It is claimed Potosi is the highest city in the world at 4,090 m (13,420 feet). It lies beneath the Cerro de Potosi "” sometimes referred to as the Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”) "” a mountain popularly conceived of as being made entirely of silver ore, which has always dominated the city.
The Spanish founded Potosi in 1545, then set about plundering the wealth of Cerro Rico using slave labour. Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have died as much from the altitude and cold as from the harsh conditions inside the mines. Potosi soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming one of the largest cities in the Americas and the world with a population exceeding 200,000 people.
Potosi is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. I spent a couple of nights here, struggling for breath due to the altitude, and wondering around the town’s 2,000 colonial buildings, and a couple of the museums including the old mint.
I didn’t go in the mine, I was too scared.