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Mountains in South AmericaBolivian AndesBolivia 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.

Aymara womanIndigenous woman from BoliviaThe 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. 

Protest in BoliviaStreet March in BoliviaIn 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.

Bolivian FlagsWhipalaThe 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 info@boliviacultura.com.
Thanks to Nick Buxton for some of the photos.



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