The Incas became prominent in South America as early as the 12th century, and they remained in power for over four more centuries. They are known for leaving behind some of South America’s most important historic highlights. Their military prowess enabled them to rule over a kingdom that stretched from the northern tip of present-day Ecuador through to central Chile, just past the capital, Santiago.
The Incas started as a small tribe that lived in the Peruvian Andes. In the 1400s, under the reign of the fourth emperor, the Incan military was established. They went on to defeat the Ayarmaca people, in a region now known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which is north of Cusco. As successful warriors, they continued their practice of challenging, conquering, and expanding a military base from which to defend borders and uphold peace.
The Incan Empire, at its peak, included 12 million people from more than 100 different ethnic groups. They organized and controlled both a government and a religious belief system that were made cohesive by a centralized language. However, their military was no match against the Spanish conquistadores; the Inca Empire was extinguished in the late 1500s.
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