World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0032449649
Reproduction Date:

Title: Bolivians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Bolivia–United States relations
Collection: Bolivian People, Demographics of Bolivia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Total population
11 million +
Regions with significant populations
 Bolivia 10,907,778
 Argentina + 1,000,000[1]
 Brazil 200,000 - 300,000[2]
 Spain 163,553[3]
 United States 99,296[4]
 Chile 31,313[5]
Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani and others (mainly Indigenous)
Predominantly Roman Catholicism, Minorities Evangelicalism and other religions.

Bolivian people (Spanish: Pueblo boliviano), also called Bolivians (Bolivianos), are the citizens of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Amerindians inhabited Bolivian territory for several millennia before Spanish Conquest in the 16th century. Spaniards and Africans arrived in steady numbers under colonial rule, mixing widely with each other and with indigenous peoples.

The Bolivian population, estimated at 10.9 million is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. The main language spoken is Spanish, although the Guarani, Aymara and Quechua languages are also common and all three, as well as 34 other indigenous languages, are official. The many cultures in Bolivia have contributed greatly to a wide diversity in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.


  • Ethnic groups 1
    • Indigenous 1.1
    • Mestizo 1.2
    • European 1.3
    • Black African 1.4
    • Other 1.5
      • Indigenous peoples 1.5.1
  • Religion 2
  • Culture 3
    • Dances 3.1
    • Clothing 3.2
    • Cuisine 3.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Ethnic groups

Ethnic composition
Indigenous-Native peoples self-identification ¹
Indigenous self-identification 60 %
None self-identification 40 %
Ethnic self-identification ²
Mestizo 68 %
Indigenous 18 %
White 7 %
Cholo 2 %
Afro Bolivian 1 %
Other 1 %
n/a 3 %
1 = National Census of Population and Living 2001, National Statistics Institute of Bolivia (INE).
2 = [7]

The ethnic composition of Bolivia includes a great diversity of cultures. Most of the indigenous peoples have assimilated a mestizo culture, diversifying and expanding their indigenous heritage. Consequently, there is in Bolivia a mix of cultures, which joins together Hispanic and Amerindian cultures.

The ethnic distribution of Bolivia is estimated to be 30% Quechua-speaking and 25% Aymara-speaking. The largest of the approximately three dozen native groups are the Quechuas (2.5 million), Aymaras (2 million), then Chiquitano (180,000), and Guaraní (125,000). So the full Amerindian population is at 55%; the remaining 30% are mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), and around 15% are white.[8]


Indigenous, also called "originarios" ("native" or "original") and, less frequently, Amerindians. This ethnic group is composed by the descendents of the Pre-Hispanic cultures. They can be Andean, as the Aymaras and Quechuas (which formed the ancient Inca Empire), which concentrate in the western departments of La Paz, Potosí, Oruro, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca. There also is an important oriental ethnic population, composed by the Guaraní and Moxos, among others, and that inhabit the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija and Pando. The indigenous people compose the 60% of the Bolivian population.


Mestizo are an ethnic mix of indigenous people and Europeans or Europeans descendants. They are distributed throughout the entire country and compose the 26% of the Bolivian population. Most people assume their mestizo identity while at the same time identifying themselves with one or more Indigenous cultures.


Most people of European origin are second-generation descendants of criollos and Europeans or Arabs, coming mostly from Spain, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Lebanon and Turkey.[8] They are usually concentrated in the largest cities — La Paz, Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba — and in some minor cities like Tarija. In the Santa Cruz Department there is an important colony (70.000 inhabitants) of German-speaking Mennonites.[9]

Black African

Afro Bolivians are descendants of African slaves, who arrived in the times of the Spanish Empire. They inhabit the department of La Paz and in the provinces of Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas.


Indigenous peoples

The Indigenous peoples of Bolivia are divided into two ethnic groups: the Andeans, who are in the Andean Altiplano and the valley region, and the ethnic culture of the oriental Llanos region, who inhabit the warm regions of eastern Bolivia (Gran Chaco).

