The Inca Empire - History

The Inca Empire - History

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The Inca Empire originated from a tribe located in the Cuzco area of Andes. In 1438 they began a major expansion that brought much of the Andes under the control of the Incas. The Incas began to further expand their control by establishing a federal empire. They approached neighboring tribes and offered them the opportunity to peacefully join the empire. Most did, and before long the Inca empire stretched from what is today Ecuador southward, covering most of Chile.

The Incas believed in many gods. The most important god was the Sun god. The Incas built their temple at the highest point to be closest to the Sun god. The Incas believed that the gods had blessed their empire. The Inca worshiped their gods religiously.

The Incas had the largest army in the New World. They recruited males from all parts of the Empire to become soldiers in their army. Their army was equipped with bronze and bone tipped spears, clubs with stone slings and wooden swords. Their cities were fortified. The Incas thought they were safe from any outside threats.

The Incas were surprised when Pizarro arrived. Their King Atahualpa was overconfident and spurned Pizarro's request. After all, Atahualpa had 80,000 troops with him and Pizarro had less than 200. This overconfidence was misplaced. Pizarro's better-trained men were able to seize Atahualpa. The Incas offered a very large ransom. They filled the room that Atahualpa was held in with gold and two additional rooms with silver. Pizarro took the randsom and did not keep his side of the bargain. Instead he killed the Inca leader. The Spanish went on to capture the Inca capital of Cuzco. The Incas continued to resist the Spanish, even after the fall of their capital. That resistance did not fully end for 40 years.


The Inca Empire is known in English as "Inca Empire", the native name in Quechua is Tawantinsuyu.


Before the Inca Empire was founded, the Inca people were a tribe around the area of what would later become Cuzco. Eventually they founded the city of Cuzco (Quechua: Qusqu) under the leadership of their first Sapa Inca, Manco Capac. Manco Capac was believed top be the son of the Sun God Inti and Mama Quilla, a deity himself.

Kingdom of Cuzco

In 1200 AD, Manco Capac founded the Kingdom of Cuzco. Initially they controlled only the city of Cuzco and there were many other Andean kingdoms surrounding them. Manco Capac ruled for forty years and was succeeded by his son Sinchi Rocha. Sinchi Rocha began constructing terraces around Cuzco and improved the fertility of the valley of Cuzco by importing soil. Under Mayta Capac, the Kingdom of Cuzco began expanding into all directions and controlled the area from Arequipa to Lake Titicaca to Limaq (Lima). Viracocha was the first ruler to effectively rule the   conquered teritories and began centralizing the empire. 

Inca Empire

Golden Age

Viracocha had a son, Pachacuti, who planned to become Sapa Inca after his father. Pachacuti was not appointed to succeed his father, his uncle Urco was. But Pachacuti demonstrated his ability to rule by defeating the invading army of the Chancas, while his father and uncle fled the scene. Pachacuti won the support of the people and his father appointed him as successor and co-ruler. Viracocha passed away three years later and Pachacuti became Sapa Inca. Pachacuti began to greatly improve the system of ruling the kingdom, he introduced a taxation system and began building the Andean road system, connecting the entire kingdom. Pachacuti was military genius, in no more than 20 years he expanded the tiny Kingdom of Cuzco to the mighty Inca Empire, controlling most of Western South America. Pachacuti conquered all the neighbouring kingdoms, including their long time rival, the Chimu. The Chachapoya Kingdom was also conquered, but their civilization survived and they fled to the Amazon rain forest, settling their new capital, Satchapoya. Pachacuti also built the Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun, where the Altar of the Sun was located. The Temple was devoted to Inti and was adorned in gold, its walls were covered in gold and in the temple itself there were solid golden statues. Despite being a military success, Pachacuti did not improve the system of succession and when he died unexpectedly due to an illness, he was succeed by Tupac Inca Yupanqui.

Tupac Inca Yupanqui further expanded the empire into Ecuador and conquered the Chachapoya, who fiercely resisted, but were eventually conquered, escaping the Incas and moving to the Amazon. Tupac Inca Yupanqui also led several naval expeditions to Rapa Nui, the Galapagos Islands, the Canaries and even Morocco (which was called Aqu by the Incas) . A fifth expedition was ordered to explore to area north of Morocco, but was destroyed by a storm. His son Huayna Capac further consolidated the empire, expanding into Chile and Colombia. The whole empire was connected by an extensive road system, including the famous Inca rope bridges.

Spanish Invasion

Huayna Capac met the Spanish under leading of Francisco Pizarro and welcomed them to his empire. He contracted smallpox from them and died, leaving the empire without a ruler. The European diseases spread quickly and devastated the empire. Both of Huayna's sons, Huascar and Atahualpa claimed the throne, weakening the empire even further by civil war. The Spanish acted quickly and began invading the empire in name of their God. One of Huayna's daughter's Huitaca Yupanqui, was a smart and cunning girl, and saw her country in need of a great leader. Women were barred from succeeding in all circumstances, but she outmaneuvered her brothers and gained the support of the people. In 1532 she was crowned as the first and only female Sapa Inca, the true successor to Huayna Capac, Pachachuti, Manco Capac and Inti. While her brother Atahualpa was defeated at Cajamarca, she prepared the defense of Cuzco and won the battle, while Pizarro escaped to the north. Pizarro was outnumbered, and tried desperately to gain support from conquered peoples, promising them large rewards. To no avail, he was once again defeated at Quitu and was executed by the empress herself. After the defeat of the Spanish, the empress began modernizing the country and established an alliance with the Aztec Empire and Maya  Kingdom, to ensure the survival of the Native American nations. The empire was once again in a Golden Age, but the Royal Advisors, Clergy and traditionalists resented a woman usurping the throne and colluded to overthrow her. In 1560 the empress was ambushed by rebels and captured. She was falsely accused of treason, blasphemy and sacrilege and was declared guilty. She was put under house arrest, where she remained for several months. In September 1560 she was freed by her servants and followers and they planned to install her as empress once again. But the plan was thwarted and a battle ensued at the palace between traditionalists and the empress' supporters. The traditionalists were victorious and the empress refused to surrender, saying she would not abandon the people who needed her. She was stoned to death and her brother Huascar was restored to the throne.

Inca Civilization

The Inca civilization flourished in ancient Peru between c. 1400 and 1533 CE, and their empire eventually extended across western South America from Quito in the north to Santiago in the south. It is the largest empire ever seen in the Americas and the largest in the world at that time.

Undaunted by the often harsh Andean environment, the Incas conquered people and exploited landscapes in such diverse settings as plains, mountains, deserts, and tropical jungle. Famed for their unique art and architecture, they constructed finely-built and imposing buildings wherever they conquered, and their spectacular adaptation of natural landscapes with terracing, highways, and mountaintop settlements continues to impress modern visitors at such world famous sites as Machu Picchu.


Historical Overview

As with other ancient Americas cultures, the historical origins of the Incas are difficult to disentangle from the founding myths they themselves created. According to legend, in the beginning, the creator god Viracocha came out of the Pacific Ocean, and when he arrived at Lake Titicaca, he created the sun and all ethnic groups. These first people were buried by the god and only later did they emerge from springs and rocks (sacred pacarinas) back into the world. The Incas, specifically, were brought into existence at Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) from the sun god Inti, hence, they regarded themselves as the chosen few, the 'Children of the Sun', and the Inca ruler was Inti's representative and embodiment on earth. In another version of the creation myth, the first Incas came from a sacred cave known as Tampu T'oqo or 'The House of Windows', which was located at Pacariqtambo, the 'Inn of Dawn', south of Cuzco. The first pair of humans were Manco Capac (or Manqo Qhapaq) and his sister (also his wife) Mama Oqllu (or Ocllo). Three more brother-sister siblings were born, and the group set off together to found their civilization. Defeating the Chanca people with the help of stone warriors (pururaucas), the first Incas finally settled in the Valley of Cuzco and Manco Capac, throwing a golden rod into the ground, established what would become the Inca capital, Cuzco.

More concrete archaeological evidence has revealed that the first settlements in the Cuzco Valley actually date to 4500 BCE when hunter-gather communities occupied the area. However, Cuzco only became a significant centre sometime at the beginning of the Late Intermediate Period (1000-1400 CE). A process of regional unification began from the late 14th century CE, and from the early 15th century CE, with the arrival of the first great Inca leader Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui ('Reverser of the World') and the defeat of the Chanca in 1438 CE, the Incas began to expand in search of plunder and production resources, first to the south and then in all directions. They eventually built an empire which stretched across the Andes, conquering such peoples as the Lupaka, Colla, Chimor, and Wanka civilizations along the way. Once established, a nationwide system of tax and administration was instigated which consolidated the power of Cuzco.


The rise of the Inca Empire was spectacularly quick. First, all speakers of the Inca language Quechua (or Runasimi) were given privileged status, and this noble class then dominated all the important roles within the empire. Thupa Inca Yupanqui (also known as Topa Inca Yupanqui), Pachacuti's successor from 1471 CE, is credited with having expanded the empire by a massive 4,000 km (2,500 miles). The Incas themselves called their empire Tawantinsuyo (or Tahuantinsuyu) meaning 'Land of the Four Quarters' or 'The Four Parts Together'. Cuzco was considered the navel of the world, and radiating out were highways and sacred sighting lines (ceques) to each quarter: Chinchaysuyu (north), Antisuyu (east), Collasuyu (south), and Cuntisuyu (west). Spreading across ancient Ecuador, Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia, upland Argentina, and southern Colombia and stretching 5,500 km (3,400 miles) north to south, 40,000 Incas governed a huge territory with some 10 million subjects speaking over 30 different languages.

