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Santa Cruz Department
Department Flag Department Coat of Arms
Motto: ¡Arriba cruceños, hagamos historia! (Stand up cruceños, let's make history!)

Anthem: Bajo el cielo más puro de América
Capital Santa Cruz de la Sierramarker
Largest city Santa Cruz de la Sierramarker
Official languages Spanish, Guaraní
Provinces 15

 - total

 - % de Bolivia
Place nº 1

370,621 km²


 - Total (2005)

 - % of Bolivia

 - Density
Place nº 2



Creation July 23,1826
Governor Ruben Costas (APB)
Senators Oscar Ortiz (PODEMOS)Jorge Agulera (PODEMOS)

Guido Guardia (MAS)
Deputies 25 out of 130
Calling Code: + (591) 3
ISO 3166-2 BO-S
Abbreviations SC
Santa Cruz, with an area of 370,621 km², is the largest of the nine constituent departments of Boliviamarker. In the 2001 census, it reported a population of 2,029,471. The capital is the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierramarker. The state is one of the wealthiest states in Bolivia with huge reserves of natural gas. The efforts by the Bolivian president Evo Morales to introduce land reforms and redistribute the natural gas revenues with the poorer indigenous people in western Bolivia has led to divisions within the country and referundum for autonomy.

Government and Administration

According to current Constitution, the highest authority in the department lies with the prefect (prefecto, similar to a governor but with restricted powers). The prefect was appointed by the President of the Republic till 2005, since then it has been elected by popular vote to serve for a five-year term.

Santa Cruz also has a Departmental Council (Consejo Departamental, similar to a state legislature but with restricted powers) of 23 members called councilors (consejeros). Each of the department's provinces returns at least one councilor, while remaining councilors are assigned to provinces on population basis. By law, the election of councilors is an attribution of municipalities. However, some municipalities such as Camiri (Province of Cordillera) or Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Province of Andrés Ibáñez) have issued internal norms (ordenanzas) in order to have their councilors elected by popular vote.


The department covers a vast expanse of territory in eastern Bolivia, much of it rainforests, extending from the Andes to the border with Brazilmarker. The department's economy depends largely on agriculture, with sugar, cotton, soybeans and rice being grown. The amount of land cultivated by modern farming techniques is increasing rapidly in the Santa Cruz area, where weather allows for two crops a year.

In recent years, the discovery of natural gas in the department has led to plans for the development of a regional natural gas industry that is likely to boost the local economy.Bolivia’s energy minister said two proposed liquified petroleum gas plants may allow the country to boost supplies to Brazil and Argentina by 2010, easing a shortage of the fuel after a lack of investment reduced output.The processing plants would be built in Santa Cruz and each would produce about 200 tons of liquified petroleum gas a day. The plants would help turn a deficit of gas into a “surplus”.

The department also hosts El Mutún, the world's second largest iron ore reserve (after Carajás in Brazil) and largest magnesium deposits are also located there. Located in the Germán Busch Province in the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia, near Puerto Suárez, El Mutún extends across the border into Brazil, where it is called the Serrania de Jacadigo. Also known as the "Serrania Mutún", it has an area of about 75 square kilometers. Its estimated reserves are about 40.205 billion tons of iron ore of 50% iron, mainly in hematite and magnetite form, and in lesser quantities in siderite and manganese minerals. This can be compared with an estimate of the total world reserves of iron ore: 800 billion tons of crude ore containing more than 230 billion tons of iron.

In July 2004, the people voted in a nation-wide referendum to allow for regulated exportation of the gas.


The Department of Santa Cruz is divided into 15 provinces.

Province Capital Area (km²) Population (2005)
Andrés Ibáñezmarker Santa Cruz de la Sierramarker   4,821 1,549,849
Ignacio Warnesmarker Warnes 1,216 62,417
José Miguel de Velascomarker San Ignaciomarker 65,425 64,517
Ichilomarker Buena Vista 14,232 82,952
Chiquitosmarker San Josémarker 31,429 70,319
Saramarker Portachuelo 6,886 42,157
Cordilleramarker Lagunillas 86,245 108,843
Vallegrandemarker Vallegrandemarker 6,414 27,691
Floridamarker Samaipatamarker 4,132 29,850
Obispo Santiestebanmarker Monteromarker 3,673 166,267
Ñuflo de Chávezmarker Concepciónmarker 54,150 116,101
Ángel Sandovalmarker San Matías 37,442 14,362
Manuel Maria Caballeromarker Comarapa 2,310 22,142
Germán Buschmarker Puerto Suárezmarker 24,903 37,637
Guarayosmarker Ascensión 20,293 38,498

Call for autonomy

Eastern provinces in Bolivia including the Santa Cruz has majority of the natural gas reserves. Bolivian president Evo Morales is planning to introduce legislation to tackle the poverty in the country by sharing the wealth of the nation.

In May 2008, the government of Santa Cruz began conducting a referendum for autonomy from the federal government over, among other things, strains between the local government and President Evo Morales. Partial results from the referendum showed that 82% of participating voters supported autonomy, but no figures are yet available regarding the turnout (which would be crucial for the legitimacy of the referendum).


The languages spoken in the department are mainly Spanish and Quechua due to the migrating waves from the west side of the country. The following table shows the number of those belonging to the recognized group of speakers.

Language Department Bolivia
Quechua 256,480 2,281,198
Aymara 52,698 1,525,321
Guaraní 45,574 62,575
Another native 19,167 49,432
Spanish 1,846,263 6,821,626
Foreign 100,345 250,754
Only native 40,796 960,491
Native and Spanish 315,064 2,739,407
Spanish and foreign 1,559,541 4,115,751

Places of interest


  1. Anti-Morales protests hit Bolivia
  2. Gas Referendum
  3. Morales offers dialogue to rivals
  4. Bolivia region 'chooses autonomy', BBC. 5 May, 2008.
  5. Bolivia's richest region votes "yes" on autonomy, Reuters. 5 May, 2008.
  6. (Spanish)

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