List of largest empires

The following is a list of the largest empires in world history. Rein Taagepera has defined an empire as "any relatively large sovereign political entity whose components are not sovereign" and its size as the area over which the empire has some undisputed military and taxation prerogatives,[1] and these are the definitions used by this list.

British Empire 1921
The British Empire in 1920

Largest empires by land area

For context, the total land area of the Earth is 148,940,000 km2 (57,506,000 sq mi).[2]

Empires at their greatest extent

Empire size in this list is defined as the dry land area it controls. Where estimates vary, entries are sorted by the lowest estimate. The British Empire is the largest empire by total size, though its constituent units are discontinuous across oceans, whilst the Mongolian Empire is the largest contiguous empire, being one entity in Eurasia.

Empire Maximum land area
million km2 million mi2 % of world Year
British Empire 35.5[3] 13.71 23.84% 1920[3]
Mongol Empire 24.0[3][4] 9.27 16.11% 1270[4] or 1309[3]
Russian Empire[a] 22.8[3][4] 8.80 15.31% 1895[3][4]
Spanish Empire 13.7[3]–20.0[5] 5.29–7.72 9.20%–13.43% 1810[3] or 1750[5]
Qing dynasty 12.16[6]–14.7[3][4] 4.70–5.68 8.16%–9.87% 1820[6] or 1790[3][4]
Second French colonial empire 11.5[3] 4.44 7.72% 1920[3]
Abbasid Caliphate 11.1[3][4] 4.29 7.45% 750[3][4]
Umayyad Caliphate 11.1[3] 4.29 7.45% 720[3]
Yuan dynasty 11.0[3]–13.72[6] 4.25–5.30 7.39%–9.21% 1310[3] or 1330[6]
Xiongnu Empire 9.0[4][7] 3.47 6.04% 176 BC[4][7]
Brazilian Empire 8.337[8] 3.22 5.60% 1889[8]
Empire of Japan 7.4[5]–8.51 2.86–3.285[9] 4.97%–5.71% 1938[5] or 1942[9]
Iberian Union 7.1[3] 2.74 4.77% 1640[3]
Eastern Han dynasty 6.5[7] 2.51 4.36% 100[7]
Ming dynasty 6.5[3][4] 2.51 4.36% 1450[3][4]
Rashidun Caliphate 6.4[3] 2.47 4.30% 655[3]
Göktürk Khaganate 6.0[4][7] 2.32 4.03% 557[4][7]
Golden Horde Khanate 6.0[3][4] 2.32 4.03% 1310[3][4]
Western Han dynasty 6.0[4][7] 2.32 4.03% 50 BC[4][7]
Achaemenid Empire 5.5[4][7]–8.0[10] 2.12–3.09 3.69%–5.37% 500 BC[4][7] or 480 BC[10]
Second Portuguese Empire 5.5[3]–10.4[10] 2.12–4.02 3.69%–6.98% 1820[3] or 1815[10]
Tang dynasty 5.4[3][4]–10.76[6] 2.08–4.15 3.63%–7.22% 715[3][4] or 669[6]
Macedonian Empire 5.2[4][7] 2.01 3.49% 323 BC[4][7]
Ottoman Empire 5.2[3][4] 2.01 3.49% 1683[3][4]
Roman Empire 5.0[4][7]–6.5[10] 1.93–2.51 3.36%–4.36% 117[4][7][10]
Tibetan Empire 4.6[3][4] 1.78 3.09% 800[3][4]
Timurid Empire 4.4[3][4] 1.70 2.95% 1405[3][4]
Fatimid Caliphate 4.1[3][4] 1.58 2.75% 969[3][4]
Eastern Turkic Khaganate 4.0[7] 1.54 2.69% 624[7]
Hephthalite Empire 4.0[7] 1.54 2.69% 470[7]
Hunnic Empire 4.0[4][7] 1.54 2.69% 441[4][7]
Mughal Empire 4.0[3][4] 1.54 2.69% 1690[3][4]
Great Seljuq Empire 3.9[3][4] 1.51 2.62% 1080[3][4]
Seleucid Empire 3.9[4][7] 1.51 2.62% 301 BC[4][7]
Italian Empire 3.798[11]–4.25[12] 1.47–1.64 2.55%–2.85% 1938[11] or 1941[12]
Ilkhanate 3.75[3][4] 1.45 2.52% 1310[3][4]
