Bolivia has a larger proportion of indigenous peoples than any other country in South America. The population is young, every third Bolivian is under 15. The population is growing rapidly, but the country is large and still sparsely populated.
In a 2012 census, just over 40 percent of residents identified as belonging to one of 36 officially recognized indigenous peoples (formerly called Indians). Nearly half of Bolivians did not identify with any particular group. Unlike the previous census, there was no category of “mastiser” (of mixed European and American origin). There are also smaller groups of Afro-Bolivians and Spanish kittens, among others. The boundaries between the ethnic groups are fluid as some residents identify with more than one category.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Bolivia, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Most of the indigenous peoples belong to one of the two large groups of quechua and aymara. Quechua are descendants of the people who ruled over the Incarct. Aymara’s ancestors are believed to have given rise to one of South America’s earliest high cultures in Tiahuanaco. The largest of many smaller indigenous peoples in the lowlands in the east are chiquitano and guaraní.
Previously, the population was concentrated to the high plateau in the west and the high valleys of the Andes. However, recent population growth has mainly occurred in the eastern parts. Here lies Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s largest city and financial center, as well as one of the fastest growing cities in the world. However, the most populous metropolitan area is still on the high plateau, where La Paz and El Alto are in practice interconnected.
Spanish is the first language for around half the population, although many more are fluent in it. Nearly half of the residents have quechua or aymara as their mother tongue. According to the 2009 Constitution, Spanish and 36 languages of origin are considered official languages, although some of them are only spoken by a handful of people. State representatives and departmental governments (see Political system) must use at least two official languages, one of which must be Spanish.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
about 40 percent of indigenous people, of which quechua and aymara are the largest groups
Number of residents
11 051 600 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
69.1 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
23.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
7.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
1.5 percent (2017)
2.9 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
49.9 percent (2017)
69 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
72 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
67 years (2016)
official languages are Spanish and 36 languages of origin (of which Quechua and Aymara are the largest)
Historical victory for Morales
Evo Morales becomes historic as he secures a third term: no former president has been in power in Bolivia for so long. Morales wins in the first round with 61 percent of the vote. The MAS government party also gets a two-thirds majority in parliament and thus has the opportunity to change the constitution on its own. In the presidential election, UN leader Samuel Doria Medina gets 24.5 percent, Christian Democrat and former president Jorge Quiroga 9 percent and MSM’s Juan del Granado and Fernando Vargas from the Bolivia Green Party (PVB) environmental party just under 3 percent each. MAS wins in eight of the nine departments and for the first time also takes home Santa Cruz, traditionally held by the right. Santa Cruz is financially a heavyweight, the ministry accounting for about a third of the country’s GDPand a quarter of exports. The fact that the government has succeeded in strengthening its position in Santa Cruz is assumed to be due to the economy being considered well-managed. Beni is now the only ministry that is not controlled by MAS.
Work is allowed for ten-year-olds
The age limit for work is reduced to ten years, provided that the children also attend school and work under their own control. To be employed, you must be twelve years old. The change in the law is an adaptation to the country’s needs and reality, according to the government.
Valallians are formed
The two opposition parties UN and MDS form an alliance for the October elections. Cement magnate and UN leader Samuel Doria Medina becomes presidential candidate for the Alliance calling itself Democratic Unity (Unidad Demócrata, Foreign Ministry). Vice Presidential candidate becomes the former governor of Beni, Ernesto Suárez (see May 2011). There has been speculation that MSM would also join the alliance, but this does not happen (see also February 2014).
Morales becomes a football player
President Morales gets a somewhat original extra assignment when he writes as a midfielder in a football team in the first division. The 54-year-old Morales is a great football fan and is said to be in good shape.
Soldiers demonstrate against discrimination
Up to 1,000 soldiers are demonstrating in La Paz, wearing uniforms, against poor working conditions and discrimination that makes it difficult for members of the indigenous peoples to become officers. The military command rejects the charges and threatens to dismiss the soldiers.
The minimum wage is raised
After talks with the national organization COB, President Morales announces that the minimum wage should be increased by 20 percent. This means a substantial increase in relation to inflation as well. The employer organization protests against not having been allowed to participate in the talks, and accuses the president of ignoring the economy and flirting with voters ahead of this fall’s election.
Mining law triggers clashes
Two miners are killed and more than 50 people, mainly police, are injured in clashes in Cochabamba. Miners belonging to cooperatives – cooperativistas – have raised roadblocks in four more ministries, in protest of changes to a mining law adopted by Parliament. The protests lead to the ministry being replaced and the law withdrawn. Cooperativistas are an important part of Morale’s electoral base and he cannot afford to run into them. According to the Ministry of Mines, the cooperatives in 2011 accounted for about 58,000 of 70,000 jobs in the mining sector, while the mining union COB states that there are 120,000 cooperativistas. However, the COB has stated its support for Morales ahead of the October elections (see December 2013).
Great support for Morales
In a poll, nearly 46 percent of those polled say they support President Morales ahead of the October elections. In second place comes the candidate for National Unity (UN), Samuel Doria Medina, with just over 13 percent, followed by Rubén Costas for the Social Democratic Movement (MDS) with just over 9 percent and Juan del Granado for the Movement without Fear (MSM) with 4 percent. Morale’s position is assumed to be even stronger than the survey suggests, since it was made in cities and the president’s support is greatest in the countryside.
Nuclear power plants are planned
President Morales announces plans to build the country’s first nuclear reactor. He says that the development of nuclear technology for peaceful use has become an important strategic priority for Bolivia. Morales says that Iran, France and Argentina have offered development assistance.