Inca road systemThe Inca road system (often spelled Inka road system and known as ''Qhapaq Ñan'' meaning "royal road" in Quechua) was the most extensive and advanced transportation system in pre-Columbian South America. It was at least long. The construction of the roads required a large expenditure of time and effort.
The network was composed of formal roads carefully planned, engineered, built, marked and maintained; paved where necessary, with stairways to gain elevation, bridges and accessory constructions such as retaining walls, and water drainage system. It was based on two north-south roads: one along the coast and the second and most important inland and up the mountains, both with numerous branches. It can be directly compared with the road network built during the Roman Empire, although the Inka road system was built one thousand years later. The road system allowed for the transfer of information, goods, soldiers and persons, without the use of wheels, within the Tawantinsuyu or Inka Empire throughout a territory with an extension was almost and inhabited by about 12 million people.
The roads were bordered, at intervals, with buildings to allow the most effective usage: at short distance there were relay stations for ''chasquis'', the running messengers; at a one-day walking interval ''tambos'' allowed support to the road users and the flocks of carrying llamas. Administrative centers with warehouses for re-distribution of goods were found along the roads. Towards the boundaries of the Inka Empire and in new conquered areas pukaras (fortresses) were found.
Part of the road network was built by cultures that precede the Inka Empire, notably the Wari culture in the northern central Peru and the Tiwanaku culture in Bolivia. Different organizations such as UNESCO and IUCN have been working to protect the network in collaboration with the governments and communities of the six countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina) through which the Great Inka Road passes.
Nowadays portions of the road system are exploited from the touristic point of view, such as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, well known by trekkers, connecting Ollantaytambo with Machu Picchu. Provided by Wikipedia