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February 10, 2009

Wikipedia: Santa Cruz de la Sierra

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Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Santa Cruz
Flag of Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Official logo of Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is located in Bolivia
Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Location within Bolivia

Coordinates: 17°48′S 63°10′W / -17.8, -63.167
Country Bolivia
Department Santa Cruz
Province Andrés Ibáñez
Founded February 26, 1561
 – Mayor Percy Fernandez
 – City 325.57 km2 (125.7 sq mi)
Elevation 416 m (1,365 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
 – City 1,528,683
 – Density 4,215.24/km2 (10,917.4/sq mi)
 – Urban 1,545,161 in 2,008
 – Metro 1,862,911(includes neighbouring municipality of Cotoca)
Time zone UTC-4 (UTC)

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, commonly known as Santa Cruz, is the capital city of the Santa Cruz department in eastern Bolivia. The municipality’s population was 1,528,683 inhabitants in 2006 (official estimate[2]) and the urban population is 1,545,161 in 2008 (official estimate)[3] which makes it the largest city in Bolivia.



Basílica Menor de San Lorenzo

Catedral Metropolitana o Basilica Menor de San Lorenzo.

Santa Cruz de la Sierra was founded on February 26, 1561 by Ñuflo de Chávez who gave the new settlement its name, which means “Holy Cross of the Hills,” in honor of his beloved native city in Extremadura, Spain. Ñuflo de Chávez was a Spanish captain whose biggest legacy was the expansion of colonization through virgin rainforest and savanna areas in southeastern South America. His campaign started in Buenos Aires – then Argentina’s capital city – to the second biggest settlement, Asunción – then Paraguay’s capital city – and finishing with the last of the larger settlements, Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Each of the three cities helped to consolidate the colonization of several indigenous populations through what was named as Audiencia de La Plata, or a type of administrative province during the colonial stage of Latin America history. The Audiencia de La Plata consolidated what today is Argentina, Uruguay, the three Southern states of Brazil, Paraguay, and the south, southeast, and north of Bolivia, inclusively the state of Acre which is currently part of the Brazilian Federation.

Within the specific area of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, several tribes were incorporated under Spaniard control and converted to the Catholic faith, as a result of the Jesuits’ influence over this region; the Guaranies, Moxeños, Chiquitanos, Guarayos, and Chiriguanos were just a few of several ethnic groups who were the ancestors of the racially mixed population of the modern Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija departamentos (states) of Bolivia.

The original settlement of Santa Cruz de la Sierra was actually 220 km east of its modern location, only a few kilometers south of today’s San José de Chiquitos. After conflicts with the indigenous population, the town was moved to another location closer to the banks of Río Grande; as a result of unfriendly environmental conditions, however the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra was then moved to its present location on the banks of Piraí River in 1592. Remnants of the original settlement can be visited in Santa Cruz la Vieja (“Old Santa Cruz”), an archeological site south of San José de Chiquitos. It is commonly believed there were more than two relocations of the city between February 26, 1561 and the year when the last settlement was finally founded, but this is still not known for certain.

The first settlers of Santa Cruz were mainly Spaniards that accompanied Ñuflo de Chávez, as well as Guarani natives from Paraguay, and some Flemish, Portuguese, Germans and Italians working for the Spanish crown[4]. Among the first settlers there were also Sephardic Jews[5] recently converted to Christianity who were persecuted in by the inquisition in Spain.

After the city was moved, it became an important staging point for Jesuit and other Christian missions to Chiquitos and Moxos for the next two centuries. Still, Santa Cruz saw little growth during that period of time. It was not until nearly a century after Bolivia gained its independence that the city started to take an important role in the nation’s history. The Acre war with Brazil in the early 20th century, as well the Chaco war with Paraguay in the 1930s, forced the central government to turn its attention to the east, allocating more resources for regional governments and improving communication. The isolated town was connected by a road to Cochabamba in the 1950s, and subsequently to Brazil by railway, thus stimulating economic and demographic growth. Improvement in routes and pathways of communication, such as Viru Viru International Airport), as well as a continuous influx of immigrants, turned the city into one of the most industrialized and important trading centers of the country during the second half of the twentieth century.

Today Santa Cruz is not only the most populated city in Bolivia, but the department is also the richest, with over 30% of the national GDP.


The department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra is located in the eastern part of Bolivia (17°45′, South, 63°14′, West) at 416 m above sea level. It is part of the province of Andrés Ibáñez and the capital of the department of Santa Cruz.


The weather is semi-tropical, with an average annual temperature around 21 °C (or 70 °F). Although the weather is generally warm all year round, cold wind patterns, called “surazos”, can blow in occasionally (especially in the winter) from the Argentine pampas making the temperature drop considerably. The months of greatest rainfall are January and February.

