IS Partner Appraisal Document
1. INTRODUCTION TO BOLIVIA
Bolivia is a country of great contrasts. Geographically, Bolivia has three main regions -the Altiplano or high plateau, the Valleys and the Lowlands. In terms of altitude, theAltiplano ranges approximately between 3700 to 4500 metres, valleys descend fromthese higher areas to altitudes between 1500 to 3000 metres above sea level. Lower Valleys descend towards the tropical lowlands to about 400 to 500 metres. In cultural terms, most inhabitants in Bolivia today can trace their ancestry to theTiahuanaco and Inca Empires. Traditionally, these cultures mostly inhabited theHighland and Valleys in what is now Bolivia. Today, the migration to the main citiesand to the lowlands has meant a spread of the different ethnic groups. These aresmaller in number and many have been subject to heavy influence from migrants fromthe Highlands and Valleys of Bolivia and from abroad. Nevertheless, of all the LatinAmerican countries, Bolivia has the highest proportion of an indigenous population.Within this indigenous population are various ethnic groups with their own language,beliefs system, customs and so forth, with Quechua and Aymara cultures being theprincipal two. More than 50% of the population is bilingual, Spanish being the officiallanguage. According to the latest census, 23% speak Quechua, 16% speak Aymaraand 3% others which includes Guarani.One of the main challenges facing Bolivia today is the need to re-value theseindigenous cultures, respecting their traditions, beliefs and what is referred to as the“cosmovision andina”, which basically refers to the way these people see life and liveaccordingly which is focused on maintaining an equilibrium within the environment of which of course man and woman are part. But also, last but not least, open theexclusive social, economic and political structures to the indigenous people thereforeending discrimination and exclusion.