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Within the Inca culture you often hear the word “Tahuantinsuyo”, what does it mean? This article will help you to know more about the greatest empire of the pre-Columbian culture.

One of the most outstanding architectural works of the Tahuantinsuyo empire is the citadel of Machupicchu, a work made by the Inca Pachacutec at the beginning of the maximum expansion of the Tahuantinsuyo empire.

Representation of the Inti Raymi with the arrival of the 4 suyos of the Tahuantinsuyo.

What does the word Tahuantinsuyo mean?

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View of the directions of the 4 suyos, these direction signs can be found around the historic center of Cusco

The meaning of the word Tahuantinsuyo comes from the Quechua word and is born from the fusion of two words: “Tahua” which means four and “Suyo” which means region, the name refers to the four regions in which the Inca empire was divided which were:

  • Antisuyo located to the northeast
  • Chinchaysuyo located to the northeast.
  • Contisuyo located to the southeast
  • Collasuyo located to the southeast

What territories comprised the Tahuantinsuyo in Peru?

All of them or regions belonging to the Tahuantinsuyo start from the city of Cusco as it was the capital of the whole Tahuantinsuyo.

  • Antisuyo which was located to the northeast started from Cusco and expanded to the Amazon.
  • Chinchaysuyo, which was located to the northeast, started from Cusco and expanded to the regions of Ayacucho and Ica.
  • Contisuyo, which was located to the southeast, started from Cusco and expanded along the coastal region of Peru.
  • Collasuyo, which was located to the southeast, started from Cusco and expanded through the southern region, reaching the department of Arequipa and crossing Lake Titicaca.

The four of them that formed the Tahuantinsuyo extended to more than 2 million square kilometers, expanding in its peak period in the years 1532 in regions that are part of the territories of Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia, all began with the expansion in the government of the Inca Pachacutec, reaching its maximum expansion of territories in the government of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui.


  1. The Inca, the ruler of the Inca empire, Son of the sun, possessor of divine power. his successor would have to have hereditary succession.
  2. Ayllu Panaca, was the group conformed by the family of the Inca, in it were also the son of the Inca, the Coya (daughter of the Inca), the main wife of the Inca.
  3. The Curacas, are the nobles, priests and chiefs of ayllu (main chief of 100 families).
  4. The Hatunruna, the Andean population.
  5. The Mitimaes, they were in charge of expanding lands and teaching Inca cultures and traditions to other conquered places.
  6. The Yanaconas, were the servants of the Inca royalty, most of them were prisoners of war.


Representation of the Inca Pachacutec, the ninth ruler of the Inca empire.

The Tahuantinsuyo empire had 13 rulers until the arrival of the Spanish colonization.

  • Manco Capac 1200 – 1230
  • Sinchi Roca 1230 – 1260
  • Lloque Yupanqui 1260 – 1290
  • Mayta Capac 1290 – 1320
  • Capac Yupanqui 1320 – 1350
  • Inca Roca 1350 – 1380
  • Jaguar Huaca 1380 – 1400
  • Viracocha Inca 1400 – 1438
  • Pachacútec Inca Yupanqui 1438 – 1471
  • Amaru Inca Yupanqui 1471 – 1472
  • Tupac Inca Yupanqui 1472 – 1493
  • Huayna Capac 1493 – 1525
  • Huáscar 1525 – 1532
  • Atahualpa 1532 – 1533


After the death of the Inca Huayna Cápac, the following heirs to the Inca throne were their children, Huáscar and Atahualpa face a war to succeed the throne of their father, for it Huáscar had already been named the governor of the Tahuantinsuyo, who for that his half brother Atahualpa had been named governor in Quito, the relation was an internal problem that weakened the forces of the empire, a crisis that was taken advantage of by the Spaniards who under the command of Francisco Pizarro arrived to Cajamarca where Atahualpa was.

The day 15 of November of the year 1532, armed with cannons and their cavalry makes its entrance and they take hostage the Inca Atahualpa after an ambush who, in exchange for the liberation of the Inca, the Spaniards demanded a room full of gold, the price of its liberation was granted to the Spaniards who did not fulfill with the liberation and they execute Atahualpa in year of 1533.

After many reprisals on the part of the Spaniards end up allying ethnic groups such as the Huancas and Cañaris in order to gain favors, thus the Spaniards appoint a number of Incas to get more territories in a peaceful way without armed attacks.

In a last attempt of rebellion against the Spaniards under the command of Manco Inca established a new empire in Vilcabamba ending with the death of Tupac Amaru at the hands of the Spaniards in the year 1572 giving a definitive end to the Inca empire of the Tahuantinsuyo.


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