Cochabamba is a city in central Bolivia, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an urban approximate population of 700,000 (2010) and a metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000 people. The name derives from a compound of the Quechua words qucha, meaning "lake", and pampa, "open plain".
Residents of the city and surrounding areas are commonly referred to as Cochalas'. Cochabamba is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" and "The Garden City" due to its spring-like temperatures year round. It is also known as "La Llajta", "town" in Quechua. The city is host to the first World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.
People and Culture
Currently, Cochabamba is among Bolivia's most economically and socially progressive cities. Commensurate with other large cities in the Andean highlands of South America, Cochabamba is a city of contrasts. Its central commercial districts, bounded by Plaza Colón and Plaza 14 de Septiembre, is generally equipped with modern urban amenities and is where the majority of the city's business and commercial industries are based. An active nightlife is centered around Calle España and along the broad, tree-lined boulevard, El Prado. In contrast, the remote area adjacent to the Wilstermann International Airport is visibly impoverished, with adobe homes and unpaved roads, which is often the first impression visitors acquire while commuting into the city.
The most widely spoken language in Cochabamba is Spanish. Although the Spanish that is spoken in the Cochabamba region is generally regarded as rather conservative in its phonetics and vocabulary, a few Quechua and Aymara terminology (guagua [child], papa [potato]) have been incorporated into its standardized form. As with most cities around the globe, English language is increasingly spoken and understood, particularly among business-minded indigenous and repatriated Cochabambinos. English-language instruction has become incorporated into Bolivian education from elementary to college levels. The city's racial demographics consist of the following visible groups in order of prevalence: Western Hemispheric indigenous (mostly of Quechua ethnicity), Mestizo or mixed Indigenous, and a minority of white Caucasoid and mixed white (Criollos).
The city is the home of the University of San Simón (UMSS, for "Universidad Mayor de San Simón"), one of the largest and most prominent public universities in Bolivia. UMSS is the second best university in Bolivia according to QS World University Rankings and measured by the webmetric also scores as a second. The Universidad Católica Boliviana "San Pablo" and several smaller private universities such as the Universidad Privada Boliviana, Universidad del Valle, Universidad de Aquino Bolivia and others are here.
Cochabamba is home of the Maryknoll Language Institute (Centro Misionero Maryknoll). The Maryknoll Mission Center provides basic courses in Spanish, Aymará and Quechua as well as advanced levels of the languages. The primary purpose of the Maryknoll Mission Center is to prepare Catholic missionary personnel for contemporary mission in Latin America other parts of the world. The institute accepts candidates from other churches as well as those who have a serious commitment of service to Latin America.
Cochabamba is served by the modern Jórge Wilstermann International Airport (IATA code CBB), which handles domestic and international flights. It houses the headquarters of Boliviana de Aviación (BOA) Bolivia's national airline and Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, Bolivia's former national airline. TAM Mercosur and Aerosur are two airlines that service this airport.
Cochabamba is a steadily emerging market within the Bolivian real estate industry. Since 2010, it became the city with most surface area in construction in Bolivia overpassing Santa Cruz and La Paz. There are many middle and large buildings under construction by 2012. An annual mild climate, abundant greenery, mountain vistas, and a progressive local economy are factors that have contributed to the city's appeal for Bolivian nationals, expatriates and foreigners alike. Historic and affluent neighbourhoods such as Cala Cala, El Mirador, and Lomas de Aranjuez showcase some of the city's most distinguished residences.
Additional Notes of Interest
- Cochabamba is also mentioned in the documentary The Corporation, about their fight against privatisation of water by a foreign-owned company. The people protested against this and won. The privatisation had gone to such an extent that even rain water was not allowed to be collected. Read Cochabamba protests of 2000.
- A MasterCard commercial depicting the world switching from a competitor's credit card to MasterCard all over the world ends with the competitor saying that he still has Cochabamba, which ends up switching to MasterCard anyway.
- Cochabamba has been confirmed to be the seat of a future South American Parliament when it is formed by UNASUR. UNASUR has yet to determine what the composition of the Parliament will be, but existing treaties all agree it will meet in Cochabamba.
- Cochabamba was the first place rugby union in Bolivia was formally established.
- Cochabamba was featured as a location in the story in the 1983 film, Scarface. Powerful drug lord Alejandro Sosa resided there, governed large coca plantations and owned cocaine labs where upon further refining, would be shipped to Tony Montana in Florida.
- Cochabamba is the setting of the 2010 movie También la lluvia (Even the rain), which takes place during the water war of 2000. It depicts a team making a movie about the colonization of Latin America, when the protests against privatization arise. The star is Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, and the film has received good criticism.