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This beautiful South American country is located just southwest of Brazil. One-third of Bolivia is in the Andean mountain range, and it has one of the greatest biodiverse terrains and climates in the world. Here are seven things you should know about Bolivia before planning your itinerary.
What’s In a Name?
In 1825, the country of Bolivia was named after the Spanish American leader during the wars of independence, Simon Bolivar. The 11-million residents are multi-ethnic, including Mestizos, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Amerindians. Although Spanish is the official language and spoken by more than 60% of the population, 36 indigenous languages are also considered official. The most common additional languages are Quechua, Guarani, and Aymara.
What You’ll See
Bolivia offers a wide variety of terrains and landscapes. There are mountains, tropical rainforests, tropical savannas, and dry valleys. The altitudes vary from more than 21,000 feet above sea level in Nevado Sajama to only 230 feet along the Paraguay River. The largest city in the country is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, with a population of 1.4 million residents; its capital is Sucre, while the seat of government is La Paz.
What to Wear For the Climate
Like its topography, Bolivia’s climate also varies from one region to another. You’ll find everything from the tropics in the eastern part to frigid temperatures in the western Andes mountains. Summer is warm and dry in the west, but hot and humid in the east. Rain throughout the country can modify the humidity and temperatures, creating very different climates. Winters are cold and snowy in the western mountain ranges and less so in the east.
Try The Cuisine
The theme of Bolivian food is “variety”. Although the majority of dishes come from combinations of Spanish and traditional indigenous Incan ingredients, there are also flavor influences from immigrants. You’ll taste mixtures of Russian, German, Polish, Italian, Basque, and Arab foods and flavors infused into the Bolivian cuisine.
Bolivian culture is heavily influenced by general Latin American popular culture, as well as specific groups such as the Aymara and the Quechua.
Several pre-Columbian cultures have left archaeological ruins, monuments, ceramic artifacts, and gold and silver pieces. Not-to-be-missed ruins include El Fuerte de Samaipata, Inkallaqta, Tiwanaku, and Iskanawaya.
A Rich and Distinctive Style of Music and Art
Throughout the years, Bolivians have created their own styles and traditions of religious art and music. This then developed into a distinct style of painting, sculpture, and architecture known as Mestizo Baroque. In addition, since 1994, native Baroque religious music has been performed to great acclaim from audiences worldwide.
Carnivals and Festivals Abound
Depending on the region, Bolivian folk music is varied and distinct and performed at many carnivals and festivals throughout the country all year. The best-known festival in Bolivia is the annual “Carnival of Oruro”. It hosts one of the greatest folkloric events in South America, known as the “devil dances”. This carnival was awarded the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” award in 2001 by UNESCO. A lesser known carnival at Tarabuco is also one you shouldn’t miss.
As you can tell, the draw of Bolivia is its diversity – in its people, the food, its culture, and the terrain. There’s something for everyone here. Ready to add Bolivia to your list of travel stops? And if you find ever yourself in need of travel funds, tell a friend or loved one about Sharemoney. In no time, they can send you the money online and you can pick it up at the nearest Bolivia location.
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