  • Andean ethnicities
    • Aymaras. They live on the high plateau of the departments of La Paz, Oruro and Potosí, as well as some small regions near the tropical flatlands.
    • Quechuas. They inhabit mostly the valleys on Cochabamba and Chuquisaca. They also inhabit some mountain regions in Potosí and Oruro. They divide themselves into quechua nations, as the Tarabucos, Ucumaris, Chalchas, Chaquies, Yralipes, Tirinas, among others.
  • Ethnicities of the Oriental Llanos
    • Guaraníes. Formed by Guarayos, Pausernas, Sirionos, Chiriguanos, Wichí, Chulipis, Taipetes, Tobas and Yuquis.
    • Tacanas: Formed by Lecos, Chimanes, Araonas and Maropas.
    • Panos: Formed by Chacobos, Caripunas, Sinabos, Capuibos and Guacanaguas.
    • Aruacos: Formed by Apolistas, Baures, Moxos, Chané, Movimas, Cayabayas, Carabecas, Paiconecas or Paucanacas.
    • Chapacuras: Formed by Itenez or More, Chapacuras, Sansinonianos, Canichanas, Itonamas, Yuracares, Guatoses and Chiquitos.
    • Botocudos: Formed by Bororos y Otuquis.
    • Zamucos: Formed by Ayoreos.
Main Indigenous and Afro Bolivan peoples from Bolivia
Group Population % Group Population %
1 Quechua 1.558.277 15,54% 6 Afro Bolivian 22.000 0,22%
2 Aymara 1.098.317 10,95% 7 Movima 10.152 0,11%
3 Chiquitano 184.288 1,84% 8 Guarayo 9.863 0,10%
4 Guaraní 133.393 1,33% 9 Chiman 4.528 0,05%
5 Moxo 76.073 0,76% 10 Tacana 3.056 0,03%
Source: Wigberto Rivero Pinto (2006)[10]


Basílica Menor de San Lorenzo, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The Roman Catholic church has a dominant presence in religion in Bolivia. While a vast majority of Bolivians are Catholic Christians, a much smaller portion of the population participates actively. In the decades following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), the Church tried to make religion a more active force in social life.

A 2008 survey for Americas Barometer, with 3,003 respondents and an error (+/- 1,8%)[11] returned these results:
Religion Percentage Notes
Catholic 81.6%
Evangelic 10.3% Pentecostal, Non-Catholic Charismatic
No religion 3.3% Secular, Atheist
Protestant 2.6% Historic Protestant: Adventist, Baptist, Calvinist, Salvation Army, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbiterian
Mormon and Jehova's Witness 1.7%
Non-Christian 0.4% Bahá'í Faith, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu
Traditional religions 0.1% Native religions

Other reviews of the population vary from these specific results.[12]


Traditional folk dress during a festival in Bolivia.

Some cultural development of what is now Bolivia is divided into three distinct periods: pre-Columbian, colonial, and republican. Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important pre-Columbian cultures. Major ruins include Tiwanaku, Samaipata, Inkallaqta and Iskanwaya. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and hardly explored by archaeologists.

The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local indigenous and mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, literature, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque." The colonial period produced the paintings of Perez de Holguin, Flores, Bitti, and others, and also the works of skilled but unknown stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of native baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994. Bolivian artists of stature in the 20th century include, among others, Guzman de Rojas, Arturo Borda, María Luisa Pacheco, Master William Vega, Alfredo Da Silva, and Marina Núñez del Prado.


Many dances and songs contain elements from both the native and European cultures. Caporales seems to be the most popular Bolivian dance of present times — in a few decades it has developed into an enormously popular dance, not only in the Highlands where it originated, but also in the Lowlands and in Bolivian communities outside the country. In the Highlands, other traditional and still very popular dances are:

In the Lowlands, there are:

  • Macheteros
  • Taquirari
  • Chovena


It is fashionable among Bolivian Andean women of indigenous descent to wear a skirt called a pollera. It was originally a Spanish peasant skirt that the colonial authorities forced indigenous women to wear. Now it is a symbol of pride in being indigenous and is considered a status symbol.

Another fashion is the bowler hat, which was adopted from the British. The position of the hat can indicate a woman's marital status and aspirations.


Bolivian cuisine stems mainly from the combination of Spanish cuisine with traditional native Bolivian ingredients, with later influences from Germans, Italians, Basques, Croats, Russians, and Poles, due to the arrival of immigrants from those countries.

The traditional staples of Bolivian cuisine are corn, potatoes, and beans. These ingredients have been combined with a number of staples brought by the Spanish, such as rice, wheat, and meat, such as beef, pork, and chicken

See also


  1. ^ Cónsul Boliviano con los días contados por Raúl Kollman, Página 12, 9 de abril de 2006.
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Europapress. "Nueve de cada diez bolivianos en España ya están en situación regular" (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  4. ^ US Census Bureau 2012 American Community Survey B03001 1-Year Estimates HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN retrieved September 20, 2013
  5. ^ La Razón. "Bolivianos en Chile" (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Fundación Boliviana para la Democracia Multipartidaria (FBDM) y Fondo para la Democracia de Naciones Unidas (Undef) (13 March 2009). "Encuesta Nacional Sobre Valores y Actitudes Frente a la Conflictividad en Bolivia". Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Bolivian people
  9. ^ Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite Frontier. The New York Times. 21 December 2006.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Americas Barometer Survey 2008 - page 11
  12. ^ "Bolivia". National Profiles > > Regions > Central America >. Association of Religion Data Archives. 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.