In 87 years, the Inka empire became one of the largest and most highly integrated ancient political systems the New World had ever seen. The Inka Empire streteched from Columbia to central Chile and from the Pacific ocean to the Eastern jungles of South America. In this vast and diverse region roughly 11 million people were living under Inka rule in what was called one of the most intricate societies of all time (Collier et al, The Inka and Aztec States, 1400-1800). The Inka ruled over their dominion with a relatively small population for its vast size but it was able to do so because there was a strong central government with influence over many aspects of life.
The Inka’s reign may have been relatively short (due to the contact with Europeans), but their rule was a long time coming, starting as early as 1000 A.D. Through marriage alliances at this time, the empire was able to consolidate their rule, begin full scale construction projects on their fields, and practice intensive agriculture. Along with intensive agriculture, the Inka also set up a system of fishing, herding, taxation, textile production, and metallurgy, all tied together to form a strong economy. They made stone lined canals for rivers to be channeled to other regions of their empire that needed more water or irrigation systems.
Farmers all worked land that was owned by the state, which meant that the state essentially controlled everything that was produced, allowing them to redistribute food as needed in order to keep the population fed/happy. The absence of a writing system involved in their taxes is due to the Inka’s use of Kipu, a set of strings tied into knots at different levels that signified information identifiable only to a hereditary class of accountants.
One reason the Inka were able to build such an advance system was due to their military dominance of the region and the region itself. The land that was part of their empire provided tremendous security and any other security needed was provided by the empire’s armies, who were tactically successful, using military strategies as advance as the ones Napoleon would use, hundreds of years later.