History Biography Geography Science Games

Inca Empire


History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids

When the Spanish arrived in Peru in the 1500s the Inca Empire was huge. It stretched for over 2000 miles from the north to the south and had a population of an estimated 10 million people. The Inca needed a sophisticated and organized government to maintain an empire this large.


The Inca government was called the Tawantinsuyu. It was a monarchy ruled by a single leader called the Sapa Inca.

Sapa Inca - The emperor or king of the Inca Empire was called the Sapa Inca, which means "sole ruler". He was the most powerful person in the land and everyone else reported to the Sapa Inca. His principal wife, the queen, was called the coya.

Inca Government Organization

Below the Sapa Inca were several officers who helped to rule the empire. High ranking officials were often relatives of the emperor and were always part of the Inca class.
Dividing up the Empire

The Empire was divided up into quarters called "suyu". The four suyu were Chinchay Suyu, Anti Suyu, Qulla Suyu, and Kunti Suyu. At the center of the four quarters was the capital city of Cuzco.

Each suyu was then further divided into provinces called "wamani". A lot of times each wamani was made up of a tribe that had been conquered by the Inca. There were also smaller divisions within each wamani.

The smallest, and maybe the most important, division of government was the ayllu. The ayllu was made up of a number of families and often acted like a large family. The ayllu was responsible for paying taxes. Also, land was assigned by the government to each ayllu based on the number of people in the group.

Inca Taxes

In order to run the government, the Inca needed food and resources which they acquired through taxes. Each ayllu was responsible for paying taxes to the government. The Inca had tax inspectors that watched over the people to make sure that they paid all their taxes.

There were two main taxes that the people had to pay. The first tax was a portion of the ayllu's crops. The crops were divided up three ways with the first third going to the government, the second third to the priests, and the final third was for the people.

The second type of tax was called the mit'a. The mit'a was a labor tax that each man between the ages of 16 and 60 had to pay by working for the government for a portion of the year. They worked various jobs such as laborers on government buildings and roads, mining for gold, or even as warriors in the army.

Laws and Punishment

The laws were made by the Sapa Inca and passed down to the people through the tax collectors. Murder, stealing, cheating on taxes, and cursing the gods was all against the law.

However, there wasn't a lot of crime in the Inca Empire, mostly because the punishments were very harsh. For example, people were often executed for cursing the gods. If they were caught stealing, they would have their hands cut off.

Interesting Facts about the Government of the Inca Empire Activities

Take a ten question quiz about this page.

  • Listen to a recorded reading of this page:

  • Aztecs
  • Timeline of the Aztec Empire
  • Daily Life
  • Government
  • Gods and Mythology
  • Writing and Technology
  • Society
  • Tenochtitlan
  • Spanish Conquest
  • Art
  • Hernan Cortes
  • Glossary and Terms
  • Maya
  • Timeline of Maya History
  • Daily Life
  • Government
  • Gods and Mythology
  • Writing, Numbers, and Calendar
  • Pyramids and Architecture
  • Sites and Cities
  • Art
  • Hero Twins Myth
  • Glossary and Terms
  • Inca
  • Timeline of the Inca
  • Daily Life of the Inca
  • Government
  • Mythology and Religion
  • Science and Technology
  • Society
  • Cuzco
  • Machu Picchu
  • Tribes of Early Peru
  • Francisco Pizarro
  • Glossary and Terms

  • Works Cited

    History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids

    Ducksters Footer Gif with Ducks

    About Ducksters Privacy Policy 


    This site is a product of TSI (Technological Solutions, Inc.), Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use.