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Titicaca is a lake in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. By volume of water, it is the largest lake in South America and it is the highest (3,812 m / 12,507 ft) navigable lake in the world. The Uros Islands are vast floating artificial islands made from the totora reeds. There are more than 40 communities on these islands, where the Uru people live in reed huts and they fish and travel in boats woven from reeds. The Uros use bundles of dried totora reeds to make reed boats (balsas mats), and to make the islands themselves. The larger islands house about ten families, while smaller ones, only about thirty meters wide, house only two or three.
The islets are made of totora reeds, which grow in the lake. The dense roots that the plants develop and interweave form a natural layer called Khili (about one to two meters thick) that 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 constantly, about every three months. The purpose of the island settlements was originally defensive, and if a threat arose they could be moved. The largest island retains a watchtower almost entirely constructed of reeds. The islands last about thirty years.
Uru people, Lake Titicaca, Peru, South America
Nikon D200, Nikkor 18-200 mm at 36 mm, 1/350 sec at f/ 5.6, ISO 100
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Featured in the group “The World”
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