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Mountain Effects on Human Life
Mountainous terrain is often both an asset and a hindrance to humans. Mountains have provided protection from war-minded neighbors. The Swiss have thrived in their mountain environment because it has given them a degree of political independence that is unusual in their part of the world. The high mountains that border Switzerland on the west and north made it possible for the country to avoid military involvement in both world wars. The Swiss have, however, developed a high standard of living only with prodigious effort, determination, and ingenuity. Mountains have furnished valuable resources of minerals, timber, water, and scenery. Some mountain slopes, like those of volcanoes in Java, Guatemala, and Sicily, have unusually fertile soils for agriculture. The short growing seasons at high altitudes, however, often restrict agriculture to specialized crops such as tea and coffee in lower altitudes and to grazing in higher ones. Mountain dwellers also have to contend with avalanches, landslides, earthquakes, and glacial bursts.
The rigors of mountain living associated with cold temperatures and low oxygen levels and difficulties with construction and maintenance of engineering works have precluded the development of many modern highland cities. One of the highest cities in the United States, Santa Fe, N.M., lying at 6,996 feet (2,132 meters) above sea level, compares with the elevation of Mexico City but not with the much older cities in the Andes and Tibet. Potosí, Bolivia, is the world’s highest city at 13,045 feet (3,976 meters). At elevations of 17,500 feet (5,334 meters), atmospheric pressure is reduced to about one half that at sea level. (Encylcopaedia Britannica, 2015)
Himalayas, Mount Everest, Lhasa, Laya, Lunana, Andes, Cappadocia, Hazara, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iraq, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Pakistan