The aim of this analysis was to determine the altitude of the highest permanent human habitation in the hope that this will throw some light on what determines the highest altitude that a community can tolerate indefinitely. A number of places where people have lived at very high altitudes for long periods of time are reviewed. Individuals have lived for as long as 2 yr at an altitude of 5950 m, and there was a miner's camp at 5300 m for several years. The highest permanently inhabited town in the world at the present time appears to be La Rinconada, a mining village of over 7000 people in southern Peru at an altitude of up to 5100 m, which has been in existence for over 40 yr. The altitude of the highest permanent human habitation is determined partly by economic factors, rather than solely by human tolerance to hypoxia.
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