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Photographer's Note

The discovery of ore in silver-rich Cerro Rico (rich hill) by Indian Diego Huallpa in 1544 prompted the foundation of the city of Potos on April 10th, 1545 at the foot of the hill. The city was born under the name of Villa Imperial de Carlos V, in honor of then Spanish king Carlos V. Its founder was Juan de Villarroel. Large-scale excavation began in the site immediately and the first shipment of silver was sent to Spain. In 1672, a mint was established to coin silver and water reservoirs were built to fulfill the growing population's needs. At that time more than eighty six churches were built and the city's population increased to nearly 200,000, making it one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Latin America and in the world. During the early 19th-century, struggles for independence caused many churches to be looted. Then the city's wealth was removed to Europe or to other parts of the Spanish realm. By then the population dropped to less than 10,000. By the time of independence in 1825, the mines of the Cerro Rico were almost exhausted. In the mid 19th century, a fall in silver prices hurt Potosi's economy in a way from which it has never completely recovered. On December 11, 1987 (in Paris, France), the UNESCO declared the city of Potos a "World Heritage Site" in recognition for its rich history and its wealth of colonial architecture.
By November 1996, according to data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadstica (INE), Potos had a population of 121,097 inhabitants.
The city of Potos sits at an altitude of 4,090 meters above sea level, being the highest city in the world. The city is well-known for its cool weather and sometimes freezing rain.

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Additional Photos by Matteo Porta (mporta) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 198 W: 78 N: 620] (3812)
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