Government & Administration

The Incas kept lists of their kings (Sapa Inca) so that we know of such names as Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (reign c. 1438-63 CE), Thupa Inca Yupanqui (reign c. 1471-93 CE), and Wayna Qhapaq (the last pre-Hispanic ruler, reign c. 1493-1525 CE). It is possible that two kings ruled at the same time and that queens may have had some significant powers, but the Spanish records are not clear on both points. The Sapa Inca was an absolute ruler, and he lived a life of great opulence. Drinking from gold and silver cups, wearing silver shoes, and living in a palace furnished with the finest textiles, he was pampered to the extreme. He was even looked after following his death, as the Inca mummified their rulers. Stored in the Coricancha temple in Cuzco, the mummies (mallquis) were, in elaborate ceremonies, regularly brought outside wearing their finest regalia, given offerings of food and drink, and 'consulted' for their opinion on pressing state affairs.

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Inca rule was, much like their architecture, based on compartmentalised and interlocking units. At the top was the ruler and ten kindred groups of nobles called panaqa. Next in line came ten more kindred groups, more distantly related to the king and then, a third group of nobles not of Inca blood but made Incas as a privilege. At the bottom of the state apparatus were locally recruited administrators who oversaw settlements and the smallest Andean population unit the ayllu, which was a collection of households, typically of related families who worked an area of land, lived together and provided mutual support in times of need. Each ayllu was governed by a small number of nobles or kurakas, a role which could include women.

Local administrators reported to over 80 regional-level administrators who, in turn, reported to a governor responsible for each quarter of the empire. The four governors reported to the supreme Inca ruler in Cuzco. To ensure loyalty, the heirs of local rulers were also kept as well-kept prisoners at the Inca capital. The most important political, religious, and military roles within the empire were, then, kept in the hands of the Inca elite, called by the Spanish the orejones or 'big ears' because they wore large earspools to indicate their status. To better ensure the control of this elite over their subjects, garrisons dotted the empire, and entirely new administrative centres were built, notably at Tambo Colorado, Huánuco Pampa and Hatun Xauxa.


For tax purposes censuses were taken and populations divided up into groups based on multiples of ten (Inca mathematics was almost identical to the system we use today). As there was no currency in the Inca world, taxes were paid in kind - usually foodstuffs, precious metals, textiles, exotic feathers, dyes, and spondylus shell - but also in labourers who could be shifted about the empire to be used where they were most needed, known as mit'a service. Agricultural land and herds were divided into three parts: production for the state religion and the gods, for the Inca ruler, and for the farmers own use. Local communities were also expected to help build and maintain such imperial projects as the road system which stretched across the empire. To keep track of all these statistics, the Inca used the quipu, a sophisticated assembly of knotted cords which was also highly transportable and could record decimals up to 10,000.

Although the Incas imposed their religion and administration on conquered peoples, extracted tribute, and even moved loyal populations (mitmaqs) to better integrate new territories into the empire, Inca culture also brought certain benefits such as food redistribution in times of environmental disaster, better storage facilities for foodstuffs, work via state-sponsored projects, state-sponsored religious feasts, roads, irrigation systems, terrace farms, military assistance and luxury goods, especially art objects enjoyed by the local elite.


The Inca capital of Cuzco (from qosqo, meaning 'dried-up lake bed' or perhaps derived from cozco, a particular stone marker in the city) was the religious and administrative centre of the empire and had a population of up to 150,000 at its peak. Dominated by the sacred gold-covered and emerald-studded Coricancha complex (or Temple of the Sun), its greatest buildings were credited to Pachacuti. Most splendid were the temples built in honour of Inti and Mama Kilya - the former was lined with 700 2kg sheets of beaten gold, the latter with silver. The whole capital was laid out in the form of a puma (although some scholars dispute this and take the description metaphorically) with the imperial metropolis of Pumachupan forming the tail and the temple complex of Sacsayhuaman (or Saqsawaman) forming the head. Incorporating vast plazas, parklands, shrines, fountains, and canals, the splendour of Inca Cuzco now, unfortunately, survives only in the eye-witness accounts of the first Europeans who marvelled at its architecture and riches.


Inca Religion

The Inca had great reverence for two earlier civilizations who had occupied much the same territory - the Wari and Tiwanaku. As we have seen, the sites of Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca played an important part in Inca creation myths and so were especially revered. Inca rulers made regular pilgrimages to Tiwanaku and the islands of the lake, where two shrines were built to Inti the Sun god and supreme Inca deity, and the moon goddess Mama Kilya. Also in the Coricancha complex at Cuzco, these deities were represented by large precious metal artworks which were attended and worshipped by priests and priestesses led by the second most important person after the king: the High Priest of the Sun (Willaq Umu). Thus, the religion of the Inca was preoccupied with controlling the natural world and avoiding such disasters as earthquake, floods, and drought, which inevitably brought about the natural cycle of change, the turning over of time involving death and renewal which the Inca called pachakuti.

Sacred sites were also established, often taking advantage of prominent natural features such as mountain tops, caves, and springs. These huacas could be used to take astronomical observations at specific times of the year. Religious ceremonies took place according to the astronomical calendar, especially the movements of the sun, moon, and Milky Way (Mayu). Processions and ceremonies could also be connected to agriculture, especially the planting and harvesting seasons. Along with Titicaca's Island of the Sun, the most sacred Inca site was Pachacamac, a temple city built in honour of the god with the same name, who created humans, plants, and was responsible for earthquakes. A large wooden statue of the god, considered an oracle, brought pilgrims from across the Andes to worship at Pachacamac. Shamans were another important part of Inca religion and were active in every settlement. Cuzco had 475, the most important being the yacarca, the personal advisor to the ruler.

Inca religious rituals also involved ancestor worship as seen through the practice of mummification and making offerings to the gods of food, drink, and precious materials. Sacrifices - both animals and humans, including children - were also made to pacify and honour the gods and ensure the good health of the king. The pouring of libations, either water or chicha beer, was also an important part of Inca religious ceremonies.


The Incas imposed their religion on local populations by building their own temples and sacred sites, and they also commandeered sacred relics from conquered peoples and held them in Cuzco. Stored in the Coricancha, they were perhaps considered hostages which ensured compliance to the Inca view of the world.

Inca Architecture & Roads

Master stone masons, the Incas constructed large buildings, walls and fortifications using finely-worked blocks - either regular or polygonal - which fitted together so precisely no mortar was needed. With an emphasis on clean lines, trapezoid shapes, and incorporating natural features into these buildings, they have easily withstood the powerful earthquakes which frequently hit the region. The distinctive sloping trapezoid form and fine masonry of Inca buildings were, besides their obvious aesthetic value, also used as a recognisable symbol of Inca domination throughout the empire.

One of the most common Inca buildings was the ubiquitous one-room storage warehouse the qollqa. Built in stone and well-ventilated, they were either round and stored maize or square for potatoes and tubers. The kallanka was a very large hall used for community gatherings. More modest buildings include the kancha - a group of small single-room and rectangular buildings (wasi and masma) with thatched roofs built around a courtyard enclosed by a high wall. The kancha was a typical architectural feature of Inca towns, and the idea was exported to conquered regions. Terracing to maximise land area for agriculture (especially for maize) was another Inca practice, which they exported wherever they went. These terraces often included canals, as the Incas were expert at diverting water, carrying it across great distances, channelling it underground, and creating spectacular outlets and fountains.

Goods were transported across the empire along purpose-built roads using llamas and porters (there were no wheeled vehicles). The Inca road network covered over 40,000 km and as well as allowing for the easy movement of armies, administrators, and trade goods, it was also a very powerful visual symbol of Inca authority over their empire. The roads had rest stations along their way, and there was also a relay system of runners (chasquis) who carried messages up to 240 km in a single day from one settlement to another.

Inca Art

Although influenced by the art and techniques of the Chimu civilization, the Incas did create their own distinctive style which was an instantly recognisable symbol of imperial dominance across the empire. Inca art is best seen in highly polished metalwork (in gold - considered the sweat of the sun, silver - considered the tears of the moon, and copper), ceramics, and textiles, with the last being considered the most prestigious by the Incas themselves. Designs often use geometrical shapes, are technically accomplished, and standardized. The checkerboard stands out as a very popular design. One of the reasons for repeated designs was that pottery and textiles were often produced for the state as a tax, and so artworks were representative of specific communities and their cultural heritage. Just as today coins and stamps reflect a nation's history, so, too, Andean artwork offered recognisable motifs which either represented the specific communities making them or the imposed designs of the ruling Inca class ordering them.

Works using precious metals such as discs, jewellery, figures, and everyday objects were made exclusively for Inca nobles, and even some textiles were restricted for their use alone. Goods made using the super-soft vicuña wool were similarly restricted, and only the Inca ruler could own vicuña herds. Ceramics were for wider use, and the most common shape was the urpu, a bulbous vessel with a long neck and two small handles low on the pot which was used for storing maize. It is notable that the pottery decoration, textiles, and architectural sculpture of the Incas did not usually include representations of themselves, their rituals, or such common Andean images as monsters and half-human, half-animal figures.

The Inca produced textiles, ceramics, and metal sculpture technically superior to any previous Andean culture, and this despite stiff competition from such masters of metal work as the expert craftsmen of the Moche civilization. Just as the Inca imposed a political dominance over their conquered subjects, so, too, with art they imposed standard Inca forms and designs, but they did allow local traditions to maintain their preferred colours and proportions. Gifted artists such as those from Chan Chan or the Titicaca area and women particularly skilled at weaving were brought to Cuzco so that they could produce beautiful things for the Inca rulers.


