Experience. Explore. Enjoy.
Bolivia's Culture and Government
The culture in Bolivia is very similar to how ours is. They celebrate Independence Day, just like us, but they do it on August 6 instead of July 4. They also celebrate Easter in the same way we do. They aren’t allowed to eat meat and as a tradition they go to church on Easter Sunday. Their traditional meal consists of potatoes, rice, milk products, fruit and soup. Breakfasts include tea, coffee, and cheese. They also eat a local food called saltenas, that they eat for a mid-morning snack. Just like most countries in South America, their main sport is soccer. Bolivia also have some traditions. For instance when you greet someone you do a handshake. Boys are also expected to do good in school, while women have to stay home and do housework. Their clothing is considered a “western style”. Women wear special skirts called polleras, while rural woman wear a Manta, which is a shawl or poncho. They are also expected to dress neatly for school. They also speak Castellano (Spanish), Quechua, and Aymara. These are just a few facts about Bolivia’s culture.
Bolivia’s government is divided into 9 departamentos(provinces). The president is the head of state and head of government. Their president, just like us, is determined by voting. Each of them gets 2, 5-year terms to serve. The legislature consists of 36-seat chamber of senators and a 130-seat chamber of deputies. Their constitution guarantees freedom, religion, assembly, association, and press. They even have a two capital cities! La Paz is the seat government, while Sucre holds the Supreme Court. Lastly, they have voting age rules. You have to be 18 if you’re married, and 21 if you’re single. Weird right! Anyway these are just some important facts about Bolivia’s government.
Todays Bolivia is somewhat different than the past, but the same in many ways. Like today, the country is pretty poor. Many times, the people that were living in what is now called Bolivia, were conquered by a stronger and more powerful group of people. The first people to settle in Bolivia were the Native Americans, then the Tiahuanaco civilization which began in 1500 BC and collapsed in AD 120. The Tiahuanacos built many big monuments and carved out statues out of stone. In Between the Tiahuanacos and the Incas were other small civilizations that died out quickly. One strong civilization called Tiwanaku left behind ruins that you can now visit in Bolivia. In the 1400’s the Inca Empire settled in. They took their knowledge of religion and customs and spread it across the then Inca land. After the Incas, the Spanish conquered the area and renamed it Upper Peru. The spanish discovered Silver mountain, also known as Cerro de Pisito, they used the Bolivians that were left there to work in the mines. They were mistreated and died of diseases that the Spanish conquerors brought. The mountain is still there, but very unstable because of the mines and the still harsh conditions people are being put through today.
When the Bolivians were just about done with the Spaniards and so were the other Latin American countries, so in 1824 Bolivar sent some generals to get rid of the Spanish and let Bolivia run itself again, so Bolivia named it itself after Bolivar that freed them. After it gained its independence, Sucre became president. After Sucre, Santa Cruz became president and lead them in a time of stability. After the time of Cruz, many wars happened and Bolivia lost about half of its land and access to the sea, but soon gained the ability back. After other revolts and smaller wars, Paz was elected and reelected who tried to gain a great military while the government was changing and changing due to more revolts. In 1980 Bolivia decided to have an election, so they could have a civilian government, but the military disagreed. A little while later, the military officials decided to give civilian government a chance and elected a congress and made it an official job of congress to elect the president, not over a majority vote. The government then decided in 1995 that the government should sell some of their industries include airfare, oil, and gas to private companies. Going through all the ups and downs that Bolivia has been through, it is easy to see why a lot of the population is in poverty and needs their government to get back on the feet, ready and strong. Even though the country is poor there museums and exhibits to see throughout Bolivia representing its history.
Bolivia's Economy and Current Events
Bolivia’s economy is a major industry in mining. Their natural resources include tin, natural gas, crude oil, zinc, silver, gold, lead and tungsten. Roughly half of Bolivia’s labor force is engaged in agriculture and Bolivia is known as one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries. One of their most largest cash crop is Coca (drug)! Bolivia is poor because they have limited access to adequate health care, education and economic opportunities! About half of Bolivia’s population lives in poverty and cannot afford a life considered normal in the U.S. Unemployment is high and under employment harshly affects almost half of the economically active population. Bolivia’s economy is growing, but struggles along the way and inflation is decreasing as the government continues to cut expenditures. Bolivia’s long term goal is to improve the condition for the poor and help decrease poverty. In conclusion to Bolivia’s economy you can tell that there are many critical conditions this country goes through, but they persevere to keep the place they call home beautiful in the inner and out.
The latest news in Bolivia is how in May 2013, Bolivia’s legislature confirmed the Constitutional Court decision that would allow president Evo Morales to run for a third term! Many people are arguing on how the 2009 constitution didn’t take effect until Morales’s second term when the two term limit was imposed on presidents by then. Also one of the current events in Bolivia is about the terrifying flood that occurred around January 2014! President Morales stated a state emergency due to the heavy rainfall that was occurring. The rain has caused severe flooding across Bolivia and about 45 people have already been pronounced dead from this deadly flood. The flood has not only taken the precious lives of loved ones, but has also damaged infrastructure and led to school closings.
