Since Incan times the dominant features of the local human landscape have been Saraguro town itself and its surrounding barrios. Even though the indigenous population has largely lost its holdings in the town, the center remains an important economic and religious hub, and most of the surrounding countryside is still under Indian ownership. In the mid-1980s Saraguro town had electricity and piped water, two Catholic churches, a large Sunday market, a livestock market, shops, pharmacies, several schools, a government hospital, local administrative offices, rural police, a post office, a telegraph office, and a bank. The population of the town center consists of about 5,000 blancos (people of pure Spanish or mestizo descent) and a few Indians employed as domestics or schoolteachers. Most Saraguro live and work in the dispersed barrios surrounding the town. Saraguro houses are usually single-story structures with three rooms; they are built of adobe bricks and have tile roofs. Land pressure in the barrios closest to town has prompted some families to build larger, two-story houses. Each house has a covered patio, a yard, and a small kitchen garden producing fruits, vegetables, and medicinal and culinary herbs. Individual houses are separated by smallholder agricultural plots averaging about one-quarter hectare each. Rising above the town of Saraguro is Mount Puglia, the "spiritual center" of the Saraguro universe.