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Cochabamba department, Bolivia

Last modified: 2020-12-26 by rob raeside
Keywords: bolivia | cochabamba | aroma | celeste | coat of arms: per fess | scales | wheat | caduceus | error |
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Flag of Cochabamba image by Jaume Ollé, 02 November 1996
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Presentation of Cochabamba department

The department of Cochabamba is located in central Bolivia, west of La Paz and north of Sucre. It has an area of 55,631 sq. km and a population of 1,671,860 (projection for 2005). The department is made of the provinces of Cercado, Campero, Ayopaya, Esteban Arze, Arani, Arque, Capinota, Germán Jordán, Quillacollo, Chapare, Tapacarí, Carrasco, Mizque, Punata, Bolívar and Tiraque. The department was created by Supreme Decree on 23 January 1826.

The department is named after its capital city, Cochabamba, now the third biggest city in Bolivia (c. 500,000 inhabitants). The city is located in a valley of the Andes, along Rio de la Rocha, at an elevation of 2,600 m a.s.l. Cochabamba is famous for its market called “la Cancha” and the Palacio de Portales, built in 1913-1922 for Simon I Patino, then the richest man in South America. The palace includes replica of the Sistine Chapel and of the Alhambra of Granada. In the neighborhood of Cochabamba, the Valle Alto is famous for its Inca sites, for instance the fortress of Inkallatja and the ruins of Inka Rakay.

The city of Cochabamba was founded on 2 August 1571 by orders of Viceroy Toledo, Count of Oropeza, and then named Villa de Oropeza. The valley, locally known as Kjocha-Pampa, had been settled by the Spaniards in 1542. On 1 January 1574, the city was renamed Cochabamba by Sebastián Barba de Padilla, still by order of Toledo. During the Potosi silver boom, the valley, producing wheat, maize and cattle, was the source of food for the miners. After the decline of Potosi in the early XVIIIth century, the demand for the agricultural products of Cochabamba started to decline. The wealth of Cochabamba as the granary of Bolivia resumed in the middle of the XIXth century.

Most inhabitants of the city are Roman Catholics. The Diocese of Cochabamba (Cocabambensis) was established by a bull of Pope Pius IX on 25 June 1847; it was the fourth diocese set up in Bolivia. There is an important university in Cochabamba, with more than 35,000 students.

In April 2000, the so-called water uprising broke out in Cochabamba. Under the pressure of the World Bank, the government of Bolivia privatized water distribution in the city, which was conceded to the Aguas del Tunari consortium, set up by Bechtel (USA) and Abengoa (Spain). The Coordination for the Defense of Water and Life organized the rebellion, which forced the consortium to withdraw. Five years later, Abengoa still claims a 25 millions $ compensation to the government of Bolivia. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and one of the poorest in the world.

Ivan Sache, 16 September 2005

Description of the flag

The flag of the department of Cochabamba is celeste blue. Reports of other designs or changes of the flag does not seem to be substantiated. The exact date of creation of the flag is not known. It symbolizes the incarnation of freedom. The flag is a replica used by the patriots who rebelled in Cochabamba on 14 September 1810 when the news of the execution in La Paz of Murillo and his fellow revolutionaries was known. The rebellion was led by Francisco de Rivero, Esteban Arze and Melchor Guzmán Quitón. The 14 September is the civil day ("aniversario cívico") of the department of Cochabamba.
Ivan Sache, 16 September 2005

The current Cochabamba department flag is the flag used by the Cochambians in the Battle of Aroma (Independence war). The celeste is for freedom. [m2nXX] In a Bolivian atlas I saw a variant of this flag, with horizontal blue and white. However, I think this is the correct one.
Jaume Ollé, 02 November 1996

Flag with coat of arms

Flag of Beni image by António Martins, 19 November 1999

This image uses a coat of arms from BoliviaWeb.COM; I’m not sure if this is the new coat of arms, though.
António Martins, 19 November 1999, and Ivan Sache, 16 September 2005

The coat of arms of the department of Cochabamba is of French shape. It is prescribed by the Municipal Resolution of 17 October 1898. The scales symbolizes the vocation of the people of Cochabamba for justice; the wheat spikes recall the richness of the fields and the sword recall the courage of the inhabitants.
Ivan Sache, 16 September 2005

I can confirm its use from a 2015 photo that was taken by La Liga, the Spanish first division football league. The picture, at, shows the flag to the right of the Bolivia flag with a very tiny coat of arms (I assume it is roughly the same size as the coat of arms used on the Bolivian flag). A larger image of the arms can be seen at
Zachary Harden, 7 October 20202

Supposedly incorrect variation

Variant Flag of Cochabamba image by Jaume Ollé, 02 November 1996

According to [b9o90] and to W. G. Jilek’s article in [vex] 94, the flag of Cochabamba is horizontal, light blue over white. The blue flag mentioned by some sources is probably erroneous.
Jan Zrzavy, 01 September 1999

New flag in 2002?

I received info that the department in Bolivia adopted a new flag last month.
J. J. Andersson, 11 September 2002

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