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About|the archaeological site in the Cusco Region, Peru|Titiqaqa (Cusco)!: Titiqaqa (Cusco)
Lake Titicaca

Mountain+ lake+
27 rivers
Desaguadero River+

1343 years

42+ (see ''article+'')
Copacabana, Bolivia+
Puno, Peru+


'''Titicaca''' (in the hispanicized+ spelling) or '''Titiqaqa''' (Quechua+) is a large, deep lake+ in the Andes+ on the border of Peru+ and Bolivia+. By volume of water, it is the largest lake in South America+.Grove, M. J., P. A. Baker, S. L. Cross, C. A. Rigsby and G. O. Seltzer 2003 Application of Strontium Isotopes to Understanding the Hydrology and Paleohydrology of the Altiplano, Bolivia-Peru. ''Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology'' 194:281-297. Lake Maracaibo+ has a larger surface area, though some consider it to be a large brackish bay+ due to its direct connection with the sea.

It is often called the highest navigable lake in the world, with a surface elevation of . Although this refers to navigation by large boats, it is generally considered to mean commercial craft. For many years the largest vessel afloat on the lake was the 2,200-ton, SS ''Ollanta''+. Today the largest vessel is probably the similarly sized, but broader, train barge/float ''Manco Capac+'', operated by PeruRail (berthed, as of 17 June 2013, at coord

The lake is located at the northern end of the endorheic+ Altiplano+ basin high in the Andes+ on the border of Peru and Bolivia. The western part of the lake lies within the Puno Region+ of Peru, and the eastern side is located in the Bolivian La Paz Department+.

The lake is composed of two nearly separate sub-basins connected by the Strait of Tiquina+, which is convert|800|m|ft

Five major river+ systems feed into Lake Titicaca. In order of their relative flow volumes these are Ramis, Coata, Ilave, Huancané, and Suchez. More than twenty other smaller streams empty into Titicaca, and the lake has 41 islands, some of which are densely populated.

Having only a single season of free circulation, the lake is monomictic+,Cross, S. L., P. A. Baker, G. O. Seltzer, S. C. Fritz and R. B. Dunbar 2001 Late Quaternary Climate and Hydrology of Tropical South America Inferred from an Isotopic and Chemical Model of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia and Peru. ''Quaternary Research'' 56(1):1-9. and water passes through Lago Huiñaimarca and flows out the single outlet at the Río Desaguadero+, which then flows south through Bolivia to Lake Poopó+. This only accounts for about 10% of the lake's water balance+. Evapotranspiration+, caused by strong winds and intense sunlight at high altitude, balances the remaining 90% of the water loss. It is nearly a closed lake.

Since 2000 Lake Titicaca has experienced constantly receding water levels. Between April and November 2009 alone the water level dropped by , reaching the lowest level since 1949. This drop is caused by shortened rainy seasons and the melting of glaciers feeding the tributaries of the lake. Water pollution+ is also an increasing concern because cities in the Titicaca watershed grow, sometimes outpacing solid waste and sewage treatment infrastructure. According to the Global Nature Fund+ (GNF), Titicaca's biodiversity is threatened by water pollution+ and the introduction of new species+ by humans. Already in 2012, the GNF nominated the lake "Threatened Lake of the Year".

The cold sources and winds over the lake give it an average surface temperature of . In the winter (June – September), mixing occurs with the deeper waters, which are always between .

Local communities interpreted the shape of the lake to be that of a puma+ hunting a rabbit+. The name Titicaca derives from "Titi Khar'ka" meaning Rock of the Puma; it refers to the famous feline-shaped rock formerly a point of pilgrimage on Isla del Sol not far from the Ceremonial Table. Locally, the lake goes by several names. Because the southeast quarter of the lake is separate from the main body (connected only by the Strait of Tiquina+), the Bolivians call it ''Lago Huiñaymarca'' (also Wiñay Marka, which in Aymara+ means "The eternal city") and the larger part ''Lago Chucuito.'' In Peru, these smaller and larger parts are referred to as ''Lago Pequeño'' and ''Lago Grande'', respectively.

Lake Titicaca is home to more than 530 aquatic species.Kroll; Hershler; Albrecht; Terrazas; Apaza; Fuentealba; Wolff; and Wilke (2012). ''The endemic gastropod fauna of Lake Titicaca: correlation between molecular evolution and hydrographic history.'' Ecol Evol. Jul 2012; 2(7): 1517–1530.