Chagatai Khanate 3.5[3][4] 1.35 2.35% 1310[3] or 1350[3][4]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[4][7] 1.35 2.35% 550[4][7]
Western Turkic Khaganate 3.5[7] 1.35 2.35% 630[7]
Western Xiongnu 3.5[7] 1.35 2.35% 20[7]
First French colonial empire 3.4[3] 1.31 2.28% 1670[3]
Ghaznavid Empire 3.4[3][4] 1.31 2.28% 1029[3][4]
Maurya Empire 3.4[7]–5.0[4] 1.31–1.93 2.28%–3.36% 261 BC[7] or 250 BC[4]
Delhi Sultanate (Tughlaq dynasty) 3.2[3][4] 1.24 2.15% 1312[3][4]
German colonial empire 3.199[13][14] 1.24 2.15% 1912[14]
Song dynasty 3.1[3][4] 1.20 2.08% 980[3][4]
Uyghur Khaganate 3.1[3][4] 1.20 2.08% 800[3][4]
Western Jin dynasty 3.1[7] 1.20 2.08% 280[7]
Sui dynasty 3.0[7] 1.16 2.01% 589[7]
Samanid Empire 2.85[3][4] 1.10 1.91% 928[3][4]
Eastern Jin dynasty 2.8[7] 1.08 1.88% 347[7]
Median Empire 2.8[4][7] 1.08 1.88% 585 BC[4][7]
Parthian Empire 2.8[4][7] 1.08 1.88% 0[4][7]
Rouran Khaganate 2.8[4][7] 1.08 1.88% 405[4][7]
Byzantine Empire 2.7[4]–2.8[7] 1.04–1.08 1.81%–1.88% 555[4] or 450[7]
Indo-Scythian Kingdom 2.6[7] 1.00 1.75% 20[7]
Liao dynasty 2.6[3][4]–4.5[6] 1.00–1.74 1.75%–3.02% 947[3][4]or 1111[6]
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom 2.5[7] 0.97 1.68% 184 BC[7]
Later Zhao 2.5[7] 0.97 1.68% 329[7]
Maratha Empire 2.5[4] 0.97 1.68% 1760[4]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 2.3[3][4] 0.89 1.54% 1126[3][4]
Khwarazmian Empire 2.3[4]–3.6[3] 0.89–1.39 1.54%–2.42% 1210[4] or 1218[3]
Qin dynasty 2.3[7] 0.89 1.54% 220 BC[7]
First French Empire 2.1[3] 0.81 1.41% 1813[3]
Kievan Rus' 2.1[3][4] 0.81 1.41% 1000[3][4]
Mamluk Sultanate 2.1[3][4] 0.81 1.41% 1300[3] or 1400[4]
Third Portuguese Empire 2.1[3] 0.81 1.41% 1900[3]
Almohad Caliphate 2.0[4]–2.3[3] 0.77–0.89 1.34%–1.54% 1200[4] or 1150[3]
Cao Wei 2.0[7] 0.77 1.34% 263[7]
Former Qin 2.0[7] 0.77 1.34% 376[7]
Former Zhao 2.0[7] 0.77 1.34% 316[7]
Inca Empire 2.0[3][4] 0.77 1.34% 1527[3][4]
Kushan Empire 2.0[4]–2.5[7] 0.77–0.97 1.34%–1.68% 200[4][7]
Liu Song dynasty 2.0[7] 0.77 1.34% 450[7]
Northern Wei 2.0[7] 0.77 1.34% 450[7]
Western Roman Empire 2.0[7] 0.77 1.34% 395[7]
Ayyubid dynasty 1.7[3]–2.0[4] 0.66–0.77 1.14%–1.34% 1200[3] or 1190[4]
Gupta Empire 1.7[7]–3.5[4] 0.66–1.35 1.14%–2.35% 440[7] or 400[4]
Buyid dynasty 1.6[3][4] 0.62 1.07% 980[3][4]
Eastern Wu 1.5[7] 0.58 1.01% 221[7]
Northern Qi 1.5[7] 0.58 1.01% 557[7]
Northern Xiongnu 1.5[7] 0.58 1.01% 60[7]
Northern Zhou 1.5[7] 0.58 1.01% 577[7]
Assyria 1.4[4][15] 0.54 0.94% 670 BC[4][15]
Eastern Maurya Empire 1.3[7] 0.50 0.87% 210 BC[7]
Liang dynasty 1.3[4][7] 0.50 0.87% 502,[7] 549,[7] or 579[4]
Kingdom of Aksum 1.25[4] 0.48 0.84% 350[4]
Shang dynasty 1.25[4][15] 0.48 0.84% 1122 BC[4][15]
Francia 1.2[3][4] 0.46 0.81% 814[3][4]
Srivijaya 1.2[4] 0.46 0.81% 1200[4]
Indo-Greek Kingdom 1.1[7] 0.42 0.74% 150 BC[7]
Mali Empire 1.1[3][4] 0.42 0.74% 1380[3][4]
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1.1[3][4] 0.42 0.74% 1480[4] or 1650[3]
Almoravid dynasty 1.0[4] 0.39 0.67% 1120[4]
Empire of Harsha 1.0[3][4] 0.39 0.67% 625[3] or 648[3][4]
Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty 1.0[3] 0.39 0.67% 860[3]
Holy Roman Empire 1.0[3] 0.39 0.67% 1050[3]
Khazar Khanate 1.0[3]–3.0[4] 0.39–1.16 0.67%–2.01% 900[3] or 850[4]
Khmer Empire 1.0[3][4] 0.39 0.67% 1290[3][4]
New Kingdom of Egypt 1.0[4][15] 0.39 0.67% 1450 BC[15] or 1300 BC[4]
Ptolemaic Kingdom 1.0[7] 0.39 0.67% 301 BC[7]
Qara Khitai 1.0[3]–1.5[4] 0.39–0.58 0.67%–1.01% 1130[3] or 1210[4]
Shu Han 1.0[7] 0.39 0.67% 221[7]
Tahirid dynasty 1.0[3] 0.39 0.67% 800[3]
Western Xia 1.0[4] 0.39 0.67% 1100[4]
First Bulgarian Empire 0.807[16] 0.31 0.54% 927[16]
Akkadian Empire 0.8[15] 0.31 0.54% 2250 BC[15]
Avar Khaganate 0.8[7] 0.31 0.54% 600[7]
Chu (state) 0.8[7] 0.31 0.54% 300 BC[7]
First Portuguese Empire 0.8[3] 0.31 0.54% 1580[3]
Huns 0.8[7] 0.31 0.54% 287[7]
Songhai Empire 0.8[3] 0.31 0.54% 1550[3]
Hyksos 0.65[15] 0.25 0.44% 1650 BC[15]
Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt 0.65[15] 0.25 0.44% 550 BC[15]
Austro-Hungarian Empire 0.62 0.24[17] 0.42% 1905[17]
Caliphate of Córdoba 0.6[3] 0.23 0.40% 1000[3]
Visigothic Kingdom 0.6[7] 0.23 0.40% 580[7]
Zhou dynasty 0.55[18] 0.21 0.37% 1100 BC[18]
Kosala 0.5[7] 0.19 0.34% 543 BC[7]
Lydia 0.5[15] 0.19 0.34% 585 BC[15]
Magadha 0.5[7] 0.19 0.34% 510 BC[7]
Middle Kingdom of Egypt 0.5[15] 0.19 0.34% 1850 BC[15]
Neo-Babylonian Empire 0.5[15] 0.19 0.34% 562 BC[15]
Satavahana dynasty 0.5[7] 0.19 0.34% 150[7]
Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt 0.5[15] 0.19 0.34% 715 BC[15]
Western Satraps 0.5[7] 0.19 0.34% 100[7]
Second Bulgarian Empire 0.477[19] 0.18 0.32% 1241[19]
New Hittite Kingdom 0.45[15] 0.17 0.30% 1250 BC1220 BC[15]
Xia dynasty 0.45[15] 0.17 0.30% 1800 BC[15]
Middle Assyrian Empire 0.4[15] 0.15 0.27% 1080 BC[15]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.4[15] 0.15 0.27% 2400 BC[15]
Ancient Carthage 0.3[7] 0.12 0.20% 220 BC[7]
Indus Valley Civilisation 0.3[18] 0.12 0.20% 1800 BC[18]
Mitanni 0.3[15] 0.12 0.20% 1450 BC1375 BC[15]
First Babylonian Empire 0.25[15] 0.10 0.17% 1690 BC[15]
Aztec Empire 0.22[3] 0.08 0.15% 1520[3]
Elamite Empire 0.2[15] 0.08 0.13% 1160 BC[15]
Phrygia 0.2[15] 0.08 0.13% 750 BC[15]
Second Dynasty of Isin 0.2[15] 0.08 0.13% 1130 BC[15]
Urartu 0.2[15] 0.08 0.13% 800 BC[15]
Middle Hittite Kingdom 0.15[15] 0.06 0.10% 1450 BC[15]
Old Assyrian Empire 0.15[15] 0.06 0.10% 1730 BC[15]
Old Hittite Empire 0.15[15] 0.06 0.10% 1530 BC[15]
Ashanti Empire 0.1[20] 0.04 0.07% 1872[20]
Larsa 0.1[15] 0.04 0.07% 1750 BC1700 BC[15]
Neo-Sumerian Empire 0.1[15] 0.04 0.07% 2000 BC[15]
Lagash 0.05[18] 0.02 0.03% 2400 BC[18]
Sumer 0.05[15] 0.02 0.03% 2400 BC[15]
  1. ^ Its successor state the USSR and its successor in turn, Russia, reached maximum extents of 22.3 million km2 in 1945 and 17.1 million km2 in 1991, respectively.[3]
  1. ^ Its successor state the USSR and its successor in turn, Russia, reached maximum extents of 22.3 million km2 in 1945 and 17.1 million km2 in 1991, respectively.[3]

