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Bolivia - Culture

Bolivia Culture

Musical traditions within Bolivia are distinctly regional: strains of Andean music from the desolate Altiplano are suitably haunting and mournful, while those of warmer Tarija, with its compliment of bizarre musical instruments, take on more ebullient tones. Dances such as the cueca, auqui-auqui and tinku hold a reverent place in popular culture. Other forms of folk expression include spinning and weaving, which display regional differences but have changed little over the last 3000 years.

Spanish is the official language, yet only 60 to 70% of the people actually speak it, and then often only as a second language. The remainder speak Quechua, the language of the Inca, or Aymara, the pre-Inca language of the Altiplano.

Roughly 95% of Bolivia's population professes to be Roman Catholic, but the absence of clergy in rural areas has led to a synthesis of Inca and Aymara beliefs with Christianity. The hybrid Christian/folk religion is an interesting conglomeration of doctrines, rites and superstitions.

Bolivia's food is dominated by meat dishes, accompanied by rice, potatoes and shredded lettuce. Sometimes llajhua (a hot sauce made from tomatoes and pepper pods) will be used to add spice and flavor to a dish. Bolivian beer, wine and chicha (industrial-strength maize liquor) are all good but be warned: if invited to drink with locals, be prepared as the alcohol is strong and Bolivian drinking habits lusty.

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