Bolivia Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Bolivia Country Overview

Where is Bolivia located? The landlocked city of Bolivia is located in southern America. On the time zone map, which divides the countries of the world into world time zones along the lines of longitude, Bolivia can be found in a time zone called “Bolivia Time” (BOT). In this time zone, the regional time is always 4 hours behind the coordinated world time (UTC -4). In summer there is no time shift to daylight saving time.

Bolivia National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Bolivia is 11,639,909, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 11,639,909
Population growth rate 1.44%
Birth rate 22.00 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 68.22 years
Men life expectancy 65.47 years
Women life expectancy 71.11 years
Age structure
0-14 years 31.34%
15-64 years 63.23%
65 years and above 5.43%
Median age 23.70 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.98
Population density 10.60 residents per km²
Urbanization 63.40%
49% indigenous (mainly Quechua, Aimará – a total of 36 ethnic groups), 30% European-indigenous, 15% of European origin
Catholics (Roman Catholic) 95%, Protestants (Evangelical Methodists) 5%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.703
HDI ranking 114th out of 194

People in Bolivia

More than 11 million people live in Bolivia. The largest city is Santa Cruz de la Sierra with 1.4 million residents. It is located in the eastern lowlands of the country. Most people, however, live on the Altiplano, the plateau in the Andes.

68 percent of the population are joint descendants of Indians and whites, mostly Spaniards. They are also called mestizos – although the German translation “Mestizos” is perceived as degrading and is therefore rarely used. 20 percent belong to indigenous peoples. Many mestizos, however, also see themselves as belonging to an indigenous group. According to this, the proportion is even 40 percent of the population. In any case, Bolivia has one of the highest proportions of indigenous population in the population in South America. Most are Quechua (2.5 million) and Aymara (2 million). You live in the Altiplano.

Indigenous peoples in Bolivia

The next largest ethnic groups are the Chiquitanos (180,000), the Guaraní (130,000) and the Moxos (80,000). These three peoples live in the eastern lowlands. The Urus live on Lake Titicaca (at the mouth of the Desaguadero River) and in the highlands, but in Bolivia they live in the countryside and not on floating islands like in Peru. Some small Indian peoples are threatened with extinction.

5 percent of whites live in Bolivia. They also include around 40,000 Mennonites who live in twelve communities in the southeast of the country in the Santa Cruz Department. 1 percent are black, the Afro-Bolivians. They are descendants of slaves brought here from the 17th century until the abolition of slavery in 1831. They were mainly used for work in the silver mines. Most Afro-Bolivians now live in the Yungas east of La Paz. Their culture includes saya, a music and dance that developed in the 19th century and mixes elements of the Aymara and Africa.

Around 7 percent of the population live abroad. You have mainly gone to Argentina, Spain or the USA to work there.

  • Children: Every woman in Bolivia has an average of 2.4 children. With us, every woman has an average of 1.4 children.
  • Urban and rural: 70 percent of the population of Bolivia live in cities. So 30 percent, almost a third of the population, live in rural areas.

Languages in Bolivia

Spanish is the official language in Bolivia. 60 percent of Bolivians speak it as their mother tongue. Overall, almost 90 percent of the population speak Spanish as a first or second language. 21 percent speak Quechua and 15 percent speak Aymara, making them the most widely spoken indigenous languages. A total of 36 indigenous languages ​​are recognized in Bolivia, but some of them have already died out and are no longer spoken. The Mennonites of German descent, incidentally, speak a kind Platt German, called Plautdietsch.

Spanish in Bolivia

The Spanish spoken in Bolivia is different from the Spanish spoken in Spain. For example, while in Spain the c is usually pronounced like an English th, i.e. between the teeth (as in through), in Bolivia (and throughout Latin America) the c is pronounced like a sharp s (as in see). This is called Seseo.

There are also many regional specialties and dialects. The Spanish in the lowlands sounds different from that in the Andes.

Words from Quechua have also found their way into Bolivian Spanish. The use of the Voseo is typical for large parts of the country: One says vos instead of tu for “you”. In the eastern part of the country this is even used in writing. The verb form is then also a little different.

Religions in Bolivia

76 percent of the population are Catholics (Roman Catholic). 17 percent belong to a Protestant church. So the vast majority of Bolivians are Christians.