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Potosí is a city, the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is claimed to be the highest city in the world. It lies beneath the Cerro de Potosí — sometimes referred to as the Cerro Rico ("rich mountain") — a mountain of silver ore, which has always dominated the city. Cerro de Potosí's peak is 4,824 meters above sea level.

Founded in 1546 as a mining town, it soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming one of the largest cities in the Americas and the world with a population exceeding 200,000 people.


In Spanish there is still a saying, valer un potosí, "to be worth a potosí" (that is, "a fortune"). For Europeans, Peru — Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Perú and was known as Alto Perú before becoming independent — was a mythical land of riches. Potosí appears as an idiom for "extraordinary richness" in Miguel de Cervantes' famous novel satirizing chivalry, Don Quixote (second part, cap. LXXI). One theory holds that the mint mark of Potosí (the letters "PTSI" superimposed on one another) is the origin of the dollar sign.

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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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