The Inca (also spelled as Inka) Empire was a South American empire that existed between the 15th and 16th centuries. The Inca Empire was the largest pre-Hispanic civilization in South America and ruled the area along the continent’s Pacific coast. At its height of power, the Inca Empire stretched from northern Ecuador all the way south to central Chile and ruled over a population of 12 million, from over 100 different ethnic groups.
Maintaining the empire’s cohesion was not an easy task and sophisticated innovations had to be devised. These include an advanced road system , highly-developed agricultural techniques, and a centralized language and religion. These developments not only ensured the cohesion of the Inca Empire, but also contributed to its wealth and prosperity.
In spite of its might, the Inca Empire fell to a handful of Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro. Having conquered the Inca Empire, the conquistadors plundered the empire’s wealth and left the civilization of the Inca in ruins. Nevertheless, some remnants of the Inca Empire still survive till this day and provide us with a glimpse of the empire’s lost glory.
The Four Regions of the Inca Empire
The Inca Empire was known to its inhabitants as Tawantinsuyu, which means ‘The Four Provinces’ in Quechua, the official language of the empire. The empire’s capital, Cusco, was literally at the center of the empire, as it was where the corners of the four provinces met.