The Inca Empire was founded on, and maintained by, force, and the ruling Incas were very often unpopular with their subjects (especially in the northern territories), a situation that the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores), led by Francisco Pizarro, would take full advantage of in the middle decades of the 16th century CE. The Inca Empire, in fact, had still not reached a stage of consolidated maturity when it faced its greatest challenge. Rebellions were rife, and the Incas were engaged in a war in Ecuador where a second Inca capital had been established at Quito. Even more serious, the Incas were hit by an epidemic of European diseases, such as smallpox, which had spread from central America even faster than the European invaders themselves, and the wave killed a staggering 65-90% of the population. Such a disease killed Wayna Qhapaq in 1528 CE and two of his sons, Waskar and Atahualpa, battled in a damaging civil war for control of the empire just when the European treasure-hunters arrived. It was this combination of factors - a perfect storm of rebellion, disease, and invasion - which brought the downfall of the mighty Inca Empire, the largest and richest ever seen in the Americas.

The Inca language Quechua lives on today and is still spoken by some eight million people. There are also a good number of buildings, artefacts, and written accounts which have survived the ravages of conquerors, looters, and time. These remains are proportionally few to the vast riches which have been lost, but they remain indisputable witnesses to the wealth, ingenuity, and high cultural achievements of this great, but short-lived civilization.


Hunting tools dating back to more than 11,000 years ago have been found inside the caves of Pachacamac, Telarmachay, Junin, and Lauricocha. [1] Some of the oldest civilizations appeared circa 6000 BC in the coastal provinces of Chilca and Paracas, and in the highland province of Callejón de Huaylas. Over the next three thousand years, inhabitants switched from nomadic lifestyles to cultivating land, as evidenced from sites such as Jiskairumoko, Kotosh, and Huaca Prieta. Cultivation of plants such as corn and cotton (Gossypium barbadense) began, as well as the domestication of animals such as the wild ancestors of the llama, the alpaca and the guinea pig, as seen in the 6000 BC dated Camelid relief paintings in the Mollepunko caves in Callalli. Inhabitants practiced spinning and knitting of cotton and wool, basketry, and pottery.

As these inhabitants became sedentary, farming allowed them to build settlements. As a result, new societies emerged along the coast and in the Andean mountains. The first known city in the Americas was Caral, located in the Supe Valley 200 km north of Lima. It was built in approximately 2500 BC. [2]

The remnants of this civilization, also known as Norte Chico, consists of approximately 30 pyramidal structures built up in receding terraces ending in a flat roof some of them measuring up to 20 meters in height. Caral was considered one of the cradles of civilization. [2]

In the early 21st century, archeologists discovered new evidence of ancient pre-Ceramic complex cultures. In 2005, Tom D. Dillehay and his team announced the discovery of three irrigation canals that were 5400 years old, and a possible fourth that was 6700 years old in the Zaña Valley in northern Peru. This was the evidence of community agricultural improvements that occurred at a much earlier date than previously believed. [3]

In 2006, Robert Benfer and a research team discovered a 4200-year-old observatory at Buena Vista, a site in the Andes several kilometers north of present-day Lima. They believe the observatory was related to the society's reliance on agriculture and understanding of the seasons. The site includes the oldest three-dimensional sculptures found thus far in South America. [4] In 2007, the archaeologist Walter Alva and his team found a 4000-year-old temple with painted murals at Ventarrón, in the northwest Lambayeque region. The temple contained ceremonial offerings gained from an exchange with Peruvian jungle societies, as well as those from the Ecuador a coast. [5] Such finds show sophisticated, monumental construction requiring large-scale organization of labor, suggesting that hierarchical complex cultures arose in South America much earlier than scholars had thought.

Many other civilizations developed and were absorbed by the most powerful ones such as Kotosh Chavin Paracas Lima Nasca Moche Tiwanaku Wari Lambayeque Chimu and Chincha, among others. The Paracas culture emerged on the southern coast around 300 BC. They are known for their use of vicuña fibers instead of just cotton to produce fine textiles—innovations that did not reach the northern coast of Peru until centuries later. Coastal cultures such as the Moche and Nazca flourished from about 100 BC to about AD 700: the Moche produced impressive metalwork, as well as some of the finest pottery seen in the ancient world, while the Nazca are known for their textiles and the enigmatic Nazca lines.

These coastal cultures eventually began to decline as a result of recurring el Niño floods and droughts. In consequence, the Huari and Tiwanaku, who dwelt inland in the Andes, became the predominant cultures of the region encompassing much of modern-day Peru and Bolivia. They were succeeded by powerful city-states such as Chancay, Sipan, and Cajamarca, and two empires: Chimor and Chachapoyas. These cultures developed relatively advanced techniques of cultivation, gold and silver craft, pottery, metallurgy, and knitting. Around 700 BC, they appear to have developed systems of social organization that were the precursors of the Inca civilization.

In the highlands, both the Tiahuanaco culture, near Lake Titicaca in both Peru and Bolivia, and the Wari culture, near the present-day city of Ayacucho, developed large urban settlements and wide-ranging state systems between 500 and 1000 AD. [6]

Not all Andean cultures were willing to offer their loyalty to the Incas as they expanded their empire because many were openly hostile. The people of the Chachapoyas culture were an example of this, but the Inca eventually conquered and integrated them into their empire.

Archaeologists led by Gabriel Prieto revealed the largest mass child sacrifice with more than 140 children skeleton and 200 Llamas dating to the Chimú culture after he was informed that some children had found bones in a dune nearby Prieto’s fieldwork in 2011. [7] [8]

According to the researchers' notes in the study, there was cut marks on the sterna, or breastbones some of the children and the llamas. Children’s faces were smeared with a red pigment during the ceremony before their chests had been cut open, most likely to remove their hearts. Remains showed that these kids came from different regions and when the children and llamas were sacrificed, the area was drenched with water. [9]

“We have to remember that the Chimú had a very different world view than Westerners today. They also had very different concepts about death and the role each person plays in the cosmos, perhaps the victims went willingly as messengers to their gods, or perhaps Chimú society believed this was the only way to save more people from destruction” said anthropologists Ryan Williams. [10]

The Incas built the largest and most advanced empire and dynasty of pre-Columbian America. [11] The Tahuantinsuyo—which is derived from Quechua for "The Four United Regions"—reached its greatest extension at the beginning of the 16th century. It dominated a territory that included (from north to south) the southwest part of Ecuador, part of Colombia, the main territory of Peru, the northern part of Chile, and the northwest part of Argentina and from east to west, from the southwest part of Bolivia to the Amazonian forests.

The empire originated from a tribe based in Cusco, which became the capital. Pachacutec wasn't the first Inca, but he was the first ruler to considerably expand the boundaries of the Cusco state. He could probably be compared to Alexander the Great (from Macedon), Julius Caesar (of the Roman Empire), Attila (from the Huns tribes) and Genghis Khan (from the Mongol Empire). [ citation needed ] His offspring later ruled an empire by both violent invasions and peaceful conquests, that is, intermarriages among the rulers of small kingdoms and the current Inca ruler.

In Cuzco, the royal city was created to resemble a cougar the head, the main royal structure, formed what is now known as Sacsayhuamán. The empire's administrative, political, and military center was located in Cusco. The empire was divided into four quarters: Chinchaysuyu, Antisuyu, Kuntisuyu and Qullasuyu.

The official language was Quechua, the language of a neighbouring tribe of the original tribe of the empire. Conquered populations—tribes, kingdoms, states, and cities—were allowed to practice their own religions and lifestyles, but had to recognize Inca cultural practices as superior to their own. Inti, the sun god, was to be worshipped as one of the most important gods of the empire. His representation on earth was the Inca ("Emperor"). [ citation needed ]

The Tawantinsuyu was organized in dominions with a stratified society in which the ruler was the Inca. It was also supported by an economy based on the collective property of the land. The empire, being quite large, also had an impressive transportation system of roads to all points of the empire called the Inca Trail, and chasquis, message carriers who relayed information from anywhere in the empire to Cusco.

Machu Picchu (Quechua for "old peak" sometimes called the "Lost City of the Incas") is a well-preserved pre-Columbian Inca ruin located on a high mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley, about 70 km (44 mi) northwest of Cusco. Elevation measurements vary depending on whether the data refer to the ruin or the extremity of the mountain Machu Picchu tourist information reports the elevation as 2,350 m (7,711 ft)[1]. Forgotten for centuries by the outside world (although not by locals), it was brought back to international attention by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham III. Bingham, often cited as the inspiration for Indiana Jones, "scientifically rediscovered" the site in 1911 and brought international attention to the site with his best-selling book Lost City of the Incas. Peru is pursuing legal efforts to retrieve thousands of artifacts that Bingham removed from the site and sold to the current owners at Yale University. [12]

Although Machu Picchu is by far the most well known internationally, Peru boasts of many other sites where the modern visitor can see extensive and well-preserved ruins, remnants of the Inca-period and even older constructions. Much of the Inca architecture and stonework found at these sites continues to confound archaeologists. For example, at Sacsaywaman in Cusco, the zig-zag-shaped walls are composed of massive boulders fitted very precisely to one another's irregular, angular shapes. No mortar holds them together, but nonetheless they have remained absolutely solid through the centuries, surviving earthquakes that flattened many of the colonial constructions of Cusco. Damage to the walls visible today was mainly inflicted during battles between the Spanish and the Inca, as well as later, in the colonial era. As Cusco grew, the walls of Sacsaywaman were partially dismantled, the site becoming a convenient source of construction materials for the city's newer inhabitants. It is still not known how these stones were shaped and smoothed, lifted on top of one another (they really are very massive), or fitted together by the Incas we also do not know how they transported the stones to the site in the first place. The stone used is not native to the area and most likely came from mountains many kilometers away. [ citation needed ]

An alternative history is provided by the contemporary writer Inca Garcilasco de la Vega, son of an Inca princess and a conquistador. He says the name Birú was that of a common Indian happened upon by the crew of a ship on an exploratory mission for governor Pedro Arias de Ávila, and goes on to relate many more instances of misunderstandings due to the lack of a common language. [16]

The Spanish Crown gave the name legal status with the 1529 Capitulación de Toledo, which designated the newly encountered Inca Empire as the province of Peru. [17] Under Spanish rule, the country adopted the denomination Viceroyalty of Peru, which became Republic of Peru after independence.

