Bolivian History And Culture This Report Was Assigned For The Purpose Of Learning About Bolivia's Complex History And Diverse Culture.

1492 words - 6 pages

Culture of BoliviaThe culture of Bolivia has been shaped and molded over many centuries. The technologically advanced civilization of the Altiplano was the first to occupy this region followed by the Quechua-speaking Indians of pre-Columbian times. After the discovery of America, the Spaniards intermixed with the Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani Indians who were indigenous to the region of Bolivia. This interaction changed the face of Bolivian culture forever. New religions and social hierarchies were established that remain in tact today. The culture of Bolivia can be described by its ethnic groups and the way those groups interact with society.There are approximately thirty-six indigenous groups found in Bolivia, however, most of them are Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani. They make up roughly 56% of the population. The other 42% are of European decent and mixed(www.state.gov). There are three distinct social groups found in Bolivia. These are the ruling class of whites, the middle class of cholos and the lower class of Indians. Historically, Bolivia has been controlled by the white minority, which constitutes about fifteen percent of the population. Many of the mixed families that have attained wealth and social prestige have intermarried with the white families and in time have been accepted into the social elite. The cholo are the mixed people of "near-native" decent that are financially comfortable and usually hold positions above those of the Indian manual laborer assuming they are accepted into the upper class(Osborne, 93). The Indians are confined to becoming nothing more than a manual laborer. They are the lowest level of society in Bolivia. They are perceived in Bolivian society as ignorant and incapable of advancement. They seem to have alcohol and cocaine problems and are an economic deadweight. This is not an irrational label. Most of the Indians are subsistence farmers that only make what they need to live. They have a very low standard of living and can rarely afford any products from the market(Osborne94). They cling to the traditions set by their ancestors along with the land they live on. They would resist being integrated into the economic life of the community because of their tradition and the past exploitation of their people(Osborne, 96).About ninety percent of all Bolivian people profess to be Roman Catholic but many of them are by default. The Roman Catholic Church has not been a very dominant part of Bolivian national life, but it has had influence in Bolivian values and traditions. Originally, the church served more as a colonizing force in Bolivia(Weil1, 30). It helped establish educational institutions and charity. The church and state were closely aligned and in support of one another. Most of the Indians have assimilated Catholic beliefs into their pre-existing religions resulting in an inaccurate view of Christianity and virtually no understanding of the Holy Spirit(Weil, 133). They tend to associate Jesus and Mary with...

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