Lake Titicaca, the cradle of Incan civilization,
and the origin of the Inca Empire is the highest lake navigable in
the world, at 12,506 ft (3,812 m) above sea level. It covers some 3,200
sq mi (8,300 sq km) and is 120 mi (190 km) long by 50 mi (80 km) wide. A
narrow strait joins the lake's two bodies of water, which have 41 islands,
some densely populated (Uros, Taquile, Amantaní, Isla Del Sol). The remains of one of the oldest known American
civilizations have been found in the area. Temple ruins on Titicaca Island
mark the spot where, according to legend, the founders of the Inca were sent
down to earth by the sun.
Located in the Altiplano, a high basin of the
Andes Mountains, and on the border between Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca has an average depth of between 107 m,
and a maximum depth of 281 m. It contains the great early archaeological
site of Tiahuanaco, actually in Bolivia.
According to Garcilaso de la Vega, in Inca mythology,
Manco Capac and Mama 0cllo,
children of the Sun, emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca to found
and the Inca
empire. Manco Capac was a culture hero rather than a conqueror, and he and
Mama Ocllo taught the people industries and arts and gathered then to found
Manco Capac ruled the Inca empire, Cuzco for
about forty years, established a code of laws, and is thought to have
abolished human sacrifice. The code of laws forbade marrying one's sister,
but these laws did not apply to Inca nobility so he married his sister, Mama
Ocllo. With her, Manco had a son named Roca who became the next Sapa Inca.
Manco Capac is thought to have reigned until about 1230, though some put his
death in 1107. Manco ruled before the title of Sapa Inca was invented, so in
fact his title is Capac, which roughly translates as warlord.