The Aymara live throughout the rugged altiplano (high plain), a series of semiarid basins surrounding Lake Titicaca, in southern Peru and northwestern Bolivia in South America. There are approximately 2 million speakers of the Aymara language in this region.

The altiplano lies between two massive ranges of the Andes and is described as one of the world's most difficult environments; its altitude ranges from 3,800 m above sea level at the lake shore to over 4,100 m near the foothills. The soil is loose and spongy, allowing moisture to disappear rapidly from the surface, but rainfall agriculture is possible due to adequate summer precipitation. Its tropical location at only 18° south of the equator moderates the climate and makes the growing season sufficient even at such high altitude. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable body of water in the world, with an area of 8,290 km2. Its shoreline of over 700 km is lined with Aymara villages. The people use the lake for various economic pursuits including fishing, collecting fodder for livestock, harvesting reeds for basketry, and commercial transport.

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