• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Social Life in Bolivia


The Bolivians are conservative in most aspects of their lives and this is best seen in their behaviors, dress, and dining etiquette. They tend to dress and act conservatively, much of which is based on the tenants of the Catholic Church. However, there is also great variety in the way the Bolivians behave as the country is very diverse ethnically and geographically. Despite the conservative lifestyle of the Bolivians, politically the country is very liberal and their elected officials reflect this.

As a visitor to Bolivia try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing conservatively (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our Bolivia Dining & Food Page), and avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.


The traditional dress of the Bolivians is quite different from region to region depending on numerous factors, including ethnicity, culture, weather, income, lifestyle, and more. Additionally, the traditional dress and style has been forgotten in some regions due to Spanish presence and in other areas the Spanish altered it to a vast degree. Today there is a mix of indigenous dress which has been changed by the Spanish and the more European-styled dress found throughout the country, most commonly in the country's cities.

Today the most traditional dress for many of the Quechua and Aymara is called "cholas," which is a combination of historic materials and designs, but with Spanish styles and cuts. It typically consists of a long pleated skirt with a blouse, shawl, and simple shoes or sandals for women. However, there are variations from region to region, especially with design and skirt length. Men generally wear western-styled pants, shirts, and a jacket for formal events. Boots are also common as are hats, but like the dress of the women the styles varies greatly from region to region and for event to event, perhaps most noticeably with the style of hat and boots. In some regions, like Potosi, the style tends to be very simple and better reflects pre-Colombian dress, while in places like La Paz the dress is much more Spanish in style.

Among other indigenous people, especially those in the Amazon basin the dress is again different from that of the highlands, primarily due to weather, but also because of varying influences. Here the traditional dress tends to be fairly simple as clothes often consist of free flowing tunics for the women and simple shirts and pants for the men. Unlike the Andes, there is a significant lack of color in the dress of these regions.

A final dress of significance is that of the Chaco in the lowlands. Here the traditional style strongly reflected that of Spain as the women tend to wear long colorful dresses and men prefer long wide-legged pants with boots and a simple shirt; it strongly reflects that of historic Spain.

Today few men wear any of these traditional dresses except for special events and on certain occasions, but for many women, especially Quechua and Aymara women, this dress is still common every day wear. Over time many of the above styles have been replaced with modern western styled clothing that is reflective of Europe or North America. Nearly everyone wears these clothes today, but it tends to be somewhat conservative in nature. Long pants and sweaters are quite normal as showing too much skin is looked at oddly; plus, due to the cold weather in the mountains and due to sun exposure, most people prefer to cover up for more reasons than just etiquette.

As a visitor to Bolivia you will likely encounter many of the above styles (the locals understand foreigners like seeing these outfits and it helps sales), but you are welcome to wear just about anything in their country. Western styled clothing is the norm, but showing too much skin or men wearing shorts is typically viewed as being quite odd and even inappropriate in some settings (like churches). Tennis shoes and jeans are also perfectly acceptable, but again will help you stick out as a foreigner, although the Bolivians will take no offense at you wearing these items.

This page was last updated: November, 2013