Santa Cruz, also called Santa Cruz de la Sierra, is going through a rebirth and is home to about 2.029 million people. Often brushed off as the unsettled oil capital of Bolivia, Santa Cruz is asserting itself and constantly drawing in visitors. The city of was established by Ñuflo de Chávez on February 26, 1560 and was named after Chávez’s beloved native city in Extremadura, Spain. Santa Cruz de la Sierra’s original location was on the shores of the Piraí River 220 km east of its present location. However, by the end of the 16th century, Santa Cruz was moved to the city’s current position, and is 50 km to the east of the Cordillera Oriental foothills. Santa Cruz, occupies virtually the whole Eastern and South Eastern section of the country and is situated in the Amazon region of Bolivia, therefore, it has a remarkable tropical natural beauty.
A lot of people arrive in the city expecting to find a metropolis of businesspeople and pulsating traffic, but although Santa Cruz is Bolivia’s business hub and most wealthy city, it has really maintained its modesty. The residents still hang around the main square, restaurants shut their doors for siesta and small stores run along the porch-fronted houses and sell inexpensive local products.
Santa Cruz is definitely not where you will discover the Bolivia you see in the photographs, and you certainly won’t be brushing shoulders with a llama either. In fact it has the least Bolivian influence of all Bolivian cities. Unlike Potosí or La Paz, Santa Cruz doesn’t have a great deal of history or a fascinating historical area. However, this Bolivian city has the largest diversity in the population in the country. From a Japanese community to the Altiplano immigrants, and the Mennonites sauntering the streets to the Cuban doctors and Brazilian immigrants, bearded Russians, and stylish Santa Cruz locals called cruceños driving in their SUVs. Santa Cruz has four large ethnic and linguistic groups that occupy the city. They are the Arawacos or Sirionós, the Chiquitanos, the Chirigüanos or Güaraníes and the Güarayos.
Despite the city’s ethnic diversity, cruceños are proud of their traditions and culture which is shown in their local cuisine, holidays, festivals, the arts and music. Although sparse on sights, the city still has several things which are worth the time to see and explore. Santa Cruz is made up of anillos or rings and on the first anillo, you’ll discover the Central Park, Post Office, the Cathedral, and the cultural theatre. While near to the second and third anillos, you will encounter the markets like Siete Calles, and Dumbo’s an ice cream shop. Other attractions for you to explore include the Museum of Natural History, the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, and one of the best zoos in the entire country.
Santa Cruz is a tropical metropolis, built on a mesa and is one of the wealthiest states in Bolivia and is worth exploring.