Lake Titicaca is the highest commercially
navigable lake in the world, at 3,812 m (12,536 feet) above sea level.
It is also South America's largest freshwater lake, with a surface area
of approximately 8372 square kilometres.
Located in the Altiplano high in the Andes on the border of Peru and
Bolivia, at 16°S 69°W, Titicaca has an average depth of between 107 m,
and a maximum depth of 281 m. The western part of the lake belongs to
the Puno Region of Peru, and the eastern side is located in the Bolivian
La Paz Department.
More than 25 rivers empty into Titicaca, and the lake has 41 islands,
some of which are densely populated.
Titicaca is fed by rainfall and meltwater from glaciers on the sierras
that abut the Altiplano. It is drained by the Desaguadero River, which
flows south through Bolivia to Lake Poopo. This accounts for less than
five per cent of the lake's water loss, however, the rest being
accounted by evaporation as a result of strong winds and sunlight at
Titicaca is notable for a population of people who live on the Uros, a
group of about 40 artificial islands made of floating reeds. These
islands have become a major tourist attraction for Peru, drawing
excursions from the lakeside city of Puno.
The people of Taquile, off the coast from Puno, are known for their fine
handwoven textile products, among the highest quality in Peru. The
island attracts many tourists each year.
Amantani is another small island in Lake Titicaca populated by Quechua
speakers. About 800 families live in six villages on the basically
circular 15-square kilometer island. There are two mountain peaks,
called Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), and
ancient ruins on the top of both peaks. The hillsides that rise up from
the lake are terraced and planted with wheat, potatoes, and vegetables.
Most of the small fields are worked by hand. Long stone fences divide
the fields, and cattle, sheep, and alpacas graze on the hillsides.
There are no cars on the island, and no hotels. A few small stores sell
basic goods, and there is a health clinic and school. Electricity is
produced by a generator and limited to a couple of hours each day.
Some of the families on Amantani offer a meal or overnight stay to
tourists, arranged through tour guides. Guests typically take food
staples (cooking oil, rice, sugar) as a gift.
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