Lake Titicaca is located on the border between Peru and Bolivia, and is shared between them. Tourists can access some of the features of the lake from one country or the other, but need to visit both to see everything. Over 40 islands are located on the lake-- the majority of them are inhabited. The largest island on Lake Titicaca is Bolivia's Isla del Sol, home to over 180 Incan ruins.
Throughout history, many civilizations have lived on the banks of-- and even on-- the lake. There is evidence of human presence dating back to between 10,000 to 8,000 B.C. In 2000, Archeologists discovered the ruins of an underwater temple believed to be built by the Tiwanaku, a pre-Columbian people. The Inca people considered Lake Titicaca to be a sacred lake. The lake is often thought of as the birthplace of the Incas and played a role in the rise of the Inca empire.
Today, in addition to the people who reside on Lake Titicaca's islands, the Uru people reside on floating islands constructed of dried totora reeds. A few hundred of these people maintain their traditional way of life, continually repairing and adding totora reeds to the islands to keep them afloat. Those that still live on the floating islands feast on totora reeds, fish, and hunt birds like seagulls, ducks and flamingos. They also graze cattle. They barter with the people of Puno, Peru-- the closest city on the mainland-- for staples like quinoa. The Uru people also welcome tourists to their floating islands and sell crafts to the tourists to earn a bit of money.
Lake Titicaca was formed when an earthquake in the Andes Mountains split the range into two parts, forming a deep hollow that eventually filled with water from rain and melting glaciers. At its widest, Lake Titicaca is 50 miles across, and at its longest, it is 118 miles. The surface area of the lake is 3,232 square miles.
The lake ranges in depth from an average of 460 to 600 feet. The deepest point of Lake Titicaca is 922 feet near the northeastern shoreline of the lake, where it tilts sharply towards the Bolivia.
The lake is fed by 27 different rivers, and holds more fresh water than any other lake in South America. The largest river that feeds into the lake is the Ramis, which drains two-fifths of the entire Titicaca Basin. Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo has a bigger surface area, but holds less water in its banks.
Bolivia is technically a land-locked country, following the loss of their coastal territory in 1881. However, the Bolivian Navy maintains a "brown water" force of armed patrol boats on their rivers and lakes, including Lake Titicaca.