About Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, commonly known as Santa Cruz, is the capital of the Santa Cruz department in eastern Bolivia and the largest city in the country. Situated on the river Piray in Eastern Bolivia, the city of Santa Cruz and its metropolitan area are home to over 70% of the population of the department and it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
The city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra is located in the eastern part of Bolivia (17°45', South, 63°14', West) at 416 m above sea level.
The city has a tropical savanna climate, with an average annual temperature around 23 °C (or 73.4 °F). Although the weather is generally warm all year round, cold wind patterns, called "surazos", can blow in occasionally (especially in the winter) from the Argentine pampas making the temperature drop considerably. The months of greatest rainfall are January and February.
The currency in Bolivia is the boliviano (BOB), and Bolivia has a great linguistic diversity as a result of its multiculturalism. The Constitution of Bolivia recognizes 37 official languages, including besides Spanish all the languages of the native indigenous nations of Bolivia. Spanish is spoken by 85% of the population and the most common indigenous languages are: Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani.
- Piraí River: The riverbanks are ideal for weekend picnics.
- Municipal Zoo: One of the best zoos in Bolivia, features birds, reptiles, mammals, from the region as well as endangered and exotic species.
- Plaza 24 de Septiembre: Ideal for relaxing and watching sloths hanging in the tall trees.
- The Cathedral: Located on the Plaza 14 de Septiembre, the cathedral dates back to the early 1600's. The cathedral museum displays religious art work, gold and silver artifact from the Jesuit missions.
- Museo de Historia Natural: Displays a collection of flora and fauna of the region.
- Lomas de Arena de El Palmar: Located 16 Km south of Santa Cruz these large sand dunes and fresh water lagoons are ideal for weekend picnics and swimming.
- Parque Nacional Noel Kempff Mercado: Really worth seeing, this spectacular natural park, about 440 Km northeast of Santa Cruz, has an incredible scenery of waterfalls, rivers, rainforests and a wide variety of flora and fauna (alligators, pink dolphins, caimans, river otters, tapirs, spider monkeys, etc.).
- Jesuit Missions: Group of Jesuit missions located east of Santa Cruz, across the Río Grande. Founded between 1696 and 1760, composed by the missions of San Javier, San Ramón, San Ignacio, Concepción, San Rafael, Santa Ana, and San José de Chiquitos. The missions were declared "World Heritage Sites" by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 1990.
- El Fuerte de Samaipata: (Fortress) 120 Km southwest from Santa Cruz. The entire Inca ruins complex of around 40 hectares was declared a "World Heritage Site" by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 1998.