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Fast-Growing City of El Alto Turns Thirty

El Alto graphic by Tonny Lopez (@tonnylp)

El Alto graphic by Tonny Lopez (@tonnylp)

Relatively young by Bolivian city standards, the city of El Alto celebrates its 30th anniversary on March 6th, 2015. What initially started as a small suburb of the city of La Paz, the seat of government located 4,070 meters above sea level, it became its own municipality in 1985. It is now Bolivia's second largest city according to the 2012 Census.

The city's population is comprised primarily of Aymara migrants from the Altiplano that take part in informal and formal commerce and manufacturing. While it counts on a rich cultural tradition, El Alto is also known for its role in the 2003 “Gas War,” that ultimately led to the resignation of then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in the wake of 80 people left dead. The slogan “El Alto on its feet, never on its knees,” has been used since the 1980s, and is still used today to reflect the resilient character of its residents.

To celebrate El Alto's anniversary, the hashtag #ElAlto30 has been making its rounds on social media.

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