• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Culture & Identity of Bolivia


Bolivia is an incredibly diverse country in nearly every aspect of the word. The geography is diverse, the food, the clothing, the languages, the cultures, and the ethnicities are diverse, everything. Bolivia is also home to more indigenous people than any other South American country and these indigenous people and their cultures dominate the country, but not without substantial Spanish influences, much of which has become a part of the many indigenous cultures.

Exotic images of colorfully dressed people walking llamas in the Andes may not truly represent everyday life for many people in Bolivia, but this stereotype was probably based in the mountains of Bolivia and somewhat fittingly so as Bolivia is very rural; in fact many people still live off the land as farmers and fishers. The opposite is also true in that Bolivia is home to some huge cities and the capital of La Paz has a growing financial district. This transition in work and lifestyle is a slow process that doesn't affect as much of the country's population as it does the capital's skyline.

The Bolivians tend to have a couple different daily schedules based on where they live and their individual culture. Many people with significant Spanish ancestry, and those who live in a more European-styled method, tend to have a fairly common daily schedule to much of South America. Days start somewhat early as work and school begins at about 8:00 or 9:00 am, a long lunch break is taken in the afternoon, then work continues until the evening hours, after which time most families gather for a small and late evening meal. However, this schedule isn't the norm in Bolivia as some jobs in international companies have working hours that better reflect that of North America as they work from about 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For the large rural population the schedule also varies, most commonly due to farmers changing with seasonal variations.

Most evenings and weekends in Bolivia are shared with family and friends, but going out for entertainment is rare outside the major cities and even in these cities going out is limited. Finances limit these opportunities as does the way of life; family and friends are very important and spending time with family is generally viewed as more important than going out with peers. Being in the southern hemisphere, most time off from work and school takes place from about November to February, but for the large number of farmers this is the time most work needs to be done.

There is no "normal" in Bolivia, no typical culture, no typical person. The people are more diverse than they are similar as various ethnic groups and languages abound. However, the people are all tied together in many ways as well. The Spanish linked these people together in the form of religion (Catholicism) above all else, but they also introduced other aspects of culture that unite the people today, such as the fact that many people speak Spanish.


There is no unifying identity in Bolivia; citizens of many countries will identify as being a citizen of their country first therefore uniting the people, but this is rarely the case in Bolivia. Bolivia is a very ethnically diverse country and most of its citizens identify first with their ethnicity (or linguistic group) and only secondly or thirdly as a citizen of their nation.

Due to the diversity of the people and political disagreements, most Bolivians first and foremost see themselves as "Aymara," "Quechua," etc. Each of these groups define their identity in a way that truly defines the culture of the people as it usually includes their languages, clothing, foods, and lifestyle. Because so many people strongly identify in this way they often divide instead of unite as one people. However, there are some unifying factors in these identities, most noticeably in the fact that nearly everyone in the country is Catholic.

A minority of Bolivians identify as being "Bolivian," which is primarily defined as being a citizen of Bolivia. However, the Spanish language and Catholicism are so closely linked to the people of the nation they are also often included as a part of what it means to be "Bolivian." For those who identify as being "Bolivian" there is a divide in that some people define this in political terms and see all citizens of the country as members of this identity, while others define this term in more cultural terms so may exclude many of the indigenous people because they don't natively speak Spanish, they eat differently, dress differently, or because they are simply seen as being "Aymara," "Quechua," or "Guarani" so aren't included. Most of the people that primarily identify as being "Bolivian" are ethnic Europeans or mestizos.

This page was last updated: November, 2013