BOLIVIAN Facts & Figures

Size: 424,163 square miles

Population: 10,907,778

Capital: Sucre

Currency: Boliviano

Weather / Climate:

The weather in Bolivia can vary drastically from one climatic zone to another. The summer months in Bolivia are November through March. The weather is typically warmer and wetter during these months. April through October, the winter months, are typically colder and drier.

In the highlands, the weather can be very cold and temperatures frequently go below zero at night, especially on the Altiplano. Snow is common in Potosí during the winter months and sometimes also falls on La Paz and Oruro. In contrast, winter in Sucre, Cochabamba and Tarija on the Cordillera Real is a time of blue skies and comfortable temperatures.

The weather in the rainforest is usually very hot and is often very wet. The drier period of the year is May to October. The section of the rainforest that borders the Cordillera Real of the Andes Mountains is a bit cooler, but still very wet. As altitude declines, the temperature rises. Additionally many rivers and aquatic zones will dry up very noticeably in winter and then flood in summer creating an unpredictable landscape.


BOLIVIAN languages

Spanish 60.7% (official), Quechua 21.2% (official), Aymara 14.6% (official), foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2% (2001 census according to CIA Factbook). According to Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia 28.1% of the population of Bolivia spoke an indigenous language as a first language in 2007. This had increased to 29.4% in 2008. Approximately 90% of the children attend primary-school but often for a year or less. Until the 2001 census the literacy rate was low in many rural areas, but, according to the CIA, the literacy rate was 87% nationwide, which is similar to Brazil's but below the South American average. Nevertheless in 2008 after the campaign "Yes I can", Bolivia was declared illiteracy-free under the UNESCO standards. "a first language" is questionable as it fails to make a distinction of whether this means only language spoken, or one of multiple learned nearly simultaneously, or one first and then others later (in which case it would be more insightful to put the percentages for "first language" as well as "total speaker" percentages). Also indigenous languages have historically been underrepresented and the 2001 census statistics are too old (especially given Bolivia's recent history) and requires a newer inquiry.

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Bolivia's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 30% Quechua-speaking and 25% Aymara-speaking. The largest of the approximately three dozen native groups are the Quechuas (2.5 million), Aymaras (2 million), then Chiquitano (180,000), and Guaraní (125,000). So the full Amerindian population is at 55%; the remaining 30% is mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European), and around 15% are whites.

The white population consists mostly of criollos, which in turn consist of families of relatively unmixed Spanish ancestry, descended from the early Spanish colonists. These have formed much of the aristocracy since independence. Other smaller groups within the white population are Germans, who founded the former national airline Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, as well as Italians, Basques, Croats, Russians, Poles and other minorities, many of whose members descend from families that have lived in Bolivia for several generations. Some 40,000 German-speaking Mennonites live in eastern Bolivia.

Young miners at work in Potosí

The Afro Bolivian community numbers more than 0.5% of the population, descended from African slaves that were transported to work in Brazil and then migrated westward into Bolivia. They are mostly concentrated in the Yungas region (Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas provinces) in the department of La Paz. There are also Japanese who are concentrated mostly in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Middle Easterners who became prosperous in commerce.

Boliviais one of the least developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in poverty. Population density ranges from less than one person per square kilometre in the southeastern plains to about ten per square kilometre (25 per sq. mi) in the central highlands. As of 2006, the population is increasing about 1.45% per year.

Major cities are La Paz (administrative capital), Sucre (capital), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (largest population), El Alto, Oruro and Cochabamba.

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High and isolated in the Andes mountains, Bolivia has developed its own rich cuisine. Salteñas, humitas, llama meat and more are on the menu!

Like the people of the other nations of the Andean highlands such as Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, Bolivians prefer to eat a good breakfast, a massive lunch and a small dinner. As the main meal of the day, lunch is eaten with family whenever possible and often consists of soup, a main dish, and perhaps dessert. Bolivian meals are heavy on the pork and potatoes, and you’ll also see a lot of chicken, rice and vegetables. Bolivian food is generally mild: if you like a little spice, ask for llajwa, a homemade spicy salsa.

If you’re in Bolivia, be sure to try out some of these local favorites:

Salteña:A salteña is a pastry enjoyed for breakfast. According to legend, they were introduced to Bolivia by the wife of one of the early presidents of Bolivia, who was from the Argentine city of Salta (hence the name). They look a little like a medium-sized, baked turnover, and they are usually filled with any combination of meat and potatoes. They are extremely popular: you can’t miss them for sale on the streets of any Bolivian city.

Humitas: Humitas consist of damp, sweetened corn meal wrapped inside a corn husk or banana leaf and then boiled or steamed. Often, onion, tomatoes and/or green peppers can be added. Humitas are also common in Ecuador, Chile and Peru: Bolivians tend to like theirs a little sweeter than their Andean neighbors.

Fritanga:Unlike Colombian fritanga, which is a mixed plate of various fried pieces of meat, Bolivian fritanga is a thick pork stew. For a Bolivian dish, it is rather spicy and tasty, and often contains any combination of oregano, parsley, cilantro, cumin, garlic, hot peppers and more. It usually is made with onions and tomatoes in addition to the pork.

Charque de llama: In the United States, there are many who think beef jerky is its own food group. In Bolivia, of course, you have...llama jerky. Charque isn’t exactly jerky, and you wouldn’t want to eat it straight, but it’s fairly close. If you see charque de llama on the menu, it’s dried llama meat, fried, and served with corn and cheese.

Chicharrón: Chicharrón consists of fried bits of pork, pork skin and gristle. It’s tasty, as it’s often cooked with peppers and garlic and spiced with cumin and pepper. It’s usually served with chuño, a sort of highland potato, and corn. Not really a meal, chicharrón is more of a snack or something to wash down with a cold beer.

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Doing business in BOLIVIA

Meeting & Greeting

. Bolivians tend to be formal in their business dealings.
. It is always best to maintain a level of professionalism.
. Shake hands when meeting and leaving.
. Wait for a woman to extend her hand.
. Eye contact is important.
. Professional or academic titles with the surname are used in business. Common titles are "Doctor" (medical doctor or Ph.D.), "Ingeniero" (engineer), and "Licenciado" (lawyer or university degree).
. If someone does not have a title, the honorific titles Señor or Señora are used with the surname.

Business Cards

. Business cards are exchanged during the initial introductions.
. Try and have one side of your business card translated into Spanish.
. Make sure to include any academic qualifications on your card.


. Relationship building is important in Bolivia so initial meetings should always be about establishing trust and learning a little about each other.
. Wait for the other party to move the conversation on to business.
. Meetings are generally relaxed affairs but there is always a sense of formality that should be adhered to.
. Meeting schedules are not very structured in Bolivia. There may be an agenda and a starting time, but they serve as guidelines only and may act as a springboard to other related business ideas and further discussion.
. Time is not considered more important than completing a meeting satisfactorily, therefore meetings will continue until the discussion is completed.
. Be careful not to be too direct in your communication style - negative responses should be diplomatically put so as not to cause a loss of face or dignity.
. Most business is conducted in Spanish so try and arrange for your own interpreter.
. Similarly have any materials translated into Spanish.
. Do not rush meetings or show impatience.
. Decisions are not generally reached at meetings - don't pressure people into making them.
. Meetings are simply for discussion and to exchange ideas.

Taken from wikipedia

BOLIVIA: useful links

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