Seasonal temperatures
Spring Summer Autumn Winter
18 °C– 33 °C
64 °F–91 °F
22 °C–38 °C
72 °F–100 °F
20 °C–30 °C
68 °F–86 °F
8 °C–29 °C
46 °F–84 °F
21 Sep – 20 Dec 21 Dec – 20 Mar 21 Mar – 20 Jun 21 Jun – 20 Sep


The city of Santa Cruz has benefited from a fast paced growing economy for the last 15 years. This has allowed for a multicultural and ethnically diverse city to develop. Despite its fast growth, the city preserves much of its traditions and culture. This is particularly reflected in its typical foods. The agricultural richness of the region allows Santa Cruz to enjoy a vast variety of flavours and ingredients. The following is a list which describes the most typical foods:

Typical Foods

  • Picante de Pollo (chicken in a red hot salsa served with a portion of rice and yuca
  • Majao or Majadito (a risotto style plate which includes charque, duck or chicken meat.)
  • Locro (a very dense, rice and hen based soup containing potatoes and spiced with onion, garlic and oregano. It’s common to use chicken instead of hen and it is eaten with a piece of boiled yuca) Not to be confused with an argentinean typical food
  • Sopa de maní ( Another dense soup, whose base is made of cooked peanuts, crushed and boiled)
  • Masaco (smashed plantain with charque(sun dried meat)Also made with yuca and charque)

Typical Drinks

  • Mocochinchi (drink consist of sun dried peaches which are boiled with honey and clove, served cold)
  • Somó (white corn based drink, served cold, very refreshing)
  • Chicha (non-alcoholic drink made by mixing white corn and cinnamon, very sweet).

Typical Pastries

  • Cuñapé (yuca and cheese baked as small bread bunds)
  • Zonzo (yuca and cheese, boiled and mixed in a type of mashed potato consistency, oven baked or grilled)
  • Empanada de arroz
    • Empanada de queso
    • Empanada de jigote
    • Empanada de carne
  • Bizcocho de trigo
  • Masaco de plátano
    • Masaco de yuca
  • Arepa
  • Queque

Additional Notes of Interest

  • The city’s street layout currently consists of a concentric ring model.
  • There are several Japanese-manufactured taxi cabs throughout the city. The steering wheels have been modified to the left side of these vehicles, thus earning them the name of “transformers” (transformed).
  • The Spanish language of Bolivia’s eastern lowlands (the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando) is referred to as “Cambañol”. Aside from local idioms and vernacular, the distinctive, phonological traits of the Cambañol include using the “j” instead of the “s” (similar to Caribbean Spanish[citation needed] mixed with Argentine Spanish) and the use of the voseo pronoun instead of in informal address. The use of vos is spoken also with frequency within the departments of Tarija, Beni,Pando.
  • Santa Cruz de la Sierra is a major fashion and modeling hub in Bolivia. Cruceños pride themselves in winning the most Bolivian beauty pageant titles, including the Miss Bolivia pageant whose delegate continues her representation at the Miss Universe pageant. For this reason, Cruceños colloquially honor their city as “La Capital de la Belleza Amazónica” (“The Capital of the Amazon Beauty”), even though it is not located in the Amazon forest. Nationally, Cruceños spend the highest amount of money per capita on personal care and beauty products.
  • Las Magníficas de Pablo Manzoni is a modeling troupe and agency that conducts showcases of Bolivia’s top fashion models; several of them being from Santa Cruz. The showcase is heralded as one of Bolivia’s most prestigious fashion and modeling events, having recently acquired international appeal and interest.
  • The city is home to Palmasola prison

External links

  • Official city government site
  • The Viru Viru International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Viru Viru): (Sabsa = Servicios de Aeropuertos Bolivianos S.A. is the operator of three airports in Bolivia).
  • The railway company Ferroviaria Oriental S.A.: (Train from Santa Cruz to Quijarro (Puerto Quijarro) on the border with Brazil).
  • Estatuto Autonomico de Santa Cruz: [1]
  • Online City Guide about Bolivia


  1. ^ Portal del Municipio Autónomo de Santa Cruz de la Sierra
  2. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia
  3. ^ World Gazetteer
  4. ^ Al Margen de mis Lecturas, by Marcelo Terceros Banzer. Published September 1998
  5. ^ History of the Jewish People, written by Eli Birnbaum.
  • Gutsch, Jochen-Martin, “Im Labyrinth der Unordnung” Der Spiegel 5 December 2005, pp. 144-50.

Coordinates: 17°48′S 63°10′W / -17.8, -63.167

This text comes from Wikipedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikipedia.

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