La Paz is Bolivia’s third-most populous city (after Santa Cruz and El Alto), with a population of 877,363 (2008), and the seat of the country’s government. It is located on Bolivia’s western side at an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level. It is, de facto, the world’s highest administrative capital. While the official capital of Bolivia (and its seat of justice) is Sucre, La Paz has more government departments.
The city sits in a bowl surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. As it grew, the city of La Paz climbed the hills, resulting in varying elevations from 3,200 to 4,100 m (10,500 to 13,500 ft). Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, which is always snow-covered and can be seen from many parts of the city.
La Paz Metropolitan area, formed by the cities of La Paz, El Alto, and Viacha, make the most populous urban area of Bolivia, with a population of 2.3 million inhabitants and surpassing the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz.