We’re here to share a few facts about Bolivia, a vibrant country. Nestled in the heart of South America, Bolivia beckons with its breathtaking beauty, rich cultural heritage, and awe-inspiring natural wonders. From dramatic landscapes to rich indigenous traditions, this enchanting country has captivated travelers and adventurers for centuries.
Beyond its reputation as the “rooftop of the world,” Bolivia offers a captivating blend of history, nature, and cultural marvels. The country has ancient ruins like Tiwanaku and steamy jungles of the Amazon Basin, along with La Paz, the world’s highest capital city, with a bustling market and colonial architecture. This is only a taste of this vibrant South American country, as there is much more to learn.
Fun Facts About Bolivia
Bolivia has Giant Salt Flats
The salt flats of Bolivia are among the largest in the world. The largest one, Salar de Uyuni, is 6,575 square miles and is one of Bolivia’s top tourist attractions. There’s also a salt palace called Palacio de Sal, a hotel featuring sculptures, ceilings, walls, and furniture made of salt.
A Country that’s Big on Nature
Situated In Santa Cruz, Parque Nacional Del Gran Chaco Kaa-Iya Is The Largest National Park In Bolivia And One Of The Largest In South America. The 13,286 Square Miles Of Pristine Wilderness Is Home To Many Species, Including Jaguars, Wolves, Pumas, Armadillos, And Much More.
A Country with Two Capitals
Most people think La Paz is the capital city of Bolivia, but they are only half right. It’s not the official capital of the country. The official capital is Sucre. La Paz is the administrative capital only.
One of the biggest butterfly sanctuaries in the world, The Guembe Butterfly Sanctuary, is in Bolivia. More than a thousand butterfly species live and thrive in this sanctuary.
Most Bolivians are Also Indigenous
More than 50% of Bolivia’s population is Indigenous, meaning it has the highest population of indigenous people in South America. With over 36 indigenous groups, Bolivia’s cultural richness shines through vibrant festivals, intricate textiles, and colorful dances.
Amazing Madidi National Park
There are many things to know about Madidi National Park, but the most important fact about this beautiful and fascinating place is it’s considered one of the biggest protected areas on the planet, and at 11,779 square miles, it’s quite big! The park is situated in the Upper Amazon Basin region and is known for its diversity of natural plant and animal life.
There are 272 species of animals living in the park, but more are always being discovered, such as the Titi monkey, which was only discovered in 2004. Just as astonishing is the number of bird species that live in the park, which is just over 1,200. To give a clearer picture of how many birds live there, that number represents 14% of the species on Earth.
The Only Ametrine Mine is in Bolivia
Bolivia is one of the only places in the world where Ametrine or Golden Amethyst can be found. The only Ametrine mine in the world is in Bolivia because the precious gem thrives under rare conditions in only a few places. The gem gets its nickname due to its yellowish-purple color.
Named after a Famous Liberator
Simon Bolivar was a renowned political leader and famed liberator who led the Wars of Independence and drove five countries away from Spanish rule. His endeavors have resulted in the country of Bolivia being named after him.
A UNESCO World Heritage City
Potosi is known for many things. It’s known for its high altitude, it’s known for its silver mining heritage, and it’s known for its history as a major industrial center. It’s also known for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Formally known as…
During Spanish rule, Bolivia was called Upper Peru. When the country gained independence in 1825, the name changed to what it is today.
Bolivia was Part of the Inca Empire
From the 15th century to the 16th century, Bolivia belonged to the ancient Inca Empire, and the remnants of this empire can be found in various parts of the country and around South America.
Descending the Death Road
The most dangerous road, Yungas Road, on earth, is located in Bolivia, and according to statistics, around 300 people are killed on this road every year. A combination of rough mountain conditions, steep inclines and declines, poor visibility, and a lack of guardrails makes this road dangerous. Despite these dangers, many travelers travel the road for the thrill; some even travel across it on a bicycle!
Carnaval de Oruro
Carnaval de Oruro is not only popular, but it’s also unique in that it combines indigenous traditions with Catholic rituals. The festival started in the 1700s, and it features colorful costumes, traditional dancing, live music, and waking up anyone still asleep when the festivities begin!
The Colors of the Flag
The colors on the Bolivian flag are Red, yellow, and Green, each with a specific meaning. The red represents the blood shed during the freedom fight, the yellow symbolizes the country’s mineral deposits, and the green represents the country’s agricultural history.
That’s some High Altitude
Bolivia is one of the highest countries in South America and one of the most isolated.
A Very Biodiverse Country
Much of Earth’s plant and animal life can be found in Bolivia. This makes the country one of the most biodiverse on earth. Bolivia is so biodiverse, and its landscape and nature are so important that 17% of the country’s land has been protected.
An Unconventional Treat
Delicacies vary from country to country and culture to culture; some may seem strange. For example, in Bolivia, the Guinea Pig is considered a tasty delicacy known as Cuy. Yes, those cute little critters you or many people you know keep in a cage as a pet are fried, roasted, or broiled and served to the delight of waiting diners.
Pink Dolphins Are Real
They are a fairly recent discovery, and the pink dolphins that live in the Bolivian Amazon basin are not only beautiful and fascinating, but they are also highly intelligent.
Zebras Help People Across Busy Streets
This is one of the most fun facts about Bolivia! I bet you didn’t know that there are zebras in Bolivia! Not only are zebras in the country, but these zebras help people cross busy streets!
They’re not real zebras, of course, but they are people dressed in zebra costumes that can be found at many crossings and are there to help pedestrians, particularly children, to cross busy streets safely.
A Quechua Majority
The indigenous people of Bolivia make up more than half of the country’s population, but the Quechua people make up most of the indigenous population.
Bringing Attention to Domestic Violence
While watching Cholita Wrestling is a popular activity among residents and visitors to Bolivia, these performances also serve as an awareness campaign for domestic violence. Each match starts with a woman being attacked by a man and the woman fighting back to win the match.
A City in the Clouds
Regarding cities with more than one million people, La Paz is the highest in the world. Be cautious of altitude sickness if you ever visit! Some of Bolivia’s major cities, including La Paz and Sucre, are in the Andes Mountains. All-in-all, one-third of the entire country is located in this mountain range.
Shop in a Bona fide Witch Market
La Paz is home to one unique place locals call El Mercado de Las Brujas, which translates to Witch Market in English. Various indigenous and black magic rituals are alive and well in the country, and practitioners must get their supplies somewhere! Strange and unique items, including the famous ayahuasca and cactus hallucinogenics used in many rituals, can be found at this intriguing market.
From a symbol of Repression to a Symbol of Pride
Once a source of repression, the traditional Pollera Skirt that Bolivian women often wear symbolizes pride. Under Spanish rule, women were forced to wear the long, pleated skirt, but today it’s worn to show pride in indigenous heritage.
There are Flamingos in Bolivia
While you expect to see flamingos in more tropical places, most people don’t expect to see them in Bolivia! Despite the harsh conditions, three species of flamingoes can be found in the Andes, including one extremely endangered.
There are two voting ages in Bolivia
Whether you vote at age 18 or you vote at age 21 depends on one thing; whether you’re married or not! Married folks can begin legally voting at age 18, but if you’re still single by that age, you won’t be able to vote until you’re 21 unless you get hitched before that.
Voting is also mandatory in Bolivia once you reach the legal age or marital status, so residents don’t get to choose if they vote like in most other democratic countries.
There’s a Clock that goes Backwards.
The Congress Building in La Paz has a unique feature; a clock that goes backward. The reason for this? To encourage Bolivians to be creative and to think for themselves.
A Cheap Escape
Travelers in the know claim that Bolivia is the cheapest country to visit in South America, especially for long-term travel. This budget-friendly country is where you can find a comfortable bed in a hostel for less than ten dollars and a tasty meal from a street vendor for around a dollar.
Bolivia is Home to the Largest Navigable Lake
As beautiful as Lake Titicaca is, the lake has another claim to fame; at 12,500 feet above sea level, it’s South America’s highest navigable and deepest lake.
Still Fighting for Access to the Ocean
There are only two landlocked countries in South America, and Bolivia is one of them. Before 1825, the country had access to the ocean. Bolivia once had control over the Atacama Desert, but conflict over natural resources ended that luxury.
The War Of The Pacific against Chile happened in the late 1800s, and they lost that access. Today, the country is landlocked in the middle of the South American continent, but despite this fact, Bolivia has a navy.
You may be asking why a landlocked country would have a navy on Earth. That’s because Bolivia is still trying to get that land that leads to the ocean back due to the trade and economic benefits of having a seaport within its borders.
A Land of Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites
In Bolivia, UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be found nationwide. There are seven such sites to explore, and each one is fascinating in its way. The City of Potosi is the most popular of these sites, but there’s also the Fuerte de Samaipata, the City of Sucre, the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture and the Qhapaq Ñan Andean Road System.
A Linguists Dream
Like most countries in South America, Spanish is Bolivia’s most widely spoken language. However, more than 30 other languages are spoken in the country, mostly indigenous languages such as Quechua and Aymara.
Family is everything
Family life is very important to Bolivians, and it’s common for multiple generations of a family to live under one roof. Family expectations are very traditional, too, with men working outside the house for the family income and women focusing on the children and home.