The lake holds large populations of water birds and was designated as a Ramsar Site+ on August 26, 1998. Several threatened species+ such as the huge Titicaca water frog+ and the flightless Titicaca grebe+ are largely or entirely restricted to the lake, and the Titicaca orestias+ has become extinct due to competition and predation by various introduced+ species of trout+ and silversides+. In addition to the Titicaca orestias, native fish species in the lake's basin are other species of ''Orestias+'', and the catfish ''Trichomycterus dispar+'', ''T. rivulatus+'' and ''Astroblepus stuebeli+'' (the last species not in the lake itself, but in associated ecosystems). About 90% of the fish species in the basin are endemic+.Hales, J., and P. Petry (2013). ''''. Freshwater Ecoregions of the World. Retrieved 11 February 2013

Titicaca is home to 24 described species of freshwater snail+s (15 endemics, including several tiny ''Heleobia+'') and less than half a dozen bivalve+s (all in family Sphaeriidae+), but in general these are very poorly known and their taxonomy+ is in need of a review. The lake also has an endemic species flock+ of amphipod+s consisting of 11 ''Hyalella+'' (an additional Titicaca ''Hyalella'' species is non-endemic).

The Tinajani Basin, in which Lake Titicaca lies, is an intermontane basin. This basin is a pull-apart basin created by strike-slip movement along regional faults starting in the late Oligocene+ and ending in the late Miocene+. The initial development of the Tinajani Basin is indicated by volcanic rock+s, which accumulated between 27 and 20 million years ago within this basin. They lie upon an angular unconformity+ which cuts across pre-basin strata+. Lacustrine+ sediment+s of the Lower Tinajani Formation, which are exposed within the Tinajani Basin, demonstrate the presence of a pre-Quaternary, ancestral Lake Titicaca within it between 18 and 14 million years ago.Marocco, R., R. Baudino, and A. Lavenu, 1995, ''Intermontane Late Paleogene–Neogene Basins of the Andes of Ecuador and Peru: Sedimentologic and Tectonic Characteristics.'' in A.J. Tankard, R. Suárez Soruco, and H.J. Welsink, eds., pp. 597-613, Petroleum basins of South America: Memoir no. 62. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Little is known about the prehistory of Lake Titicaca between 14 million years ago and 370,000 BP because the lake sediments dating to this period lie buried beneath the bottom of Lake Titicaca and have not yet been sampled by continuous coring.Fritz, S. C. , P. A. Baker, G. O. Seltzer, A. Ballantyne, P. Tapia, H. Cheng, and R. L. Edwards, 2007, ''Quaternary glaciation and hydrologic variation in the South American tropics as reconstructed from the Lake Titicaca drilling project.'' Quaternary Research 68(3):410-420.

The Lake Titicaca drilling project recovered a 136-m-long drill core+ of sediments from the bottom of Lake Titicaca at a depth of 235 m and at a location just east of Isla del Sol. This core contains a continuous record of lake sedimentation and paleoenvironmental conditions for Lake Titicaca back to about 370,000 BP. For this period of time, Lake Titicaca was typically fresher and had higher lake levels during periods of expanded regional glaciation that corresponded to global glacial period+s. During periods of reduced regional glaciation that corresponded to global interglacial+ periods, Lake Titicaca had typically low lake levels.Fritz, S.C., P.A. Baker, P. Tapia, T. Spanbauer, and K. Westover (2012) ''Evolution of the Lake Titicaca basin and its diatom flora over the last ~370,000 years.'' Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 317-318:93-103.

Lacustrine sediments and associated terrace+s provide evidence for the past existence of five major prehistoric lakes that occupied the Tinajani Basin during the Pliocene+ and Pleistocene+. Within the northern Altiplano (Tinajani Basin), these prehistoric lakes were Lake Mataro at an elevation of 3,950 m, Lake Cabana at an elevation of 3,900 m, Lake Ballivián+ at an elevation of 3,860 m, Lake (North) Minchin at an elevation of 3,825 m, and Lake (North) Tauca at an elevation 3,815 m. The age of Lake Mataro is uncertain—it may date back to the Late Pliocene. Lake Cabana possibly dates to the Middle Pleistocene. Lake Ballivián existed between 120,000 and 98,000 BP. Two high lake stands, between 72,000 – 68,000 BP and 44,000 – 34,000 BP, have been discerned for Lake Minchin within the Altiplano. The high lake levels of Lake Tauca have been dated as having occurred between 18,100 and 14,100 BP.Clapperton, C. M., 1993, ''Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology of South America.'' Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, 779 pp.Rouchy, J. M., M. Servant, M. Fournier, and C. Causse, 1996, ''Extensive carbonate algal bioherms in Upper Pleistocene saline lakes of the central Altiplano of Bolivia'': Sedimentology 43(6):973–993.Placzek, C., J. Quade, and P. J. Patchett, 2006, ''Geochronology and stratigraphy of Late Pleistocene lake cycles on the Southern Bolivian Altiplano: implications for causes of tropical climate change.'' Geological Society of America Bulletin 118(5-6):515–532.

