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Santa Cruz, Bolivia

SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA, an eastern department of Bolivia, bounded N. by El Beni, E. by Brazil, S. by Chuquisaca and W. by Chuquisaca and Cochabamba. Area 141, 368 sq.m. Pop. (1900) 209,592; (1906 estimated) 234,743. It is only partly explored. It consists of a great plain extending eastward from the base of the Andes to the frontiers of Brazil, broken by occasional isolated hills, and in the N.E. by a detached group of low sierras known collectively under the name Chiquitos, which belong to the Brazilian highlands rather than to the Andes. On the western side of the department is an upland zone belonging to the eastern slope of the Andes, and here the Bolivian settlements are chiefly concentrated. The Chiquitos contain a number of old missions, now occupied almost exclusively by Indians. The great plains, whose general elevation is about 900 ft. above the sea, are so level that the drainage does not carry off the water in the rainy season, and immense areas are flooded for months at a time. Extensive areas are permanently swampy. There are forests in the N. and W. , but the larger part of the department consists of open grassy plains, suitable for grazing. The Llanos 1 A priory of the Maltese knights of St John of Jerusalem.

de Chiquitos, adjacent to the sierras of that name, have long been used for this purpose. There are two river systems, on,e belonging to the Amazon and the other to the La Plata basins. The first includes the Guapay or Rio Grande, Piray or Sara, Yapacani and Maraco, upper tributaries of the Mamore, and the San Miguel, Blanco, Baures and Paragua, tributaries of the Guapore both draining the western and northern parts of the department. In the extreme east a number of streams flow eastward into the Paraguay, the largest of which is the Otuquis; their channels are partly hidden in swamps and lagoons. The climate of the plains is hot and malarial, and the rainfall heavy. On the Andean slopes the temperature is more agreeable. Stockraising is followed to some extent on the plains. Other products of the western districts are sugar, rum, cacao, rice, cotton, coffee and indigo. Rubber and medicinal products are also exported. The Guapay is navigable for small boats in high water, and also the lower courses of the other rivers named, but they are of little service except in the transport of rubber. The principal markets for Santa Cruz products are in the Bolivian cities of the Andes where sugar, rum, cacao and coffee find a ready sale. There is a trade route across the plains from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Puerto Suarez, on the Paraguay, and the Bolivian government contracted in 1908 for a railway between these two points (about 497 m.) but the traffic is inconsiderable.

The capital and only large town of the department is SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA (pop., in 1900, 15,874; in 1906, estimated, 20,535), on the Piray, a tributary of the Mamore, 1450 ft. above sea-level, about 160 m. in a straight line N.E. of Sucre. It is situated on a lower terrace of the Andean slope in a highly fertile district, devoted to sugar-cane and stock-raising. It is a dusty, straggling, frontier town with rough habitations and a halfcivilized population, chiefly Indians and mestizos. It is the seat of a bishop and has a partly finished cathedral, seminary and mission station for the Indians. It has also a national college. There are flour mills, sugar mills, distilleries, tanneries and leather manufactories. The original site of Santa Cruz de la Sierra was in the uplands, but it was removed to its present site about 1 590, the phrase " de la Sierra " being kept. It has been used as a centre for missionary work among the Indians and as a centre of trade. Expeditions to the Brazilian frontier or to the Chiquitos missions are fitted out here, and it is the objective point for expeditions entering Bolivia from Matto Grosso, Brazil, and Paraguay.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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