The Gran Chiquitania is the area to the east of Santa Cruz where the hostile, thorny Chaco and the low, tropical savannas of the Amazon Basin have a stand-off. Watched by the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental to the west, the Llanos de Guarayos to the north and the international boundaries of Paraguay and Brazil to the south and east, these two vastly different landscapes stand together, never making peace.
The flat landscapes of the Chiquitania are broken and divided by long, low ridges and odd monolithic mountains. Much of the territory lies soaking under vast marshes, part of the magnificent Pantanal region. It’s also the area of Jesuit mission towns with their wide-roofed churches and fascinating history.
The region takes its name from the indigenous Chiquitanos. The name Chiquitanos (meaning ‘little people’) was coined by the Spanish who were surprised by the low doorways to their dwellings.