Lake Titicaca ‚ located high in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru , is seating 3,812 m (12,500 ft) above sea level making it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. By volume of water it is also the largest lake in South America. Titicaca is fed by rainfall and meltwater from mountain glaciers .
Lake Titicaca is considered the cradle of Incan civilization, and the origin of the Inca Empire . The lake is 196 km (122 mi) long with an average width of 56 km (35 mi). The lake has waves, testament to its size and not surprising the is very cold because is fed from the Andes making it not a good place for swiming .
The lake is composed of two nearly separate sub-basins Lago Grande and Winaymarka which are connected by the Strait of Tiquina which is 800 m (2,620 ft) across at the narrowest point.
There are five major river systems feeding Lake Titicaca : Ramis, Coata, Ilave, Huancané, and Suchez and more than 20 other smaller streams . Titicaca has its own 41 islands, some of which are densely populated. Since 2000 Lake Titicaca has experienced constantly receding water levels. Between April and November 2009 alone the water level has sunk by 81 cm and has now reached the lowest level since 1949. This drop is caused by shortened raining seasons and the melting of glaciers feeding the tributaries of the lake.
The cold sources and winds over the lake give it an average surface temperature of 10 to 14 °C (50 to 57 °F). In the winter (June-September), mixing occurs with the deeper waters, which are always between 10 to 11 °C (50 to 52 °F).
Lake Titicaca holds large populations of water birds and was designated as a Ramsar Site in1998. 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 gone extinct due to competition and predation by various introduced species of trouts and silversides.
Lake Titicaca Facts
- Lake type – Mountain Lake
- Basin countries – Bolivia & Peru
- Max. length – 190 km (118 mi)
- Max. width – 80 km (50 mi)
- Surface area – 8,372 km2 (3,232 sq mi)
- Average depth – 107 m (351 ft)
- Max. depth – 281 m (922 ft)
- Water volume – 893 km3 (214 cu mi)
- Shore length – 1,125 km (699 mi)
- Surface elevation – 3,812 m (12,507 ft)
- Islands – 41