Bolivia Population and Languages

The number of residents of Bolivia know much about. The official censuses carried out during the last century have given very different and unreliable figures: so that of 1831 gave 1,088,000 residents; that of 1854, 2,326,000 residents; that of 1882,1,172,000 residents; that of 1900 (which seems not to have been complete), 1,781,000 residents An official estimate of 1918 gave 2,757,000 residents, an evaluation of 1926, 3,273,000 residents, and finally an evaluation of 1929 about 3.5 million residents. (i.e. just under 3 per sq. km.), 54% of which would be pure Indians, a very high percentage in the western provinces (according to the 1900 census, La Paz 75%, Oruro 68%, Potosí 57%) ; 32% from Meticci, 13% from Bianchi and i% from Negri. Whites and Mestizos are found in greater numbers in the eastern departments of the plateau (Cochabamba, 70%; Sucre, 55%; Tarija, 64%). This is due to the fact that in this part of the plateau the Spaniards found a less harsh climate and more economically developed populations.

Population growth is not rapid, as in other South American states, because immigration is negligible and mortality is very high (perhaps 44 or 45%), given the poor hygienic conditions of much of the country and the lack of doctors and prophylactic means. The most common diseases in Bolivia are smallpox, malaria, dysentery, as well as heart diseases on the plateau.

As is natural, given the topographical, morphological and above all climatic conditions of Bolivia, the population is very unevenly distributed. According to Bowman, 72% of the Bolivian population lives at an altitude between 1800 and 4200 meters; temporary dwellings are often found even between 4500 and 4800 m. This is due not only to the climate, but also to the geographical position, the distribution of natural resources, the accessibility and ease of communication. Indeed, several of the more densely populated provinces have less favorable climatic conditions than those of other less populated provinces. The province with the highest density is that of Cercado, in the department of Cochabamba, with more than 40 residents. per sq. km. Among the departments, Cochabamba ranks first, with more than 10 residents per sq. km, followed by La Paz (8.5), Potosí (5), Chuquisaca (3.6) and Oruro (3.4). All the other departments and territories have densities lower than the average of the state, with a minimum in the territory of Beni of 0.2 residents per sq. km.

Also according to Bowman, 80% of Bolivia’s population lives on an area that is only 15% of the total, and 35% on an area that is just over 5% of the total. This is the region of the plateau and its eastern slopes between Titicaca. Cochabamba, the Poopó and the Western Cordillera. Here, according to Ogilvie, there are various areas with relatively high density: around Titicaca (in some places even 50-100 residents per sq. Km.), Along the Desaguadero (from 3 to 10 residents per sq. Km.), Around in Corocoro (more than 100 residents per sq. km.), in the Oruro region (1050 residents per sq. km.), on the internal and external slopes of the Quimza Cruz mountain range (10-50 residents per sq. km.), around Cochabamba (various areas with 50-100 and even more than 100 residents per sq. km.) etc.  The densification of the population in some of these areas is essentially due to the presence of mineral deposits, which are often located above the limit of the crops and which must therefore receive the necessary provisions and labor from the lower parts. In Huanchaco-Pulacayo for the exploitation of silver mines more than 8000 people live at 4200 m. high. Under the mining area, from the unproductive agricultural point of view, we have a pastoral area, with a semi-nomadic population, and therefore the agricultural area (between 1800 and 2700 m.), With a fixed population, where the greatest number of centers is located. inhabited. Of the 151 most notable centers considered by Bowman in his study on population distribution (see bibl.), 51% are located more than 3300 m. The greatest height is given by the mining village of Aullagas, at 4769 m. Among the major cities, the highest is Potosí (30,000 residents), at 3970 meters above sea level; followed by Oruro (31,000 residents) at 3715 m. and La Paz, the capital, and the only Bolivian city that exceeds 100,000 residents (120,000), located at 3630 m.; then Sucre (30,000 residents), the legal capital, at 2799 m., and Cochabamba (31,000 residents) at 2559 m. Also noteworthy are the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (25,000 residents), Tarija (11,000), Huanchaca (8,000), Trinidad (6,100), Corocoro (5,000), Uyuni (5,000), Riberalta (4,500), Tupiza (5,000), Puerto Suárez (2000), Caiza (2000) and Yacuiba (1000). Overall, the population of the 12 Bolivian centers with more than 5000 residents constitutes only 8.8% of the total population of the state. It should be noted that of these 12 centers only two, Santa Cruz and Trinidad, are located in the lower eastern region.

Official language of Bolivia is Spanish, usually spoken by educated people and in general by Whites and Mestizos, who, moreover, corrupt it with words from indigenous languages. Most Indians still speak Quechúa (in the part of the plateau south and east of Poopó) and Aymará (central and northern part of the plateau). Various Guarani dialects are spoken by the Indians of SE Bolivia.

Roman Catholic is the state religion, and statistics show 93.7% of the population as Catholic. In the main cities there are some very small nucleus of Episcopal Methodists. For Bolivia religion, please check

Bolivia religion