The Chapare is closely related to the coca leaves production, and not only due to the international voice of mouth which exist with respect to it. In real terms, the coca (or let's better say the growing of coca leaves) represents 85 per cent of monetary agricultural income generated by the region, for which it is no posible to think about the Chapare without thinking about the coca leaf.
But the coca doesn't limit itself to just the growth of the same, but brings with it many legal and illegal activities which happen within the same area and which have recently shown a very important growth of the importance of the coca, with respect to the established and introduced crops.
The region which is commonly known as “Chapare”, is in reality made up by the lower amazonic regions of three departments of Cochabamba (Chapare, Carrasco and Tropical Tiraque).
For the last years the name of Cochabamba Tropics has been used more frequently to name this region since it doesn't only refer to te province of Chapare but of three provinces.
This zone is limited by other provinces of Cochabamba (to the south and west), by the “mountain ranges” found from 2.500 to 3.000 meters over sea level. Its natural limit with the Department of Santa Cruz (to the east) is the Ichilo river, and with the Beni Departament (to the north) is the the Secure river (which is still not well defined). It has an approximate extension of 24.500 square km.
The Chapare of tropics, have different characteristics to those which are presented in the valleys or lowlands. The region doesn't only have its own ecosystem, or amazonic and tropical characteristic, but is also negatively characterized by the general production of the coca leaves and specially cocaine.
According to the census of 1992, there were around 40.000 families, with a total of 137.000 inhabitants. Nevertheless the estimations about the total population of the Tropics of Cochabamba have been very contradictory, due to high level of inmigration. An estimate coming from the census of 2000 place the population for 2007 in around 350,000 inhabitants.
Chapare based its productive activity almost exclusively on the agricultural production. The most important crops are coca, bananas, rice, citrics, pineapple, papaya, etcetera. Now however, it's coca leaves again which have retaken their main role as the principal product of this region.
We can also highlight the importance of lumber companies, which are nevertheless causing damage to the ecosystem due to lack of control and uncarefulness by part of the companies and of the government which doesn't enforce policies of forest protection.
During the year 2007 illegal activities in the chapare, related to cocaine production, have provoqued an economical boom not only in this region but in all the department of Cochabamba. It is very difficult to have real numbers of all of this but the real estate situation in the city of Cochabamba is a good indicator of the magnitude of the economical input these activities are having on the local economy. Building are constantly being built and apartments and houses purchased overnight, providing a healthy economical status to the city but with a very dubios fund origen.
The chapare as stronghold of MAS (movement towards socials), which is the political party in government, has quite some attention from the government. This has also causesd a positive impact on the economics of the region, and will most certainly increase due to the projets which have been promised by the government to start in short term (oil, hydroelectricity, petrochemical. This will further impact the realit of this region and probably push it to grow in importance and influence.
Follows a map of the province:
Sections of the Chapare Province (Capitals)
1 Sacaba (First Section)
2 Colomi (Second)
3 Ibare (Third)
4 Villa Tunari (Fourth)
5 Lava Lava
11 San José