South Bolivian Quichua in Bolivia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Since the time of the colonization, Quechuas were either ignored (geographically difficult to access) or exploited as miners in Potosi or as peons on the haciendas of Spanish land lords. In Bolivia this situation didn't change until the revolution of 1952-1953 when the majority of the hacenderos (feudal land lords) were removed from power. Renowned for their tremendous work ethic, most Quechuas enjoy private land ownership as well as the right to move wherever they choose. Today's Quechua men and women are very politically active.

Traditionally an artisanal culture, the Quechuas have adapted to many aspects of modern technology including widespread use of iron, diesel trucks, heavy equipment, plastics, imported fabrics, entertainment and communications technology. Today's material culture is a blend of the old and new with traditional forms of expression taking on new shapes through technological adaptation.

The modern Quechua-speaking woman clearly demonstrates this integration. There are two broad classes of Quechua ladies: the cholitas, whose traditional skirt, lacy top and long thick braids are today a sign of pride among the Quechua and the chotitas, who continue to speak in Quechua and maintain traditional practices but dress like the urban elite. Yet both groups of women love their cell phones, a factor which has served to homogenize and extend the use of the Quechua language.
The vast majority of Quechua speakers are functionally bilingual in Spanish except for in the most remote mountainous areas. The preference for Quechua is often justified by "It is sweet on the tongue" by everyone from engineers and lawyers to taxi drivers and farmers. The booming lowland Departamento de Santa Cruz is now home to over a million Quechua speakers who have moved there from the Andes to farm and work in industry.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Because Quechua speakers are found in every strata of society, generalizations are difficult. Broadly classed, there are 6 groups – miners/extractive, agriculturalists, colonizers (who have moved into the tropics to farm), construction, merchants, and the political/religious/teachers. As hard workers, the women spend most of their day either cooking for their extended family interspersed with field work, or selling products in the market.

Food is of paramount importance. The saying is that a "Cochambino doesn't eat to live, but lives to eat". For example, each traditional food demands a particular kind of potato. Each village is tremendously proud of their traditional food and there are festivals that rotate from place to place throughout the year celebrating their distinct styles of food.

Quechuas traditionally value the past more than the future, as the past can be easily seen and understood and the future is obscure. One practical outlet of this cultural value is the tremendous burden of both respect and material aid that Quechuas give their parents in preference over their children. Another key to Quechua culture is the idea of the ayllu – a traditional extended family unit that provided structure to the community, the family, and a mutual defense against change. While most Quechuas are no longer part of a traditional ayllu unit, the ayllu value is today expressed through labor syndicates, neighborhood groups and political action groups.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Today the majority would self-identify as Christian which is a set of traditional Andean religious practices set in Roman Catholic matrix. The Roman Catholic church lost a lot of power and prestige during the revolution of 1952 and as a result, many people either left Roman Catholic church in practice or entered one of the various evangelical church groups. As a result there is a majority population in the evangelical church that accepts many traditional Andean religious practices without ever seeing that they might be anti-Biblical.

What Are Their Needs?

Today there is a great need expressed by evangelical church leaders for Bible training in their language. The Bible has been completely translated, but functional literacy is still relatively low in the Quechua language. So a two-pronged approach includes raising the comprehensive literacy of the leaders and at the same time deepening their understanding of the Bible. Discipleship in their language while understanding the cultural context is huge, and relationships take years to flower.

Radio Mosoj Chaski (New Messenger Radio) is a shortwave radio in Cochabamba that broadcasts in the morning and evening purely in Quechua. It reaches all of Bolivia and southern Peru as well. The radio offers an itinerant Bible school primarily to leaders in Potosi and Oruro that consists of courses of seminars. Each seminar is conducted purely in Quechua, takes an average of 2 ½ days and includes homework to be done before the next seminar.

The Bolivian Bible Society is sponsoring a revision of the 1993 Bible translation to increase intelligibility and clarity of thought. The revision project is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Quechua, South Bolivian in Bolivia.


Benjamin Kelm

Profile Source:   Anonymous  

People Name General Quechua
People Name in Country Quechua, South Bolivian
Natural Name South Bolivian Quichua
Population this Country 1,790,000
Population all Countries 1,888,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 5
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 4  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed
Alternate Names Central Bolivian Quechua; Colla
People ID 14502
ROP3 Code 108236
Country Bolivia
Region America, Latin
Continent South America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Oruro departments; La Paz department: except Franz Tamayo, Apolo area; mainly Potosí department; Tarija department.   Source:  Ethnologue 2018
Country Bolivia
Region America, Latin
Continent South America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Oruro departments; La Paz department: except Franz Tamayo, Apolo area; mainly Potosí department; Tarija department..   Source:  Ethnologue 2018

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Primary Language Quechua, South Bolivian (1,790,000 speakers)
Language Code quh   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Quechua, South Bolivian (1,790,000 speakers)
Language Code quh   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Quechua, South Bolivian

Primary Language:  Quechua, South Bolivian

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1907-1949)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1922-2015)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1986-2015)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (Global Recordings Network)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (Faith Comes By Hearing)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Quechua, South Bolivian
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
General Gospel resources links (Scripture Earth)
General Got Questions Ministry
Mobile App Bible App Direct Download
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file from Faith Comes By Hearing
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Dios Parlapawanchej
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Quechua Norte New Testament
Text / Printed Matter Download scripture in this language
Text / Printed Matter World Missionary Press Booklets
Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Subdivision: Roman Catholic
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 17.94 %)
94.00 %
Ethnic Religions
1.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
1.50 %
Other / Small
3.50 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
8.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
17.0 %
15.0 %
Roman Catholic
60.0 %
Photo Source Benjamin Kelm 
Profile Source Anonymous  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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