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The Inka

Image by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon


The Inca Empire thrived in Peru from 1400 to 1533 CE, spanning western South America from Quito to Santiago. Known as Tawantinsuyu ("The Land of the Four Corners"), it was the largest empire in the Americas and the world. Divided into four "suyu" intersecting at Cusco, each "suyu" had provinces. With no written language, Inca history was legendary. According to myth, the creator god Viracocha emerged from the Pacific Ocean, creating humanity at Lake Titicaca. The Inca lineage began at Tiwanaku by the sun god Inti, making them the 'Children of the Sun' and the Inca ruler Inti's embodiment on earth.


Despite the Andean environment's challenges, the Incas fearlessly conquered diverse landscapes: plains, mountains, deserts, and jungles. Their remarkable art and architecture swiftly earned recognition from the conquered. Magnificent buildings dotted the empire, while their ingenious integration of terracing, highways, and mountaintop settlements continues to awe modern visitors, particularly at Machu Picchu.


Regional unification commenced in the late 14th century CE, gaining momentum with the arrival of esteemed leader Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui and the defeat of the Chanca in 1438 CE. Seeking production resources, the Incas expanded southward and in all directions.


The Incas expanded their empire across the Andes, conquering civilizations such as Lupaka, Colla, Chimor, and Wanka. A centralized tax and administrative system solidified Cusco's power.


Between 1527 and 1532, Inca brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa battled for control. While Huayna Capac, their father, had allowed them to rule different parts of the empire, their conflict coincided with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro. Atahualpa's forces captured and executed Huascar, but he was ultimately ambushed and captured by the conquistadors in Cajamarca.


Despite paying a ransom, Atahualpa was accused of fratricide and paganism, leading to his execution in 1533.

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