Santa Cruz (canton), Costa Rica

Coordinates: 10°16′N 85°39′W / 10.267°N 85.650°W / 10.267; -85.650

Santa Cruz is the third canton in Guanacaste Province in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 1,312.27 square kilometres (506.67 sq mi),[1] and has a population of 60,495.[2] Its capital city is also called Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz
Location of Santa Cruz Canton in Guanacaste Province
Location of Santa Cruz Canton in Guanacaste Province
CountryCosta Rica
 • Total1,312.27 km2 (506.67 sq mi)
 (June 2013)
 • Total60,495
 • Density46/km2 (120/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−06:00 (CST)

The heart-shaped canton is on the northern Pacific coast between Bahía Potrero to the north and the mouth of the Río Montaña to the south. It includes Cabo Velas, the furthermost western point on the Nicoya Peninsula. The Río Tempisque delineates a small portion of the eastern border.


Santa Cruz was first mentioned as a canton in a decree dated December 7, 1848.

On September 5, 2012, Santa Cruz was struck by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake, destroying houses in the canton.[3][4]


The capital city of Santa Cruz, named Santa Cruz, is a typical Costa Rican rural town. Its inhabitants are very diverse and consist mostly of farmers, fishermen, workers or employees of several of the many hotels located in the vicinity. The town is known within Costa Rica for its cultural heritage and many historical traditions. These traditions include the Fiesta de Semana Santa (Easter week celebration) and the traditional bullfights as well as many others.

Every year in Santa Cruz there are a number of festivals which include bull riding ceremonies. These ceremonies, though traditional at heart, lack most of the features seen in Spanish bullfighting traditions. Usually the ring in which the bull is let loose is open to anyone, tourists as well as locals – man, woman or child. The bull riding usually starts with a man being placed on the bull with nothing but a string to hold on to. This man is inevitably, after some time, thrown off. Even though there are always medical personnel in place to supervise the bull riding, severe injuries or even death among the bullriders are not uncommon.[citation needed]

The bulls are treated with respect and dignity and in no bullring within Costa Rica is it ever alright to deliberately injure or kill a bull in a bullfight, whereas in Spain or Mexico the very purpose of the bullfight is for a trained professional to kill the bull.[citation needed]

The canton also includes the town of Santa Bárbara, known for its traditional annual dance of the calabashes (baile de los guacales). Since 2000 the activity has been considered of cultural interest to the community and all participants receive a hand-painted calabash vessel to thank them for their economic contribution (which they paid in the form of an entrance ticket).[5]


The canton of Santa Cruz is subdivided into nine districts (distritos):

District Population
Santa Cruz 24,540
Bolsón 1,872
Veintisiete de Abril 7,539
Tempate 5,428
Cartagena 4,191
Cuajiniquil 2,111
Diriá 4,301
Cabo Velas 3,644
Tamarindo 6,869


  1. ^ Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), 2001.
  2. ^ Estadísticas Vitales 2013 Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine – INEC
  3. ^ "M7.6 – 12km ENE of Hojancha, Costa Rica". United States Geological Survey. September 5, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Mata Blanco, Alonso (September 6, 2012). "Sismo Destruyó Viviendas en Varios Cantones de Guanacaste y Alajuela" [Earthquake Destroyed Homes in Several Cantons of Guanacaste and Alajuela]. La Nación (in Spanish). Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  5. ^ "Baile del Guacal" [Dance of the Calabash]. La Nación (in Spanish). 1 July 2010.

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