When the Spanish landed in 1531, Peru's territory was the nucleus of the highly developed Inca civilization. Centered at Cuzco, the Inca Empire extended over a vast region, stretching from southwest Ecuador to northern Chile.

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers were attracted by the news of a rich and fabulous kingdom. [18] In 1532, they arrived in the country, which they called Peru. (The forms Biru, Pirú, and Berú are also seen in early records.) According to Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Peru is not a Quechuan nor Caribbean word, but Indo-Hispanic or hybrid.

In the years between 1524 and 1526, smallpox, introduced from the conquistadors in Panama and preceding the Spanish conquerors in Peru through transmission among natives, had swept through the Inca Empire. [19] Smallpox caused the death of the Inca ruler Huayna Capac as well as most of his family including his heir, caused the fall of the Inca political structure and contributed to the civil war between the brothers Atahualpa and Huáscar. [20] Taking advantage of this, Pizarro carried out a coup d'état. On 16 November 1532, while the Atahualpa's victorious army was in an unarmed celebration in Cajamarca, the Spanish lured Atahualpa into a trap during the Battle of Cajamarca. The well-armed 168 Spaniards killed thousands of barely armed Inca soldiers and captured the newly minted Inca ruler, causing a great consternation among the natives and conditioning the future course of the fight. When Huáscar was killed, the Spanish tried and convicted Atahualpa of the murder, executing him by strangulation.

For a period, Pizarro maintained the ostensible authority of the Inca, recognizing Túpac Huallpa as the Sapa Inca after Atahualpa's death. But the conqueror's abuses made this facade too obvious. Spanish domination consolidated itself as successive indigenous rebellions were bloodily repressed. By 23 March 1534, Pizarro and the Spanish had re-founded the Inca city of Cuzco as a new Spanish colonial settlement. [21]

Establishing a stable colonial government was delayed for some time by native revolts and bands of the Conquistadores (led by Pizarro and Diego de Almagro) fighting among themselves. A long civil war developed, from which Pizarro emerged victorious at the Battle of Las Salinas. In 1541, Pizarro was assassinated by a faction led by Diego de Almagro II (El Mozo), and the stability of the original colonial regime was shaken up in the ensuing civil war.

Despite this, the Spaniards did not neglect the colonizing process. Its most significant milestone was the foundation of Lima in January 1535, from which the political and administrative institutions were organized. The new rulers instituted the encomienda system, by which the Spanish extracted tribute from the local population, part of which was forwarded to Seville in return for converting the natives to Christianity. Title to the land itself remained with the king of Spain. As governor of Peru, Pizarro used the encomienda system to grant virtually unlimited authority over groups of native Peruvians to his soldier companions, thus forming the colonial land-tenure structure. The indigenous inhabitants of Peru were now expected to raise Old World cattle, poultry, and crops for their landlords. Resistance was punished severely, giving rise to the "Black Legend".

The necessity of consolidating Spanish royal authority over these territories led to the creation of a Real Audiencia (Royal Audience). The following year, in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru (Virreinato del Perú) was established, with authority over most of Spanish-ruled South America. (Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá and Venezuela were split off as the Viceroyalty of New Granada (Virreinato de Nueva Granada) in 1717 and Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay were set up as the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776). [ citation needed ]

After Pizarro's death, there were numerous internal problems, and Spain finally sent Blasco Núñez Vela to be Peru's first viceroy in 1544. He was later killed by Pizarro's brother, Gonzalo Pizarro, but a new viceroy, Pedro de la Gasca, eventually managed to restore order. He captured and executed Gonzalo Pizarro.

A census taken by the last Quipucamayoc indicated that there were 12 million inhabitants of Inca Peru 45 years later, under viceroy Toledo, the census figures amounted to only 1,100,000 Inca. Historian David N. Cook estimates that their population decreased from an estimated 9 million in the 1520s to around 600,000 in 1620 mainly because of infectious diseases. [22] While the attrition was not an organized attempt at genocide, the results were similar. Scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease such as smallpox (unlike the Spanish, the Amerindians had no immunity to the disease) [23] was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the American natives. [24] Inca cities were given Spanish Christian names and rebuilt as Spanish towns centered around a plaza with a church or cathedral facing an official residence. A few Inca cities like Cuzco retained native masonry for the foundations of their walls. Other Inca sites, like Huanuco Viejo, were abandoned for cities at lower altitudes more hospitable to the Spanish.

In 1542, the Spanish Crown created the Viceroyalty of Peru, which was reorganized after the arrival of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. He put an end to the indigenous Neo-Inca State in Vilcabamba and executed Tupac Amaru I. He also sought economic development through commercial monopoly and mineral extraction, mainly from the silver mines of Potosí. He reused the Inca mita, a forced labor program, to mobilize native communities for mining work. This organization transformed Peru into the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.

The town of Lima, founded by Pizarro on 18 January 1535 as the "Ciudad de Reyes" (City of Kings), became the seat of the new viceroyalty. It grew into a powerful city, with jurisdiction over most of Spanish South America. Precious metals passed through Lima on their way to the Isthmus of Panama and from there to Seville, Spain for the Atlantic route, but for the Pacific, it passed to Mexico and disembarked from the port of Acapulco and eventually arrived at the Philippines. By the 18th century, Lima had become a distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital, seat of a university and the chief Spanish stronghold in the Americas. Peru was thus wealthy and highly populated that Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera, governor of Panama settled Zamboanga City in the Philippines, which now speak a Spanish Creole by employing soldiers and colonists recruited from the towns of Peru. [25]

Nevertheless, throughout the eighteenth century, further away from Lima in the provinces, the Spanish did not have complete control. The Spanish could not govern the provinces without the help of local elite. This local elite, who governed under the title of Curaca, took pride in their Incan history. Additionally, throughout the eighteenth century, indigenous people rebelled against the Spanish. Two of the most important rebellions were that of Juan Santos Atahualpa in 1742 in the Andean jungle provinces of Tarma and Jauja, which expelled the Spanish from a large area, and the Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in 1780 around the highlands near Cuzco.

At the time, an economic crisis was developing due to creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada and Rio de la Plata (at the expense of its territory), the duty exemptions that moved the commercial center from Lima to Caracas and Buenos Aires, and the decrease of the mining and textile production. This crisis proved favorable for the indigenous rebellion of Túpac Amaru II and determined the progressive decay of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

In 1808, Napoleon invaded the Iberian Peninsula and took the king, Ferdinand VII, hostage. Later in 1812, the Cadíz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, promulgated a liberal Constitution of Cadiz. These events inspired emancipating ideas between the Spanish Criollo people throughout the Spanish America. In Peru, the Creole rebellion of Huánuco arose in 1812 and the rebellion of Cuzco arose between 1814 and 1816. Despite these rebellions, the Criollo oligarchy in Peru remained mostly Spanish loyalist, which accounts for the fact that the Viceroyalty of Peru became the last redoubt of the Spanish dominion in South America.

Peru's movement toward independence was launched by an uprising of Spanish-American landowners and their forces, led by José de San Martín of Argentina and Simón Bolívar of Venezuela. San Martín, who had displaced the royalists of Chile after the Battle of Chacabuco, and who had disembarked in Paracas in 1819, led the military campaign of 4,200 soldiers. The expedition, which included warships, was organized and financed by Chile which sailed from Valparaíso in August 1820. [26] San Martin proclaimed the independence of Peru in Lima on 28 July 1821, with the words ". From this moment on, Peru is free and independent, by the general will of the people and the justice of its cause that God defends. Long live the homeland! Long live freedom! Long live our independence!". San Martín received the title of "Protector of Peruvian Freedom" in August 1821 after partially liberating Peru from the Spanish. [27] : 295

On 26 and 27 July 1822, Bolívar held the Guayaquil Conference with San Martín and attempted to decide the political fate of Peru. San Martín opted for a constitutional monarchy, whilst Bolivar (Head of the Northern Expedition) favored a republic. Nonetheless, they both followed the notion that it was to be independent of Spain. Following the interview, San Martin abandoned Peru on 22 September 1822 and left the whole command of the independence movement to Simon Bolivar.

The Peruvian congress named Bolivar dictator of Peru on 10 February 1824, which allowed him to reorganize the political and military administration completely. Assisted by general Antonio José de Sucre, Bolívar decisively defeated the Spanish cavalry at the Battle of Junín on 6 August 1824. Sucre destroyed the still numerically superior remnants of the Spanish forces at Ayacucho on 9 December 1824. The war would not end until the last royalist holdouts surrendered the Real Felipe Fortress in 1826.

