Bolivia Geography, Arts, and Music

Bolivia Geography, Arts, and Music

South America

South American state. It borders to the North and E with Brazil, to the West with Peru and Chile, to the South with Argentina, to the SE with Paraguay.

Physical characteristics

The territory of Bolivia is formed by an elevated region in O and a low E. The western part, section of the Andean system, comprises a central depressed area, where there are large lakes without drainage to the sea (Titicaca, Poopó) and two elevated marginal areas, with peaks that often exceed 6000 m. The central depressed zone, directed from NW to SE, level and high on average 3700-3800 m, is closed to the West by the Western Cordillera (Cordillera de la Costa), rich in mostly extinct volcanic cones (Tacora, 5982 m; Sajama, 6542 m etc.); and to the East from the Eastern Cordillera (Cordillera Real), made up mostly of granite rocks (Illimani, 6462 m; Illampu, 6362 m). The eastern plain region includes the lowlands of Beni and del Mamoré, in the center the plateau of Chiquitos and Velasco, and to the South a part of the lowland of Chaco, poor in water.

The climate of Bolivia, located approximately between 10 ° and 22 ° lat. Yes, it is affected by the influence of latitude, relief and also the wind regime. The plateau has a warm altitude climate, with average annual temperatures below 20 ° C, limited annual excursions (5-6 ° C), well-defined dry period (June-August); the lowlands of Beni and Mamoré and the E side of the Eastern Cordillera, up to around 18 ° S, have an equatorial climate, very hot and humid, with small seasonal temperature fluctuations and abundant rainfall (1500-2000 mm). Proceeding towards S, the temperature trend becomes more irregular, rainfall decreases and the dry season is accentuated: in Chaco rainfall falls below 750-800 mm and the temperature is around 24-25 ° C, with 8-9 ° C of annual excursion.

The Bolivia di SO and some parts of the Chaco are devoid of rivers, the Desaguadero basin with the Titicaca and Poopó lakes is endorheic. Most of the country sends its waters to the Amazon River via the Beni and Mamoré, which form the Madeira, the SE region tributes to Paraguay -Paraná by means of the Pilcomayo.

In Bolivia di NE the equatorial forest predominates, which turns into a tropical mountain forest on the eastern side of the Cordillera, while towards the south it passes through thorny scrub and campos. The puna prevails on the highlands, a xerophilous formation with low, woody and thorny plants, which also cover the Chaco.


The most important pre-Columbian archaeological site remaining in Bolivian territory is Tiahuanaco, to the South of Lake Titicaca, evidence of the high level of Mesoandine civilization (remains of lithic monuments, bas-relief and all-round sculptures, ceramics).

In the colonial period, with the foundation of the main centers in the second half of the 16th century. (Potosí, La Plata, La Paz, Cochabamba etc.), the architecture, like painting and sculpture, reflects the Spanish forms of transition from Gothic to Renaissance, welcomes the Baroque, combining it in the rich decorations with the local pre-Hispanic tradition (baroque mestizo). In addition to the numerous city churches, the wooden ones of the Jesuit missions of Chiquitos (18th century) are noteworthy. After independence there is the influence of the neoclassical and eclectic style of French derivation. Since 1943, even with the foundation of the Faculty of Architecture of La Paz, we have witnessed the search for a national style with a return of pre-Hispanic and neocolonial models while the new demands of international architecture are gradually received by subsequent generations (M. Quiroga, JC Calderón, G. Medeiros).

Even in the field of sculpture and painting, research, far from the international artistic avant-gardes, tends to build a language closely connected with the Andean culture, in forms and subjects. In the first half of the 20th century. C. Guzman de Rojas (1899-1950) stands out in particular. After the 1952 revolution a strong commitment animates M. Alandia Pantoja (1914-1975), W. Solón Romero (1923-1999) and G. Imaná Garrón (b.1933), founders of Grupo Anteo, murals and engravings are the means more effective expressives. Representative figures of the adoption of innovative languages ​​are the sculptress M. Núñez del Prado (1910-1995), the painters ML Pacheco (1919-1982) and I. Córdova (b.1927), the painters O. Pantoja (b.1925), A. La Placa (b.1929). From the last decades of the 20th century. Bolivia has opened up to new languages, from photography to installation, from video to performance: the most important personalities are G. Ugalde (b. 1946) and R. Valcárcel (b. 1951); there are numerous female presences: P. Mariaca (b.1961), A. Fabbri (b.1957), E. Stih (b.1957), R. Schwartz (b.1963), E. Ewel (b.1970).


In the era of the Tiahuanacota (Aymara) and Inca (Quechua) empires, the pentaphonic system was predominant even if in some areas more archaic tonal systems of two, three and seven notes were used. The compositions had a purely melodic character and were based on a single part, sometimes repeated an octave higher. Each occasion had its own music; anthropologists have recovered 27 genres of songs: dance, love, for the dead, etc. The most varied were the music for the dances which were classified into 79 types, including the mongrel-religious, totemic, historical, etc. For Bolivia 2002, please check

During the colonial period, forms of Western sacred music were adopted: masses, oratories, Christmas carols, requiem, choral, organ music. Besides these, they were cultivated local genres, especially dances like Morenada, the diablada, los Sayas etc. In 1568 the first Academy of Music was founded and, a few years later, a Mass in Quechua was composed mixing the Western Baroque system with the Andean pentatonic. A sort of ‘nationalist romanticism’ became predominant in Bolivian cultured music starting from independence (1825), when composers began to look for the source of their inspiration in the native sonority.

The popular music of Bolivia is a living tradition, practiced above all in parties, such as for example. in the famous Carnival of Oruro. Among the forms that retain ancient features, the diablada, a dance with colorful masks and costumes, which derives from medieval religious work; the sikuris d’Italalaque, a pre-Hispanic march orchestra. Characteristic is the importance of the music of the bands, which represent a specialty of the country.


City of Potosí (1987); Jesuit mission of the Chiquitos (1990); historic city of Sucre (1991); fort of Samaipata (1998); Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (2000); Tiwanaku, spiritual and political center of the homonymous culture (2000).

Bolivia Geography, Arts, and Music