Umbrella (In Bolivia they get over 80 inches of rain per year!)
Rain boots/Rain coat (They get lots of rain!)
Long skirts for women and ponchos for men (This is Bolivia’s traditional clothing)
Musical Instrument (In Bolivia there is always live music playing, so you can join in the fun!)
Camera (Bolivia has beautiful beaches and you won’t want to miss the city of La Paz at night)
Spanish Translator (Be sure to bring this because everyone speaks Spanish!)
Soccer ball/cleats (Bolivia’s main sport is soccer, so you’ll want to be ready to take on a game!)
A BIG grocery bag (Bolivia is famous for their many markets and their fresh produce)
Big backpack (There are lots of trails and mountains that you can climb on)
Bug spray (There are lots of mosquitoes and bugs, due to the rainy weather!)
Unique places to go in Bolivia
1. Santa Cruz- There are many stores and restaurants to eat at. Santa Cruz is very similar to life here in the U.S. because there is a movie theatre, shopping mall, arcade, etc.
2. Lake Titicaca- This is on the border of Peru and Bolivia. This one is the largest lake in South America. It has a very high surface elevation. Only the toughest swimmers swim there because of the cold water and the bites.
3. Witches Market- If you do go there you will definitely find some very weird, weird, weird stuff!! From dried llama to different spells. You might expect it to feel unsafe with all the weird things and people shopping, but you will feel safe with the loving and friendly people that you’ll meet!
4. Cristo de la Concordia- This is a statue of Jesus in Cochabamba, Bolivia. You can either take a cable car or climb 2,000 steps! It is a slight bit taller than the other Jesus statues in Brazil and Poland.
5. Tiwanaku- This is the ruins of a civilization of the Incas. This was a very important area back then because it was the capital of a major city for about 500 years. There were many statues of gods and many sacrifice buildings and places. Quite a few ruins are left there.
6. Sajama National Park- This is a very dry climate area. There are many roads to get around. On your walk you will find many different animals and plants. There is a slight fee to get in, but in the end it is worth it!
7. Cerro Rico Potosi- Also know as the “mountain that eats men” because of all the hard work, dangers, and mistreating that goes on at the Mountain because of all the silver mining that dates back to when the Spanish controlled Bolivia. There are tours that you can take around the mountain with funny and friendly Bolivian tour guides!
8. Bolivian Amazon- When there you can choose the pampas or the jungle. In the pampas you will have better wildlife spotting opportunities than in the jungle. In the jungle, you have a chance to see sea animals like alligators, turtles, and fish, but not that many. In the jungle you have many times that you can go take a canoe ride.
9. Salar de Uyuni- The Salt Flats is definitely something to visit because it is one of the world’s only natural mirrors and when you walk on it it appears that you are walking on water! It is a beautiful thing that you absolutely need to see. Besides the salt flats it is surrounded by absolutely beautiful scenery. There are lots of rocky terrain to ride along as you visit different things.
10. Árbol De Piedra- These rock formations are also known as “stone tree”. If you like hiking this place is for you. You can jump to rock to rock and climb high on this extraordinary rocks. THey are in many different forms for you to explore. You’ll definitely need hiking shoes for this place!
THIS IS NOT IN ANY SPECIFIC ORDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 famous people from Bolivia
Pedro Domingo Murillo: Born in 1757 and passed away in 1810. He was the first precursor and martyr of Bolivian independence.
Gabriel Rene Moreno: Born in 1836 and died in 1909. She was known has a great literary role model and her profession was a sociologist, literary critic and also a historian!
Ismael Montes:Born in 1861 and passed away in 1933. He was known as the “great president”from 1913-1917 and served as president from 1904-1909.
Alcides Arguedas: Born in 1879 and died in 1949. He earned the recognition throughout Latin America for his historical work on Bolivia and his entertaining novels Wata wara and Raza de bronce.
Juan Lechin Oquendo: Born in 1914 and passed away in 2001. He was an extraordinary leader of the uprising which took place in 1952. Also in 1952 until 1957 he led the Bolivian Workers’ Federation!
Women wear unique skirts called polleras. They were it for special occasions, like festivals.
This is Cerro Rico Potosi, also known as "the mountain that eats men" because of all the lives lost in the mistreating in the mines.
In Bolivia mining is a huge part of their economy.
This is Bolivia's current president. Evo Morales has been in the president's seat since 2006.
These are ruins of the Inca Empire in Bolivia.
Bolivia recently faced a major tragedy, which wiped out everything in its path. This flood occured in 2014.