Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Santa Cruz on the map of Bolivia

Santa Cruz de la Sierra is the capital of the department of Santa Cruz, in the south-eastern Bolivia, approximately 550 kilometers east of La Paz The city has 1,453,549 inhabitants ( census 2012), making it the largest city in the country.


It is located at about 437 m within a fertile flat land on the edge of the Cordillera Oriental, which was formerly covered by subtropical rainforest, but today is largely cultivated land. At the western edge of the Rio Pirai flows (also Piray ), east of the city of Rio Grande ( or: Guapay ).


Santa Cruz de la Sierra (ca. 250 km east of present-day Santa Cruz ) founded on 26 February 1561 by Ñuflo de Chávez near the present village of San José de Chiquitos; Ñuflo de Chávez named the settlement after his home village of the same name in the Spanish Extremadura, 12 km south of Trujillo. The Spanish place name meaning Holy Cross of the mountains.

In 1592 the town was moved to its present location since the original situation had proved to be unfavorable because of conflicts with indigenous people. South of San José de Chiquitos ( the first was in 1750 as a Jesuit mission) can remains of the first settlement as archaeological site of Santa Cruz la Vieja ( "Old Santa Cruz " ) to visitors.

Santa Cruz has long been a traditionally an agricultural and ranching town, whose purpose was to supply the country with high agricultural products. After the independence of Bolivia's Santa Cruz was in 1826 the capital of the newly created departments of the same name, yet it remained a relatively remote and difficult- to-reach small town.

Early 20th century, Santa Cruz lost enormously in importance since the opening of the railway to the Pacific coast of the import of agricultural products from abroad was much cheaper from the highlands than the expensive transport mules from Santa Cruz.

The economic boom and the growth of Santa Cruz to today's importance began after it was linked in the 1950s through the main streets with the rest of the country and the vast oil and gas resources of the region were developed.

Due to the now achieved status as an economic center of Bolivia there are political currents that calling for greater independence from the central government in La Paz, and regional autonomy.


The main economic activity in the city is the processing of agricultural products ( tropical products such as coffee, sugar cane and tobacco) that are grown in the surrounding areas. Agriculture has been experiencing a number of years a boom in the zone, so that the population of the city and surrounding area has increased very fast. The climate is at the junction of the Amazon basin to the Gran Chaco moderate tropical with a rainy season in summer. Temperatures vary between 20 ° C in winter and up to 40 ° C in summer. In winter it can by cold winds from the south ( Surazos ) come with a polar origin to sudden cold spells with temperatures around 10 ° C.

The region around Santa Cruz has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America.


Santa Cruz is considered the most architecturally modern, economically dynamic and prosperous city in Bolivia. It is a university town and seat of a German school. The city is divided by a main road network of major ring roads ( Anillos ) running in a circle around the center and straight arterial roads ( Radial ), run the star shape on the innermost First Ring (Primer Anillo ). Most major intersections of incidence and ring roads are designed as large roundabouts in the middle of striking monuments stand (which facilitates orientation ).

Within the first ring is the old city center with its checkered road network, in the center of which is located in the popular as Flanierpunkt space of 24 September (Plaza 24 de Septiembre ), has preserved in its vicinity Santa Cruz nor the small town charm of the Spanish colonial period. Located next to the cathedral, the town hall of the prefecture and also the cultural center as well as popular restaurants and cinemas at the central square. A few streets north is small, around a pond located Parque El Arenal ( "Sand Pit Park ") with the " Ethnofolklorischen Museum " ( customs, clothing, and musical instruments of the natives), in the vicinity also cinemas restaurants, bars and discos are, .

Only since the 1950s, the city has grown over the colonial center out. The new development outside the first ring is predominantly low and acts over long distances uniformly and faceless, with wide, straight streets that were designed for cars. Mainly to the large incidence and ring roads there are shopping centers and companies that deal with their larger and higher, architectural part, outstanding buildings, urban accents. Overall, the cities of Santa Cruz outside the colonial center is very reminiscent of the character of North American ( pre-) cities. In particular, in the east and north of the city there are also extensive industrial areas.

To the northwest is located within the third ring of the noble and wealthy district Equipetrol is popular with its restaurants and cinemas, in particular in the upper class as a residence and for going out. In this quarter, the German school is located.

In the west and north-west of the metropolitan area of Rio Pirai flows through the city, the banks of which are popular as a recreational area.

Outside of the fourth ring ends the enclosed urban development. In many places the city is growing at its edges - more or less planned - further, especially through the ( sometimes illegal ) settlements of Fugitives. In contrast to other Latin American cities, there is no pronounced slums; the new district on the outskirts be legalized in general and connected to the municipal infrastructure.

A key feature is the Palacio de Justicia de Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Midtown South at Night

Town Centre North

Population Development

The population growth has made ​​the city in just a few decades for million city and the largest city in Bolivia:


Santa Cruz has two airports, the south-east lying near the center and completely rebuilding the city airport " El Trompillo " and the newer 18 km northeast lying Viru Viru Internacional. The railway lines of the Ferroviaria Oriental S. A. connect Santa Cruz in the east with Quijarro on the border with Brazil and in the south with Yacuiba on the border with Argentina. Santa Cruz is connected by main roads to Cochabamba, Yacuiba and the northerly Beni Department with the rest of the country. Hub of passenger transport is the built in 2001 and combined rail and bus station Terminal Bimodal east of the city.

Exists for urban transport with a dense network of small buses ( micros ) and line shared taxis ( Trufis ) holding no fixed stops on call or Wave, which (with many lines) helps particularly in narrow streets in the city center are interruptions. Attempts by the city authorities to organize the bus traffic through the establishment of mandatory stops were, so far unsuccessfully. In addition, there are often traffic congestion by dealers, with their stalls ( illegally ) take sidewalks and roadways in some cases even in fog, making the pedestrian urged the roads and the streets are narrowed. The bulk of the traffic consists of buses and taxis, the proportion of private cars on the road is ( by European standards) very low.

The relatively narrow streets in the colonial center are mostly one-way streets, the location in the heart of the Old Town Square of September 24 and the immediately adjacent streets are blocked for buses and trucks and partially pedestrianized.


  • Argentina La Plata, Argentina (since 1994)
  • United States Miami -Dade County, Florida, United States
  • Argentina Parana, Argentina
  • Argentina Rosario, Argentina

Sons and daughters of the town

  • Germán Busch Becerra (1904-1939), Bolivian soldier and President
  • Werner Fischer ( * 1931), German historian
  • Juan Manuel Peña (born 1973 ), Bolivian football player
  • Jaime Moreno ( born 1974 ), Bolivian football player
  • Marcelo Moreno Martins ( * 1987), Bolivian football player

Air table