Bolivia - Migration
Aside from Spaniards during the colonial period, European immigration has been insignificant. Small numbers of Italians, Poles, and Germans have settled mainly in the vicinity of La Paz and Cochabamba, and some Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany arrived in the 1930s. After World War II, about 1,000 Japanese settled in colonies around Santa Cruz and became successful in truck farming, and several hundred Okinawan families established themselves as rice growers in the same area.
Since the 1950s, migration to neighboring countries has increased: 30,000 left Bolivia in 1950–55; 40,000 left in 1980–85. About 675,000 Bolivians were estimated to reside outside the country in the late 1980s, in search of employment and better economic opportunities. Since the emigrants tend to have basic training or technical skills, a drain of important human resources is occurring. A number of Bolivian braceros (contract agricultural laborers) go to northwestern Argentina to work in rice and sugar harvests. In the 1970s, Brazilian settlers, drawn by improved railroad and highway links, migrated to northeastern Bolivia in growing numbers; these immigrants had a substantial influence on the region, since they continued to speak Portuguese and to use Brazilian currency as their medium of exchange. Within the country, migration is swelling the sparsely populated lowlands, particularly in Santa Cruz and its environs. High unemployment among agricultural laborers and miners has caused significant migration to the cities. The net migration rate for 2000 was -0.9 migrants per 1,000 population.
As of 2000, the number of migrants in Bolivia totaled 61,000, including 400 refugees. Worker remittances for that year totaled $101 million. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.