Santa Cruz de la Sierra
|Santa Cruz de la Sierra|
|— Autonomous City —|
|Municipality||Santa Cruz de la Sierra|
|Founded||February 26, 1561|
|• Type||Municipal Autonomous Government|
|• Mayor||Percy Fernandez|
|• Autonomous City||535 km2 (207 sq mi)|
|Elevation||416 m (1,365 ft)|
|• Autonomous City||1,616,063|
|• Density||3,000/km2 ( 7,800/sq mi)|
|Time zone||BOT (UTC−4)|
|Area code(s)||+591 3|
|HDI (2001)||0.749 – high|
Santa Cruz de la Sierra (locally: [ˈsanta ˈkɾus de la ˈsjera]), commonly known as Santa Cruz (locally: [ˈsanta ˈkɾus]), is the capital of the Santa Cruz department in eastern Bolivia. Situated on the River Pirai in eastern Bolivia, the city of Santa Cruz and its metropolitan area are home to over 70% of the population of the department and it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
The city was first founded in 1561 by Spanish explorer Ñuflo de Chavez about 200 km east of its current location, and was moved several times until it was finally established on the Pirai River in the late 16th century. For much of its history, Santa Cruz was mostly a small outpost town, and even after Bolivia gained its independence in 1825, there was little attention from the authorities or the population in general to settle the region. It was not until after World War II and profound agrarian and land reforms that the city began to grow at a very fast pace.
Nowadays, the city is the most populated, and the Department of Santa Cruz, rank second in total population, produce nearly thirty five percent of Bolivia's gross domestic product, and receive over forty percent of all the foreign direct investment in the country. This has helped make Santa Cruz the most important business center in Bolivia and the preferred destination of migrants from all over the country.
Pre-Columbian era 
Like much of the history of the peoples of the region, the history of the area prior to the arrival of European explorers is not well documented, mostly because of the somewhat nomadic nature and the absence of a written language in the culture of the local tribes. However, recent data suggests that the current location of the city of Santa Cruz was inhabited by an Aruwage tribe that later came to be known by the Spanish as Chane. Remains of ceramics and weapons have been found in the area, leading researchers to believe they had established settlements in the area. Among the few known facts of these tribes, according to accounts of the first Spanish explorers that came into contact with the Chane, they had a formal leader, a cacique, called Grigota, for several years but his reign came to an end after one of the several Guarani incursions in the area.
Early European incursions and founding of the city 
The first Europeans to set foot in the area were Spanish conquistadores from the recently created Governorate of New Andalusia that encompassed the territories of present-day Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia.
In 1549, Captain General Domingo Martinez de Irala became the first Spaniard to explore the region, but it was not until 1558, when Ñuflo de Chaves, who had arrived in Asuncion in 1541 with Alfredo Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, led a new expedition with the objective of settling the region. After discovering that a new expedition from Asuncion was already underway, he quickly traveled to Lima and successfully persuaded the Viceroy to create a new province and grant him the title of governor on February 15, 1560. Upon returning from Lima, Chaves founded the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Holy Cross of the Hills) on February 26, 1561, 220 km east of its present-day location, to function as the capital of the newly formed province of Moxos and Chaves. The settlement was named after Chaves’s home town in Extremadura, where he grew up before venturing to America.
Shortly after the founding, attacks from local tribes became commonplace and Ñuflo de Chaves was killed in 1568 by Itatine natives. After Chaves’s death, the conflicts with the local population as well as power struggles in the settlement forced the authorities in Peru to order the new governor, Lorenzo Suarez de Figueroa to relocate the city to the west. Many of the inhabitants, however, chose to stay behind and continued living in the original location. On September 13, 1590 the city was officially moved to the banks of the Guapay Empero river and renamed San Lorenzo de la Frontera. Nevertheless, the conditions proved to be even more severe at the new location forcing the settlers to relocate once again on May 21, 1595. Although this was the final relocation of the city, the name San Lorenzo continued to be used until the early 1600s, when the settlers who remained behind in Santa Cruz de la Sierra were convinced by the colonial authorities to move to San Lorenzo. After moving, in 1622, the city was finally consolidated and took its original name of Santa Cruz de la Sierra given by Ñuflo de Chaves over 60 years before. 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.
