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Santa Cruz History, Bolivia

Santa Cruz History – Foundation and Early Development

The history of Santa Cruz begins with a colonial settlement, as is the case with most South American cities. Spanish conquistador Nulfo de Chavez was the first to get there and to found a settlement on February 26, 1561. He named the city Santa Cruz de la Sierra (“Holy Cross of the Hills”) and continued his exploration through the jungles and rainforests in the territory. He also founded Buenos Aires and Asuncion, and the three cities grew to become important economical and administrative centers in each of their countries. Several local tribes were incorporated into the culture the colonizers brought along and prosperity soon started characterizing the city. Today Santa Cruz is the largest city in Bolivia and it all started with Nulfo de Chavez’ administration.

Santa Cruz History – The Natives and the Invaders

The process of incorporating the native tribes manifested itself heavily through religion, as Catholic faith was imposed and became very influential in the whole territory. This also happened in nearby Sucre and the Jesuits had a strong word to impose on the natives. Santa Cruz history apparently faces two relocations of the city due to hard local conditions, and the territory on which it stands today is more than 220 kilometers away from its original location. The conquistadors were not all Spanish, as they had with them Germans, Dutch and Italians who worked for the Spanish Crown and therefore left a cultural trace in the area.

Santa Cruz History – The Modern Period

The territorial importance of the city was limited to religious influence for more than two centuries of Santa Cruz history, but after Bolivia gained its independence the prerogatives of the city started expanding and it became more and more important both politically and economically. At the same time, communications improved and a motorway was built that connects the city to Cochabamba in the 1950s. After that, demographics exploded and the region started welcoming more and more immigrants, thus raising the economical level of the city and offering more job opportunities.


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