They are well-known for that and many other things today, but many people still don't know all the exciting things from their history.
The Incas called the regions they lived in Tawantinsuyo in their language – the Quechua language. The name is translated to 'The Four United Regions.'
The origins of this great nation are partly obscured in legend and myth. There are four of these origin myths, each less probable than the other.
Modern archeologists are fairly certain that they came to be like many other tribes in the region. They were a relatively unimportant tribe from the 12th century onward. They came to more prominence when Sinchi Roca came to power, who is the only figure in Incan mythology for whom there is historical evidence.
They started from their long-term capital, Cusco, and were a mere city-state for some 300 years.
The Rise of the Mighty Empire
The rise of their empire began in 1438 when their leader, called Pachacuti, began the massive Incan expansion. His name translates to 'world-shaker,' which is fitting when we take into account what he did.
His expansion ended when he incorporated half of the entire Andes mountain range into the Incas. state. He then reorganized the country into an empire.
His conquest was so successful because he employed a very intelligent tactic. He would send spies into the regions he was aiming to incorporate into his nation. They would come back after a while with detailed reports of that region and the people in it.
The next step was always diplomatic. He would send gifts and promises to the regional lords. They would get the chance to become more rich and mighty, and they would only have to pledge allegiance to the Incan nation in return.
Most gladly accepted and sent their children to Cusco to be inducted into the Incas. way of governance. It wasn't a problem for most of the regional lords, as they didn't lose much by becoming part of the Incan nation. However, their children would become more Incas. and eventually start the largely unconscious indoctrination of their domains.
Those who resisted this diplomatic approach were crushed, often in a horrible and bloody war.
The new empire then functioned well in some areas, but in many others, rebellions ensued when the conquered people didn’t assimilate to the Incas. way of life.
The Spanish Conquest
As most of us know, the Spanish came around a century later and somewhat easily conquered this massive empire.
However, what many forget is that the Incas Empire was plagued with rebellions and unrest all over. The Spanish didn't manage to dominate the Incas by sheer force; they had to use deception. They also has help from thousands of unhappy Incan subjects to defeat this massive empire.
After the conquest, the Incas were suppressed for a long time. Their culture was systematically destroyed, and many of the people died out from a combination of slave labor and disease.
The people that remained were forced into the Catholic faith and Spanish way of life.
Naturally, the story of the Incas is much more complex, and there is more to tell..