This month we explore Bolivia. Officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia, Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America. Its geography varies from the high peaks of the Andes to the Eastern Lowlands in the Amazon Basin. It is considered a developing country with a 53 percent poverty rate. Before colonization the Inca Empire was in control in the Andes and other independent tribes were in the lowlands.
The Spanish conquered the Inca Empire beginning in 1524 and completely by 1533. At this time it was known as Upper Peru. Bolivian silver was a major revenue source for the Spanish. The natives were forced to be slaves and worked under harsh treatments to mine the silver. In 1781 Túpac Katari led the natives in a rebellion. Then in 1809 the struggle for independence began in the city of Sucre. This was the first cry for freedom in Latin America. That revolution was followed by the La Paz Revolution in which Bolivia declared its independence. Both revolutions were short lived though. Bolivia was freed and conquered many times and finally gained its independence in 1825 by Antonio José de Sucre and a military campaign coming from the north in support of Simón Bolívar. The country is named for Simón Bolívar.
Bolivia went through many revolutions of being conquered throughout the centuries. In fighting for its independence Bolivia has lost half of its land to its neighboring countries. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s there were internal struggles for rule. Che Guevara lead some guerrilla warfare in the 1960s against the military rule. For more on these revolutionaries there are books available. Here are a couple from our library. Since 1982 Bolivia has been governed by democratic elections. The elections are still full of struggles.
The Bolivian culture is greatly influenced by the Quechua, the Aymara as well as other popular Latin American influences. The Spanish brought their own religious culture and art. The indigenous people took the Spanish culture and put it into their own art and architecture which grew into what is called Mestizo Baroque. The culture is rich with folktales and folk music as well as art. There are many festivals. The best known one is Carnaval de Oruro.The cuisine in Bolivia combines Spanish influences with traditional Indigenous Aymara ingredients. As immigrants came from other countries their customs also influenced the food. The staples of Bolivian cuisine are corn, beans and potatoes. These are combined with some Spanish staples like rice, wheat and meats including pork, beef and chicken. Lunch or Almuerzo is the most important meal of the day. The lunches are long so businesses and shops typically close between the hours of noon and three so employees can go home for lunch. The lunch is often several courses: a soup, main meat dish with sides and a dessert with coffee. It is traditionally followed by a siesta. Around 4 and 5 p.m. tea breaks are often taken at a tea house which also includes a bakery. Bolivians often drink yerba mate over black tea for their tea breaks. Dinner is usually around 8 p.m. or later is and is a light, informal meal.
Now it is time to explore Bolivia with different recipes. Join us on our blog hop to see all the wonderful Bolivian recipes, crafts and more shared and feel free to share your own. We also have the wonderful Bolivian placemat and passport pages (and of course our passport cover) coming soon to download for free to help teach your children about Bolivia.
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