Only a 20 minute boat ride from Puno, you will find the floating islands of Lake Titikaka. Entirely made of reeds, there are about 50 of these floating islands that make of Los Uros. The islands are about 2 meters thick and are anchored to the lake bottom by eucolipis stakes and rope. Each island consists of five families and democratically elect a chef of each of the islands. The chef holds a term of one year before a new election takes place. There is a mayor of the entire islands that is also elected and serves a term of five years.
These people who live here are the Tiwanaco (or Tihuanaco). The Tiwanaco have been here in Lake Titikaka since 1000 B.C. In 1200 A.D. there was a drought, and thus a lack of food. The Tiwanaco split into many different tribes during this era, and each tribe went their own way in search of more food and a better life. One of these tribes migrated to Cusco and became known as the Incas.
For 100’s of years the Incans expanded their empire to include areas of Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, Chile, and parts of Argentina. In 1442, the Incans returned to Lake Titikaka in an attempt to conquer their descendants, the Tiwanaco. They were unable to conquer the Tiwanaco because the Tiwanaco knew the marshes and wet lands of Lake Titikaka to well, and were able to hide amongst the reeds. Eventually, in the 1500’s, the Spaniards came over and conquered the Incans.
Today, you can still find the Tiwanacos in Los Uros, and some direct descendants of the Incans on both Isla de Amantani and Isla de Taquile.