waters, and an immense wildlife diversity. On the other hand, cave paintings and archeological remains make this region even more interesting.
Unfortunately, in 2019, governmental decisions unleashed the burning of 5,3 millions of hectares of the Chiquitania, despite the opposition of the population and their tireless efforts to stop the fires. This tragic event caused an enormous loss of vegetation, the death of millions of animals - including species in danger – and affected hundreds of indigenous communities and thousands of families. For that reason, you might find some harmed areas, currently recovering. Nevertheless, the Chiquitania is a vast region still filled with untouched areas of immense beauty and inhabited by exotic animals, ready to put its visitors in contact with nature.
The small towns of the Chiquitania will enchant you, and its nature will leave you breathless. The warmness of its weather and its people will make you want to stay there, so do not hesitate to do so for as long as you want. Enjoy this lovely region of Bolivia.
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