Colonial Santa Cruz and revolutionary war 
Over the next 200 years, several tribes were either incorporated under Spanish control or defeated by force. The city also became an important staging point for Jesuit Missions to Chiquitos and Moxos, leading to the conversion of thousands of Guaranies, Moxeños, Chiquitanos, Guarayos and Chiriguanos that eventually became part of the racially mixed population of the modern Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija departaments of Bolivia. Another important role the small town played in the region for the Spanish Empire was to contain the incursions of Portuguese Bandeirantes, many of which were repelled by the use of force over the years. The efforts for consolidating the borders of the Empire were not overlooked by the authorities in Lima, who granted the province a great degree of autonomy. The province was ruled by a Captain General based in Santa Cruz, and, in turn, the city government was administered by two mayors and a council of four people. Citizens of Santa Cruz were exempt from all imperial taxes and the mita system used in the rest of the Viceroyalty of Peru was not practiced. However, in spite of its strategic importance, the city did not grow much in colonial times. Most of the economic activity was centered in the mining centers of the west and the main source of income of the city was agriculture.
Animosity towards imperial authorities began at the turn of the eigteenth century, when the new system of intendencias reached the new world. The seat of government was taken away from the city and moved to Cochabamba, and many of the powers delegated by the viceroyalty were now in the hands of appointees of the crown. Like in many parts of Spanish America at the time, angered by the reforms the criollos saw as a threat to their way of life, and taking advantage of the Peninsular War, the local population, led by Antonio Vicente Seonane, revolted on September 24, 1810, overthrowing the governor delegate. In his place, a junta of local commanders took control of the government. The revolutionaries, as it was the case with most of the revolts in Spanish America, remained loyal to the King of Spain, while repudiating the colonial authorities until after the end of the Peninsular War.
By 1813, the city was once again under imperial control. At this time, by orders of General Manuel Belgrano, the revolutionary armies of Argentina sent a small force led by Ignacio Warnes to "liberate" Santa Cruz. After his successful campaign, he assumed control of the government of the city. In a little over a year, Warnes was able to gather tremendous support from the population, enlisting criollos, mestizos and natives to the revolutionary army, and allying with the revolutionary leader of Vallegrande, Alvarez de Arenales, to defeat a strong imperial force in the Battle of Florida. This victory proved to be a serious blow to Spanish forces in the region. Nevertheless, two years after the victory of Florida, imperial forces launched a new offensive in the province led by Francisco Javier Aguilera. This campaign ended with the defeat and death of Ignacio Warnes and his forces in the Battle of Pari. Triumphant, Aguilera marched into the city with orders to quell the insurrection and reinstate the Spanish governor. This proved to be a very difficult task, with several revolutionary leaders, such as Jose Manuel "Cañoto" Baca and Jose Manuel Mercado, rising up in the coming years from the city itself and elsewhere in the province. These new leaders fought colonial authorities for seven years until they finally deposed the last Spanish governor, Manuel Fernando Aramburu, in February 1825, after news of the defeat of the imperial armies in the west had reached the city.
The city 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 city has a tropical savanna climate, with an average annual temperature around 23 °C (or 73.4 °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. The average annual rainfall is 912mm.
|Santa Cruz de la Sierra|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The first settlers of Santa Cruz were mainly Spaniards that accompanied Ñuflo de Chávez, as well as Guarani natives from Paraguay, and Flemings, Portuguese, Germans and Italians working for the Spanish crown. Among the first settlers there were also Sephardic Jews recently converted to Christianity who were persecuted in by the inquisition in Spain.
Culture and food 
Museums, Cultural Centers and Galleries
Santa Cruz offers an interesting circuit of cultural and art spaces, from natural history, to religious art up to the newest contemporary art. There is a young art market which is growing fast.
- Casa de la Cultura Raul Otero Reiche
- Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum
- Teniente General German Busch Becerra National History Museum
- National and Regional Museum and Archive
- Guarani museum
- Cathedral Museum of Sacred Art
- Museum of Art and Archaeology
- Museum of Independence
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Manzana Uno (art center)
- Cultural Center Santa Cruz
- Cultural Center Simon I. Patiño
- Training Centre of the Spanish Cooperation
- Feliciana Rodriguez Cultural Center
- Franco German Cultural Center
- Art Gallery Axioma
- Gallery Kiosko
- Gallery Bhuo Blanco
- Guembe Biocenter
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 Spaniards introduced cows, poultry, rice, citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines and lemons), from southern Asia they brought sugar cane and from Africa plantains, bananas and coffee (which is cultivated in the yungas near Buena Vista. Moreover, local dishes include native vegetables such as corn, peanuts, yuca and squash, and also local fish such as surubi and pacu.
There is evidence of the influence of Jewish kosher cuisine in many traditional Santa Cruz dishes, where it is noticeable, the general absence of pork meat, and the combination of rice, yuca, corn and peanuts with either meat or milk products, but never both (at least while being cooked).
