La Rinconada – The highest human settlement in the world

Life at great heights is not easy at all. And even more so if the city you live in is almost 5100 meters above sea level. This is the case of La Rinconada, considered the highest permanent human settlement in the world and is located in the province of San Antonio de Putina in Peru, about 600 kilometres from the border with Bolivia. Currently, around 50,000 people live in the area on highest altitude in peru.

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Rinconada, The highest human settlement in the world

The increase in the price of gold between 2001 and 2009 caused the stable population to grow strongly. Of all the inhabitants, slightly less than 17,000 are considered urban. Precisely, its proximity to an important gold mine means that this city remains at a height where the air for many humans would be almost unbreathable due to the lack of oxygen.

Some considerations of La Rinconada make it so special and demonstrate the complexity of life in that place: it does not have running water, sewage or waste collection and treatment. Human waste is not processed either, and many homes do not have glass in their windows, despite the extreme weather.

La Rinconada Peru Weather – The urban area of La Rinconada Peru lies on the western flank of the snow-capped Ananea Grande. Its climate is extreme due to the height. The average annual temperature barely reaches 1.3 ° C with just over 700 millimetres of precipitation per year. Most nights throughout the year experience intense frosts. The wettest season with frequent snowfalls is summer, while winter is arid and extremely cold.

The quality of life of people is deficient, mainly due to the low amount of oxygen in the air, which makes it very common to suffer from altitude sickness. A person arriving in the city needs around 30 days to adapt. To this is added the poor working conditions in the gold mine, making life expectancies much lower than in cities at lower altitudes.
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Peru: female miners

La Rinconada Goldmine

La Rinconada, Peru — According to EarthObservatory, the city began as a mining enclave about 40 years ago, and although it was transformed into a city, basic sanitary services were never installed. In the beginning, male miners were allowed to spend up to thirty days in a row in the Rinconada mine to collect as much gold as possible. They received no wages while in the Rinconada mine, but they also had no restrictions on how much gold they could mine. Women are not allowed to enter the Rinconada mine, so it is common to see them searching outside the stones.

All for some gold — The increase in the price of gold during the 2000s caused the population to grow by almost 235%. One achievement of that growth is that electricity reached the city. Today, the inhabitants are forced to bury or burn waste outside the city, which increases the pollution of the place and removes more oxygen from the air.

Many researchers come to the city to study the short-term and long-term effects of oxygen-poor conditions on humans. The risk of CMS or mountain sickness syndrome leads to dizziness, headaches, ringing, palpitations and even heart failure and, in some cases, death. Researchers estimate that one in four people in LaRinconada suffers from CMS.

La Rinconada, 5400mètres, 40 milles personnes qui travaillent. La mine d'or informelle la plus haute du monde. (Puno, Pérou, août 2009)

La Rinconada Peru

Rinconada Peru, The highest town in the world and the streets are always covered in mud, slush mixture, water from laundries and drains, and mercury from mining waste. The faeces of the population are thrown directly into the street. And the garbage covers everything since the town is like a giant landfill. On that same note, it was indicated that the lack of services, except for transport and mobile telephony, make the place an unviable settlement.

Some hotels in the city have rooms with one bed, blankets to withstand the cold at night, no heating, no windows, and a shared toilet and no showers. Showers throughout the town are public. What is leftover in La Rinconada if they are canteens and brothels. The crime rate is vast because there are no police, so murders and disappearances are widespread. It is a city without law. Today miners work 25 days free for the mine owner and 5 for their benefit, so they never know how much they will earn. The system is known as "Cachorreo".

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La Rinconada Google Map

rinconada peru
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