Bolivia

Carson Kirby

Geography

There are three main regions of Bolivia. There is the lowlands, valleys and Altiplano or High Plateau. The Altiplano is one of the highest inhabited areas in the world. It lies between two of the Andes mountains. There are parts of it that are heavily populated like the city of La Paz and there are areas with little to no people.

Next is vallleys. 30% of the population lives in valleys. The valleys contain 40% of the country's cultivated land. Deep valleys with high cliffs on the Andes Mountains are often called yungas.

Daily Life

More then half of all Bolivians are indegeous. About one third of the population is Mestizos, a mix between Indian and European heritage. People of just European decent make up 20% of the population.

Education in Bolivia is free, universal and technically required. Education can be very different for each person in Bolivia. Many children in rural areas have to drop out of school without even finishing their elementary education to help out on the farm. Some families send their boys to live with other families where they can go to school.

It is not uncommon for people to visit each other in Bolivia. Some visits are planned and some aren't. The host will offer the guest light refreshments. The guest will most likely accept the drink because it is impolite not to accept a drink. It is also impolite to ask how long the guest will be staying. Both host and guest will get the other a gift.

Urban & Rural Living

Rural life in Bolivia differs from the urban life in Bolivia. In rural areas houses are made of adobe bricks, mud, rock, or wooden boards. The walls and floors are usually made of dirt and there is straw roof. People in rural areas will sleep on the floor unless there's a bed in which case the whole family will sleep on it. Many farmers will divide their land among their sons. Some indigenous farmers leave to go to the city and have to stay in poorer neighborhoods. People who live in the city center will be housed in apartments. The housing on hillsides near the city center are made from bricks, cement, sane and stone. These houses have 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom.

Weddings and Birthdays

Birthdays in Bolivia are very important to everyone. Everyone young and old celebrate their birthday. Adults will celebrate their on the exact day of their birthday. They will invite guests over to their party. The guests are supposed to come at least an hour after the time on the invitation. They will usually have a meal at 11 p.m and cake at midnight. Birthday celebrations kids are different then the adult celebrations. Kids will usually wait to celebrate their birthday until the weekend. The party will most likely start at noon. Guests are expected to bring a gift.

Weddings in Bolivia are similar and different then the weddings in our culture. In Bolivia the man will persuade the woman to move in with her. The couple will stay together for many years. They may even have kids before they get married. The traditional day to get married in Bolivia is Saturday.

Government

The government in Bolivia has many similarities and differences then the government in the United States. Bolivia is a Republic with the President as head of the state. The election for President can be highly charged and aggressive campaigning. Once they become President the get to choose their own cabinet members. They have the right to rule with decree. Each presidential term in five years.

A very effective President was Victor Paz Enstenssoro. During his administration the right to vote was extended to Indians, the three largest tin companies in the country were expropriated by the government, and an agrarian-reform law began the process of transferring the arable land of the central plateau to the Indians. He led the political party National Revolutionary Movement (MNR). He served as president 3 times.

Religion

95% of Bolvians are Roman Catholic. In the last 40 years the Catholic Church has ventured into the fields of social work and education. Many old catholic churches are landmarks now. 5% of the population is Protestant which includes Baptists, Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists and Mormons.

Arts

The arts are another important part of daily life in Bolivia. Since World War II the United States has influenced the arts in Bolivia. Bolivians have a rich heritage of of folk art and handicrafts, which includes costumes and masks. There are also many musical instruments in Bolivia but the most common are simple flutes. These flutes, also known as quenas, are made from reed pipes. Another instrument in Bolivia is the drums. Drums have become a central part of Andes music.

History

One empire in Bolivian history was the Incas. The Incas originally came from Cuzco valley in Peru. They had about five to twelve million subjects. They have two major legacies. One is the ruins of their great cities which were connected by stone walls. Their other legacy is their language Quechua, which continues to be spoken throughout South America today.

Bolivian National Anthem

Bolivia National Anthem (Instrumental)

Citations

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