Aztec Empire for Kids
The Awesome Aztecs
The Aztec wandered around Mexico for about 200 years before they settled down in the Valley of Mexico. Other tribes were living in the area. Rather than start a war for a place to live, the Aztecs settled down peacefully (at first) in the swampy land around Lake Texcoco.
They were clever people. They adapted to their environment. They built canoes to fish and hunt. They filled the marshes with a combination of reeds and stones and dirt to create more farmland. They built dams and dikes to free even more land. Their engineers successfully built a bustling city, with wide plazas and many shops, on a swamp.
After they had settled in, the Aztec Indians began conquering neighboring tribes. Soon, the entire Valley of Mexico was under their control. Other tribes had to pay tribute to them in the form of food, clothing, goods, and captives to feed the hungry Aztec gods. The Aztec believed in human sacrifice. That was one of the many reasons the other tribes hated and feared the Aztec. But the Aztec seemed unstoppable.
It was not until the 1500s, when the Spanish arrived, that the Aztec were conquered. The Spanish brought guns, dogs, horses, and disease. It was disease that conquered the Aztec. The Aztec Empire collapsed. The Spanish took over the entire region.
Today, in Mexico, there are about one million descendants of the ancient Aztec, living and working. Human sacrifice is no longer part of their festivals (thank goodness!), but beautiful Aztec art and clever Aztec games are still enjoyed today.