Bolivia Population and Religion


According to itypetravel, around 37% of the population belong to indigenous peoples who have so far been largely excluded from political decision-making processes. It was not until the constitution of 2009 that the 36 indigenous peoples (including Quechua, Aimaraand Guarani ) were recognized as nations; This puts them on an equal footing with the mestizos (59%), known as Cholos in Bolivia, and the whites (3%). The majority of the indigenous people live on the rain-poor, but densely populated Altiplano. The whites, mostly of Spanish origin, large landowners and mine owners, form a small “aristocratic” upper class, especially in the cities and in the lowlands. The middle class of Bolivian society is mainly made up of the Cholos.

With an average of ten residents / km 2, Bolivia is very sparsely populated (for comparison: Austria: 107 residents / km 2). In the high valleys of the Andes and on the Altiplano, around 80% of the population live on only 40% of the country’s area; The tropical lowlands are particularly sparsely populated. As in all Latin American countries, rural exodus plays a major role: Overall (2017) 69% of the population live in cities. The main settlements are the metropolitan areas of La Paz with EI Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Social: Almost 40% of the population live below the poverty line. Medical care for the indigenous people in rural areas is largely inadequate. Infant mortality is 35 per 1,000 live births.

The biggest cities in Bolivia

Biggest Cities (Residents 2012)
Santa Cruz 1 442 400
El Alto 846 900
La Paz 758 800
Cochabamba 632,000
Oruro 265,000


The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, with the Catholic Church constitutionally (Article 3) having the special status of the “official religion” of Bolivia. A state religion in the legal sense ceased to exist in 1961. – According to the latest available estimates, 74% of the population belong to the Catholic Church (four archbishoprics), about 10% are Evangelicals. The Buddhists and Jews belong to the non-Christian religious minorities. About 8% have no religious affiliation. The indigenous population often combines the Catholic faith with elements of traditional Indian religions.

Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Santa Cruz de la Sierra [- krus -], Santa Cruz, capital of the department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 440 m above sea level, in the largest humid tropical lowlands, with (2012) 1.4 million residents city in the country.

Archbishopric; University, German school; Trade and industrial center in the agricultural area, oil refinery. The city experienced a great economic boom after the discovery of oil and natural gas in the area and is now considered the most modern city in Bolivia. Rail connections to Brazil and Argentina. International Airport (Viru Viru).

The city was founded in 1561.

El Alto

El Alto, city ​​on the Altiplano, Bolivia, 4,100 m above sea level, (2012) 846,900 residents (76% Aimara, 9% Quechua), forms an agglomeration together with the neighboring La Paz to the east.

La Paz International Airport, cable car connection with La Paz.

El Alto emerged as a marginal settlement at the beginning of the 20th century when the Indian population immigrated to La Paz. After the connection to the water supply of La Paz at the beginning of the 1950s, the settlement experienced rapid population growth (1992: 424,500 residents). Until 1985 a district of La Paz, El Alto received city rights in 1988.

Territorial losses

In the Saltpeter War (1879–83), Bolivia, allied with Peru, lost its access to the Pacific Ocean by ceding the coastal province of Antofagasta to Chile (contractual waiver in 1904). In 1903, in the Treaty of Petrópolis, Bolivia had to cede to the Brazilians the acre area, which was contested for its rubber wealth, in return for compensation of 2 million pounds sterling. The loss of prestige of the military as a result of the defeat in the Saltpeter War led to a lengthy phase of civil governments and favored the formation of political parties. Increasing revenues from tin exports ushered in a period of economic upswing towards the end of the 19th century, which was ended by the Great Depression (1929–31).

The Chaco War (1932–35), which Bolivia waged against Paraguay over disputed borders, suspected oil deposits and access to the sea, exacerbated the difficult situation.

In the Peace of Buenos Aires (1938) Bolivia gained a narrow access to the Río Paraguay, which leads over the Paraná to the Atlantic, but had to cede the Chaco-Boreal area to the neighboring country. The costly war and the economic decline were the breeding ground for social revolutionary currents. Nationalist military (Colonel José David Toro, * 1898, † 1977; Lieutenant Colonel German Busch Becerra, * 1904, † 1939 ) put their way into the office of president (1936–39). In 1937 they expropriated the American Standard Oil Company, nationalized several banks and increased state control over the tin industry. The following decade brought numerous unrest, and military governments that came to power through coups replaced one another. After World War II, Bolivia became a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Bolivia Population

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