9 Things You Didn’t Know About Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

1. It’s a new-born city

Throughout 500 years of colonial history the country’s wealth have been concentrated mostly in La Paz, Sucre and Potosí. While in 1700’s Potosí was the most populated city of  Americas (both South and North), Santa Cruz had only 3500 inhabitants.
If you could take a look at Santa Cruz in 1960’s or 70’s  – you’ll see completely different city. Santa Cruz has grown very fast since the end of 20th century, because of the petroleum and natural gas mining in the surrounding areas. Foreigners, who came for the gas and oil explorating changed this city into what you can see today – the economic heart of the country.

2. It is beginning on Another Bolivia

Santa Cruz is a big transport hub. It has biggest and busiest airport in Bolivia, and big bus terminal with different connections. From here you can take the only bus to Paraguay – if you planning to visit this country.

It is starting point for those who willing explore hidden, not well known places. Bolivia is not only Salar de Uyuni, Titicaca and high altitude mountains – which are definitely worth a visit.

  • Three large national parks are located east and west of the city – Amazonian paradise Noel Kempff Mercado, Kaa Lya National Park, where you can spot a jaguar and Amboro National Park which is great for birdwathing.
  • Samaipata, lovely village to chill out and a pre-Columbian archaeological site (UNESCO) Fuerte de Samaipata near by.
  • Jesuit missions of Chiquitos (Unesco)
    and more…

3. Incas couldn’t conquer this land

Before the arrival of the Spaniards there were confrontations between the Incan Empire and the nomadic tribes of Eastern Bolivia. These tribes Guarani, Arawak or Chiquitanos) were guru of the jungle and perfect hunters. The Incan Empire were unable to conquer the natives of the tropical lowlands.

4. They are mix of different cultures

It was important stating point for Jesuit Missions, who were heading to the tribes of Guaranies, Moxeños, Chiquitanos or Guarayos. The Spaniards used assimilation as one of the instruments of colonization, they mixed with the locals – so today people of Santa Cruz region are the result of this melting pot, they didn’t have a pure indigeneus culture since Spaniards arrived on this land.

5. Potosi had its silver, Santa Cruz discovered its tin

Mining was the most important industry in Bolivia. Tin and rubber later on became important material after Industrial Revolution of Europe. Before nationalization of tin mines in 1952, only three Bolivian families owned more than 90% of all of Bolivia’s wealth. Simon Patiño, the owner of the tin mines, became the King of Tin and one of the richest man on the planet.

7. Total isolation for years from the other parts of the country

The only way of communication from Santa Cruz to the other parts of Bolivia was a long trip by horses and mules to the city of Cochabamba. In 1954, Brazil finished the first railroad linking Brazil with Santa Cruz. Two years later the railroad from Argentina arrived here. In 1956 a paved was completed. This road was the first modern road through the Andean Mountains to connect Western Bolivia to Eastern Bolivia.

8. Che Guevara was killed here

Che Guevara had chosen Bolivia to spread socialism throughout South America from here. He and his people came to the Chaco region. Che was shot near Quebrada del Yuro, but brought back by his friends to La Higuera, still alive. Here he was caught again and killed. After that his body was taken to Vallegrande in a medical center by the international press. After it disappeared and only after 30 years his body was found and sent back to his family in Cuba.

There is a special tourist route which visiting all those small villages of Che’s last months of life.

9. There is the only Hard Rock Cafe in Bolivia

Just for you to know=) It was the main reason why I started thinking about this city which I never heard about it. My goal was (and still it is) to visit all South America’s Hard Rock’s and I couldn’t miss Bolivian one.

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