Realm of the Four Parts
The Inca Empire at its greatest extent ca. 1525
• End of the
|1527||2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi)|
The Inca Empire (
From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western
The Incas lacked the use of wheeled vehicles. They lacked animals to ride and draft animals that could pull wagons and plows... [They] lacked the knowledge of iron and steel... Above all, they lacked a system of writing... Despite these supposed handicaps, the Incas were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history.— Gordon McEwan, The Incas: New Perspectives
Notable features of the Inca Empire include its monumental architecture, especially stonework, extensive
The Incan economy has been described in contradictory ways by scholars:
... feudal, slave, socialist (here one may choose between socialist paradise or socialist tyranny)— Darrell E. La Lone, The Inca as a Nonmarket Economy: Supply on Command versus Supply and Demand
The Inca empire functioned largely without money and without markets. Instead, exchange of goods and services was based on reciprocity between individuals and among individuals, groups, and Inca rulers. "Taxes" consisted of a labour obligation of a person to the Empire. The Inca rulers (who theoretically owned all the means of production) reciprocated by granting access to land and goods and providing food and drink in celebratory feasts for their subjects.
The Inca referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu, "the four suyu". In
The term Inka means "ruler" or "lord" in Quechua and was used to refer to the ruling class or the ruling family. The Incas were a very small percentage of the total population of the empire, probably numbering only 15,000 to 40,000, but ruling a population of around 10 million people. The Spanish adopted the term (transliterated as Inca in Spanish) as an ethnic term referring to all subjects of the empire rather than simply the ruling class. As such, the name Imperio inca ("Inca Empire") referred to the nation that they encountered and subsequently conquered.