Topics: Sociology, Bolivia, Social relation Pages: 10 (6280 words) Published: October 26, 2014

BoliviaQuanysha Wilson
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[Include any grant/funding information and a complete correspondence address.] Bolivia, officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, was named after the independence fighter Simon Bolivar, whom broke away from Spanish rule in 1825. Bolivia is located in the west-central part of South America and at 424,162 square miles, it is the fifth largest country of the continent having an area about twice the size of Spain. Bolivia is landlocked bordering five countries; Brazil on the northeast, Paraguay to the southeast, Argentina on the south, and Chile and Peru on the west. The main physical feature of Bolivia is the Andes Mountains, which define the country's three geographic zones. First is the Altiplano, or plateau region, which lies between the Cordillera Occidental (west) and the Cordillera Real (northeast). On the northern end of the Altiplano lies the Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world. Secondly are the Yungas which form a transition zone between the peaks of the Andes and the Amazonian forest. Lastly are the Lowlands which make up over two-thirds of the national territory; north and east of the Andes. Most of Bolivia's important rivers are found in the northern lowlands all which eventually flow into the Amazon. Bolivia has a population roughly about 10,556,102 people. Most Bolivians are of Indian or of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry. The actual ethnic groups include 55% Amerindianb, 30% Mestizo, and 15% White. Of the indigenous people, about 30% are Quechua and 25% are Aymara, but the citizens of European descent or mixed European and native ancestry have historically maintained economic, political, and social control, but this has been challenged by Evo Morales, who was elected president in 2005, and by the constitution adopted in 2009. Bolivia has constitutionally recognized Spanish and 36 indigenous languages including Aymara, Quechua, and Guaraní as official languages. The sense of nationhood and national identity is shared by all Bolivians but, given the historical disenfranchisement of the peasant majority, probably is of recent origin. Most authors point to the wars of the Pacific and the Chaco and the 1952 populist revolution (along with subsequent state-building efforts) as the key events that created a sense of nationhood. A strong feeling of national identity coexists with other identities, some ethnic and some not, with varying levels of inclusiveness. Regional identities, such as Spanish speakers in the Oriente contrasting themselves with Quechua- or Aymara-speaking highland dwellers, have always been important. For members of lowland ethnic polities, self-identification as Mojeño or Tacana is important in everyday life. In southern highland ethnic politics, shared historical memories and cultural practices such as dress bolster ethnic identification as Macha, Sakaka, or Jukumani. Ethnic Relations. The construction of a national identity that would override ethnic and other identities has been an important but only partly successful dimension of state-building efforts. With the exception of recent attempts by eastern ethnic polities to gain greater autonomy and enduring tensions between the large ethnic polities in the southern highlands (often exacerbated by land disputes), very little large-scale political and social action hinges on ethnic identification. Ethnicity does not underpin large-scale political action, and ethnic conflicts are rare. Virtually all urban settlements—small towns and villages as well as large cities—are built around a central plaza where most church- and state-related buildings and offices are situated. This typically Mediterranean social, political and cultural "center" use of space is replicated in many urban and rural homes; most consist of compounds and internal patios surrounded by tall walls where cooking, eating, and socializing take place. Modern skyscrapers are...
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