Why Life Expectancy in World’s Most Remote City Is 30 to 35: Report

by Kati Michelle

Hard work is something that our Outsiders value and we’re with you on that. But what happens when it gets pushed to the extreme? What happens when a town’s people collectively work themselves to death? Well, unfortunately, it means an alarmingly low life expectancy and we’re seeing it firsthand.

La Rinconada is considered the highest permanent settlement in the world and one of the world’s most remote cities. It is nestled within the Andes in Puno, Peru and the situation there is dire. Current estimates put the life expectancy for the 50,000 citizens at around 30 to 35 years old. For reference, the life expectancy in the United States is much closer to 80 years old. So, what’s going on in La Rinconada?

Locals Describe the Deteriorating Conditions

The New York Post detail how locals have dubbed La Rinconada the “Devil’s Paradise” for its fast-deteriorating conditions. Once, the area was home to a plentiful gold mine. Now, however, the gold is nearly depleted. That doesn’t stop people in the area from continuing to mine, however.

“It’s not like it used to be. That’s why so many ugly things happen,” one local said.

The 16,000-foot elevation means temperature extremes and freezing conditions. On top of that, garbage continues to pile up around the Peruvian settlement, and mining practices continue to contaminate the drinking sources with poisonous mercury.

“The water used in mining is just dumped and all the communities downstream… which are strictly farming areas, receive polluted water to support their livestock and crops,” said Federico Chavarry. Chavarry works as an environmental crimes prosecutor for the area.

The area is neither safe nor clean with violence and trafficking as other major concerns. Lung diseases and infections also affect a significant portion of the population. Law enforcement is ultimately powerless and often faces threats from workers armed with dynamite when they do try to step in.

Growing Concerns About Alcoholism

All of the aforementioned conditions do little to help with the concerningly low life expectancy in the area. Unfortunately, alcoholism now presents another growing concern.

Eva Chura is one of the women who attempt to find gold in the rubble. She describes the situation: “[The men] spend more time in the bars than working.”

More About Eva’s Story

Eva moved to La Rinconada over a decade ago and works with the other women in their designated gold panning area. The men forbid them from entering any of the tunnels underground. So, the women sift through their piles above ground hoping for a gram or two to sell on the black market.

“It is very sad to live with garbage and dirt, washing in the cold, with water from the mountain,” she says. “But you tell yourself to get over it. The children give you strength and courage to work.”