• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Colombia
    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!

    Ecuador
    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!

    Chile
    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!

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

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    Bolivia
    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!

BoliviaBolivia was named after General Simon Bolivar, who led many of the independence movements of South America. Antonio Jose de Sucre had the option of keeping the lands united with Peru (Bolivia was called Alto Peru or "High Peru" at the time) or to grant the lands independence, which is what he did. He then named the region after Bolivar, perhaps to gain influence from his powerful friend, Simon Bolivar.

Introduction:

Bolivia is a country often forgotten, perhaps due to its more well-known neighbors, but this high altitude country offers a unique look into a culture long lost in most of the world. As a very mountainous country, reaching the high plains of Bolivia is a difficult task, but for those who have made the journey, the lands provide isolation and protection from outside influences, allowing unique cultures to flourish and grow.

Due to the mountains, the indigenous people that lived in Bolivia were very diverse and each had a differing culture and lifestyle. The Aymara people who lived along the shores of Lake Titicaca were reliant on the lake, while those inland were dependent on animals and hardy plants for survival. Each of these many cultures and people created differing dress, jewelry, foods, cultures, languages, and lifestyles.

The first great unification of the people came with the rise of the Quechua-speaking people, who ruled the Incan Empire. This improved communication and transportation, while also altering foods, dress, and other cultural aspects as Incan influence spread. However, this rule didn't destroy much of the past cultures so much as it melted aspects together while introducing new pottery, clothing, languages, and foods.

The culture and lifestyle was again altered with the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1500s. The Spanish took over the region and introduced numerous cultural aspects to the people including the Spanish language and Catholicism. Catholicism was adopted by most of the population, but the language and other cultural aspects from Spain were not as quickly accepted.

Unlike most of South & Central America, where Spanish influence dominated the local culture, in Bolivia the indigenous people continued to dominate the culture and lifestyle. The Spanish sought profits from the land's natural resources, but the high altitudes and many inaccessible areas left the Spanish focused in a couple cities. This allowed the local cultures to flourish then and even today as nearly half the people continue to speak an indigenous language.

Although Spain left its mark, particularly in the cities that arose under their rule, the indigenous people, particularly the Aymara and Quechua people continue to dominate the country culturally. Arguably the greatest impact the Spanish had on the country was in changing the lifestyle as the people today are more urbanized and regular jobs are more common, although many people remain in rural areas making a living off the land and by trading goods.

The flag of Bolivia represents bravery and the blood of national heroes (red), the land's mineral resources (yellow), and the fertile lands (green). The flag also includes the country's coat of arms.

Name: Plurinational State of Bolivia
Independence: August 6, 1825
Capital: Sucre & La Paz
Currency: Boliviano
Population: 10,461,053 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Quechua, Mestizo, & Aymara
Language: Spanish, Quechua, & Aymara
Religion: Catholic

Information for Bolivia was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks