Bolivia is known for indigenous cultures, Spanish colonial architecture, and amazing nature including the Amazon rainforest and Sala de Uyuni.
Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by five other prominent nations. That said, you will find that its neighbors, like Peru and Chile, do share some of its indigenous tribes and Bolivian culture. The landscapes of Bolivia are contrasting, ranging from mountains to rainforests. It is home to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.
What Is Bolivia Known For?
Bolivia is famous for its 16th-century architecture originating from the Spanish Colonial Era. In the same way, it was influenced to uphold Roman Catholicism, whereby the majority of practice this. In addition to its history, Bolivia is known for the Amazon rainforest which takes up almost one-half of the country and is the habitat of several distinct species.
History, Culture, And Traditions Bolivia Is Known For
The main religion of Bolivia is Christianity, more specifically the Roman Catholic denomination. Over 70% of the population practices this belief.
A likely explanation for this is the Spanish colonization during the 16th century when the country was then known as Upper Peru. As the majority of the people were Roman Catholic, this went on to influence Bolivia.
This is reflected by many historical buildings such as the Cathedral of Santa Cruz, and participating in Christian holidays such as Christmas. The religious festival is celebrated by attending Midnight Mass, creating figurines of the nativity called ‘pesebres’, and interestingly, drinking hot chocolate in the morning!
A fun fact about Bolivia is that its largest population is indigenous people. They estimate to account for at least 40% of the people. The two main groups Bolivia is known for are called Aymara and Quechua.
The Aymara people are famous for their supernatural beliefs such as witchcraft, and magicians. Despite this, they hold Christian beliefs in terms of what happens to us after we die. They are located mainly in the Central Andes, Argentina, and Chile.
The Quencha people, on the other hand, are known for their vibrant clothing. They are located in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia, on the border.
The Grand Festival of Tarija
The biggest festival Bolivia is famous for is called the Grand Festival of Tarija, which takes place in the southeast regions.
In the summer months of August and September, people gather to celebrate the Hindu goddess Durja. Interestingly, the festival originated from the colonial periods, when it was thought Durja would protect them from disease.
Furthermore, it is believed that sacrificing gifts to her would protect the people from destruction and encourage her protection. The celebration lasts weeks, however, the biggest parade is at the beginning of the festival.
In Peru, Chile and Bolivia was once a huge empire called Tiwanku, beginning in 500AD. They were known for being extremely intelligent and even invented their farming technique called “flooded-raised field” agriculture that would be used after their rule.
The empire survived over five centuries before being caught in a long season of drought which destroyed their harvest.
You can see the ancient ruins of what used to be a temple of the Tiwanku Empire in western Bolivia, on the Titicaca Lake. It is one of the historic sites Bolivia is famous for.
Cities And Travel Destinations Bolivia Is Famous For
Interestingly, Bolivia has two capitals: Sucre and La Paz. The former is constitutional; hence it is the official capital.
In Bolivian culture, colonization is prevalent and therefore many of the landmarks are from 16th-century Spanish rule. This includes the San Lázaro Catholic Church, and San Felipe Neri Convent. Sucre is considered the ‘white city’ because of its illuminating ivory buildings such as these.
Sucre is almost well-known for its museums such as the Freedom House, where in 1825 the country signed its independence. On the other hand, kids may enjoy the Parque Cretácico, a dinosaur museum with colossal replicas and an assortment of fossilized footprints.
On the other hand, the governmental capital of Bolivia is La Paz.
As a result, it is extremely important to the political climate and there are several administrative buildings. The significant ones are The National Congress of Bolivia, and the Presidential Palace, which is famous for its backward clock! These are both be found in Plaza Murillo.
Around the area, you can also find other important structures that Bolivia is known for, such as cathedrals, museums, and plenty of accommodation options.
Similarly to the plaza, La Paz has several unique markets. The Witches Market in Cerro Cumbre is one of the most eccentric! It sells ingredients used in ancient rituals of Bolivian cultures, such as dried frogs and amulets.
Be sure to check out this market that Bolivia is famous for, it is an eye-opening experience. We recommend visiting with a guide who would explain the tales of ancient witchcraft and beliefs.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Santa Cruz is the largest city in Bolivia dominating over one-third of the country. It is recognized for its successful petroleum and soybean oil trading, a diverse nightlife, and museums.
The best attraction in Santa Cruz is considered to be the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, which houses the rosy pink Santa Cruz Cathedral, Cinema Palace, and House of Culture.
The commercial center also has plenty of malls like the Mall Ventura, which has a luxurious cinema, and Las Brisas Mall which is renowned for its food.
El Alto is the second-largest city in Bolivia. It is eminent for its contemporary style and unusual architecture. Many terracotta douses dot the city, which is painted vibrant pink and green colors.
The El Alto Market is the biggest open-air market in the country spanning five kilometers. Here, it is said you can find anything! The flea market is open Thursdays and Sundays and attracts thousands of locals.
One of the best monumental landmarks in Bolivia is the huge metal Ernesto Che Guevara Statue, erected after the Che assassination by the Bolivian government. This statue of a personality that Bolivia is so famous for is also found in El Alto.
Landmarks And Architecture Bolivia Is Known For
Uyuni Salt Flats
Out of all things Bolivia is known for, this is perhaps the most famous. The South American nation is home to the world’s largest salt flats: the Uyuni Salt Flats.
You know those amazing reflection photos or perspective shots you see online? This is where most of them come from. The area covers over 10,000 square kilometers of land and is covered in salts like halite and gypsum.
Salt flats are formed from a water body such as an ancient lake that evaporated some time ago, leaving behind only the minerals that were dissolved inside it This is often considered the must-visit destination in Bolivia, as it is very unique and awe-inspiring.
The Pilko Kaina Palace
The Pilko Kaina Palace is a complex found on Isla del Sol, the island of the sun. Although only remains are left, the once illustrious palace is believed to have been built by Túpac Inca Yupanqu in the 15th century.
Similarly, the Chinkana Labyrinth is an archeological site on Isla del Sol, built also by the Incans. The view from here is magical, as it sits on Lake Titicaca. Furthermore, if you look closely, you can even see Peru.
Madidi National Park
Bolivia is famous for hosting part of the great Amazon rainforest, and The Madidi National Park is one portion of it. This is a huge reserve in the upper Amazon River basin. It sits next to the Tuichi River, where animals such as otters and sea turtles reside.
Just in the park alone, you will find one-tenth of the world’s birds, totaling over 1,00 species altogether. Popular birds include Snowy Egret, which is an elegant white heron, and Purple-backed Thornbil, which are vibrant hummingbirds.
Additionally, you can quite easily spot a variety of wild animals like capybaras, pink dolphins, and spider monkeys on jungle tours.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre
The Plaza 24 de Septiembre is a historical square filled with many of the world-renowned landmarks in Bolivia.
One of the most fascinating buildings is the Santa Cruz Cathedral, a catholic church constructed in 1915. The most adored element of this building is the distinct wooden roof and vaults. Also in the square are old government buildings and monuments.
The square is renowned for being a relaxed part of town, as it is littered with tall trees, comfy benches, and traditional halls. Locals also hang out here on a daily basis.
Food Bolivia Is Famous For
The national dish of Bolivia is known as salteña. It is a savory pastry, an empanada, eaten as dinner or a filling snack.
A salteña filling is made of ground beef, potatoes, and onion. In addition to this, it is customary to add a spicy sauce made of serrano chilies, tomatoes, and basil. This is called llajua and gives it the characteristic fiery flavor.
Once this is added to the dough, it is shaped into a crescent and scored. One of the biggest differences between the Bolivian salteña and empanadas in other countries is that they have a version that is incredibly juicy.
We tried the best salteña in Cochabamba (often considered the food capital of Bolivia) from an unassuming, local diner. The pastry burst with rich meaty juices as we bite into it. Messy? Yes, but just makes it all the more delish.
Pique macho is the heartiest dish of all Bolivian food. It is perfect to make when the whole family visits, as the servings are monumental! After all, it roughly translates to ‘big portions.’
The main ingredients of pique macho are meat, usually beef sausage, hardboiled eggs, and chunky homemade fries. To lighten the dish, salad toppings such as bell pepper, red onion, and tomatoes are added.
This is all chopped and mixed, before being drizzled with a sauce made from ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard.
Anticucho is a simple and affordable dish that can be made quickly at the end of a long, hard day. It is slightly similar to a kebab or satay in Asian cuisine, whereby slices of meat are layered onto a skewer.
The anticucho is cooked over a charcoal-fired barbeque, giving it an earthy taste. Finally, the skewer is eaten with a spicy llajua hot sauce and served with salad and potatoes. It is a very popular street food in Bolivia.
Api Con Pastel
The perfect start to any day is api con pastel, a traditional breakfast dish in Bolivia.
The ‘api’ element of the dish is a refreshing purple drink. This is a blended juice made with purple corn, oranges, and cinnamon which is mixed with water. It is surprisingly delicious!
Alongside this is a pastel, which is essentially a fried pastry. You can opt for a sweeter version which is topped with powdered sugar, or alternatively, a pastel stuffed with cheese.
Together, these form a perfect combo amongst traditional Bolivian food to fuel you throughout the day. They make for a great mid-afternoon snack as well.
Famous People From Bolivia
Evo Morales is one of the most famous people from Bolivia. He is respected because he was the first president of Bolivia to come of indigenous descent. From 2006 to 2019 he implanted several beneficial policies. Some of the most significant were increasing pensions, and supporting pregnant women and the minority indigenous tribes.
Additionally, Morales is a cocalero activist and worked on easing restrictions on cocoa leaf growers.
Verona Pooth is a model who was born in La Paz. She is renowned for winning many titles, the most significant being Miss Universe and Miss Intercontinental. Pooth has dual citizenship and so has represented Germany in her modeling career.
She also is a part-time actress and has starred in American movies. In addition to this, she is an entrepreneur and has started her own cosmetic business.
The most popular sport in Bolivia is considered to be football. The majority of famous people from Bolivia are athletes, such as Marco Etcheverry. He is a professional footballer who played a forward position for decades.
He was notoriously nicknamed El Diablo because the opposing teams would be terrified of his skills. Etcheverry has played for the national team as well as Bolivian teams like Destroyers and Bolivar. Furthermore, he has played for foreign teams like Spain and Ecuador.
Another famous footballer is Jaime Moreno. He has played on the national team as well as Blooming, a Bolivian team, D.C United, an American team, and Middlesbrough, an English Team. Furthermore, Morena became a coach after his successful career as a player.
Some of his biggest achievements included in the National Soccer Hall of Fame 2021, and Major League Soccer’s all-time best XL.
Discovering More Things Bolivia Is Known For
Despite its economic challenges, this South American nation is an incredibly beautiful and culturally rich country. These are just some of the countless things Bolivia is famous for.
The landscapes of Bolivia are incredibly diverse. It is home to parts of the Andes Mountain range, where the Aymara indigenous tribe can be found. Additionally, the national parks in the Amazon rainforest are where many rare animals are found.
Bolivia is also known for holding some of the coolest records on earth. It is home to the biggest salt flats in Uyuni, and Lake Titicaca which is the highest lake. You will definitely find more amazing things to love about the country when you visit.