East of Cochabamba stretches the densely-populated upper Cochabamba Valley, or Valle Alto. Set at an altitude of about 2600m, it is blessed with rich alluvial soils and a warm, spring-like climate. The valley’s fields of maize and wheat are among the most fertile and productive in the country – not for nothing is it known as the breadbasket of Bolivia. This region is dominated by peasant farmers: though still Quechua-speaking, they’re much more outward looking than the communities of the Altiplano, and played a key role in the emergence of radical peasant federations in Bolivia in the 1960s and 1970s.

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