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The Incan Civilization

The Inca were originally a small warlike tribe inhabiting the south highland region of the Cordillera Central in Peru. In about 1100AD they began to move into the valley of Cuzco, where, for roughly the next 300 years, they raided and imposed tribute on neighboring civilizations. Until the middle of the 15th century, the Inca undertook no major imperialistic expansion, their farthest advance prior to this time was southward about 32 km (about 20 mi.) from Cuzco in the reign of the sixth ruler, Inca Roca.

The word Inca actually means "king" or "prince" in the Inca's native language - Quechua. The term Inca was actually a name applied by the Spanish to the Quechuan-speaking Native American people who established the Andean empire in South America, now know as Peru, shortly before the conquest of the New World by Europeans. The name, Inca, also applies to each ruler of that empire and, to all subject peoples of the Incan Empire.

At its peak, in about the 1500's, the Inca-controlled territory stretched more than 4000 km (more than 2500 mi.) north to south. From east to west, it extended about 805 km (about 500 mi.); and it encompassed an area roughly equal in size to the present-day Atlantic Coast states of the United States. Scholars estimate that between 3.5 million to 16 million peoples of varying tribal backgrounds inhabited this immense region.

The Inca's downfall occurred in the 1500's, when the Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru, and the Incan civilization. The Conquistadors were led by a man the famous explorer, Francisco Pizarro. Pizarro and his men came to Peru in 1524, and by 1531, had taken over all of the Inca's land in the name of Spain. The stronger, more powerful Spanish army defeated the Incas and took their land, their culture, and their respect. Because of the Spanish take over, most of Peru speak Spanish and are Roman Catholics.

At the height of their power, the Inca achieved a political and governmental system unsurpassed by any other Native American nation of the Western Hemisphere. The Incan society, an agriculturally based theocracy (a government in which the ruler is seen as a direct descendant of God) rigidly organized with primitive, socialistic ideals, was dominated by the all-powerful, God-Like ruler called the Inca. Beneath the Inca, in descending order of rank and power, were the royal family and upper aristocracy, the imperial administrators and petty nobility, and the great mass of artisans and farm laborers.

The Incas were farmers, and lived of their agriculture. The most important crops of the Inca's ...

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