Culture and Customs of Bolivia

by Javier A. Galván


Why does Bolivia have two recognized capital cities—unlike any other nation in the Western Hemisphere? And why does Bolivia have an active naval military force when it is a landlocked country with no direct access to the sea? The answers lie in the historical events of Bolivia's past.

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Cover image for Culture and Customs of Bolivia

April 2011


Pages 183
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Countries and Regions

In this book, contemporary representations of Bolivian art, music, religion, literature, festivals, theater, and cinema document how history and geography have shaped Bolivia's modern culture.

Bolivia has long been neglected by North American historians and anthropologists. Now, author Javier A. Galván fills this gap with a book that analyzes the complex cultures of this South American nation within the context of its rich history and contemporary traditions.

The first half of this text is dedicated to how and where people live—detailed geography, social traditions, religious practices, political institutions, and Bolivian cuisine and culture. The varied religious and linguistic traditions of the indigenous groups that comprise the majority of the national population are also described, giving readers a deeper appreciation for the diversity of Bolivia's character. The second half of the book explores the creative talent of Bolivians who are advancing the literary movements, painting styles, architectural design, theater productions, fashion design, and emerging film industry of the country. Culture and Customs of Bolivia also includes a detailed analysis of contemporary print and broadcasting media.


  • Presents a chronology of historical, political, and cultural events from pre-Colombian times to the present
  • Includes photographs that illustrate the country's richness of people, festivals, architectural treasures, artwork, and regional cultural celebrations as well as geographical and historic maps
  • Contains a comprehensive bibliography for further reading
  • Provides a glossary of regional expressions and key terms to understanding the cultural mosaic of Bolivia


  • Documents the link between Bolivia's geography and daily life in Bolivia—what people eat, where they live, how they dress, and even their leisure activities
  • Analyzes up-to-date demographic data on poverty, education, literacy levels, and mortality rates to explain the current social conditions of Bolivia's indigenous communities
  • Offers a balance between information on traditional and modern elements of Bolivia
  • Examines major social policies intended to benefit the economically disadvantaged populations since the presidential elections of Evo Morales in 2005
Series Description

Cultures and Customs of the World

The Cultures and Customs of the World series delivers a fresh, modern perspective on individual countries for which detailed information is most in demand in the school curriculum and library. The series features ready-reference volumes that go beyond the travel guide fare by providing a comprehensive overview of the cultural life of countries most studied and in the news. Each volume is written by a country expert especially to meet the needs of students and the general reader. Countries come alive in insightful, accessible chapters that cover crucial topics:
  • The land, people, language, and history
  • Religion and world view
  • Literature and media
  • Arts and architecture/housing
  • Cuisine and traditional dress
  • Gender roles, marriage, and family
  • Social customs, education, and lifestyle
  • Music and dance

Author Info

Javier A. Galván, PhD, is professor of Spanish and Latin American history at Santa Ana College, Santa Ana, CA. His published works include Greenwood's Culture and Customs of Puerto Rico in this series as well as multiple articles in major international journals.

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