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Copacabana, Bolivia

Panoramic view of Copacabana, at the shore of Lake Titicaca.
Panoramic view of Copacabana, at the shore of Lake Titicaca.
Copacabana is located in Bolivia
Country Bolivia
Departament La Paz Department (Bolivia)
Province Manco Kapac Province
Municipality Copacabana Municipality
 • City 346.5 km2 (133.8 sq mi)
 • Land 340.1 km2 (131.3 sq mi)
 • Water 6.4 km2 (2.5 sq mi)
Elevation 3,841 m (12,602 ft)
Population (2006)
 • City 6,000
 • Density 358.5/km2 (929/sq mi)
 • Metro 703,771
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) Area code 591
FIPS code 45-16000[1]
GNIS feature ID 1245051[2]

Copacabana is the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The town has a large 16th-century shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana. Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia. The town is a destination for tourism in Bolivia. The town is also known for its famous Basilica, home of the Virgin of Copacabana, its trout, and its quaint atmosphere. Built between Mount Calvario and Mount Niño Calvario, the town has approximately 6,000 inhabitants. Copacabana's religious celebrations, cultural patrimony, and traditional festivals are well known throughout Bolivia. Boats leave for Isla del Sol, the sacred Inca island from Copacabana.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Climate 3
  • Gallery 4
  • Places of interest 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


There is the belief that the name is derived from the Aymara kota kahuana, meaning "view of the lake." Nevertheless, the social scientist Mario Montaño Aragón, found in the "archives of Indias" in Sevilla, Spain, a completely different history: "Kotakawana" is the god of fertility in ancient Andean mythology, the equivalent to the classical Greek goddess Aphrodite or the Roman Venus. This god is androgynous and lives in the Titicaca, and his court consists of creatures (male and female) that are represented in colonial sculptures and in Catholic churches. They were called "Umantuus", known as mermaids in Western culture.

The present Basilica was built where the main Temple of the Fertility of Kotakawana once stood (nowadays there are small fertility temples along the shores of lakes in Bolivia and Peru). Copacabana has therefore been a sacred place from before the Spanish conquest.


During the wars of independence, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana was despoiled of most of its rich ornaments and gifts, and ruthless plundering by faithless custodians in the course of political disturbances has further contributed to impoverish it. The edifices, originally very handsome, are in a state of sad neglect. It is a shrine for pilgrims from Bolivia and southern Peru, and on 6 August, the feast of its patron saint, it is attended by thousands.

Before 1534, Copacabana was an outpost of Inca occupation among dozens of other sites in Bolivia. The Incas held it as the key to the very ancient shrine and oracle on the Island of Titicaca, which they had adopted as a place of worship, adopting the veneration with which it was held by the Aymaras from time immemorial. At Copacabana, there were minor shrines in which the ceremonies of the Incas were observed along with those of the original inhabitants. When the Spaniards first visited the Islands of Titicaca and Loati, in 1534 and 1538, the Andean Cosmovision were abandoned and the Dominicans made Copacabana the centre of their missions. Non-monastic priests then replaced them at the instigation of the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, and finally the mission and its annexes were entrusted to the Augustinians in 1589.

In 1582, the grandson of Inca ruler Manco Kapac, struck by the sight of the statues of the Blessed Virgin which he saw in some of the churches at La Paz, tried to make one himself, and after many failures, succeeded in producing one of excellent quality, and it was placed at Copacabana as the statue of the tutelar protectress of the community. Many miracles have been attributed to it, and its fame has spread far beyond the limits of its surroundings to all five continents. It is kept in a special chapel, where local Aymaras, Bolivians and those from all over the world are untiring in their devotions.

During the Great Indigenous Uprising of 1781, while the church itself was desecrated, the "Camarin", as the chapel is called, remained untouched and exempt from spoiling. Copacabana is the scene of often boisterous indigenous celebrations. On 2 February and 6 August, Church festivals are celebrated with indigenous dances that the clergy have not been able to suppress entirely. Copacabana is surrounded by pre-Columbian ruins of considerable interest.


Copacabana has a cool subtropical highland climate (Cwc) with high influence of a dry-winter Equatorial climate, a rare variant of the climate, but commonplace in most of Lake Titicaca. Similar to many areas with this climate, Copacabana features a markedly drier “low-sun” season. Because of the high altitude of Copacabana, the town is chilly throughout the course of the year. However, due to the fact that Copacabana is located in the tropics, there are only slight variations in temperatures. While daytime temperatures hover around 15 °C (59 °F) throughout the year, nighttime temperatures during the ”low-sun” season are somewhat cooler than at other times of the year. It is not uncommon for temperatures to drop below freezing during the “low-sun” season.

Climate data for Copacabana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15
Average low °C (°F) 4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 137.3

Source: World Weather Online


Places of interest


  1. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  

External links

  • Weather in Copacabana
  •  "Copacavana".  
  • with linksThe Spitting Llama Bookstore & OutfitterCopacabana´s Tourist Information store
  • Bolivia Weekly Bolivia News
  • Lake Titicaca travel guide

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