Nuestra SeĂ±ora de La Paz (our Lady of Peace) was founded in 1548 by Spanish conquistadors and treasure seekers high in the mountains on the site of an Aymara village. The town was strategically located on the route from mountain mines to the coast. Like most Spanish cities, it was laid out in a grid pattern, with the central park and the homes of the most important colonial officials in the center.
La Paz prospered, because it was between the mines at PotosĂ and Lima, and also because of the many landowners whose enslaved Indian populations worked the land in the hills around the city. It soon became the most important city in the region, then known as Upper Peru and administered from Lima.
In 1825, Upper Peru was liberated from the Spanish after the Battle of Ayacucho and the cityâ€™s name was changed to La Paz de Ayacucho. It became the capital of Bolivia in 1898, sharing administrative duties with Sucre.
La Paz has since been central to the politics and history of Bolivia. It was the seat of power of the ruthless dictator Hugo Banzer in the 1970â€™s and today its large working class population is a political stronghold of current President Evo Morales, supporting him in his constant squabbles with secessionist leaders in Eastern Bolivia.