The city of Puno is located in the southeast corner of Peru, on the shores of the magnificent Lake Titicaca and only 126km from the Bolivian border. The city was founded in 1668 following the discovery of nearby silver mines. Prior to this, Puno had been a small stopping off place between the much larger silver mines at Potosi in Bolivia and Lima. At 3,827m in altitude, Puno is a rather cold town surrounded by the desolate altiplano (or high plateau). It is not so much a destination in itself but a necessary stop on the way to visit the islands on Lake Titicaca, or when crossing the border to Bolivia. Nowadays, there are excellent hotels and restaurants in Puno, and it is also a good place to buy handicrafts, especially alpaca clothing.
Puno is a predominately agricultural region. Its main economic activities are cultivating potatoes, barley and quinoa, as well as raising cattle, sheep, llamas and alpaca.
Puno is also a melting pot of Indian cultures including the Aymara from the south and the Quechua from the north. This has earned Puno the title of ‘Folkloric Capital of Peru’ which it lives up to well with its huge number and variety of traditional fiestas, dances and music. Most popular is the Virgen de la Candelaria celebration in February, about two weeks of uninterrupted colorful costumes, street music and dancing.