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City profile: Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Publication details

DateE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jan 2012
DatePublished (current) - 1 Apr 2013
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)544-552
Early online date28/01/12
Original languageEnglish


Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia has in the past half century transformed from an isolated frontier town to the center of the country's agro-industrial production zone. By the 1990s, Santa Cruz (as the city is often abbreviated) had largely overtaken La Paz as Bolivia's financial capital and most important economic pole, and its political influence is growing. Regional economic growth in eastern Bolivia has attracted-and resulted from-labor migration from poorer Andean regions over the past four decades. Santa Cruz is also the flashpoint of a regionalist movement, expressed in claims for 'departmental autonomy' as a means for regional governments to play a greater role in public decision-making, a campaign supported by the recent intensification of place-based identity politics. This profile examines the history and dynamics of planned and unplanned urban growth in Santa Cruz. I examine modernist planning initiatives in the 1960s and early 1970s and suggest these efforts overlooked the needs created by large-scale migration and rapid urban growth since the 1980s. Against this background, I consider recent patterns of spatial segregation, social inequality, intercultural tensions and conflicts over public space.

    Research areas

  • Bolivia, Eastern lowlands, Intercultural relations, Internal migration, Public space, Regional movements, Santa Cruz

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