Incas History

The Incas
April 1, 2021 – 07:28 pm

INCAS, an American Indian people of Peru who in the two centuries before the Spanish discovery of America conquered an
area stretching from the southern border of present-day Colombia to central Chile. Centering on the city of Cusco (Cuzco) in
the Peruvian Andes, the Inca domain included the coastal and mountain regions of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and the northern
areas of Chile and Argentina-the only true empire existing in the New World at the time of Columbus, and the greatest political
achievement of the American Indians. In the native language the term ``Inca'' was the title of the Indian emperor. Today,
however, it is also applied to the original tribe of conquerors and to all those people who made up the empire (who probably
called themselves capac-cuna, ``great ones'' or ``glorious ones, '' in pre-Spanish times).

The habitat of the former Inca empire is spectacular and varied. In the mountains, at altitudes between 7, 000 and 10, 000 feet
(2, 150-3, 000 meters), are temperate zones capable of sustaining an intensive agriculture. The imposing mountain range, the
Andean cordilleras, divides in extreme southeastern Peru to form the Lake Titicaca basin, a 12, 600-foot (3, 840-meter)-high
plateau. This and the other high intermontane plateaus that continue south and east into Bolivia and northwestern Argentina are
called the altiplano; it forms a treeless region of long grass seared by the noonday sun, frigid at night. The bulk of the Andean
population lived here. To the southwest are salt marshes, while in the extreme south dense mountains give way to the rolling
pampas of Argentina.

The coastal area is desert, for the Humboldt Current, which sweeps up from the south, is colder than the adjacent land;
therefore, the moisture in the winds going from sea to land does not condense through cooling. Beginning at Tumbes, 3° south
latitude, these desert conditions predominate throughout the whole coast of Peru and continue down to the Rio Maule, in Chile.
The sea, however, is filled with plankton, which attracts a very rich and varied marine life; this marine life in turn is fed on by
myriads of sea birds, whose droppings on the arid coastal islets are the source of guano, a fertilizer extensively used for
agriculture. The 2, 000-mile (3, 200-km)-long coastal plain, ranging from 1 and 50 miles (1.6-80 km) in width, is broken only
every 30 miles (48 km) or so by rivers. In the valleys of these rivers, coastal cultures, using irrigation, flourished.

It was these two disparate areas of Peru-mountain and desert-that the Incas knit together in an economic and social

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