The victory brought about political independence, but there remained indigenous and mestizo supporters of the monarchy and in Huanta Province, they rebelled in 1825–28, which is known as the war of the punas or the Huanta Rebellion. [28] [29]

Spain made futile attempts to regain its former colonies, such as the Battle of Callao (1866), and only in 1879 finally recognized Peruvian independence.

Territorial disputes (1824–1884) Edit

After independence, Peru and its neighbors engaged in intermittent territorial disputes. An attempt to unite Peru and Bolivia was made during the period 1836–1839 by Bolivian President Andres de Santa Cruz when the Peru-Bolivian Confederation came into existence. Severe internal opposition led to its demise in the War of the Confederation which dovetailed into a Peruvian attempt to annex Bolivia by Agustín Gamarra that ultimately failed and turned into a protracted war. [30] Between 1857 and 1860 a war broke out against Ecuador for the disputed territories in the Amazon. The Peruvian victory in the war prevented the Ecuadorian claims to settle in the area. [31]

Peru embarked on a railroad-building program. The American entrepreneur Henry Meiggs built a standard gauge line from Callao across the Andes to the interior, Huancayo he built the line and controlled its politics for a while in the end, he bankrupted himself and the country. President Tomás Guardia contracted with Meiggs in 1871 to build a railroad to the Atlantic. Financial problems forced the government to take over in 1874. The labor conditions were complex, with conflicts arising from different levels of skill and organization among the North Americans, Europeans, Blacks, and the Chinese. Conditions were very brutal for the Chinese, and led to strikes and violent suppression. [32]

In 1879, Peru entered the War of the Pacific which lasted until 1884. Bolivia invoked its alliance with Peru against Chile. The Peruvian Government tried to mediate the dispute by sending a diplomatic team to negotiate with the Chilean government, but the committee concluded that war was inevitable. On 14 March 1879, Bolivia declared war and Chile, in response, declared war on Bolivia and Peru on 5 April 1879 with Peru following with its own declaration of war the next day. Almost five years of war ended with the loss of the department of Tarapacá and the provinces of Tacna and Arica, in the Atacama region.

Originally, Chile committed to a referendum for the cities of Arica and Tacna to be held years later, in order to determine their national affiliation. However, Chile refused to apply the treaty, and both countries could not determine the statutory framework. In an arbitrage that both countries admitted, the United States decided that the plebiscite was impossible to take, therefore, direct negotiations between the parties led to a treaty (Treaty of Lima, 1929), in which Arica was ceded to Chile and Tacna remained in Peru. Tacna was returned to Peru on 29 August 1929. The territorial loss and the extensive looting of Peruvian cities by Chilean troops left scars on the country's relations with Chile that have not yet fully healed. [ citation needed ]

Following the Ecuadorian–Peruvian War of 1941, the Rio Protocol sought to formalize the boundary between those two countries. Ongoing boundary disagreements led to a brief war in early 1981 and the Cenepa War in early 1995, but in 1998, the governments of both countries signed an historic peace treaty that clearly demarcated the international boundary between them. In late 1999, the governments of Peru and Chile implemented the last outstanding article of their 1929 border agreement.

Aristocratic Republic (1884–1930) Edit

After the War of the Pacific, an extraordinary effort of rebuilding began. The government started to initiate a number of social and economic reforms in order to recover from the damage of the war. Political stability was achieved only in the early 1900s.

In 1894, Nicolás de Piérola, after allying his party with the Civil Party of Peru to organize guerrilla fighters to occupy Lima, ousted Andrés Avelino Cáceres and once again became president of Peru in 1895. After a brief period in which the military once again controlled the country, civilian rule was permanently established with Pierola's election in 1895. His second term was successfully completed in 1899 and was marked by his reconstruction of a devastated Peru by initiating fiscal, military, religious, and civil reforms. Until the 1920s, this period was called the "Aristocratic Republic", since most of the presidents that ruled the country were from the social elite.

During Augusto B. Leguía's periods in government (1908–1912 and 1919–1930), the latter known as the "Oncenio" (the "Eleventh"), the entrance of American capital became general and the bourgeoisie was favored. This policy, along with increased dependence on foreign investment, focused opposition from the most progressive sectors of Peruvian society against the landowner oligarchy.

There was a final peace treaty in 1929, signed between Peru and Chile and called the Treaty of Lima by which Tacna returned to Peru and Peru yielded permanently the formerly rich provinces of Arica and Tarapacá, but kept certain rights to the port activities in Arica and restrictions on what Chile can do on those territories.

In 1924, from Mexico, university reform leaders in Peru who had been forced into exile by the government founded the American People's Revolutionary Alliance (ARPA), which had a major influence on the country's political life. APRA is largely a political expression of the university reform and workers' struggles of the years 1918–1920. The movement draws its influences from the Mexican revolution and its 1917 Constitution, particularly on issues of agrarianism and indigenism, and to a lesser extent from the Russian revolution. Close to Marxism (its leader, Haya de la Torre, declares that "APRA is the Marxist interpretation of the American reality"), it nevertheless moves away from it on the question of class struggle and on the importance given to the struggle for the political unity of Latin America. [33]

In 1928, the Peruvian Socialist Party was founded, notably under the leadership of José Carlos Mariátegui, himself a former member of APRA. Shortly afterwards, in 1929, the party created the General Confederation of Workers.

Alternation between democracy and militarism (1930–1979) Edit

After the worldwide crisis of 1929, numerous brief governments followed one another. The APRA party had the opportunity to cause system reforms by means of political actions, but it was not successful. This was a nationalistic movement, populist and anti-imperialist, headed by Victor Raul Haya de la Torre in 1924. The Socialist Party of Peru, later the Peruvian Communist Party, was created four years later and it was led by Jose C. Mariategui.

Repression was brutal in the early 1930s and tens of thousands of APRA followers (Apristas) were executed or imprisoned. This period was also characterized by a sudden population growth and an increase in urbanization. According to Alberto Flores Galindo, "By the 1940 census, the last that utilized racial categories, mestizos were grouped with whites, and the two constituted more than 53 percent of the population. Mestizos likely outnumbered the indigenous peoples and were the largest population group." [34] On 12 February 1945, [35] Peru was one of the South American nations – following Brazil on 22 August 1942, Bolivia on 7 April 1943 and Colombia on 26 November 1943 to align with the Allied forces against the Axis.

Following the Allied victory in World War II by 2 September 1945, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (founder of the APRA), together with José Carlos Mariátegui (leader of the Peruvian Communist Party), were two major forces in Peruvian politics. Ideologically opposed, they both managed to create the first political parties that tackled the social and economic problems of the country. Although Mariátegui died at a young age, Haya de la Torre was twice elected president, but prevented by the military from taking office. During World War II, the country rounded up around 2,000 of its Japanese immigrant population and shipped them to the United States as part of the Japanese-American internment program. [36]

President Bustamante y Rivero hoped to create a more democratic government by limiting the power of the military and the oligarchy. Elected with the cooperation of the APRA, conflict soon arose between the President and Haya de la Torre. Without the support of the APRA party, Bustamante y Rivero found his presidency severely limited. The President disbanded his Aprista cabinet and replaced it with a mostly military one. In 1948, Minister Manuel A. Odria and other right-wing elements of the Cabinet urged Bustamante y Rivero to ban the APRA, but when the President refused, Odría resigned his post.

In a military coup on 29 October, Gen. Manuel A. Odria became the new President. Odría's presidency was known as the Ochenio. He came down hard on APRA, momentarily pleasing the oligarchy and all others on the right, but followed a populist course that won him great favor with the poor and lower classes. A thriving economy allowed him to indulge in expensive but crowd-pleasing social policies. At the same time, however, civil rights were severely restricted and corruption was rampant throughout his régime.

It was feared that his dictatorship would run indefinitely, so it came as a surprise when Odría allowed new elections. During this time, Fernando Belaúnde Terry started his political career, and led the slate submitted by the National Front of Democratic Youth. After the National Election Board refused to accept his candidacy, he led a massive protest, and the striking image of Belaúnde walking with the flag was featured by news magazine Caretas the following day, in an article entitled "Así Nacen Los Lideres" ("Thus Are Leaders Born"). Belaúnde's 1956 candidacy was ultimately unsuccessful, as the dictatorship-favored right-wing candidacy of Manuel Prado Ugarteche took first place.

Belaúnde ran for president once again in the national elections of 1962 this time with his own party, Acción Popular (Popular Action). The results were very tight he ended in second place, following Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (APRA), by less than 14,000 votes. Since none of the candidates managed to get the constitutionally established minimum of one third of the vote required to win outright, selection of the President should have fallen to Congress the long-held antagonistic relationship between the military and APRA prompted Haya de la Torre to make a deal with former dictator Odria, who had come in third, which would have resulted in Odria taking the Presidency in a coalition government.

However, widespread allegations of fraud prompted the Peruvian military to depose Prado and install a military junta, led by Ricardo Perez Godoy. Godoy ran a short transitional government and held new elections in 1963, which were won by Belaúnde by a more comfortable but still narrow five percent margin.

Throughout Latin America in the 1960s, communist movements inspired by the Cuban Revolution sought to win power through guerrilla warfare. The Revolutionary Left Movement (Peru), or MIR, launched an insurrection that had been crushed by 1965, but Peru's internal strife would only accelerate until its climax in the 1990s.

