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TAQUILE ISLAND, TITICACA / TITIKAKA LAKE, PERU

Other Islands in Titikaka Lake:

Uros Islands

Taquile is an island which sits on the Peruvian side of Titikaka Lake 45 km offshore from the city of Puno. About 1,700 people live on the island, which is 5.5 by 1.6 km in size, with an area of 5.72 km². The highest point of the island is 4050 meters above sea level and the main village is at 3950 m. The inhabitants, known as Taquileños, are southern Quechua speakers.

Taquile, whose Quechua name some believe was Intika, was part of the Inca Empire and has a number of Inca ruins. The island was one of the last locations in Peru to capitulate to Spanish domination during the Spanish conquest of Peru. It was captured for Carlos V and eventually passed to Count Rodrigo of Taquila, who inspired the island's current name. The Spanish forbade traditional dress and the islanders adopted the Spanish peasant dress that they are known for still using today, which they combine with extraordinarily finely-made Andean-style garments (ponchos, belts, mantles, coca-leaf purses, and others).

Taquileños run their society based on community collectivism and on the Inca moral code "ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla" (Quechua for do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy). The island is divided into six sectors or "suyus" for crop rotation purposes. The economy is based on fishing, terraced farming horticulture based on potato cultivation, and income from the approximately 40,000 tourists who visit each year.

Taquileños are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. Everyone on the island - children, women, and men - spin and weave. Taquileans also are known for having created an innovative, community-controlled tourism model, offering homestays, transportation, and restaurants to tourists. Taquileans have lost control of transportation to and from their island, and although they still benefit by selling textiles and providing meals, they have almost no control over the mass day tourism operated by non-Taquileans. Taquileans are developing alternative tourism models, including lodging for groups, and local guides, who have recently completed a 2-year training program.

Taquile has a radio station and is equipped with generators, although islanders have elected not to use them in favour of solar panels. The island has the curious distinction of being free of dogs.

In 2005, "Taquile and Its Textile Art" were honored by being proclaimed "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.




Septiembre 2009

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