Ethnic segregation in nations straddling the world’s highest terrains may be reinforced by the biological tolerance different peoples have to altitude, according to one of the first studies to examine the effect of elevation on ethnic demographics.
Research from Princeton University published in the journal Applied Geography suggests that people native to low-lying areas can be naturally barred from regions such as the Tibetan Plateau, the Andes or the Himalayas by altitude sickness, which is caused by low oxygen concentration in the air and can be life-threatening. As a result, the homogeny of the local population can increase with elevation. In nations shared by people of high- and lowland extractions, this separation can potentially increase ethnic tension. (more…)