The military has been prominent in Peruvian history. Coups have repeatedly interrupted civilian constitutional government. The most recent period of military rule (1968–1980) began when General Juan Velasco Alvarado overthrew elected President Fernando Belaúnde Terry of the Popular Action Party (AP). As part of what has been called the "first phase" of the military government's nationalist program, Velasco undertook an extensive agrarian reform program and nationalized the fish meal industry, some petroleum companies, and several banks and mining firms.

General Francisco Morales Bermúdez replaced Velasco in 1975, citing Velasco's economic mismanagement and deteriorating health. Morales Bermúdez moved the revolution into a more conservative "second phase", tempering the radical measures of the first phase and beginning the task of restoring the country's economy. A constitutional assembly was created in 1979, which was led by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. Morales Bermúdez presided over the return to civilian government in accordance with a new constitution drawn up in 1979.

Civilian restoration and elections (1979–present day) Edit

1980s Edit

During the 1980s, cultivation of illicit coca was established in large areas on the eastern Andean slope. Rural insurgent movements, like the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) increased and derived significant financial support from alliances with the narcotics traffickers, leading to the Internal conflict in Peru.

In the May 1980 elections, President Fernando Belaúnde Terry was returned to office by a strong plurality. One of his first actions as President was the return of several newspapers to their respective owners. In this way, freedom of speech once again played an important part in Peruvian politics. Gradually, he also attempted to undo some of the most radical effects of the Agrarian Reform initiated by Velasco and reversed the independent stance that the military government of Velasco had with the United States.

Belaúnde's second term was also marked by the unconditional support for Argentine forces during the Falklands War with the United Kingdom in 1982. Belaúnde declared that "Peru was ready to support Argentina with all the resources it needed". This included a number of fighter planes and possibly personnel from the Peruvian Air Force, as well as ships, and medical teams. Belaunde's government proposed a peace settlement between the two countries, but it was rejected by both sides, as both claimed undiluted sovereignty of the territory. In response to Chile's support of the UK, Belaúnde called for Latin American unity.

The nagging economic problems left over from the previous military government persisted, worsened by an occurrence of the "El Niño" weather phenomenon in 1982–83, which caused widespread flooding in some parts of the country, severe droughts in others, and decimated the schools of ocean fish that are one of the country's major resources. After a promising beginning, Belaúnde's popularity eroded under the stress of inflation, economic hardship, and terrorism.

In 1985, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) won the presidential election, bringing Alan García to office. The transfer of the presidency from Belaúnde to García on 28 July 1985 was Peru's first exchange of power from one democratically elected leader to another for the first time in 40 years.

With a parliamentary majority for the first time in APRA's history, Alan García started his administration with hopes for a better future. However, economic mismanagement led to hyperinflation from 1988 to 1990. García's term in office was marked by bouts of hyperinflation, which reached 7,649% in 1990 and had a cumulative total of 2,200,200% between July 1985 and July 1990, thereby profoundly destabilizing the Peruvian economy.

Owing to such chronic inflation, the Peruvian currency, the sol, was replaced by the Inti in mid-1985, which itself was replaced by the nuevo sol ("new sun") in July 1991, at which time the new sol had a cumulative value of one billion old soles. During his administration, the per capita annual income of Peruvians fell to $720 (below the level of 1960) and Peru's Gross Domestic Product dropped 20%. By the end of his term, national reserves were a negative $900 million.

The economic turbulence of the time exacerbated social tensions in Peru and partly contributed to the rise of the violent rebel movement Shining Path. The García administration unsuccessfully sought a military solution to the growing terrorism, committing human rights violations which are still under investigation.

In June 1979, demonstrations for free education were severely repressed by the army: 18 people were killed according to official figures, but non-governmental estimates suggest several dozen deaths. This event led to a radicalization of political protests in the countryside and ultimately led to the outbreak of the Shining Path's armed and terrorist actions. [37] [38]

Fujimori's presidency and the Fujishock (1990–2000) Edit

Concerned about the economy, the increasing terrorist threat from Sendero Luminoso and MRTA, and allegations of official corruption, voters chose a relatively unknown mathematician-turned-politician, Alberto Fujimori, as president in 1990. The first round of the election was won by well-known writer Mario Vargas Llosa, a conservative candidate who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010, but Fujimori defeated him in the second round. Fujimori implemented drastic measures that caused inflation to drop from 7,650% in 1990 to 139% in 1991. The currency is devalued by 200%, prices are rising sharply (especially gasoline, whose price is multiplied by 30), hundreds of public companies are privatized and 300,000 jobs are being lost. The majority of the population had not benefited from the years of strong growth, which will ultimately only widen the gap between rich and poor. The poverty rate remained at around 50%. [39]

As other dictators did, Fujimori dissolved Congress in the auto-golpe of 5 April 1992, in order to have total control of the government of Peru. He then eliminated the constitution called new congressional elections and implemented substantial economic reform, including privatization of numerous state-owned companies, creation of an investment-friendly climate, and sound management of the economy.

Fujimori's administration was dogged by several insurgent groups, most notably Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), which carried on a terrorist campaign in the countryside throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He cracked down on the insurgents and was successful in largely quelling them by the late 1990s, but the fight was marred by atrocities committed by both the Peruvian security forces and the insurgents: the Barrios Altos massacre and La Cantuta massacre by government paramilitary groups, and the bombings of Tarata and Frecuencia Latina by Shining Path. Those examples subsequently came to be seen as symbols of the human rights violations committed during the last years of violence. With the capture of Abimael Guzmán (known as President Gonzalo to the Shining Path) in September 1992, the Shining Path received a severe blow which practically destroyed the organization.

In December 1996, a group of insurgents belonging to the MRTA took over the Japanese embassy in Lima, taking 72 people hostage. Military commandos stormed the embassy compound in May 1997, which resulted in the death of all 15 hostage takers, one hostage, and 2 commandos. It later emerged, however, that Fujimori's security chief Vladimiro Montesinos may have ordered the killing of at least eight of the rebels after they surrendered.

Fujimori's constitutionally questionable decision to seek a third term and subsequent tainted victory in June 2000 brought political and economic turmoil. A bribery scandal that broke just weeks after he took office in July forced Fujimori to call new elections in which he would not run. The scandal involved Vladimiro Montesinos, who was shown in a video broadcast on TV bribing a politician to change sides. Montesinos subsequently emerged as the center a vast web of illegal activities, including embezzlement, graft, drug trafficking, as well as human rights violations committed during the war against Sendero Luminoso.

Toledo, García, Humala, Kuczynski presidencies (2001–today) Edit

In November 2000, Fujimori resigned from office and went to Japan in self-imposed exile, avoiding prosecution for human rights violations and corruption charges by the new Peruvian authorities. His main intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, fled Peru shortly afterwards. Authorities in Venezuela arrested him in Caracas in June 2001 and turned him over to Peruvian authorities he is now imprisoned and charged with acts of corruption and human rights violations committed during Fujimori's administration.

A caretaker government presided over by Valentín Paniagua took on the responsibility of conducting new presidential and congressional elections. The elections were held in April 2001 observers considered them to be free and fair. Alejandro Toledo (who led the opposition against Fujimori) defeated former President Alan García.

The newly elected government took office on 28 July 2001. The Toledo Administration managed to restore some degree of democracy to Peru following the authoritarianism and corruption that plagued both the Fujimori and García governments. Innocents wrongfully tried by military courts during the war against terrorism (1980–2000) were allowed to receive new trials in civilian courts.

On 28 August 2003, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), which had been charged with studying the roots of the violence of the 1980–2000 period, presented its formal report to the President.

President Toledo was forced to make a number of cabinet changes, mostly in response to personal scandals. Toledo's governing coalition had a minority of seats in Congress and had to negotiate on an ad hoc basis with other parties to form majorities on legislative proposals. Toledo's popularity in the polls suffered throughout the last years of his regime, due in part to family scandals and in part to dissatisfaction among workers with their share of benefits from Peru's macroeconomic success. After strikes by teachers and agricultural producers led to nationwide road blockages in May 2003, Toledo declared a state of emergency that suspended some civil liberties and gave the military power to enforce order in 12 regions. The state of emergency was later reduced to only the few areas where the Shining Path was operating.

On 28 July 2006, former president Alan García became the President of Peru. He won the 2006 elections after winning in a runoff against Ollanta Humala. In May 2008, President García was a signatory to The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. Peru has ratified the treaty.

On 5 June 2011, Ollanta Humala was elected President in a run-off against Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of Alberto Fujimori and former First Lady of Peru, in the 2011 elections, making him the first leftist president of Peru since Juan Velasco Alvarado. In December 2011, a state of emergency was declared following popular opposition to some major mining project and environmental concerns. [40]

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was elected president in the general election in July 2016. His parents were European refugees fleeing from Nazism. Kuczynski is committed to integrating and acknowledging Peru's indigenous populations, and state-run TV has begun daily news broadcasts in Quechua and Aymara. [41] Kuczynski was widely criticized on pardoning former President Alberto Fujimori, going against his campaign promises against his rival, Keiko Fujimori.

In March 2018, after a failure to impeach the president, Kuczynski faced yet again the threat of impeachment on the basis of corruption in vote buying and bribery with the Odebrecht corporation. On 23 March 2018, Kucyznski was forced to resign from the presidency, and has not been heard from since. His successor would be his first vice president, engineer Martín Vizcarra, who would succeed him as President until the end of the term in 2021. Vizcarra has announced publicly that he has no plans in seeking for re-election amidst the political crisis and instability.

