Cerro Rico - Potosi - Bolivia

May 17 2014

Near the mountain city of Potosi in the southern highlands of Bolivia, the cone-shaped peak of Cerro Rico stands as a 15,800-foot monument to the tragedies of Spanish conquest. For centuries, Indian slaves mined the mountain's silver in brutal conditions to bankroll the Spanish empire. Today, the descendants of those slaves run the mines. But hundreds of years of mining have left the mountain porous and unstable, and experts say it is in danger of collapsing. High up in the remote desert plains of the Bolivian altiplano lies a city whose unimaginable wealth and large-scale industrial exploitation once placed it at the heart of the South American continent. Though now a poor, neglected back-water, the importance of Potosi to the history of Western Europe, let alone South America, is difficult to over-estimate. The mineral wealth discovered there during the 16th Century provided the largest injection of capital the European continent had ever seen. The silver deposits found in the hills of Cerro Rico provided the means and the inspiration for the industrialisation of Europe. They were to bank-roll the entire economy of Spain for over 250 years. (Taken from: BBC News)

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