Located at 5,000 meters (3 miles) above sea level, La Rinconada in southeastern Peru is the highest permanent settlement in the world and sits below La Bella Durmiente, an enormous glacier..
Located on the side of Mount Ananea, La Rinconada is an informal settlement driven by the location of nearby gold mines which were established over forty years ago.
Population of La Rinconada
Currently, over 50,000 people live in La Rinconada which lacks running water, a sewage system, or sanitation services.
The population doubled in the 2000s when the price of gold increased. Between 2001 and 2012, the price of gold increased nearly sixfold.
Most of the mines employ unpaid works under a system known as cachorreo. Workers work for the mine owners for 30 days unpaid. On the 31st day, these workers can take as much ore as they can carry out of the mine as payment.
- The Highest Settlement in the World, NASA Earth Observatory, 2019.
- Tears of the Sun: The Gold Rush at the Top of the World, New Yorker, 2015.
- West, J. B. (2002). Highest permanent human habitation. High altitude medicine & biology, 3(4), 401-407. https://doi.org/10.1089/15270290260512882