The Inca began in a fertile valley in what is today. At its peak, the Inca Empire ruled about 12 million people. They worshipped , depended on , and organized a strong army. In 1438, a ruler called led the Inca in battles to extend the borders of their empire. He conquered lands and made them provinces. He appointed governors to rule them and forced the defeated people to move or to work. Pachakuti spread the Inca religion throughout the empire.
Sweat of the Sun
The Inca called gold “sweat of the sun” and used it to decorate temples to their sun god. served as the center of government, religion, and trade. The temples and government buildings in the center of Cuzco were sturdy stone structures. Beyond the main plaza were the palaces of the emperor and wealthy nobles. When Spanish soldiers visited the city in the 1500s, they were impressed by Inca wealth and skill.
Farming the Andes
Outside of Cuzco, workers and farmers lived in small mud huts. There were many government storage buildings that housed such things as maize, dried fruit, or salt. Farming was very important to the Inca. They grew potatoes, maize, and peppers. They developed to farm on hillsides. Huge canals and were built to bring water to dry land. They raised llamas to use as pack animals to carry light loads. The Inca built over 19,000 miles of highways. One road led high into the Andes to . This city is a mystery to historians. The few artifacts that remain from the Inca can help to give us a sense of their culture.