Living in high altitudes comes with considerable physical challenges. The lower levels of oxygen in the air and the difficult terrain often bar the attempts made by tourists and mountaineers to reach great heights in the high mountain ranges of the world. However, medical studies have revealed that the natives of such high altitude regions are physically adapted to live in such habitat. They have a greater lung capacity and more red blood cells in their system to carry more oxygen. According to estimates, nearly 400 million people live at elevations above 1,500 meters while nearly 140 million people live at elevations exceeding 2,500 meters.
The Highest Cities in the World
1. La Rinconada, Peru - 5,130 m
La Rinconada in Peru is regarded as the city with the highest elevation in the world. It is located in the Peruvian Andes in Peru’s Ananea District at an altitude of 5,100 m above sea level. La Rinconada is located at the foot of the La Bella Durmiente, a glacier near a gold mine. The population of La Rinconada was about 50,000 as of 2012. La Rinconada experiences an alpine tundra climate characterized by freezing night temperatures all year round.
2. Tuiwa, Tibet - 5,070 m
Tuiwa is not exactly a city but a village located in Tiber’s Daglung Town, Nagarzê County by Lake Puma Yumco. Tuiwa is located at an elevation of 5,070 meters above sea level. It is thus also referred to as the "rooftop of the world.”
3. Wenquan, China - 4,980 m
Wenquan ranks third among the highest cities in the world. It is located in China’s Qinghai province and was founded in 1955. It serves both the China National Highway 109 and the Qinghai-Tibet Railways. Wenquan is located a few tens of kilometers to the north of the Tanggula Pass where the railway and the highway pass through the Tanggula Mountains.
Highest Capital City In The World
Though La Paz does not make it to our list of the ten highest settlements on Earth, La Paz, the capital of Bolivia qualifies as the highest capital city in the world. The city is located 11,975 feet above sea level. The city beats Quito, the capital city of Ecuador by only 2,000 feet. La Paz houses a population of 2.3 million people making it one of the most populated highest cities in the world.
Benefits Of High Altitude Living
People living at higher altitudes have been found to live longer and healthier lives. It has been recorded that some of the world's oldest people live in high altitude areas. The fresh air, cold temperatures, low prevalence of infectious agents, physical adaptations all help in improving the overall health of high altitude dwellers.