Riberalta is a Bolivian city in the Amazon Basin. It is situated on the south-east bank where the major rivers of the Madre de Dios and Beni converge. Its population is estimated at about 99,000 inhabitants, making it the second largest city in the department behind capital Trinidad.
The city has had different names: Barranca Colorada, La Cruz, Ribera-Alta and finally Riberalta. Since the mid-19th century, explorers and solitary navigators have ventured there. They encountered an elevated bank at the confluence of two colossal rivers Río Beni and Río Madre de Dios, which was soon occupied by national and international businessmen and adventurers attracted by the economic potential of the abundant rubber trees in the region. After 12 years of prosperity, the city was officially named on 3 February 1894, by Manuel Vicente Ballivián.
Due to the specific location of the city and the expansion of the rubber market, Riberalta became an international center of activity. Several European companies opened offices, and money from the exports of the rubber set of a real economic boom that attracted people from over Bolivia. Besides European entrepreneurs Riberalta received Japanese immigrants. The arrival of a variety of immigrants gave way to a cosmopolitan mix of cultures, and the acquisition of new techniques in agriculture, carpentry, etc. But the craze for rubber was soon deterred with the beginning of the First World War. The exodus of populations (especially foreigners) strongly impacted the city and its economy. Through many projects, linked to education mostly, the city wakes up slowly in the 1940s. And finally, in the 60s, the extraction of the Amazonian nuts begins to present an economic alternative.
Riberalta is the world’s largest exporter of the Amazon almond (Bertholletia excelsa) also known as Brazil nut. Brazil nut collecting and processing is a source of work for thousands of families, generating direct and indirect income, with exports exceeding 30 million annually. The city also produces exotic Amazonian fruits, gold, rubber and tropical woods.
Riberalta is located 130 meters above sea level surrounded by thick jungle. Located in the Amazon Basin, its climate is warm and humid all year. Rainy season is typically from December through March. In the dry season, which is here the winter, the temperatures can go as low as 15 degrees but it feels colder because of humidity.
The city is remarkable for these districts cut in straight line. It would seem easy to navigate because there are almost only right angles, but there are only a few signs and all streets tend to be similar. The city is divided into nine districts. Five are urban districts, and four are rural districts. Two of them are led by farmers and the other are indigenous. The principal avenue is Avenida Mamoré, it’s cross the town to one side to the other. Most of the restaurants are located around the main square.