The Aztecs settled in the Valley of Mexico in the early 1300s. Other tribes were living in the area, so rather than starting a war for a place to live, the Aztecs settled down in the swampy land around Lake Texcoco and founded the city of Tenochtitlan in 1325 AD.
The Aztecs 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, called chinampas. They built dikes to keep the brackish water separated from the fresh stream water that entered the city. Their engineers successfully built a bustling city, with wide plazas and many shops, on a swamp.
After they had settled, the Aztecs 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 dedicate to the Aztec gods. The Aztecs believed in human sacrifice, and that was one of the many reasons the other tribes hated and feared the Aztecs. Regardless, the Aztecs seemed unstoppable.
It was not until the 1500s, when the Spanish arrived, that the Aztecs were conquered. The Spanish brought guns, dogs, horses, and disease. It was smallpox disease that devasted the Aztec population. The Aztec Empire collapsed, and the Spanish took over the entire region.
Today, in Mexico, there are about one million descendants of the ancient Aztecs, living and working. Human sacrifice is no longer part of their festivals, but beautiful Aztec art and clever Aztec games are still enjoyed today.
The Aztec civilization developed in the highlands of Mesoamerica. Today, it is the country of Mexico.
The Aztecs had an absolute monarchy where the king had unlimited power.
The capital city of the Aztec Empire was Tenochtitlan. It was located on Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico.