La Rinconada, Peru

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La Rinconada
View of the town
View of the town
Flag of La Rinconada
Flag
Official seal of La Rinconada
Seal
La Rinconada is located in Peru
La Rinconada
La Rinconada
Coordinates: 14°37′57″S 69°26′45″W / 14.63250°S 69.44583°W / -14.63250; -69.44583Coordinates: 14°37′57″S 69°26′45″W / 14.63250°S 69.44583°W / -14.63250; -69.44583
Country Peru
RegionPuno
ProvinceSan Antonio de Putina
DistrictAnanea
Elevation5,100 m (16,700 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total50,000
Demonym(s)Rinconero(a)

La Rinconada is a town in the Peruvian Andes near a gold mine.[1] At 5,100 m (16,700 ft) above sea level, it is the highest permanent settlement in the world.[2] Between 2001 and 2009, the population increased to 30,000 people from just a small gold prospector camp because the price of gold rose 235% over that period.[3]

Geography[edit]

Topography[edit]

The town is in the Ananea District, San Antonio de Putina Province. It lies at a height of 5,100 m (16,700 ft) above sea level. It sits at the foot of La Bella Durmiente (The Sleeping Beauty) glacier. Some successful miners in La Rinconada have homes in Juliaca, which has municipal services and is only 3,825 metres (12,549 ft) above sea level.[4]

Economy and infrastructure[edit]

The economy is mainly based on the production of gold from nearby gold mines, many artisanal.[4]

Many miners work at the gold mine owned by Corporación Ananea. Under the cachorreo system they work for 30 days without payment. On the 31st day they are allowed to take with them as much ore as they can carry on their shoulders.[3] Whether the ore contains any gold or not is a matter of luck. Pocketing of nuggets or promising chunks of rich ore is tolerated. Women are banned from the mines, but pallaqueras can be seen working though rock on the mine dumps.[4]

Inca Manco Cápac International Airport is the nearest commercial airport; it is in Juliaca.

Environmental issues[edit]

The town lacks plumbing and sanitation systems.[3] There is also significant contamination by mercury,[citation needed] due to the mining practices. Local miners refine the ore by grinding and treating it with mercury and pressing the mass through a cloth to filter it. The resulting amalgam is heated, to remove the mercury.

Climate[edit]

High in the Andes, La Rinconada has an alpine / tundra climate (ET, according to the Köppen climate classification), with no month having average temperatures even close to the 10°C threshold that would permit tree growth and a subtropical highland classification for the city. Far above the tree line, La Rinconada is unique in its high elevation and population, with the highest city of comparable population (Cerro de Pasco) being over 700 m (2,300 ft) closer to sea level.

Owing to the extreme elevation of the town, climatic conditions more closely resemble that of the west coast of Greenland than somewhere only 14° from the equator. The town has rainy summers and dry winters with a large diurnal variation seeing cool to cold days and freezing night time temperatures throughout the year, with common snowfalls. The average annual temperature in La Rinconada is 1.2 °C (34.2 °F) and the average annual rainfall is 707 mm (27.8 in).

Climate data for La Rinconada
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
(46.9)
7.7
(45.9)
8.0
(46.4)
8.6
(47.5)
8.5
(47.3)
8.2
(46.8)
8.2
(46.8)
9.6
(49.3)
9.6
(49.3)
11.0
(51.8)
10.3
(50.5)
8.7
(47.7)
8.9
(48)
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.6
(36.7)
2.5
(36.5)
2.4
(36.3)
1.7
(35.1)
0.5
(32.9)
−1.7
(28.9)
−1.5
(29.3)
−0.4
(31.3)
1.3
(34.3)
2.5
(36.5)
2.4
(36.3)
2.7
(36.9)
1.3
(34.3)
Average low °C (°F) −3.1
(26.4)
−2.6
(27.3)
−3.2
(26.2)
−5.1
(22.8)
−7.5
(18.5)
−11.6
(11.1)
−11.2
(11.8)
−10.3
(13.5)
−7.0
(19.4)
−5.9
(21.4)
−5.5
(22.1)
−3.3
(26.1)
−6.4
(20.6)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 135
(5.31)
113
(4.45)
106
(4.17)
50
(1.97)
19
(0.75)
7
(0.28)
6
(0.24)
15
(0.59)
34
(1.34)
51
(2.01)
67
(2.64)
104
(4.09)
707
(27.84)
Source: Climate-data.org[5]

See also[edit]

  • Gorakshep, a base camp in Nepal at 5,164 m (16,942 ft), near Mount Everest.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Altitude of Human Survivability, Maximum (Vertical Limit).
  2. ^ West, John B. (July 6, 2004). "Highest Permanent Human Habitation". High Altitude Medicine & Biology. 3 (3): 401–407. doi:10.1089/15270290260512882. PMID 12631426. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b c National Geographic Magazine, January 2009
  4. ^ a b c William Finnegan (April 20, 2015). "Tears of the Sun The gold rush at the top of the world" (The New Yorker). Retrieved April 13, 2015. Many mining towns are company towns. La Rinconada is the opposite. Nearly all the mines and miners here are "informal", a term that critics consider a euphemism for illegal. Ilasaca prefers "artisanal." The mines are small, numerous, unregulated, and, as a rule, grossly unsafe. Most do not pay salaries, let alone benefits, but run on an ancient labor system called cachorreo. This system is usually described as thirty days of unpaid work followed by a single frantic day in which workers get to keep whatever gold they can haul out for themselves.
  5. ^ "Climate: La Rinconada, Puno". Retrieved 2 November 2014.

External links[edit]