Bolivian families, especially those in rural areas, may include grandparents as well as parents and children. Grandparents often take care of their grandchildren if both parents work outside of the home. Children are taught to be respectful of their elders and often have a close relationship with their grandparents. If grandparents are not available, older children often watch over their brothers and sisters. 

Godparents also play an important role, especially in rural areas. Being a godparent is a heavy responsibility, and the ties between godparents and their godchildren often last their entire lives. This relationship, which is called compadrazgo, creates connections among different families.

Marriages are festive celebrations. Couples are required to have a civil wedding, presided over by a government official. Many people choose to have a religious ceremony in addition to the civil ceremony. More and more women in Bolivia are working outside the home and are gaining political power. Lydia Gueiler Tejada was Bolivia's first female president (she was acting president 1979-80) and Remedios Loza Alvarado, an Aymara, is head of the political party known as CONDEPA, or Conscience of the Fatherland.
  Did you know?
Aymara women wear their bowler hats tipped to one side if they are unmarried, and on the middle of their heads if they are married.
Many Bolivians have moved from rural areas to the cities to find work. They often keep their ties to their old communities and visit them as often as they can. They may also join associations of people from their community who have moved to the city. In the cities, people live in houses or apartment buildings. Very poor people build houses out of scrap materials in shantytowns on the outskirts. Near Lake Titicaca, some houses are made out of mud bricks called adobe. The roofs of these houses are made of paja brava, which is like thick straw. 

The Aymara and Quechua people, who live in the altiplano region, have a distinctive way of dressing. Aymara women wear bright skirts called polleras and bowler hats. Aymara men often wear striped ponchos and hats with earflaps called chullos. Quechua women wear long skirts and hats that are unique to their home village. Today, some Quechua and Aymara people wear Western clothes.

Bolivia has several small communities of black people, the descendants of the Africans who worked as slaves in the mines. Most live in the area around La Paz. There are also small groups of Asian people in the region around Santa Cruz. Most came to Bolivia in the 1960s and 1970s.