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Other historical commemorations, such as Independence Day (6 August 1825) and the widely celebrated date of the signing of the agrarian reform law (2 August 1952), also serve as catalysts for collective memories.
A low population density of fifteen inhabitants per square mile is paralleled by a young, fast-growing population (over 41 percent less than fifteen years old). Spanish, the national and official language, is spoken in urban centers, while the dominant languages in the rural highlands are Quechua (the Incan lingua franca) and Aymara and in the southeast Guaraní.
Members of the Oriente ethnic polities (e.g., Guarayos, Mojeños, Tacanas, Movimas, Chimanes) speak Spanish and their indigenous languages, which are members of the Amazonian language family.
Regional identities, such as Spanish speakers in the Oriente contrasting themselves with Quechua- or Aymara-speaking highland dwellers, have always been important.
For members of lowland ethnic polities, self-identification as Mojeño or Tacana is important in everyday life.
In southern highland ethnic politics, shared historical memories and cultural practices such as dress bolster ethnic identification as Macha, Sakaka, or Jukumani. The construction of a national identity that would override ethnic and other identities has been an important but only partly successful dimension of state-building efforts.
According to the 1992 census, at least 87 percent of all those over six years old spoke Spanish, an 11 percent increase over 1976 (although many are barely functional in Spanish).
There are three major geographic–ecological landscapes: the high and cold plateau ( altiplano ) between the eastern and western Andean mountain chains (Cordillera Oriental and Cordillera Occidental) at 12,000 to 14,000 feet (4,000 to 4,500 meters) above sea level, the intermontane valleys ( valles ) in the easternmost part of the Cordillera Oriental at an average of 8,500 feet (2,600 meters) elevation, and the vast lowlands (Oriente) beyond the eastern flanks of the Cordillera Oriental.The sparsely populated Oriente—swamp, grasslands, plains, and tropical and subtropical forest—constitutes over 70 percent of the country. Historically, Bolivia has been predominantly rural, with most of its Quechua- and Aymara-speaking peasants living in highland communities.The 1992 census confirmed that 80 percent of the people live in the highlands and noted increasing rural to urban migration.The second complex centers on commemorating the indigenous, non-Hispanic cultural heritage of most Bolivians, especially in the rural highlands, where many Quechua- and Aymara-speaking peasants see themselves as "descendants" of the "Incas," and in national folkloric music and festivals.These festivals are multilayered symbolic "sites" that index things "Bolivian,"—and the multiclass, multiethnic character of these celebrations fosters differential claims to and forging of culture, history, memory, and symbols. The highland regions were absorbed into the Incan Empire less than a hundred years before the Spanish conquest in 1532.The War of the Chaco (1932–1935), in which Bolivia lost vast territories and oil deposits to Paraguay, was critical for national consciousness-raising and the 1952 populist revolution.