Bolivians of European descent
Total population
c. 600,000[1],
5% of total population
Regions with significant populations
Mainly in Santa Cruz, La Paz and to a lesser extent the rest of the Media Luna Region
Bolivian Spanish
German (Plautdietsch, Standard German)
Bolivian Sign Language
Roman Catholicism, Anabaptism, Evangelicalism, Judaism, Irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Mestizos in Bolivia, Spaniards

White Bolivians or European Bolivians are Bolivian people whose ancestry lies within the continent of Europe, most notably Spain and Germany, and to a lesser extent, Italy and Croatia.[citation needed]

Bolivian people of European ancestry mostly descend from people who arrived over the centuries from Spain, beginning five hundred years ago.[2]

European Bolivians are a minority ethnic group in Bolivia, accounting for 5% of the country's population. The majority of white Bolivians are the descendants of Criollos of Spanish descent as well as the Europeans or Arabs from Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, and Croatia. White Bolivians mainly live in the largest cities and major towns in Bolivia like Santa Cruz and La Paz.[3] An additional 68% of the population is mestizo, having mixed European and indigenous ancestry.[1]


Compared to the Indigenous population, considerably fewer white and mestizo Bolivians live in poverty.[4] Conceptions of racial boundaries in Bolivia may be fluid and perceptions of race may be tied to socioeconomic status, with the possibility of a person achieving "whitening" via economic advancement. Differences in language, educational status, and employment status may also reinforce perceptions of what constitutes a person as "white", "mestizo", or "Indigenous".[4]


Census data

In the official census in 1900, people who self-identified as "Blanco" (white) composed 12.72% or 231,088 of the total population. This was the last time data on race was collected. There were 529 Italians, 420 Spaniards, 295 Germans, 279 French, 177 Austrians, 141 English and 23 Belgians living in Bolivia.[5]


According to a 2014 survey by Ipsos, 3 percent of people questioned said they were white.[6]

Geographic distribution

Geographically, the white and mixed-race populations of Bolivia tend to be centered in the country's eastern lowlands. The white and mixed-race Bolivians in this region are relatively affluent compared to poorer, predominantly Indigenous regions of Bolivia.[4]


According to the 1900 official Bolivian census, a person who self-identified as “Blanca” white was a descendant of a foreigner, principally a Spaniard. This was the last census to ask a more detailed question about ethnic background.[7] Overall there are Italians, Spanish, Germans and French. In total, they represented 12.7 percent of the total population with large populations in Cochabamba (60,605) and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (59,470) representing 36.8 percent combined.[8]

Departments Men Women Total[9] %
Beni 2,981 2,132 5,113 15.88
Chuquisaca 15,413 16,354 31,767 15.53
Cochabamba 28,938 31,667 60,605 18.46
La Paz 18,340 17,915 36,255 8.13
Oruro 3,996 3,778 7,774 9.03
National territory 202 5 207 0.64
Potosí 11,229 10,484 21,713 6.66
Santa Cruz 29,672 29,798 59,470 18.37[10]
Tarija 4,368 3,816 8,184 7.95
Bolivia Republic of Bolivia 115,139 115,949 231,088 12.72


Main article: Mennonites in Bolivia

In 1995, there were a total of 25 Mennonite colonies in Bolivia with a total population of 28,567. The most populous ones were Riva Palacios (5,488), Swift Current (2,602), Nueva Esperanza (2,455), Valle Esperanza (2,214) and Santa Rita (1,748).[11] In 2002 there were 40 Mennonite colonies with a population of about 38,000 people. An outreach of Conservative Mennonites can be found at La Estrella, with others in progress.

The total population was estimated at 60,000 by Lisa Wiltse in 2010.[12][13] In 2012 there were 23,818 church members in congregations of Russian Mennonites, indicating a total population of about 70,000. Another 1,170 Mennonites were in Spanish-speaking congregations.[14] The number of colonies was 57 in 2011. In the Santa Cruz Department there is an important colony (70.000 inhabitants) of German-speaking Mennonites.[15]



Main article: Caporales

Caporales dancers in modernity from Bolivia. (2016)

Caporales is a dance popular in the Andean region of Bolivia. It gained popularity in 1969 by the Estrada Pacheco brothers, inspired by the character of the 'Caporal' or "overseer" of which, historically black slaves, usually mixed race, wore boots and held a whip, the dance originates from the region of the Yungas in Bolivia. The dance has European elements especially with the costumes.[16]

Notable White Bolivians

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See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b "The World Factbook: Bolivia". CIA. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Bolivia is Burning". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  3. ^ Ethnic Groups Of Bolivia
  4. ^ a b c "Bolivia's Regional Elections 2010" (PDF). Political Studies Association. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  5. ^ "Censo National De La Poblacion de la Republica 1900 "Segunda parte"" (PDF). 1900. p. 25-32. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  6. ^ "El 52% de la población se identifica como mestiza". El Día [es] (in Spanish). 27 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  7. ^ "CEPAL RECOMIENDA NO USAR CATEGORÍAS COMO MESTIZO EN IDENTIFICACIÓN DE PUEBLOS". Instituto Nacional de Estadística (in Spanish). 18 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  8. ^ "Censo general de la población de la Republica de Bolivia 1900" (PDF) (in Spanish). p. 25. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "Censo general de la población de la Republica de Bolivia 1900" (PDF) (in Spanish). p. 32. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Census has incorrect percentage of 28.37%.
  11. ^ Schroeder, William; Huebert, Helmut (1996). Mennonite historical atlas. Kindred Productions. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-0-920643-05-1. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  12. ^ Wiltse, Lisa (2010). "The Mennonites of Manitoba, Bolivia". Burn. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Plautdietsch". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  14. ^ "Bolivia". Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite Frontier". The New York Times. 21 December 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Danzas autóctonas de Bolivia". 2012-02-22. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2021-07-28.