Valle Grande, Santa Cruz
Vallegrande (Spanish: "Big Valley") is a small town in Bolivia, located in the Department of Santa Cruz, some 125 km southwest of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It is the capital of the Vallegrande Province and serves as a regionally important market town. The town lies in a big valley at an altidude of 2.030 m and has approximately 6,000 inhabitants. It has a mild climate due to its valley location, and the main industry in the area is agriculture.
Vallegrande was founded by the Spanish in 1612 under the name Ciudad de Jesus y Montes Claros de los Caballeros del Vallegrande (Town of Jesus and Montes Claros of the knights of Vallegrande). During the 18th and 19th centuries Vallegrande steadily grew and became the urban and cultural center of the region with a population of 25,000 by 1900. In the 20th century, though, concurrent with the rise of Santa Cruz, Vallegrande's importance gradually declined.
It was here in Vallegrande, over 40 years ago, that the corpse of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara lay on display, eyes open, in the hospital laundry. It was on the airstrip in Vallegrande that the remains of Che Guevara were discovered in 1997. Guevara had been buried in this location after his execution in the nearby village of La Higuera in 1967.Vallegrande can be accessed via a spur road branching off the (old, southern) Santa Cruz to Cochabamba highway and has an airstrip.
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