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Bolivia 2023



Built into a mountainside more than 3,600 meters above sea level, La Paz is the world’s highest capital city. It is home to a great diversity of people, including many indigenous Aymara. Signature attire of Bolivia’s Aymara women includes the bowler hat, introduced by British railroad workers in the late 1800s and now an important part of indigenous clothing traditions.

Many of La Paz’s buildings lack central heating, but the warmth of intense sunlight at this elevation tempers the otherwise chilly air. On a sunny afternoon, residents of a La Paz senior citizen center take advantage of a sunlit courtyard to bask in its warmth and enjoy a treat.

Murray Strong © 2014
PCV Ecuador 1984–1987


Plurinational State of Bolivia

Central South America

Area 424K mi2; 1.1M km2

Arable 4%

Population 12.1M (28/mi²; 11/km²)

Gov’t Presidential republic

Capital La Paz (1.9M)

GCP/Capita $7,900

Unemployment 4%

In Poverty 37%

Infant Mortality 22/1K live births (72nd)

Life expectancy 73 yrs

Median Age 25 yrs

Literacy 93%

Languages Spanish (official); 36 indigenous languages—including Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani—are also official

Religions Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15%, atheist/none 8%, Adventist 3%, Mormon 1%, other 3%

Health 7% of GDP

Education 7% of GDP (17th)

Military 1% of GDP (103rd)

Labor Force Agriculture 29%, industry 22%, services 49%

PCVs 1962–1971, 1990–2008 CURRENT: 0, TTD: 2,693

Adult Books

The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Edited by Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-8223-7152-6 (Pbk.), 978-0-8223-7135-9 (Hardcover)

This edited volume of texts--drawn from fiction, poetry, memoir, primary government documents, journalism, and political speech-making--offers a multifaceted view of Bolivia that challenges long-held assumptions and stereotypes and contributes to a nuanced understanding of the country's complex history and people. The source documents, many published for the first time in English, cover centuries of Bolivian history, from the reign of the Inca to the Spanish conquest and empire building, and then to the challenges of independence and the struggles of nation building, including the important role of indigenous peoples’ activism in making the country what it is today.

“...[U]ntil now, no single book [has] offered a compelling and comprehensive overview of the forces that have shaped the country into the twenty-first century. The Bolivia Reader performs this difficult task splendidly.” (Kevin A. Young, The Historian)

“The editors have selected an exceptionally rich range of perspectives from before the Spanish conquest to the era of Evo Morales, from right and left, elite and popular, society and politics, literature and art. Their magisterial commentaries will assist all—newcomer and specialist alike—through the spellbinding Bolivian experience.” (James Dunkerley, author of Rebellion in the Veins: Political Struggle in Bolivia, 1952–1982)

Kids' Books

Treasure of the World
By Tara Sullivan

Format: 384 pp
ISBN-10: 0525516964
ISBN-13: 978-0-525-51696-5
Age Range: 10-14 years
Publisher: New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2021

Ana volunteers to take her ill, younger brother’s place working beside her father in the silver mines of Bolivia. When her father is killed and her brother disappears in a mining accident, Ana must find the courage to survive and save her family.

• A 2022 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Finalist • A 2021 Kirkus Best Book

★ Rich with memorable characters and streaks of brilliant writing, as in the author’s previous works, Ana’s story takes readers on an arduous and ultimately rewarding journey that illuminates a fraction of the human toll behind the profit-driven pursuits of a materialistic world. Heartbreakingly splendid. —Kirkus, starred review

Utterly riveting. . . [O]ffers a view of complex family dynamics and child labor that is shocking and powerful. —School Library Journal, starred review

Gripping . . Sullivan effectively portrays 12-year-old narrator Ana and the oppressive demands she faces...skillfully crafting memorable characters and close relationships. . . Sullivan approaches tough topics, including child labor, economic pressure, and repressive gender roles, from a resonant, believably young perspective, balancing Ana’s precarious struggle to survive with hope. —Publishers Weekly

Show[s] the kindness of others and the importance of family strength and resilience. . . [and] just how important learning is in bettering your lot in life. —School Library Connection

Sullivan, who addressed child labor in the cocoa industry in The Bitter Side of Sweet, here exposes the tragedy of child miners forced to leave school to help support their families by working in the "mountain that eats men."...Readers are left with...hope...but the dire plight of all these families is abundantly clear. —Booklist


Film: Utama
Genre: Drama
Director: Alejandro Loayza Grisi
Country: Bolivia
Release Date: 2022
Filming Locations: Bolivia
Language: Quechua, Spanish, subtitles
Run Time: 1 hr 27 minutes

In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily life for years. During an uncommonly long drought, Virginio and his wife Sisa face a dilemma: resist, or be defeated by the environment and time itself. With the arrival of their grandson, Clever, the three of them will face, each in their own way, the environment, the necessity for change, and the meaning of life itself.

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic competition at Sundance


...One of the best aspects of “Utama” is how the cinematography (by Barbara Alvarez) impressively captures Bolivian life in the highlands. There’s a simplicity to this life that’s devoid of urban stresses but brings difficulties in other ways. A lone cell phone is the only modern device seen in the movie, which shows a rural lifestyle that has existed for centuries.

Most of all, “Utama” is a compelling snapshot of a specific family’s perspectives and definitions of loyalty and home. It’s an interesting presentation of the dilemma that some people face, when the have to choose between clinging to old traditions or embracing new ways of living. Not everyone watching “Utama” can relate to this rural ranch lifestyle, but most viewers can find some emotional connection to the movie’s characters, who are trying to get through life in the best way that they can, even if not everyone around them agrees with their choices. —Carla Hay

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