Lake Titicaca has a borderline Subtropical highland+/Alpine climate+ with cool to cold temperatures for most of the year. The average annual precipitation is 610 mm (24 in.) mostly falling in summer thunderstorms. Winters are dry with very cold nights and mornings and warm afternoons. Below are the average temperatures of the town Juliaca in the northern part of the lake.

weather box
Juliaca, Peru+ (1961–1990)
Hong Kong Observatory,|date=August 2010

Titicaca is notable for a population of people who live on the Uros+, a group of 44 or so artificial island+s made of floating reeds (totora+, a reed that abounds in the shallows of the lake).
These islands have become a major tourist attraction for Peru, drawing excursions from the lakeside city of Puno+. Their original purpose was defensive, and they could be moved if a threat arose. Many of the islands contain watchtowers largely constructed of reeds.

Amantani+ is another small island on Lake Titicaca populated by Quechua+ speakers. About 4,000 people live in ten communities on the roughly circular 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 and sheep graze on the hillsides.

There are no cars on the island and no hotels. Since machines are not allowed on the island, all agriculture is done by hand. A few small stores sell basic goods, and there is a health clinic and 6 schools. Electricity was produced by a generator and provided limited power a couple of hours each day, but with the rising price of the petroleum, they no longer use the generator. Most families use candles or flashlights powered by batteries or hand-cranks. Small solar panels have recently been installed on some homes.

Some of the families on Amantani open their homes to tourists for overnight stays and provide cooked meals, arranged through tour guides. The families who do so are required to have a special room set aside for the tourists and must fit a code by the tourist companies that help them. Guests typically take food staples (cooking oil, rice, etc. but no sugar products, as they have no dental facilities) as a gift or school supplies for the children on the island. They hold nightly traditional dance shows for the tourists where they offer to dress them up in their traditional clothes and participate.

Taquile+ is a hilly island located 45 kilometers east of Puno. It is narrow and long and was used as a prison during the Spanish Colony and into the 20th century. In 1970 it became property of the Taquile people, who have inhabited the island since then (current population around 2,200). The taquiean Island is 5.5 by 1.6 km in size (maximum measurements), with an area of 5.72 km². The highest point of the island is 4,050 meters above sea level and the main village is at 3,950 m. Pre-Inca ruins are found on the highest part of the island, and agricultural terraces on hillsides. From the hillsides of Taquile you have a view over the white snow tops of the Bolivian mountains. The inhabitants, known as ''Taquileños'', are southern Quechua speakers.

Life on Taquile is still largely unchanged by mainland modernities. There are no cars on the island and no hotels and a few small stores sell basic goods. Most families use candles or flashlights powered by batteries or hand-cranks. Small solar panels have recently been installed on some homes. On clear nights, Taquile is a perfect place for star gazing and you furthermore experience much lightning in the horizon due to electric activity in the area.

Culture is very much alive on Taquile, which can be seen in the traditional clothes everyone wears. Taquile is especially known for its handicraft tradition which is regarded as among the highest quality handicrafts not only in Peru but in the world. "Taquile and Its Textile Art" were honored by being proclaimed "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO. Knitting is exclusively performed by males, starting at age eight. The women exclusively make yarn and weave.

Taquileans are also known for having created an innovative, community-controlled tourism model, offering home stays, transportation, and restaurants to tourists. Ever since tourism started coming to Taquile in the seventies the taquleans have slowly lost control over the mass day-tourism operated by non-Taquileans. The Taquileans have thus developed alternative tourism models, including lodging for groups, cultural activities and local guides, who have recently completed a 2-year training program. Furthermore, the local Travel Agency has been established to regain control over tourism.

