The Inca Empire was a superpower that was centered on the western coast of South America. This prevailing civilization flourished between the 15th and 16th centuries, and at its height of power it extended from Quito, Ecuador, in the north, to Santiago, Chile in the south. The Inca Empire was the largest empire in the Americas, and one factor contributing to this was its complex road system, which is known as the royal highway, or qhapaq ñan.
The Vast Road Network
The roads of the Inca Empire have been estimated to cover a distance of over 40000 km (24854 miles), and can be found in modern countries that used to be part of this civilization, i.e. Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.
There were two main highways that traversed the empire from the north to the south. One of these followed the coastline, whilst the other was located further inland, and passed through the highlands of the Andes. In addition to these, there were also secondary roads, as well as some smaller trails. Some of these routes connected the two main highways, whilst others were built beyond the territories controlled by the empire. It has been suggested that these could have served to facilitate trade with, or for the conduct of military campaigns against, neighboring peoples. Along some of the more important routes, milestones were placed to mark each Inca unit of distance, i.e. the topo, which is equivalent to 7 km (4.3 miles).
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