Uros refers to a group of about 40 floating islets located in Lake
Titicaca off Puno, Peru as well as to the pre-Inca people who fashioned
them. The Uros originally created these artificial islands to escape the
Inca, who dominated the mainland at the time; today they are best known
as a major tourist destination.
Around 3,000 descendants of the Uro are alive today, although only a few
hundred still live on and maintain the islands; most have moved to the
mainland, where their children go to school. The Uro also bury their
dead on the mainland.
The Uro traded with the Aymara tribe on the mainland, interbreeding with
them and eventually abandoning the Uro language for that of the Aymara.
The islets are made of totora reeds, which grow in the lake. The dense
roots that the plants develop support the islands. They are anchored
with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The
reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new
reeds are added to the top to compensate. The islands last about 30
The larger islands house about 10 families, while smaller ones, only
about 30 meters wide, house only two or three.
Local residents fish, and hunt birds and graze their cattle on the
islets. They also run crafts stalls aimed at the numerous tourists who
land on ten of the islands each year.
Food is cooked with fires placed on piles of stones. To relieve
themselves, tiny 'outhouse' islands are near the main islands. The waste
is dried in the sun to avoid polluting the water.
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