with its approximately 9 million people leaves the visitor breathless
with its beauty and diversity. Perhaps even more amazing than the
spectacular landscapes are the Bolivian people. Bolivia is known
as the country with the most indigenous people in Latin America, and in
2005 it elected an indígena, Evo Morales, to be its president.
The Quechua and Aymara peoples are the best known of the more than 30 Native cultures here. Traditional Quechua and Aymara practices such as ayni (reciprocal community work), ayllu (community
with communal ownership of property) and reciprocity, as well as
numerous rituals, are woven into the fabric of daily life. And a
visit to the countryside where one sees the daily use of ritual in
clearing a field or chewing coca affirms that the Pachamama (Mother Nature) is alive and well in the hearts of the Bolivian people.
From the Incan guerrilla warrior Tupac Katari
to the Water and Gas Wars of 2000, Bolivian history is rich with
rebellion. The country was unified in 1825, but since that time,
it has not flourished with the promised democracy; rather it has
endured a series of dictatorships who, in alliance with powerful
foreign business interests, have exploited the country’s mineral
resources. Today almost any Bolivian over 40 harbors a personal
story of exile, imprisonment, or state violence from those times.
In 2005, after several decades of sustained community organizing and protest, the people of Bolivia elected their first indígena
president, Evo Morales. Under his administration a different era
has begun. Changes include: a new constitution that
reflects the needs of Native peoples and cultures; re-negotiation of
profits with formerly corporate-owned industries; attempts at land
reform; and a country-wide literacy project.
bottom line of Bolivia’s dramatic history is the strength of the people
and their dedication to their cultures – and these qualities make this
place not only the most indígena nation in Latin America, but also a leader in forging a post-colonial world.
Along with history the Andes offer some of the most spectacular tourism in the world.
For more information about travel and tours throughout Bolivia, check out the website for our sister organization Bolivia Cultura contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Nick Buxton for some of the photos.