Chiquitos means "little ones" in Spanish. The Spanish Conquistadores chose this name for the people living in the rain savannas of what is now the eastern parts of the Santa Cruz Department in Bolivia, when they found the small doors of the Indian huts in the region.
The Chiquitos were in fact well formed and powerful, of middle height and of an olive complexion. They are an agricultural people, but made a gallant resistance to the Spaniards for nearly two centuries. In 1691, however, they made the Jesuit missionaries welcome, and rapidly became civilized. The Chiquito language was adopted as the means of communication among the converts, who soon numbered 50,000, representing nearly fifty tribes. Upon the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 the Chiquitos became decadent, and now number short of 20,000. Their houses, regularly ranged in streets, are built of adobes thatched with coarse grass. They manufacture copper boilers for making sugar and understand several trades, weave ponchos and hammocks and make straw hats. They are fond of singing and dancing, and are a gentle-mannered and hospitable people.
Today, this area is called the Gran Chiquitania with around 20 ethnic groups living in this region.