THE INCA EMPIRE
Inca Empire, vast kingdom in the Andes Mountains of South America that was created by the Quechua, a Native American people, in the 15th century ad. The Inca Empire was conquered by the Spanish in the early 16th century. The Incas built a wealthy and complex civilization that ruled between 5 million and 11 million people. The Inca system of government was among the most complex political organizations of any Native American people. Although the Incas lacked both a written language and the concept of the wheel, they accomplished feats of engineering that were unequaled elsewhere in the Americas. They built large stone structures without mortar and constructed suspension bridges and roads that crossed the steep mountain valleys of the Andes.
The Incas conquered a number of neighboring peoples as they expanded their area of influence outward from their home in the Cuzco valley of highland Peru
. Inca lands eventually totaled about 906,500 sq km (about 350,000 sq mi). This territory centered on the peaks of the Andes, but extended to the Pacific Coast and the Amazon basin. The political center of the empire was in what is now Peru, and its territory included parts of present-day Ecuador, Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwest Argentina. The terrain included high grass plateaus, low-lying jungles, deserts, and fertile river valleys.
Origins of the Incas
Most of the major ideas and institutions incorporated within Inca culture developed from a series of earlier Native American civilizations in the Andes. According to legend, the people later known as Incas began as a small group of warlike people and lived near Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru sometime before the 13th century. According to Inca myth, the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, and his three brothers and four sisters emerged from caves in the earth. Around the year 1200, Manco Capac led ten Inca ayllus, or clans, from Lake Titicaca north to the fertile valley of Cuzco. The Incas...