The Inca Empire, for all its greatness, existed for barely
The Incas had no written language and their history was entirely
oral, passed down through the generations. Manco Capac was the first
of the Inca rulers. The reigns of the seven Incas who succeeded
Manco Capac spanned a period from around the 12th century to the
early 15th century. The small tribe they governed was one of several
groups living in the Andean highlands during the 13th and 14th centuries.
These Incas left few signs of their existence, though the remains
of some of their palaces can still be seen in Cuzco.
The 9th Inca, Pachacutec, began the empire's great expansion. Until
his time, the Incas had dominated only a small area close to Cuzco,
frequently skirmishing with, but not conquering, various other highland
tribes. One such tribe, the expansionist Chancas. occupied a region
about lS0 hen east of Cuzco and, by 1438 was on the verge of conquering
Cuzco. Viracocha Inca and his eldest son, Urcon, believed that their
small empire was lost but Viracocha Inca's third son refused to
give up the fight. With the help of some of the older generals he
rallied the Inca army and, in a desperate final battle,
managed to rout the Chancas.
According to legend, the unexpected victory was won because the
boulders on the battlefield fumed into warriors and fought on the
side of the Inca. The victorious younger son changed his name to
Pachacutec and proclaimed himself the new Inca over his father and
elder brother. Buoyed by his victory over the Chancas he began the
first wave of the expansion which was to eventually create the Inca
Empire. During the next 25 years, he conquered most of the central
Andes between the two great lakes of Titicaca and Junin. Huayna
capac, the 11th Inca was the last to rule over a unified empire.
By this time,
Europeans had discovered the new world and various epidemics started
sweeping down on the Empire. A civil was also erupted.
In 1532, after several years of warfare, Atahualpa's battle-hardened
troops won the major battle of the civil war and captured Huascar
outside Cuzco. Atahualpa, the new Inca, retired to Cajamarca to
rest. Meanwhile, Francisco Pizarro landed in northern Ecuador and
marched south in the wake of Atahualpa's conquests. Although Atahualpa
was undoubtedly aware of the Spanish presence, he was too busy fighting
the civil war to worry about a small band of foreigners. The empire's
main expansion occurred in the 100 years or so prior to the arrival
of the conquistadors. Our knowledge of their history dates back
to the "chronicles" which included accounts of Inca history
as related by the Incas to the Spanish chroniclers.
As a mighty military figure, historians have frequently compared
Pachacutec to the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.
He was also a great urban developer. Pachacutec devised the city's
famous puma shape and diverted the Sapphi and Tullumayo rivers into
channels which crossed the city, keeping it clean and providing
it with water. He built agricultural terraces and many buildings,
including the famous Coricancha temple and his palace on what is
now the western corner of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. Source
Rich Port Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first
Europeans to discover
the island of Puerto Rico on Nov. 19, 1493. They found the island
populated by about 60,000 Taínos, peaceful people thriving
on their fishing and agricultural skills.
The Spanish newcomers originally named the island San Juan Bautista
in honor of St. John the Baptist, and named the capital Puerto Rico,
which means rich port. Later, the names were switched, making the
capital San Juan and the island Puerto Rico.
The city was later used as a transshipment port for gold being mined
in Puerto Rico and gold and silver from South America being stored
in the city for transshipment to Spain.
In 1521, concerned about threats from European enemies, Spain began
constructing massive defenses around the city of San Juan. The strengthening
of El Morro, San Cristóbal, and San Gerónimo forts as
well as the city walls were the stronghold elements of these successful
defenses. Sugar became Puerto Rico's most important agricultural product,
helping establish a thriving economy. It was a very important growth
factor for the island because, in 1570, its gold mines were declared
depleted. During the 1600s, Puerto Rico's settlements expanded with
the establishment of such areas as Arecibo,
San Blas de Illescas (later renamed Coamo), and Ponce.
The 18th century brought hurricanes, droughts, plagues, and a constant
threat of attack on the island's shores because the British, Dutch,
and French were intent on capturing Spain's possessions in the New
World. By 1776, the official census stated the population had grown
to 70,210 people.
In 1809, Puerto Rico was recognized as an overseas province with the
right to send representatives to the Spanish government. Political
unrest characterized this era and, in 1868, a small group of landowners
in Lares rose up in arms against Spain. The uprising was quickly put
down, and is now commemorated as "El Grito de Lares." In
1897, Puerto Rico was granted a Letter of Autonomy from Spain, allowing
it to enter into free commerce with the United States and European
colonies. In 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War, Puerto
Rico became a territory of the United States. Legend has it that in
1898--just before the last Spanish governor of Puerto Rico surrendered
to the U.S. troops at the end of the Spanish-American War he
took a last look at La Fortaleza's (the executive mansion) grandfather
clock and hit it dramatically with his sword, thus stopping it at
the exact moment the Spanish lost power over Puerto Rico.
The 20th century saw phenomenal growth for the island. In 1917, the
U.S. Congress granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and, two decades
later, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the Puerto Rican
Reconstruction Administration, which provided agricultural development,
public works, and electrification of the island. By 1951, Puerto Rico
acquired the right to establish a government with its own constitution
and, in 1952, was declared a semi-autonomous commonwealth territory
of the United States.
The island then entered a 20-year period of unprecedented economic
development as it heavily promoted and attracted manufacturing plants
primarily from the U.S. mainland. By the 1960s, the development was
being referred to around the world as the "Puerto Rico Miracle,"
as other developing economies looked to the island as an example of
industrialization. The 1970 census showed Puerto Rico was mostly urban
for the first time in its history.
During the past quarter century, as Puerto Rico's economy diversified
into commerce and services, the island's status once again dominated
its politics. The pro-Commonwealth consensus that ruled since 1952
broke down. Commonwealth and
statehood are now at rough parity, with independence holding a 5%
share of electoral support. Status plebiscites in 1993 and 1998 were
inconclusive, and both the public and political leadership remain
deeply divided. This isn't stopping the island from growing, however,
because life in Puerto Rico largely resembles most U.S. mainland states
in business, education, commerce, dining, day-to-day activities, and