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Beni, sometimes El Beni, is a northeastern department
of Bolivia in the lowlands region of the country. It is the second largest department
in Bolivia, created by supreme decree on November 18th 1842 during the administration
of General José Ballivián, and covers 213,564 square kilometers
(82,458 sq mi). With a population of 362,521 (2001 census), Beni is the most
sparsely populated of the nine departments of Bolivia. Its weather is warm to
hot and humid. Beni's territory is mainly covered by rainforest and pampa. Three
of the main Bolivian lakes are located in the department of Beni. Although Beni
is rich in natural resources, the poverty level of its inhabitants is high.
The main economic activities are agriculture, timber and cattle.
The Beni region features many large mounds connected by earthen causeways which were built by ancient inhabitants.
The inhabitants (Benianos) are mostly descendants of Cruceños (people from Santa Cruz) and native peoples. The culture is Camba (common to Santa Cruz, Beni, and Pando) and not Andean. Unfortunately, in the past there was a regionalism (even a type of racism) against the Andean peoples but this is disappearing with a growing pride in the national identity and diversity. Benianos are simple, straightforward people whose Spanish is likely inherited from Santa Cruz which in turn inherited it from Asunción del Paraguay, the departure point of its founders, among them Ñuflo de Chávez. Not only the language, but the customs are almost pure Andalusian.
The Beniano diet is largely rice, bananas, beef and fish.
The department is divided in eight provinces.
Provinces of Beni
There are no catholic church records available for Beni
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