El Alto, La Paz

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El Alto, La Paz
Altiplano de La Paz Bolivia.jpg
Flag of El Alto, La Paz
Flag
Coat of arms of El Alto, La Paz
Coat of arms
El Alto, La Paz is located in Bolivia
El Alto, La Paz
El Alto, La Paz
Location in Bolivia
Coordinates: 16°31′S 68°10′W / 16.517°S 68.167°W / -16.517; -68.167
Country Flag of Bolivia.svg Bolivia
Department La Paz Department
Province Pedro Domingo Murillo
Municipality El Alto Municipality
Government
 • Mayor Edgar Patana
Area
 • Total 363 km2 (140 sq mi)
Elevation 4,150 m (13,620 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,184,942
 • Density 3,300/km2 (8,500/sq mi)
Time zone BOT (UTC−4)
Website Official website

El Alto (Spanish for The Heights) is the second largest city in the department of La Paz, Bolivia. Once merely a suburb of adjacent city of La Paz on the Altiplano highlands, El Alto is today one of Bolivia's largest and fastest-growing urban centers. The population in 2011 was 974,754.[1] It is the highest major metropolis in the world.

History[edit]

The dry and inclement plain above La Paz was uninhabited until 1903, when the newly built railways from Lake Titicaca and Arica reached the rim of the canyon, where the La Paz terminus, railyards and depots were built along with a settlement of railway workers (a spur line down into the canyon opened in 1905). In 1925 the airfield was built as base for the new air force, which attracted additional settlement. In 1939 El Alto's first elementary school opened. El Alto started to grow tremendously in the 1950s, when the settlement was connected to La Paz' water supply (before that all water had to be transported from La Paz in tanker vehicles) and building land in the canyon became more and more short and expensive. In an administrative reform on March 6, 1985 the district of El Alto and surroundings was politically separated from the City of La Paz (this date is officially referred to and celebrated as the city's "founding day"). In 1987 El Alto was formally incorporated as a city. In 1994, the city became the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Alto.

El Alto, known for its teeming streets and traffic, broke gender barriers by hiring "cholitas" in December, 2013. These Aymara women dressed in traditional multi-layered Andean skirts and brightly embroidered vests, work as traffic cops to bring order to its road chaos. In recent years, Bolivia’s cholitas have been breaking social barriers, conducting television programs, working in offices, holding public posts and even participating in native fashion shows and beauty contests. [2]

Demographics[edit]

El Alto is the largest city in Latin America which has a mostly Amerindian population. About 76% of its inhabitants are Aymara, 9% are Quechua, 15% are Mestizo (descendants of Amerindian and White Europeans) and less than 0.1% are Criollos (of European descent).[citation needed]. El Alto was once known as La Paz's bedroom community, though recent growth of commerce and industry has led some local authorities[who?] to claim the title of "Bolivia's Economic Capital." Along with that industrial growth concern about water pollution by businesses including tanneries and slaughterhouse has become an issue for the city and communities downstream.[3] Rapid population growth means the city struggles to bring potable water and sewer service to parts of the population, especially on the fringes of the expanding urban area.[4]

Geography[edit]

The city contains La Paz's El Alto International Airport. El Alto is one of the highest major cities in the world, up to 4050 meters (13,615 feet) above sea level. It has a cold climate, reaching the maximum temperature of 17 °C (63 °F) in summer. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Bolivia, due to a trend in migration from Bolivia's rural areas to the La Paz region that started with the rural reform of 1952 and increased in the last 10 years. Some migrants say the difficulty of growing crops in the countryside drove them to move to the city.[5]

Climate[edit]

Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its (El Alto's) climate as alpine (E), since all mean monthly temperatures are below 10 degrees. Central La Paz, being lower, is likely Cwc.

Climate data for El Alto
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.7
(56.7)
13.4
(56.1)
14.2
(57.6)
14.2
(57.6)
13.1
(55.6)
12.8
(55)
12.6
(54.7)
14.1
(57.4)
14.3
(57.7)
16.4
(61.5)
16.4
(61.5)
14.9
(58.8)
14.18
(57.52)
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.3
(46.9)
8.2
(46.8)
8.4
(47.1)
7.7
(45.9)
6
(43)
4.8
(40.6)
4.6
(40.3)
5.8
(42.4)
6.8
(44.2)
8.8
(47.8)
9.3
(48.7)
8.7
(47.7)
7.28
(45.12)
Average low °C (°F) 3
(37)
3.1
(37.6)
2.7
(36.9)
1.2
(34.2)
−1
(30)
−3.1
(26.4)
−3.3
(26.1)
−2.5
(27.5)
−0.6
(30.9)
1.2
(34.2)
2.3
(36.1)
2.5
(36.5)
0.46
(32.78)
Precipitation mm (inches) 123
(4.84)
97
(3.82)
74
(2.91)
31
(1.22)
14
(0.55)
6
(0.24)
7
(0.28)
13
(0.51)
32
(1.26)
35
(1.38)
51
(2.01)
89
(3.5)
572
(22.52)
Source: Climate-Data.org (altitude: 4077m)[6]

Attractions[edit]

Museo de Arte Antonio Paredes Candia opened in 2002. From 2003 to present times, access from La Paz to the international airport, as well to oil and gas supplies, has been frequently blocked by protesting El Alto social leaders, who have become some of the most powerful players in the politics of Bolivia. El Alto was - and remains - one of the major centers of the Bolivian gas conflict.

There is a large colorful open-air market.[7]

Government[edit]

Main street in El Alto

El Alto is a municipality within the province of Murillo. The government of the city is divided into the executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of El Alto is the head of the city government, elected for a term of five years by general election. The legislative branch consists of the Municipal Council, which elects a President, Vice President and Secretary from a group of eleven members.

The current mayor and council members were elected in the regional election of April 4, 2010.

e • d  El Alto municipal election, 2010
Mayoral Candidate Party Votes for Mayor Percentage Council Members
  Edgar Patana Movement for Socialism (MAS-IPSP) 146.394 38,8% 5
  Soledad Chapetón National Unity Front (UN) 114.886 30,4% 3
  Abel Mamani Without Fear Movement (MSM) 91.987 24,4% 3
  Óscar Chirinos Movement for Sovereignty (MPS) 14.736 3,9% 0
  Patriotic Social Alliance (ASP) 9.666 2,6% 0
  Valid votes 377.669 86,2%
  Blank votes 25.475 5,8%
  Null votes 34.815 7,9%
  Total votes 437.959 88,9% of registered voters 11
All party percentages are the percent of valid votes. Percentages of valid, blank, and null votes are the percent of total votes emitted. Source: Corte Nacional Electoral, Acto de Computo Nacional

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ INE, Bolivia. "LA PAZ: POBLACIÓN TOTAL PROYECTADA, POR SEXO, SEGÚN PROVINCIA Y SECCIÓN DE PROVINCIA". INE Bolivia. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  2. ^ AP (23 December 2013). "Bolivian City Hires ‘cholita’ Traffic Policewomen". USAHerald. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Shahriari, Sara (12 Jan 2012). "Urban population boom threatens Lake Titicaca". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Shahriari, Sara (25 Jan 2012). "Dry Toilets: The Answer to a Bolivian City's Sewage Crisis?". The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Vidal, John (12 April 2011). "El Alto, city of rural migrants whose crops failed when the climate changed". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Climate: El Alto - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Climate-Data.org. Retrieved 2014-1-5. 
  7. ^ William Neuman (May 13, 2013). "A Colorful Bolivian Bastion, Floating Above It All". The New York Times. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 16°31′S 68°10′W / 16.517°S 68.167°W / -16.517; -68.167