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Lake Profile

Titicaca (Lago Titicaca)

General Information

Description Lake Titicaca is the largest freshwater lake in South America and the highest of the world’s large lakes. Titicaca is one of less than twenty ancient lakes on earth, and is thought to be three million years old. Lake Titicaca sits 3,810 m above sea level.
Country Bolivia
Latitude -15° 50' 0" (-15.8333)
Longitude -69° 25' 0" (-69.4167)
Lake Region High Andean Lakes
River Basin Lake Titicaca and Salar de Uyuni


 Titicaca global index map
 Largest Lakes of the World by Volume (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Titicaca locator map
 Latin America & Mexico Biodiversity Conservation Priorities
 Ancient Lakes of the World
 Titicaca shoreline map (National Geographic)
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)

Physical Characteristics

Description The Desaguadero River links Lake Titicaca to lakes Urur Uru and Poopo. The average surface area of those lakes, at 3,686 m above sea level, is 3,191 km2. The Lake Titicaca, Desaguadero River and Lake Poopo System (or TDPS System) consists of the hydrographic basins of Lake Titicaca, which occupies 39% of the area; the Desaguadero River, which together with Lake Poopo covers 38%; and the Coipasa Salt Marsh basin, which accounts for the rest.

The total annual inflow from the tributaries into Lake Titicaca is 201 m3s-1. 270 m3s-1 is added mainly from precipitation on the lake. The Desaguadero receives water from several tributaries during its course and has a mean annual flow of 89 m3s-1 before bifurcating to empty into Lake Poopó. Source: Revollo, M. (2001)

Volume 932.00 km3
Surface Area 8,400.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 107.0 m
Maximum depth: 304.0 m
Residence Time 1,343.0 years
Age 2 million - 20 million years before present
Origin Tectonic
Trophic State Oligotrophic
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 56,270.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 7:1


Economic Value Fishing is important to Lake Titicaca. Principle species for fishing are the karachi and the ispi. Trout was once very important, but now only accounts for 0.1% of extraction. Trout is now mostly exploited from fish cages and farms.
Major Cities Puno, Juliaca, La Paz, Oruro and El Alto. Population in these cities continues to grow.
Population 2,781,862 (2003)

Watershed Management

Description In 1994 Bolivia and Peru through their chancelleries applied for a joint petition to the United Nations Global Environment Fund (GEF). For the development of the Biodiversity Conservation Project in the Watershed of the Titicaca Lake – Desaguadero – Poopo – and Coipasa Salt Lake (TDPS System), between 1995 and 1997 through a consultancy contracted by the United Nations the project’s proposal is developed. In 1998 the agreement for the project is subscribed between the Bolivian and Peruvian governments and the United Nations.
Watershed Action Plan In development
Issues Floods and droughts are becoming increasingly significant in the region causing damage to the economy of the area. Furthermore there are problems associated with the regulation of water resources for economic activities and natural resources. Soil erosion threatens the region as well; more than a quarter of total watershed area is considered vulnerable to erosion (LBMI 200). Erosion causes loose sediment to flow into waterways and possibly alter composition and structure of lakes and river flows.
Invasive Species Moderate Impact
Other Issues Erosion
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality
Lake Use

Biodiversity Conservation

Description Vegetation is characterized by the presence of shrub formations (Tholares) of very resinous micro foliated leaves. Species of Baccharis incarum are pointed out, as well as the Baccharis boliviensis, Parastrehia lepidophylla, Fabiana densa. In some cases these shrub formations reach till 2.5 m of height. In certain less cold microclimates hillsides, it prospers some cactus of the Oreocereus genus or cushion type like the Lobivia sp. Typical animals are the Quirquincho (Chaetophractus nationi), mice (Auliscomys bolivienis, Ctenomys opimus) and birds like the Suri (Pterocnemia pennata) and other birds like the (Buteo pocilochroos, Geositta punensis, Muscisaxicola juninensis).
Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Ramsar Site
WWF Global 200
WWF Conservation Status Priority I
Species of Concern
Invasive Species Level Moderate
Biological Distinctiveness Globally outstanding


Lake Titicaca Binational Autonomous Authority

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network
Lake99 Workshop: Managing the Great Lakes of the World, Implementing the Watershed Approach
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas


Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, Special Issue edited by LakeNet, Volume 6:3  (PDF) Announcement. Blackwell Science-Asia. 7/31/2001.
Management issues in the Lake Titicaca and Lake Poopo system: Importance of developing a water budget  Agenda. Final. Lakes and Reservoirs- Research and Management. 9/1/2004.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.
Titicaca   (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. Revollo et al. 2/27/2006.


Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Bolivia: Lake Titicaca Artisanal Fisheries Development Project
Bolivian Legislation on the Commission for Integrated Water Resources Management
Freshwater Biodiversity of Latin America and the Caribbean: A Conservation Assessment
ILEC Database
Lake Titicaca & Salar de Uyuni River Basin map & information
Lake Titicaca Basin
Lake Titicaca Biodiversity Project
Management issues in the Lake TIticaca and Lake Poopo system: Importance of developing a water budget
Projects funded under the Ramsar Small Grants Fund, 1991-2000
Ramsar profile on Peru
Titicaca Web Serve Project Pages


11/9/2009 - Lake Titicaca water level drops 2.6 ft this year
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
1/29/2004 - Lake Titicaca waters rise; Peru fears floods
10/21/2003 - There's a lot more to October than Halloween: Happy birthday to the Incas in Peru
9/15/2002 - Update on Lake Titicaca reedbeds, 2.5 times the size of San Francisco
2/6/2002 - Scientists use llama droppings to help combat water pollution in Bolivia
11/10/2001 - Titicaca Grebe decline (Peru & Bolivia)
6/4/2001 - Pilgrimage Route Uncovered at South America's Lake Titicaca
1/25/2001 - Evidence from Lake Titicaca sheds light on sudden global climate change
8/23/2000 - Ancient temple found under Lake Titicaca
7/22/2000 - Biodiversity under siege from Titicaca to Timbuktu
10/17/1998 - Clean-up efforts on world's highest lake
5/12/1988 - The lost art of the Waru Waru

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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