Indigenous cultures of South America
The Indigenous cultures of South America is a travel topic about the civilizations and livelihoods of the cultural groups that lived, and in many cases still live, in South America before European peoples (particularly the Spanish and Portuguese) arrived in the area.
- The Inca Empire is the best-known of the South American kingdoms, and was defeated by the conquistadors in the early 1500s. At its height, the Inca Empire spanned much of modern-day Peru and Ecuador, and parts of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Colombia. Much of the land they conquered was either mountainous, jungle, or both, and therefore is not easy to travel through.
- The Muisca Confederation was one of the four great civilizations of the Americas, along with the Inca, Aztecs and Maya, though not as well-known. The confederation spanned much of the Andino (Andean) region of Columbia. The Muisca are famed for their sophisticated and beautiful golden handicraft and artworks. Their cultural traditions were what inspired the Spanish to find the mythical city of gold, El Dorado, to no avail.
- The Nazca (or Nasca) tribal group is famous for the Nazca Lines, gargantuan lines drawn on the ground. Why the people put this much effort into drawing seemingly pointless lines is a matter of debate, but since the drawings resemble objects when viewed from above, it is believed that they were some kind of message to the gods during a long-term natural disaster, like perhaps a drought. For more information, see the city article about Nazca.
However, while the Spanish and Portuguese eventually conquered South America, the indigenous population remained larger in Latin America than it did in Canada or the United States; indigenous people still have significant populations in countries such as Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. South America was first populated around 10,000 BC, through migration from Central America.
Sacred Valley of the IncasAn area of Peru with numerous Inca ruins and other sites.
CuzcoThe capital of the Inca Empire still has a huge array of ruins and colonial buildings built on Inca foundations, as well as museums and cultural information about the Incas. It also makes a starting point for trips to other Inca sites in the area.
Machu PicchuMachu Picchu is one of the best-known ruins on Earth, a stone city built by the Incas on a mountaintop.
ChoquequiraoAnother large ruin less well known and harder to get to (and therefore much less crowded) than Machu Picchu.
OllantaytamboThis town is still laid out the way it was in Inca times, and some houses from that time still remain. The mountains around the town are dotted with ruins as well.
PisacA magnificent set of Inca ruins on the side of a mountain.
- Inca Highlands — how to travel the ancient Inca routes to see the famous ruins and historic sights related to the Inca people
- Inca Trail — Peru's most famous trek, this route takes you along the Inca road system, past various ruins, ending at Machu Picchu.
- Indigenous cultures of North America — includes Central American, United States, and Canadian native cultures. However, the Central American cultures, like the Aztec, Maya, and Toltec peoples, are now in Spanish-speaking lands like much of South America, and in many cases may have as much in common with the South American cultures as the cultures of the native peoples to the north.