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Bolivia: South America's hidden jewel

by Breonnah Colón - Editor- in- Chief
Tue, Sep 25th 2018 01:00 pm
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There tends to be a hierarchy when thinking about the different countries that exist within the seven continents of the world. For instance, when thinking about Europe, people tend to automatically think about the United Kingdom or Paris. When considering Asia, most minds automatically think of China and in North America, people tend to think of Canada or the United States, whichever one is more preferred. 

The same can be said for South America, where the bigger, more commonly known countries like Brazil and Colombia may be the first to be thought of. However, unlike all the other continents, South America has smaller, yet equally important countries making up its landscape. Bolivia is one such country.

Almost directly in the middle of the continent, Bolivia is flanked by five other countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. Despite its clustered location, the country is and has been distinguished in its own right. Bolivia is one of only two countries to hold a shore to Lake Titicaca, the second largest in all of South America, according to britannica.com. Since the country is bordered by other nations on all sides, Bolivia fosters relations with its neighbors to have access to both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Beyond its unique geographical location, Bolivia also possesses an interesting landscape of its governing buildings. Rather than having all of its main governmental buildings in one location, Bolivia hosts its constitutional capital in the city of Sucre, but its administrative in a different city, La Paz. La Paz also holds the record of the world’s highest national capital.

Bolivia has a tantalizing and long history. The country was originally the center of Tiahuanaco civilization, the  pre-Colombian civilization that existed roughly between 200 BC and 200 AD. As time passed, Bolivia was also part of the Inca empire from the 15 through the 16 centuries, until the Spanish conquistadors landed. The country then became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru under spanish rule, where it supplied the crown with a boundless access to silver. Bolivia remained under Spanish rule until 1825, when it achieved independence and became its own country, named for the renown independence fighter Simón Bolívar, according to cia.gov.

Since gaining independence from its colonizers, the country has struggled to maintain a stable government. Bolivians have been subject to multiple coups and counter coups, the last of which took place as recently as 1978. However, democratic rule maintained by citizens was re-established in 1982 and remains to this day. Coinciding with this democratic practice is the presidential election of Evos Morales, who was initially elected in 2005,” by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule,” as referred on cia.org. Morales has been elected every election since, with his political party already having chosen him for the next election in 2019, despite a referendum allowing him to run for president once more being rejected. 

In addition to its exceptionally rich history, is the country’s culture. Home to more than 10 million civilians, Bolivia has a strong core of culture. Due to the different cultures that called the country home in the past, Bolivians tend to have a mixture of ethnic makeup. Bolivians can have genetic makeup comprised of European, African, Mestizo, Asian and Amerindian roots. 

Mirroring this multi ethnic background, Bolivia is host to several languages. While Spanish is the widest spoken language across the country, it is not the only official language. Aymara, Guarani and Quechua are also nationally recognized as official languages. There are also roughly 34 other native languages spoken widely across the country.

Bolivia is one of the countries in this massive world that tends to be overlooked. With few international issues and not much scandal or corruption to capture the public eye, Bolivia can be overshadowed by any of the larger countries that share its border. 

However, this small country in the center of South America also shows us how much can take place, even in the most remote places. Not every country has to be steeped in corruption or plummeting into anarchy to deserve acknowledgement and interest. Bolivia shows us just how much we have to learn and gain from venturing to look into the ongoings that take place in the other America.


stylus@brockport.edu | @b_co___ 

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