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  • The highest cities in the world (and why you should visit them)


    Altitude comes with a lot of drawbacks: you have trouble breathing the thin air, you can get altitude sickness, and the weather is much colder than in the plains. But strangely enough people still live in these rather inhospitable conditions, and more than that, there are flourishing cities at heights where many people haven’t even been yet.

    These cities prove that humans have an astonishing capacity to adapt, and more than that, to¬† make a decent living among the clouds. So prepare to catch your breath and climb up to the highest cities in the world,because there’s no shortage of reasons why you should visit them.

    La Rinconada, Peru

    The small city of La Rinconada is the highest city in the world according to the National Geographic Magazine, towering at an impressive 5,100 meters. Life in La Rinconada revolves around gold mining, and most of the 30,000 inhabitants work in the mines.

    Despite the fact that gold makes the thin air rather more bearable, many of the inhabitants work in the mines only for a short time, and then descend to more reasonable altitudes to get a breath of oxygen-laden air.

    Potosi, Bolivia

    Potosi, photo by Adam Jones on Flickr

    The Bolivian city of Potosi sits at 4,090 meters above sea level, and despite being surrounded by a rather bleak landscape (the skyline is dominated by the Cerro de Potosi mountain and its empty slopes), the city has a very rich history and beautiful architecture. The narrow streets of Potosi are made more lively by frequent patches of bright colors on the houses.

    Lhasa, Tibet

    The Tibetan capital’s name means the Land of Gods, which makes sense considering that it is so close to the clouds, at its 3650 meters. Lhasa is a huge city surrounded by the magnificent peaks of the Himalayas, and as the traditional home of the Dalai Lama, it draws throngs of visitors every year. The city has countless temples and palaces, monasteries and museums, and it is just as enjoying for pilgrims as non-pilgrims.

    Leadville, Colorado

    Leadville, photo by Philip Capper on Flickr

    Leadville is the highest city in the US, located at an altitude of 3,094 meters. Leadville started out as a silver mining town, and it has a nice historic district where you can see buildings from the city’s mining golden age.

    The rough days as well as the glory days of Leadville might be gone (it used to be the second largest city in Colorado after Denver), but Leadville remains a pleasant town despite the decidedly thin air.

    Quito, Ecuador

    Quito is the second highest capital in the world, and although there are several more elevated small towns and villages in various mountain regions of the world, Quito is unique simply because it is so huge – more than 2.5 million inhabitants willing to live at 2,850 meters. Quito is a World Heritage Site with much to see, so even if you have trouble breathing at least you will be happy while at it.

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