Titicaca, a lake of South America, partly in Bolivia and partly in Peru, in the valley of the Desaguadero, more than 12,000 ft. above the seq. From recent but incomplete surveys it is estimated to be about 100 m. long, with an average breadth of 35 m. Scattered over its surface are many small islands containing the remarkable ruins called Tiaguanaco. These indicate a higher order of art than any existing at the time of the Spanish conquest,' and a higher civilization than the aboriginal monuments at Palenque. According to the early Spanish chroniclers, the Peruvians had but the vaguest traditions of their origin, and there are striking evidences of their great antiquity. Some of the structures, on a pyramidal plan, appear to have covered several acres, but the most remarkable features still remaining are monolithic doorways, pillars, and statues elaborately sculptured in a style found nowhere else: One of these doorways is 10 ft. high and 13 ft. broad, with an opening 6 ft. 4 in. by 3 ft. 2 in., the whole cut from a single stone. Its E. front has a cornice, in the middle of which is a human figure crowned with rays, interspersed with serpents with crested heads. On each side are three rows of human and other figures, apparently symbolic.
The statues are much broken, but their original dimensions were colossal. The whole neighborhood is strewn with vast blocks of stone elaborately wrought. The principal ruins are on an island bearing the same name as the lake, close to the S. W. shore. On some of the islands are other monuments of great extent, but of true Peruvian type, apparently the remains of temples destroyed on the arrival of the Spaniards. (See Aymaras.) Since 1871 two small steamers, carried in pieces across the Andes, have been launched on the lake. A railroad extending about 220 m., across the Andes from Arequipa to Puno on the W. shore of Lake Titicaca, was begun in 1870 and completed Jan. 1, 1874, at a cost of $32,000,000. It opens to market the wealth of the lake shores, alpaca wool, cinchona, chocolate, coffee, and other products, and the silver, copper, and timber of the surrounding mountains.