Bolivia is an incredibly rich country in terms of languages spoken. It’s official, national language is Spanish, but indigenous groups speak a total of 36 other languages. These include Quechua, Aimara and Guaraní.
10,027,254 people live in Bolivia.
Population density in the country is recorded at 9,13 inhabitants per kilometre squared.
Bolivia’s currency is the boliviano.
The country is divided into nine departments (or states).
Bolivia remains to this day in a long battle with Chile in order to reclaim territory which opened out into the Pacific Ocean.
It has two capital cities. Sucre is the capital city for judicial matters. La Paz is the business, legislative and electoral
• Bolivia is full of surprises and unconventional landscapes, which range from coloured lakes, salt lakes and deserts, to tropical rainforests which are almost impenetrable.
• It’s a country full of cultures and customs which date back for thousands of years.
• It’s people manage to live in rural areas which one would think impossible to survive in.
Bolivia is a Unitarian State, divided further into autonomous authorities. Legal voting age in Bolivia is 18.
One of the main issues to bear in mind about Bolivia is that the quality of life in urban locations is very different to the quality of life in rural areas. Illiteracy in rural locations is still very high. The problem here is that in other urban areas of the country, literacy levels continue to rise. This highlights the extreme inequality which exists in Bolivia. Strangely enough, Bolivia reserves 23% of its annual budget to educational expenses, which is more than what most Latin American countries reserve for educational matters. In 1994, an educational reform was also pass through government which meant that funding for educational purposes would be centralised in order to effectively reach rural areas.
Bolivia is in pretty poor conditions when it comes to health provisions. It ranks amongst the worst countries in the Western Hemisphere for the health care programs it provides. Haiti is the only country in the west which ranks lower than Bolivia. Many communities in Bolivia suffer from undernourishment — the estimates reveal that 7% of children under the age of 5, and 23% of the country’s population, suffers from malnutrition. it has a child mortality rate of 69 per 1000 births (which is the worst across the whole of Latin America) and sanitation issues, particularly in rural areas, are a huge concern.
• Lake Titicaca is a beautiful lake, situated in between Bolivia and Peru, offering an easy border crossing to make for all who visit. One of its impressive features is that it’s found at 3812 meters above sea level and home to an indigenous group of people who build their homes, schools and other materials from the plants which grow in the lake. They live on top of islands created by these plants which miraculously float on the lake’s surface.
• The salt lake of Uyuni is the largest salt lake in the world and situated at 3650 metres above sea level. If you’re lucky enough to visit the lake when it rains, you’ll see how this incredibly flat, white space converts into a kind of water mirror of magnificent proportions. Photography fanatics mustn’t lose the opportunity to visit.
• The Madidi National Park is a rich centre for biodiversity. Many people travel to this part of Bolivia in a deliberate attempt to lose themselves completely in the midst of the wild jungle surroundings. It’s possible to lose connections with the rest of the world when retiring to some of the accommodation options in the depths of these jungle surroundings.
• Is a visa required?: Depending on your country of origin. For more information, please check this website: http://www.projectvisa.com
• Allocation of Tourist Visa: Tourist Visa is received at the airport of La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba
• Duration of Tourist visa: Lasts up to 90 days
• Tourist Visa Extension: It is possible to extend by leaving the country and flying in again after some months
• Passport validation: Must be valid for at least 6 months
• Return/onward flight ticket: Generally not required upon entering the country
• Confirmation of Funds: Declaration of sufficient funds will not be required
• Currency: Bolivian Peso
• Inform Banks: Give the dates of travel and destinations to prevent security blocks on your bank and credit cards
• Cash: Always take enough cash to cover your expenses for the first week in case there is a problem with your bank cards or access to ATM’s is limited.
• Credit Options: Good idea to have at least two different credit/debit card options i.e. MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, or Cirrus.
• Travellers Cheques: Will be able to exchange in major cities and best to take them in Dollars
• Western Union: If at any time you have any problems in accessing money you can use Western Union transfer. Money can be sent from your home country and received in Bolivia the same day.
• Vaccinations: Yellow fever required; Typhoid + Hepatitis A&B recommended
• Malaria medication: Not necessary, just in higher Andean regions
• See local GP: If vaccinations or medication is required see the doctor 4-6 weeks before your departure
• Less than 4 weeks before you leave: You should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while travelling.
• Check the following for up to date information: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
''I really like the method of the school where you work one-on-one with different teachers on different days because I learned different things from different teachers. And on days when I needed more than a day to grasp a concept the school was able to have me work with the same teacher for a couple days in a row. I was really shy about speaking in Spanish when I came to the school, but in the supportive environment and after a couple of four hour classes where I had no option but to speak I was able to overcome that hesitation and my Spanish really improved.'' Spanish course. Alexander
''Our teacher was awesome. She took the time to make sure that all the students understood but did not harp on a single subject overly long – just the right amount of practice without being tedious – perfecto! ''Spanish Course.Erin Barrios
''I arrived in Bolivia to serve as a volunteer for one year but spoke almost no Spanish. I spent three months the language school where I was able to learn quickly because of the mostly one on one style classes they provided. The school has a very supportive staff and host families ready to help you in every way they can. During my stay in Cochabamba I felt safe and had many opportunities to try out my Spanish skills. The teachers were tireless and witty and were always available to lend a helping hand.'' Spanish course. Christopher Rodriguez
''In the summer of 2005, I was searching for a language school in Central or South America where I could improve my Spanish language skills for professional use and decided to travel to Bolivia. The whole language school staff, are intent on making sure students not only learn the language they came to study, but also grow to understand the community in which they are staying. The teachers were interested in the reasons that I came to study Spanish, and they worked with me to focus on vocabulary and discussions relevant to my line of work. The school also offered me opportunities to take organized excursions and to volunteer in a nearby community, all of which enriched my experience. I look back on my time in Bolivia and I'd go again in a heartbeat.'' Spanish course. Julie Murray