Santa Cruz Bolivia better known as “Santa Cruz de la Sierra” (Holly cross of the mountain range – in English) was founded on February 26, 1561 by the Spanish explorer Ñuflo de Chavez, and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world!
Even though Bolivia gained its independence in 1825 Santa Cruz remained mostly a small town. However this changed after World War II, the city began to grow quickly due to profound agrarian and land reforms.
This city produces about 35% of the country’s gross domestic product, and receives about 40% of all foreign direct investment, of course this makes Santa Cruz the most important business center in Bolivia.
Santa Cruz Bolivia
With over 1,453,549 people, Santa Cruz is one the most populous city in the country.
This city is located in the eastern part of the country, and is close to the easternmost extent of the Andes Mountains, which are visible from some parts of Santa Cruz.
Although this city was founded about 124 miles (200 km) east of its current location (and was moved several times) it wasn’t until the 16th century when it was finally established on the Pirai River.
Captain General Domingo de Irala, was the first Spaniard to explore the region in 1549, although it was not until 1558 when Ñuflo de Chavez who arrived in Asuncion in 1541 with Alvar Ñunez Cabeza de Vaca, together they led a new expedition, with the objective of settling the region. Ñuflo de Chavez after learning that the new expedition was underway quickly traveled to Lima to persuade the Viceroy to create a new providence and in February 15, 1560 he was granted the title of governor.
After returning from Lima, Ñuflo de Chavez founded Santa Cruz. Unfortunately a few years after the founding, Ñuflo de Chavez was killed by itatine natives in 1568.
Following Chavez’s death their continued to be conflicts with the local population, and power struggles within the settlement. This forced authorities in Peru to order Lorenzo Suarez de Figueroa, the new governor, to relocate Santa Cruz to the west. Santa Cruz was officially moved to the banks of Guapay Empero river and on September 13, 1590 it was renamed San Lorenzo de la Frontera. Once again the severe conditions at the new location forced the settlers to relocate the city on May 21, 1595. Until the early 1600s the name San Lorenzo continued to be used.
The colonial authorities convinced the settlers who decided to stay behind in Santa Cruz to move to San Lorenzo. In 1622 the city was finally consolidated and was renamed Santa Cruz de la Sierra, but is better known as “Santa Cruz Bolivia”. For the following 200 years a few tribes were either incorporated under the Spanish control or defeated by force. On September 24, 1810 Antonio Vicente Seonane led the local population and over throw the governor delegate. Once again the city was under imperial control by 1813.
By this time General Manuel Belgrano ordered the revolutionary armies of Argentina to send a small force led by Ignacio Warnes, to liberate Santa Cruz Bolivia. He assumed control of the government and the city after his successful campaign. Within over a year Warnes gathered tremendous support from the population by enlisting criollos, natives, and mestizos to the revolutionary army, who also had allied with the revolutionary leader Alvarez de Arenales, of Vallegrande, in order to defeat the imperial force, in the Battle of Florida. This victory greatly impacted the Spanish forces in the region. The imperial forces, two years after the victory of Florida, led by Francisco Javier Aguilera launched a new offensive in the province. This campaign came to an end with the defeat and death of Ignacio Warnes along with his forces in the Battle of Pari. Aguilera was ordered to quell the insurrection and reinstate the Spanish governor, a very difficult task, with a revolutionary leader such as; Jose Manuel Mercado and Jose Manuel “Cañoto” Baca rising up in the coming years from the province and city itself. For seven years these new leaders fought colonial authorities, until one day they finally deposed of Manuel Fernando Aramburu, the last Spanish governor in February 1825.
Santa Cruz Bolivia has a tropical savanna climate with an average year round temperature of 73°F (23°C), meaning that the weather is generally warm all year long however cold winds called “surazos” tend to blow in during the winter from the Argentine pampas, this tends to make the temperature drop considerably.
The city’s average annual rainfall is about 36 inches (912 mm) with January and February being the months with the greatest precipitation.