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Are Bolivians short all the details and heights by ethnicities

Are Bolivians Short? Every Height & Detail to Know By Ethnicities

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Bolivians are quite short in both rural and urban areas, this happens as a result of several factors, including a lack of good health care and good nutrition, but also because of the genetic heritage that Amerindian ethnicities have given to the current Bolivian population. In fact, Bolivians are among the shortest people in the world.

Bolivians are indeed very short, the avg. height for a Bolivian male is about 5’6 ft (166.8 cm), and for a Bolivian female is about 5’1 ft (153.9 cm). Some ethnic groups have different heights, white people in Bolivia are 4 in (10 cm) taller, and Amerindian people are 2.6 in (6 cm) shorter than the average.

Here we’ll be looking at how short or tall Bolivians really are, the average heights for the general population and for different ethnic subgroups, in which position Bolivia is against the countries with the shortest or tallest people, along with other details.

How tall Bolivians really are?

Bolivians are not as tall as you can imagine, indeed, they’re among the shortest people in the entire world. 

According to a study published by eLife sciences, Bolivia occupies the 154th position of 187 ranked countries in regards to its citizens’ height, even with the fact that in the last 100 years, the Bolivians’ average height has increased by around 4 in (10 cm).

Examples of foreigners height against common locals in the streets of Bolivia
Examples of foreigners’ height against common locals on the streets of Bolivia.

This is because of several factors as we said, including the following ones:

  1. The lack of good nutrition in childhood.
  2. General poverty drives bad health and healthcare.
  3. The genetic heritage from Amerindian people.

Of these 3 reasons, the first 2 are fixable, and they have become less relevant in the last century, resulting in Bolivians gaining height throughout the decades, but people from the country are still quite short against the worldwide standards and averages.

Average Bolivian male height

Men of about 5’3 ft (160 cm) are common in Bolivia. If you have this stature here, you won’t be considered a dwarf by any means. Folks with this height allow themselves to play basketball, volleyball, and other similar sports without trouble, even competing in a semi-professional way.

What is considered a dwarf for men in Bolivia normally will go down to 5’1 ft (155 cm) or less. Furthermore, men who are above 5’5 ft (165 cm) are considered tall, and men that are above 5’9 ft (175 cm) are quite unusual, with a density of about 1 in 10 or less. Folks above 6’1 ft (185 cm) are very rare (1 in 40) but are more common among both white and black Bolivian ethnic groups.

Avg. Bolivian male height: 5’6 or 5 feet and 5.6 inches (166.8 cm).

Average Bolivian female height

In Bolivia, women with heights of about 4’11 ft (150 cm) are very common and not even seen as dwarf, elder women are even more common at this stature. What is seen as a dwarf in Bolivia for women is generally 4’9 ft (145 cm) or shorter.

Even more, a woman of 5’9 ft (175 cm) or taller is very unlikely to be seen and only 1 in 10 or 1 in 15 women are above this stature. Additionally, women with heights above 5’11 ft (180 cm) are pretty rare (1 in 40), but more commonly present in smaller ethnic groups like white and black Bolivian people.

Avg. Bolivian female height: 5’1 or 5 feet and 0.6 inches (153.9 cm).

Bolivian people’s height by ethnicity

Amerindian people

This is the native people from Bolivia before the colonization done by Spanish conquerors, the “Indigenas”, “Indios” (this denomination has a negative connotation in the country) or officially called Amerindians, are the shortest ethnicity in stature in the country.

This part of the Bolivian population is so short because of several reasons:

  • Most of this ethnic group lives in rural areas and are poor people.
  • They are by genetics shorter than the average human beings.
  • Because of bad habits and poverty, they lack good nutrition.

Nevertheless, they are a big part of the Bolivian population, represent about 22% of the people in the country, and have fewer genetic heritage from other racial ethnicities from over the world.

Avg. male height: 5’3 (160 cm).

Avg. female height: 4’11 (150 cm).