How the Inca empire shaped the history of South America and Cuenca: 10 key facts

The terraces below the Cañari and Inca temple at Pumapungo in Cuenca.

By Joshua J. Mark

The Inca civilization (c. 1400-1533 CE) is among the most vital of South America in terms of its cultural influence and legacy. The Inca began as a small tribe who steadily grew in power to conquer other peoples all down the coast from Colombia to Argentina. They are remembered for their contributions to religion, architecture, and their famous network of roads through the region.

Born in Cuenca, Huayna Capac, was the last ruler of a unified Inca empire.

In the area around Cuenca, the Incan influence were not only important because of the estalbishment of Tomebamba –modern-day Cuenca– as the northern capital of the empire, but probably more important, the displacement of the Cañari, who had dominated the region for hundreds of years. Almost all the Inca construction in southern Ecuador, including Ingirpira and Pumpungo, incorporated pre-existing Cañari structures.

Cuenca took on heightened importance for the Inca as the birthplace of members of Inca royalty, including Huayna Cápac, the last emperor of a unified Inca empire. His sons, Huáscar and Atahuallpa, engaged in a bloody civil war that led the end of he empire and Spanish conquest.

Here are ten facts about the Inca you need to know.

1. Why Are the Inca Important to History?

The Incas are important in the same way any ancient empire/civilization is important: because the past informs the present and, so, the future. Knowing how people in the past lived can help those in the present live better, make better choices. In the case of the Inca, their empire stretched down the coast of South America from modern-day Columbia through Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina and they influenced the lives of the people both within that empire and outside of it. It was the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas, stretching 770,000 square miles, with a population estimated at between 6-14 million people.

The Inca Empire was already crumbling due to internal rebellions and disease (brought by European explorers) when it fell to the Spanish under Francisco Pizarro (c. 1471-1541 CE) in the 16th century CE, but their influence continues to be felt. The Inca concept of the family unit, for example – one that includes aunts, uncles, cousins, distant cousins as tightly knit as the nuclear family – is still the model in the region today as is the concept that the entire community is one’s family and people should treat their neighbors as they would blood relatives.

Inca religion influenced others in the region as well so that, even in the modern day, Christian sites are located according to Inca concepts of “sacred places” like hills, mountain tops, near water – places which once corresponded to Inca deities. The Inca “Golden Rule” of “Do Not Steal, Do Not Lie, Do Not be Lazy” is also still observed in the region. Very little is new about the human condition. We have always been what we are now. This is why it is important to know who we have been.

2. What Was Inca Religion & How Did It Influence People’s Daily Lives?

The religion of the Inca was polytheistic the gods were thought to control the natural world and significantly influence the lives of people. The best example of this is the god Pachacamac, a creator-deity who made humans, vegetation, and oversaw agriculture and good harvests. When Pachacamac was pleased, all went well when he was angry, he could cause earthquakes. So with Pachacamac – like any of the other gods – it was in people’s best interest to keep him happy through offerings and sacrifices which included human sacrifice (men, women, and children). The gods of the Inca were considered as real to them as any god of any modern-day religion is to believers. Temples and other buildings were raised in their honor and the famous Inca road system, which connected communities closely, was probably encouraged by religious belief in that if a sign were given by a god in one location, news of it would need to reach someone – a shaman – who could interpret it.

Inca religion encouraged the belief in three realms:

  • Hanan Pacha – the Upper World (also known as Land of the Sun), home to the sun god Inti and the moon goddess Quilla (also known as Mama Quilla), his sister.
  • Kay Pacha – the Middle World, home to humans, animals, vegetation.
  • Uku Pacha – the Underworld, overseen by Supay, the god of death.

The Inca had a concept of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ before Christianity was introduced into the region. The central rule of Inca religion (corresponding to the Golden Rule or Ten Commandments) was Ama sua, Ama lulla, Ama chella (Do not steal, Do not Lie, Do not be Lazy). If one lived by this rule then, when one died, one went to the Land of the Sun where it was always warm and pleasant and the gods were close. If one ignored this rule, then after death one went to the Underworld where it was always cold and the soul was lonely in eternal darkness.

Besides these two afterlife destinations, one could also come back and have another shot at getting life right. These were most likely the souls of people who were not especially good or especially bad – so most people. The Inca also practiced mummification and the placement of grave goods with the deceased. The mummified dead placed in their graves sitting upright, unlike other cultures where they were prone the reason for this is unclear as the Inca had no written language.

3. What Was Daily Life Like in the Inca Empire?

Society was based on the family unit and their surrounding community (known as the ayllu) and supported by agriculture. Each ayllu was responsible for a certain area of land which they would farm, and every ayllu was overseen by a group of nobles known as kurakas. Inca government went from this lowest level up a hierarchy of groups of ten, each one overseeing the one below, to the king at the top. Males were favored, but women were well respected and could serve as priestesses and in government positions.

Children followed whatever their parents’ position/role/job was, and most women were expected to follow their mothers in getting married, having children, and caring for the home even though some were also – or exclusively – priestesses or brewers of beer or other occupations. When women married, they became part of their husband’s family and worked that family’s land.

Women prepared the meals, and the Inca are thought to be the first in the region to have cultivated the potato. The evening meal, when the family – and wider community – would gather was the most important daily ritual at which the gods would be thanked and people would socialize. Recreational activities included sports, singing, storytelling, and races. Daily life was basically centered around work all day, relaxation in the evening, and religious ceremonies and festivals.

4. Was Food Important to the Inca?

Food was important to the Inca because it was a gift from the gods but also pretty much the focus of their lives. They worked every day to bring food from the earth. They were largely vegetarian – meat was reserved for religious festivals/ceremonies – and each community needed enough food to feed itself and trade with others. They cultivated grains, vegetables, and fruits and are best-known for quinoa, the use of maize, chili peppers, and manioc. There was no central market one could go to – everyone grew their own food and traded food for other commodities such as blankets or baskets – so food was, in a sense, their currency.

5. How Did the Inca Maintain Their Empire?

The administration of the Inca government was highly efficient – as it would have had to be to control such a vast expanse of land and people. The king made the laws – which were inspired by/directed by the gods – and these were passed down to the ten nobles just below him in the hierarchy who then passed them down to the next ten and so on down to the lowest level of society through the network of roads. Order could therefore be maintained quite easily because any rebellion or invasion or natural disaster could be met quickly since the roads served well as a communication network. Laws, which were decreed at the capital of Cuzco, were sent quickly throughout the empire via the road system, and the hierarchy of rule – from local to national – made sure these laws were obeyed.

Central square in Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire.

6. What Was the Inca Road Network?

The Inca Empire was connected by its vast road system (running 25,000 miles), which made communication between even far away points possible within days. Messengers lived in pairs – and their whole responsibility was to be ready to receive a message and run to deliver it – so one of them would sleep while the other remained ready to do the job. With the road system and messenger service, the king could send out an order to mobilize an army for defense and the men of the various communities would respond in a timely fashion. There were stations, inns, and storage depots along this roadway to supply troops, give travelers a rest, and maintain those who worked for the messenger services.

7. Did the Inca Have a Writing System?

The Inca had no writing system. They had a system of record-keeping known as quipu which used knotted strings to signify a certain amount of information. Exactly what that information was, and what the quipu meant to the people, is unknown.

8. What Is the Most Important Inca Site?

The most famous Inca site is Machu Picchu located in the Andes Mountain range above the Urubamba Valley. It was founded by the 9th king, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (r. 1438-1471 CE) c. 1450 CE and was considered a sacred site. Some modern-day scholars claim the site was already extant prior to the rise of the Inca Empire and was simply repurposed although it is unclear exactly what the purpose of the site was. The name means “old hill,” and the site is thought to have originally been part of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui’s large estate. It is possible the site was always intended as a place of worship or, perhaps, was a fortress installation. The complex was supplied with fresh water by stone channels which were fed by natural springs. The site was abandoned after the fall of the Inca Empire and was later rediscovered by the explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911 CE. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Site of the Inca astronomic observatory at Pumapungo.

9. What Was the Inca Military Like & How Did It Work?

The structure of the Inca military was based on the decimal system. A squad of ten men were commanded by an officer known as a chunka kamayuq a troop of 100 men were commanded by a pachaka kuraka a corp of 1,000 men were under the command of a waranqa kuraka an army of 10,000 were led by the hunu kuraka. The entire force was officially under the leadership and authority of the king.

The troops were comprised of Inca and non-Inca (people conquered by the Inca and conscripted into military service when needed). Men, aged 25-55, were called to service when needed by messengers sent along the road network and were obligated to respond. They could bring their wives with them as well as young sons under military age who served as baggage handlers and assistants. Every Inca male was trained in the use of weapons from a young age, and those considered ‘pure-blood’ Inca could serve in the elite unit of the king’s bodyguard.

10. How Did the Inca Empire Fall?

The Inca Empire fell to the Spanish conquistadores under Francisco Pizarro in 1533 CE, but it had been in decline already for some time. The Inca Empire – like the Assyrian Empire of the Near East – had expanded through conquest and the subject peoples were extremely unhappy with the situation. Pizarro was able to exploit this dynamic and turn the subjugated people against the Inca who were seen as oppressors. Rebellions throughout the empire were already ongoing by the time Pizarro arrived in the region and the diseases (especially smallpox) brought by Europeans had already destroyed large swaths of the population (up to 90%). Although Pizarro is routinely credited with the downfall and destruction of the Inca Empire, it would have fallen on its own in time simply because it could no longer maintain the kind of cohesion it had earlier.

