Spoken by over two million people, the Aymara language is native of the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America, comprising Western Bolivia, Southern Peru (Lake Titicaca area), Northern Chile and Northwest Argentina.
In fact, El Alto is the cosmopolitan stronghold of Aymara population, with nearly one million inhabitants.
El Alto is a suburb of Chuquiago Marka (Chuquiyapu Marka), Aymara word for the capital city of La Paz.
Its etymology comes from "chuqui", gold and "yapu", farm.
It was there where the Aymara (Aimara) urban culture developed early last century, mainly represented by the Aymara chola wearing a bowler hat, aguayo, heavy polleras and skirts, that has become an icon of Bolivian culture.
The bowler hat tradition is also shared by Quechua women.
According to history, it all started when a shipment of bowler hats was sent from Europe to railroad workers in Bolivia in the 1920s. Since they were found too small, they were distributed to locals.
Also part of the Aymara culture for centuries - shared by the Quechua culture as well - is the chewing of coca leaves (Akullaku). They are used not only as medicinal plant but also in ritual offerings to honor Apu Inti (Sun God) and Pachamama (Earth Goddess).
According to some linguists, Aymara language was once spoken as far North as central Peru. After being conquered by the Incas, Aytmara people moved to the South of Lake Titicaca, where the Tiwanaku culture flourished at some point in history. Many speak Spanish as a second language.
It is believed that the Inca ruling class spoke some form of Aymara before switching to Quechua.
After the Spanish conquistadores took over, several indigenous rebellions occurred in the region, one particularly relevant was the one led by Aymara warrior Tupac Katari in the early 1780s.
Julian Apasa Nina (Tupac Katari) raised an army of 40,000 men and kept the city of La Paz under siege for 184 days aided by his wife Bartolina Sisa. He was captured and executed in the most brutal way, torn by his extremities into four pieces, just the same as Tupac Amaru II at Cuzco's Plaza de Armas on May 18th, 1781.
Even though not as widely spoken as the Quechua, Aymara is one of the indigenous languages of South America, together with Tupí-Guaraní and Mapudungun (the language of Mapuche people).
As part of the Aymara language family, linguists have classified...