NAME OF THE CITY.-
There is some uncertainty about the correct name of
the city. According to some chroniclers, in the first
centuries of the existence of this most important city
in pre-Columbian South-America, its name was Akamama
that according to Guaman Poma de Ayala means "chicha's
mother" (chicha is a fermented corn beer). Possibly
it was Aqhamama -in the modern Quechua spelling- or
"chicha mother". Surely that name became useless
by the beginning of the Inkan development. When this
was the ancient Capital of the Tawantinsuyo, it was
named as Qosqo, word that is translated as "navel"
or "center". That is the regular name for
any Quechua speaking Andean Man. After the Spanish invasion
in 1533 the name was transformed into Cuzco, word that
according to the Spanish language dictionary is contemptuous,
meaning "hypocrite", "humpback"
and "small dog". This was a way to minimize
or satirize the name of the city. Later the name was
changed into Cusco, because over here "z"
is not pronounced as in Spain. By the end of the XX
century a very strong social movement is willing to
preserve the original name of this ancient city; thus
since June 20, 1990, the City's Municipality by means
of Town Council Agreement Nº 078-A/MC-SG-90 stated
that the official name is Qosqo.
The population in Qosqo City by the beginning of the
XXI century is projected to be 300,000 inhabitants.
The annual growth rate is approximately 4%. In 1821
after 3 centuries of Spanish colonial administration,
this city had about 40,000 people. In the Tawantinsuyo's
apogee it should had between 225 to 300 thousand inhabitants.
The altitude is 3,400 meters above sea level (11,150
feet). Some persons not used to the high altitude get
problems as a consequence of the oxygen scarcity. There
is an inverse relationship: the higher the altitude,
the smaller the amount of oxygen. That phenomenon makes
changes in people who live in high altitudes; they develop
their hearts and lungs bigger. Their blood contains
a higher amount of red cells too. Scarcity of oxygen
produces in some people the altitude sickness that is
also known as soroche or sickness of Monge. The symptoms
include sleeplessness, headaches, increased excitability,
shortness of breath, and a lower threshold of pain and
taste. Tendon reflexes slow down and there may be loss
of weight, thyroid deficiency, lung edema, or infections.
Women may experience dysmenorrhea or amenorrhea, and
many people experience psychological or mental disturbances.
For some people it may take days, weeks or even years
to adjust to some altitudes.
13° 30' 45". Our latitude indicates that we
should have a tropical or equatorial weather, but it
is not like that. Qosqo is cooler because of its high
71° 58' 33". We are 5 hours later than the
Greenwich Mean Time.
It is relatively cool. The annual average in the city
is between 10.3° to 11.3° Celsius (50.54°
to 52.34° Fahrenheit). Over here there is some uniformity
in temperature between summer and winter. Normally it
is somewhat cold at nighttime and during the first hours
in the early morning while that at midday temperature
increases considerably. During the early mornings in
June and July temperature frequently drops to 5°
and 7°C below zero (23° and 19.4°F).
The altitude in which Qosqo is found and its proximity
to the equator make the city's climate so special. There
are just 2 well-defined seasons: a dry season and another
rainy one. The dry season is from May to October and
the rainy season from November to April. Generally,
rainfall fluctuates between 600 to 880 mm. per year,
that is between 31.5 to 34.5 inches.
In the lower section of the Qosqo Valley there is an
annual humidity average of 64 %.
Peruvian Republic: 1'285,215 Km² (496,221 mile²)
Inka Region: 175,280 Km² (67,676 mile²)
Qosqo Department: 76,225 Km² (29,430 mile²)
Qosqo Province: 523 Km² (202 mile²)
The original landscape of the valley in which the city
is located has suffered some important changes. Pre-Columbian
civilizations were ecologist cultures that learned to
respect and live along with nature. In ancient times
the grounds have been covered with sparse grasses, ichu
(Stipa ichu) a native bunch grass, bushes and low trees.