% for the population: 22%

Mestizo people

This is the largest ethnic group that exists in the country, with 68% of the population. These people are a mix between first native Amerindians, European conquerors, and in some cases black slaves from the colonial era. They also have almost the same height as the average in the country, as they are the largest group that exists here.

These people are a little bit taller than Bolivian Amerindians, as they in general are wealthier, but still poor, have better nutrition, live in more urban areas, and also have more genetic heritage from other taller racial ethnicities from over the world, mostly from Europeans who came to the new world from Spain and nearby countries.

Avg. male height: 5’5 (165 cm).

Avg. female height: 5’1 (155 cm).

% for the population: 68%

White people

White people are a minority in Bolivia, they only represent 5% of the population, and they’re also shorter than white people in developed countries. It’s quite common to see that white people in Bolivia are about 5’9 ft (175 cm), but even among this ethnic group it’s quite unusual to see folks of 6’1 ft (185 cm) or more.

This is because of the poverty in Bolivia, which also affects part of this ethnic group, resulting in poorer nutrition, but also because this ethnic group is not completely white, it always carries some mixed Amerindian genes from the colonial era. 

Despite this, white Bolivian people are still the wealthiest ethnic group in the country, gaining access to better nutrition, better healthcare, and at the end of the day, being taller, adding to this their genetic advantages in regards to height.

Avg. male height: 5’9 (175 cm).

Avg. female height: 5’6 (168 cm).

% for the population: 5% 

Black people

Black people also live in Bolivia, they tend to be a little bit smaller than in developed countries, this again is because of the lack of good nutrition and the property that exists here. But generally, they’re a little bit taller than the general population of Bolivia.

They tend to be about 2 to 3 in (5 to 8 cm) taller than their general population, but this is just a generalization as some individuals from this ethnic group are even shorter than average natives. They’re very common in the North part of the La Paz department (Yungas), and unlikely to be seen in other parts of Bolivia.

Avg. male height: 5’7 (170 cm).

Avg. female height: 5’3 (160 cm).

% for the population: less than < 5%

Mulatto and Zambo people

People that have mixed genes between black and white ascendants (mulatto) and between black and Amerindian ascendants (Zambo) also exist in Bolivia, but they’re a very small ethnic group, occupying maybe about 2% of the total population.

Folks from this ethnic group tend to be a little bit taller, mostly because of the genes coming from both black and white people, but in general, they are not common to be seen in the streets of Bolivia and they almost have the same height as the other citizens living in the country.

Avg. male height: 5’7 (170 cm).

Avg. female height: 5’3 (160 cm).

% for the population: less than < 5%

Bolivian people’s height compared to other countries

As we mentioned before, Bolivia occupies the 158th position among the countries with the tallest people in the world, so here in the country certainly very short people live.

When you go outside in the Bolivian streets, you’ll notice that people from other countries stand out very easily because of their height. It doesn’t matter whether they are black, white, or even from Asian countries, they almost always seem to be taller than most Bolivians around.

The differences in height become more prominent when you compare natives with Europeans or North Americans, as these seem to be way taller than average the Bolivian people.


In this note about how short people in Bolivia really are, you’ve seen that Bolivians are in fact pretty short and that if they were in other places, they would be considered dwarfs, but not here, where a person of about 4’11 ft (150 cm) in stature can be seen as normal. Now you know that the average height for a Bolivian male is 5’6 (167 cm) and for a Bolivian female is 5’1 (154 cm). 

Also, you’ve learned that Amerindian people (called Indigenas or Indios) are significantly shorter than the average in the country, also that white people are quite taller than the average. Furthermore, that mestizos are of average height, black people, mulattos, and zambos are slightly above the average. 

You realized that the reasons for people in Bolivia being way shorter than the worldwide average (154th position from 187 countries) are the lack of good nutrition and healthcare, the poverty of the population, and also the genetic heritage of native Amerindians.

We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know more about how Bolivian people really look like, among different ethnic groups and also different locations and regions in the country, see our dedicated guide in the following direction: What do Bolivians look like? A full overview. Link, information about how to live, work, invest, and travel in Bolivia.

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