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The Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas

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The Maya, Inca, and Aztec civilizations each originated from Latin America. Some Mayans lived in southern Mexico in the present day states of Chipas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yacatan, and Quintana Roo. Other Mayans lived in Central America in the countries of Belize, Guatemala, and ancient Honduras. The Incas lived in an Empire which they called Tawantinsuyu. Tawantinsuya means four parts. The Incas lived in present day Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. The four parts were a long coastal strip, the high peaks and deep fertile valleys of the Andes, and the mountainous edges of the tropical forest to the East. The Aztecs were from Aztlan in either north or northwest Mexico.

Each Maya City governed it's surrounding area and some large cities each controlled one or more smaller cities. A Maya City ruler would be succeeded by his younger brother or son. This led generations of a single family to rule for hundreds of years. Inca leaders kept their power by giving entertainment and luxurious goods as gifts to the people. The citizens paid taxes in return for these gifts. In the Inca culture, the emperor married his sister and his generals would be his relatives. The Inca rulers were allowed to govern independently. The Aztec power was held together by land ownership. A few families shared a piece of land and part of the land was given to the state as a tax.

Entire Maya families lived together and everyone helped with the work. Men provided food and women provided clothing for the family. The rank of an Inca's family determined his or her social position for life. In order to establish a social rank, families were grouped in units called ayllus and had to grow food to eat for the whole family. The Aztec society was divided into four main classes. The four main classes were: nobles, commoners, serfs, and slaves.

The Maya culture

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