Among the most important native plants and bushes are:
ñucchu (Salvia oppositiflora), yerba mora or
ccaya-ccaya (Solanum nigrum), cow's tongue or llaque
(Rumex crispus), male llanten or waqa kallo (Plantago
hirtella), minor nettle or quisa (Urtica urens), yawar
ch'onka (Oenothera rosea), ch'iri-ch'iri (Grindela boliviana),
cancer herb (Stachys bogotensis), trinitaria or wallwa
(Psoralea mexicana), q'eto-q'eto (Gnaphalium spicatum),
wild tobacco or qhamasayri (Nicotiana paniculata), supai
karko (Nicotiana glauca), dog thornbush or alkoquiska
(Xanthium spinosum), dandelion or pilli-pilli (Taraxacum
officinale), muña (Minthostachys spicata), chicchipa
(Tagetes mandoni), verbena (Verbena litoralis), t'ankar
quiska (Solanum pseudolicioides), llaulli (Barnadesia
horrida), kantu (Cantua buxifolia) -a bush having red
or yellow flowers that are considered as the Peruvian
national flowers-, marqhu (Ambrosia peruviana), q'era
(Lupinus condesuflorus), manca p'aki (Eupatorium sternbergianum),
rata-rata (Abutilon arboreum), runto-runto (Calceolaria
cuneiformis), angel's trumpet or floripondio (Datura
arborea), red angel's trumpet (Datura sanguinea), roq'e
(Colletia spinosissima), panti (Cosmos peucedanifolius),
mountain ginger (Canna iridiflora), achupalla (Pitcairnia
ferruginea), kcayara (Puya herrerrae), aguaimanto (Prunus),
chunta paqpa (Fourcroya andina), century plant or paqpa
(Agave americana), prickly pear or tuna (Opuntia ficus
indica), p'ata quiska (Opuntia exaltata), jawaq'ollay
or giant cactus (Trichocereus cuzcoensis), atoq-wakachi
(Opuntia tunicata), niwa (Cortadería rudiuscula),
ch'illca (Baccharis polyanta), maych'a or árnica
(Senecio pseudotites), begonia or achankarai (Begonia
Among the most important native trees are: chachacomo
(Escallonia resinosa), molle or false pepper (Schinus
molle), kiswar (Buddleia longifolia or incana), qolle
(Buddleia coriácea), elderberry or sauco (Sambucus
peruviana), capuli cherry (Physalis peruviana), lloq'e
(Kageneckia lanceolata), tara (Caesalpinia spinosa),
huayruro (Citharexylum herrerae), alder tree or lambran
(Alnus jorulensis), cedar (Cedrela herrerae), coral
tree or pisonay (Erythrina falcata), weeping willow
(Salix humboldtiana), waranway (Tecoma sambucifolia),
q'euña (Polylepis incana or racemosa), etc.
Since colonial days people from the city have been
exterminating slowly many bushes and almost all of the
valley's native trees for use as firewood. Today the
trees that dominate our valleys are eucalyptus (Eucalyptus
globulus), imported from Australia in the 1880s. Another
element that has changed the original landscape of the
valley is the grass known as kikuyo (Pennisetun clandestinum),
grass native from Eritrea and Abyssinia -present day
Ethiopia- that was brought from Kenya and planted first
in the Qosqo Valley in 1928. In the very beginning it
was imported with ornamental purposes and as cattle
pasture. Today it grows wildly even in the very high
Andean Mountains as a pest that reduces the farmlands.
It is appreciated by cattlemen but hated by farmers.
The Qosqo Valley is located by the mid-west of the Peruvian
Andes, not so far away from what is known as the "Vilcanota
Node". Mountains around it contain mainly sedimentary
rocks. However, there is an important limestone formation
and some "stocks" or outcrop igneous formations.
Among the most important mountains surrounding Qosqo
City, named clockwise are: on the northern side Saqsaywaman,
Pukamoqo, Socorro and farther away Senqa (4400 mts.,
14432 ft.) and the Fortaleza (4193 mts., 13750 ft.).
Advancing to the east side are the Pikol (4482 mts.,
14700 ft.) and the range of Pachatusan (4842 mts., 15880
ft.). Towards the Southeast are the Machu Loma, the
mythological Wanakauri (4080 mts., 13382 ft.), Santa
Ana; farther south is the Anawarque (4050 mts., 13284
ft.), Qachona, and closer the Choqo, Araja, Muyu-Orqo
and the Condoroma which closer side to the city is named
Araway Qhata where today the sign "Viva el Perú"
("Long life for Peru") is found; to the southwest
are the Pukín, Waman Charpa and further away
the Mama Simona (4300 mts., 14105 ft.). Dominating the
western side are the K'illki and Picchu (3820 mts.,
12530 ft.). On the top of the Picchu Mountain today
many microwave antennas are placed.
Besides, in the Qosqo Region there are also some very
important mountain chains, standing out the Cordillera
(Range of Mountains) of Vilcanota towards the city's
east and which highest peak is the Ausangate over 6372
mts. (20905 ft.); the Cordillera of Urubamba towards
the northwest with its highest peak La Veronica over
5682 mts. (18641 ft.); and the Cordillera of Vilcabamba
toward the west and which highest summit is the Salkantay
over 6271 mts. (20574 ft.).