Native spices such as urucum, and native fruits (unique to the region) such as achachairu, guapuru and guabira, add to the uniqueness of Santa Cruz rich traditional cuisine.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:
- Majao or Majadito (a risotto style plate which includes charque, duck or chicken meat.served in two variations majadito tostado or majadito batido)
- 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
- Locro carretero
- Pipian(peanut butter with which bathes a piece of chicken and serve it with rice and cassava(yuca))
- Rapi al jugo
- Cogote Relleno
- Masaco (smashed plantain with charque(sun dried meat)Also made with yuca and charque)
- Patasca(A very dense soup made of corn and pork, served with cooked yuca,chopped green onions and must be added salt to taste)
- Churrasco or Parrillada(served with arroz con queso,cooked yuca or fried yuca, chorizo and salad)
- Somó (white corn based drink, served cold as a refreshment)
- Chicha (non-alcoholic drink made by mixing white corn and cinnamon, very sweet).
- Cuñapé (yuca and cheese baked as small bread buns)
- Cuñapé Duro
- Sonso (yuca and cheese, boiled and mixed in a type of mashed potato consistency, oven baked or grilled)
- Sonso pacumuto
- Tamal al Horno
- Tamal a la olla
- Empanada de pollo
- Empanada de maiz
- Empanada de Charque
- Rosca de maiz
- Pan de arroz
- Bizcocho de trigo
- Masaco de plátano (banana mixed with charqui or meat)
- Pastel de choclo(corn)
The city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra has utility infrastructure, roads and highways, and lively shopping and business. The main sectors that drive the economy are oil, forestry companies, agribusiness, and construction. Santa Cruz contributes more than 80% of national agricultural production, and also has contributed over 35% of GDP in recent years. It also has the country's largest airport, making it an ideal city for trade shows, international events and investments.
It is noteworthy that in Santa Cruz there is considerable investment in the construction sector (office buildings and houses), business (large supermarket chains and mass consumption centers), the health sector (high-tech private clinics), the fashion industry, national and international shows, agribusiness, hospitality and cuisine (highly developed), not to mention many private universities. The airline AeroSur had its headquarters in Santa Cruz. The airline ceased operations in the month of May, 2012 and has been replaced by Boliviana de Aviación, which flies from Santa Cruz to Madrid, Buenos Aires and São Paulo.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra has one of the best infrastructures of hotels in the country.
Five Star Hotels *****
- Senses Hotel Boutique, La Pascana Center
- Buganvillas Hotel Suites & Spa
- Camino Real Hotel
- Los Tajibos Hotel & Convention Center
- Yotaú All Suites Hotel
- Toborochi Suites Apart Hotel
- Gran Hotel Santa Cruz
- Paulistania Casablanca Apart Hotel
- House Inn Hotel
- Sun Hotel
Four Star Hotels ****
- Hotel Canciller
- Continental Park Hotel
- Hotel Cortez
- Puerta de Hierro Hotel
- Royal Lodge Hotel
- Hotel Caparuch
- Las Palmas Hotel
- Hotel La Quinta
- Villa Magna Apart Hotel
- Lido Hotel
- Hotel Las Américas
- Urbarí Apartment Resort
Sister cities 
- "National Statistics Institute. General Population Estimates". www.ine.gob.bo. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- "National Statistics Institute. General Population Estimates". www.ine.gob.bo. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- "World's fastest growing urban areas (1)". City Mayors. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
- "The Contributions of Santa Cruz to Bolivia (Spanish only)". CAINCO. 2008.
- Nino Gandarilla (1995). Santa Cruz en los umbrales del desarrollo. Santa Cruz de la Sierra: Proyecciones RRPP. p. 41.
-  Fundación de Santa Cruz de la Sierra: una historia épica del Siglo XV, El Mundo, 09/11/2011
- Nino Gandarilla (1995). Santa Cruz en los umbrales del desarrollo. Santa Cruz de la Sierra: Proyecciones RRPP. p. 46.
- Al Margen de mis Lecturas, by Marcelo Terceros Banzer. Published September 1998
- History of the Jewish People, written by Eli Birnbaum.
- Article - Storm Clouds Over the Bolivian Refuge: South America's New Pattern of Anti-Semitism, Sherry Mangan, 1952
- "Contact Information." AeroSur. Retrieved on February 27, 2010.
- "WWF Spain - Barcelona y Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia): ciudades hermanadas por los bosques" (in (Spanish)). Wwf.es. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
Further reading 
- Gutsch, Jochen-Martin, "Im Labyrinth der Unordnung" Der Spiegel 5 December 2005, pp. 144–50.
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