The Tahuantinsuyo began to become an empire during the government of the Inca Pachacútec in the middle of the 15th century, it was at that moment of the transformation that it became from one more lordship of the Cusco region to being a Pan-Andean state.

The arrival of Pachacutec to power is described in various chronicles, they are legendary stories but based on real events, the truth is that in the first decades of the 15th century an elite emerged among the Inca culture capable of directing the explosive expansion of this lordship and taking party of the favorable circumstances, in this interest to conquer and to expand the Incas collided with another macro ethnic group that had the same pretensions “the chancas”.

Wealth Without Money

Documents from missionaries and Valera describe the Inca as master builders and land planners, capable of extremely sophisticated mountain agriculture - and building cities to match. Incan society was so rich that it could afford to have hundreds of people who specialized in planning the agricultural uses of newly-conquered areas. They built terraced farms on the mountainsides whose crops - from potatoes and maize to peanuts and squash - were carefully chosen to thrive in the average temperatures for different altitudes. They also farmed trees to keep the thin topsoil in good condition.

Incan architects were equally talented, designing and raising enormous pyramids, irrigating with sophisticated waterworks such as those found at Tipon , and creating enormous temples like Pachacamac along with mountain retreats like Machu Picchu. Designers used a system of knotted ropes to do the math required to build on slopes.

And yet, despite all their productivity, the Incas managed without money or marketplaces. In The Incas: New Perspectives, Gordon Francis McEwan writes :

With only a few exceptions found in coastal polities incorporated into the empire, there was no trading class in Inca society, and the development of individual wealth acquired through commerce was not possible . . . A few products deemed essential by the Incas could not be produced locally and had to be imported. In these cases several strategies were employed, such as establishing colonies in specific production zones for particular commodities and permitting long-distance trade. The production, distribution, and use of commodities were centrally controlled by the Inca government. Each citizen of the empire was issued the necessities of life out of the state storehouses, including food, tools, raw materials, and clothing, and needed to purchase nothing. With no shops or markets, there was no need for a standard currency or money, and there was nowhere to spend money or purchase or trade for necessities.

So the Inca did engage in trade, but only with outsiders - not among themselves.

The secret of the Inca's great wealth may have been their unusual tax system. Instead of paying taxes in money, every Incan was required to provide labor to the state. In exchange for this labor, they were given the necessities of life.

Of course, not everybody had to pay labor tax. Nobles and their courts were exempt, as were other prominent members of Incan society. In another quirk of the Incan economy, nobles who died could still own property and their families or estate managers could continue to amass wealth for the dead nobles. Indeed, the temple at Pachacamac was basically a well-managed estate that "belonged" to a dead Incan noble. It's as if the Inca managed to invent the idea of corporations-as-people despite having almost no market economy whatsoever.

Inca Empire for Kids Quick History

The Inca empire started as a small tribe who lived in the village of Cuzco, high in the Andes Mountains of South America. One day, another tribe tried to conquer them. Thanks to Pachacuti , the king's son, the Incas won! That was the beginning of the Inca empire.

Over the next 100 years, the Inca conquered tribe after tribe until their empire stretched nearly the entire length of western South America. It was one of the largest empires in the world. At it's height, it was over 2,500 miles long and about 500 miles wide, tucked high in the Andes Mountains.

They had a strong central government. There was almost no crime as punishment was harsh. They had a strong army. They had roads and bridges and aqueducts. The government cared for the sick and old. They invented terrace farming to make farming easier on the sharp mountain slopes. They had stores of food they distributed to all people in times of drought. Most people were farmers, but the Inca also had specialized professions like weavers who made fabulous textiles, and musicians who created new instruments like the pan pipe. The Inca invented many things. They believed in many gods.

About 100 years after they had grown into an empire that stretched the length of South America, the Spanish conquered the Inca civilization.

Today, in South America, in the modern county of Peru, you can still find ancestors of the incredible Incas.

11c. The Inca Empire: Children of the Sun

When Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro landed in Peru in 1532, he found unimaginable riches. The Inca Empire was in full bloom. The streets may not have been paved with gold — but their temples were.

The Coricancha, or Temple of Gold, boasted an ornamental garden where the clods of earth, maize plants complete with leaves and corn cobs, were fashioned from silver and gold. Nearby grazed a flock of 20 golden llamas and their lambs, watched over by solid gold shepherds. Inca nobles strolled around on sandals with silver soles protecting their feet from the hard streets of Cuzco.

This mummified girl was discovered in 1995 on Mount Ampato in the Andes Mountains of Peru at an altitude of over 20,000 feet. She was sacrificed by Inca priests nearly 500 years ago.

The Inca called their empire Tahuantinsuyu, or Land of the Four Quarters. It stretched 2,500 miles from Quito, Ecuador, to beyond Santiago, Chile. Within its domain were rich coastal settlements, high mountain valleys, rain-drenched tropical forests and the driest of deserts. The Inca controlled perhaps 10 million people, speaking a hundred different tongues. It was the largest empire on earth at the time. Yet when Pizarro executed its last emperor, Atahualpa, the Inca Empire was only 50 years old.

The true history of the Inca is still being written. According to one story, four brothers emerged from Lake Titicaca. During a long journey, all but one disappeared. Manco Capac survived to plunge a golden staff into the ground where the Rios Tullamayo and Huantanay meet. He founded the sacred city of Cuzco.

The Sacred City of Cuzco

Cuzco is nestled in a mountain valley 10,000 feet above sea level. It formed the center of the Inca world. The first emperor, Pachacuti transformed it from a modest village to a great city laid out in the shape of a puma. He also installed Inti, the Sun God, as the Incas’ official patron, building him a wondrous temple.

And he did something else — which may explain the Inca’s sudden rise to power. He expanded the cult of ancestor worship. When a ruler died, his son received all his earthly powers — but none of his earthly possessions. All his land, buildings, and servants went to his panaqa, or other male relatives. The relatives used it to preserve his mummy and sustain his political influence. Dead emperors maintained a living presence.

A new ruler had to create his own income. The only way to do that was to grab new lands, subdue more people, and expand the Empire of the Sun.

From the heights of Machu Picchu, the entire Urabamba Valley in the Andes Mountains can be seen.

How was this done? Life in traditional Andean villages was fragile. One married couple would help another planting or harvesting crops. They would receive help in their own fields in return. The Inca tailored this practice of reciprocity — give-and-take — to their own needs.

Their cities centered on great plazas where they threw vast parties for neighboring chiefs. Festivities continued for days on end, sometimes lasting a month. Dignitaries were fed, and given gifts of gold, jewels, and textiles. Only then would the Inca make their requests for labor, to increase food production, to build irrigation schemes, to terrace hillsides, or to extend the limits of the empire.

Machu Picchu and Empire

The Inca were great builders. They loved stone — almost as much as they revered gold. At magical Machu Picchu, a frontier fortress and a sacred site, a mystic column, the hitching post of the Sun, is carved from the living rock. Another slab is shaped to echo the mountain beyond.

Spanish leader Francisco Pizarro captured and ransomed the last Inca emperor, Atahuallpa, for 24 tons of gold worth $267 million today. After receiving the ransom from the Inca people, the conquistadors strangled Atahuallpa anyway.

Temples and fortifications at Machu Picchu were constructed from vast, pillowy boulders, some weighing 100 tons or more. Constructed without mortar, the joins between them are so tight as to deny a knife-blade entry. A vast labor force was required. There are records of 20 men working on a single stone, chipping away, hoisting and lowering, polishing it with sand, hour-by-hour for an entire year.

A network of highways allowed Inca emperors to control their sprawling empire. One ran down the spine of the Andes, another along the coast. Inca builders could cope with anything the treacherous terrain required — steep paths cut along mountain sides, rope suspension bridges thrown across steep ravines, or treacherous causeways traversing floodplains. Every mile and a half they built way stations as resting points. Bands of official runners raced between them covering 150 miles a day. A message could be sent 1200 miles from Cuzco to Quito in under a week.

The Inca Empire ranged 2,500 miles from Ecuador to southern Chile before its destruction at the hands of Spanish conquistadors in 1532.

Everyone was expected to contribute to the empire. Land was divided in three. One third was worked for the emperor, one third was reserved for the gods, and one third the people kept for themselves. All were required to pay taxes as tribute.

The Inca could not write. Tax collectors and bureaucrats kept track of things with quipu, knotted strings. Varying lengths, colors, knot-types, and positions, enabled them to store enormous quantities of information.

Despite its glory, the Incas was a brittle empire, held together by promises and threats. When Pizarro executed the last emperor, it rapidly collapsed. Catholic priests demanding allegiance to a new Christian god soon replaced the Children of the Sun. As they had for thousands of years, the hardy peoples of the Andes adapted. They took what they must from their new masters, and held onto as many of their old ways as they could.

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The sun began to set on the great Inca Empire when a civil war broke out in 1532 between the princes. Around that time, conquistadors from Spain led by none other than Francisco Pizarro had already reached the empire and had set their eyes on its great wealth. Pizarro got approval from the Queen of Spain in 1529 to conquer the Inca Empire.

Even though Pizarro led his forces to attack the empire, what triggered the Inca Empire’s decline was a devastating outbreak of diseases like smallpox, measles, typhus, and influenza. The resilient Incas initially defeated the Spanish in the Arauco War. On the 15th of November, 1532, in the Battle of Cajamarca, Pizarro led an ambush to capture Atahualpa’s Inca ruler. He was later executed, effectively signifying the end of the Inca Empire.