(Quechuan, “four quarters”), a state in South America that flourished from the mid-15th century to the 1530’s. Formed by an alliance of Indian tribes under the aegis of the Incas, Tawantin-suyu had its capital in Cuzco and used Quechuan as the state language. It was divided into four parts: Colla-suyu (covering, on the modern map, northern Chile, nearly all of Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina); Cunti-suyu (southwestern Peru); Chincha-suyu (the western slopes of the Andes in Peru and Ecuador); and Anti-suyu (the eastern slopes of the Andes in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia). The division is said to have been made by the Inca Pachacuti.
Tawantin-suyu, a theocratic despotism, was an early class society, based on the exploitation of the labor of commune members and on the centralized redistribution of rents among the Inca caste, the local tribal chiefs, or curacas, and the priests. It was headed by the highest-ranking Inca; the first to head it was the legendary Manco Capac, and the last was Atahualpa. Its population was 8–15 million, the sources varying widely. Tawantin-suyu was invaded in the period 1532–36 by the Spanish conquistadors, led by F. Pizarro and D. de Almagro, who destroyed its rich culture.