The people in Taquile run their society based on community collectivism and on the Inca moral code ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla, (do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy). The island is divided into six sectors or suyus for crop rotation purposes. The economy is based on fishing, terraced farming horticulture based on potato cultivation, and tourist-generated income from the approximately 40,000 tourists who visit each year.

Situated on the Bolivian side of the lake with regular boat links to the Bolivian town of Copacabana+, Isla del Sol+ ("Island of the sun") is one of largest islands of the lake. Geographically, the terrain is harsh; it is a rocky, hilly island. There are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island. The main economic activity of the approximately 800 families on the island is farming, with fishing and tourism augmenting the subsistence economy.

There are over 180 ruins on the island. Most of these date to the Inca period circa the 15th century AD. Many hills on the island contain agricultural terraces, which adapt steep and rocky terrain to agriculture. Among the ruins on the island are the Sacred Rock, a labyrinth-like building called Chicana, Kasa Pata, and Pilco Kaima. In the religion of the Incas+, it was believed that the sun god+ was born here.

During 1987-92 Johan Reinhard+ directed underwater archaeological investigations off of the Island of the Sun, recovering Inca and Tiahuanaco offerings. These artifacts are currently on display in the site museum of the village of Challapampa.

Isla de la Luna+ is situated east from the bigger Isla del Sol. Both islands belong to the La Paz Department of Bolivia. According to legends that refer to Inca mythology+ Isla de la Luna (Spanish for "island of the moon") is where Viracocha+ commanded the rising of the moon. Ruins of a supposed Inca nunnery (Mamakuna) occupy the oriental shore.

Archaeological excavations indicate that the Tiwanaku+ peoples (ca. AD 650-1000) built a major temple on the Island of the Moon. Pottery vessels of local dignitaries dating from this period have been excavated on islands in Lake Titicaca. Two of them were found in the nineteenth century and are now in the British Museum+ in London. The structures seen on the island today were built by the Inca (ca. 1450–1532) directly over the earlier Tiwanaku ones.

Suriki lies in the Bolivian part of lake Titicaca (in the southeastern part also known as lake Wiñaymarka).

Suriki is thought to be the last place where the art of reed boat+ construction survives, at least as late as 1998. Craftsmen from Suriqui helped Thor Heyerdahl+ in the construction of several of his projects, such as the reed boats Ra II+ and Tigris, and a balloon gondola.

The dual gauge+ car float+ ''Manco Capac'' links PeruRail+'s meter gauge+ line at Guaqui+.

The lake has had a number of steamships, each of which was built in the United Kingdom+ in "knock down" form with bolts and nuts, disassembled into many hundreds of pieces, transported to the lake, and then riveted together and launched.

In 1862 Thames Ironworks+ on the River Thames+ built the iron-hulled sister ship+s SS ''Yavari''+ and SS ''Yapura''+ under contract to the James Watt+ Foundry of Birmingham+. long but in 1914 her hull was lengthened for extra cargo capacity and she was re-engined as a motor vessel+.

In 1892 William Denny and Brothers+ at Dumbarton+ on the River Clyde+ in Scotland built long and was launched on the lake in 1893.

In 1905 Earle's Shipbuilding+ at Kingston upon Hull+ on the Humber+ built long and 1,809 tons ''Inca'' was the lake's largest ship thus far. In the 1920s Earle's supplied a new bottom for the ship, which also was delivered in kit form.

Trade continued to grow, so in 1930 Earle's built long and 2,200 tons she was considerably larger than the ''Inca'', so first a new slipway+ had to be built to build her. She was launched in November 1931.

In 1975 ''Yavari'' and ''Yapura'' were returned to the Peruvian Navy, who converted ''Yapura'' into a hospital ship+ and renamed her BAP ''Puno''+. The Navy discarded ''Yavari'' but in 1987 charitable interests bought her and started restoring her. She is now moored at Puno Bay and provides static tourist accommodation while her restoration continues. ''Coya'' was beached in 1984 but restored as a floating restaurant in 2001. ''Inca'' survived until 1994 when she was broken up. ''Ollanta'' is no longer in scheduled service but PeruRail has been leasing her for tourist charter operations.

*Taraco Peninsula+
*Titicaca National Reservation+
*Tourism in Peru+
*Yampupata Peninsula+


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Lake Titicaca+ Titicaca (in the hispanicized spelling) or Titiqaqa (Quechua) is a large, deep lake in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
Telmatobius culeus+ Telmatobius culeus, commonly known as the Titicaca water frog, is a very large and critically endangered species of frog in the family Telmatobiidae.