Timeline of largest empires to date

The earliest empire which can with certainty be stated to have been larger than all previous empires was that of Upper and Lower Egypt, which tenfolded the area of the previous largest civilisation.[21]

Empire Land area (million km2) Year
Upper and Lower Egypt 0.1[15] 3000 BC[15]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.25[15] 2850 BC[15]
0.4[15] 2400 BC[15]
Akkadian Empire 0.65[15] 2300 BC[15]
0.8[15] 2250 BC[15]
New Kingdom of Egypt 1.0[15] 1450 BC[15]
Shang dynasty 1.25[15] 1122 BC[15]
Assyria 1.4[15] 670 BC[15]
Median Empire 2.8[7] 585 BC[7]
Achaemenid Empire 3.6[7] 539 BC[7]
5.5[7] 500 BC[7]
Xiongnu Empire 9.0[7] 176 BC[7]
Umayyad Caliphate 11.1[3] 720[3]
Mongol Empire 13.5[3] 1227[3]
24.0[3] 1309[3]
British Empire 24.5[3] 1880[3]
35.5[3] 1920[3]

Timeline of largest empires at the time

Empire Land area during time

as largest empire

(million km2)

Upper Egypt 0.1[18] 3000 BC[18]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.25–0.4[18] 2800 BC2400 BC[18]
Akkadian Empire 0.2–0.6[18] 2300 BC2200 BC[18]
Indus Valley Civilisation 0.15[18] 2100 BC[18]
Middle Kingdom of Egypt 0.2–0.5[18] 2000 BC1800 BC[18]
Xia dynasty 0.4[18] 1700 BC[18]
Hyksos 0.65[18] 1600 BC[18]
New Kingdom of Egypt 0.65–1.0[18] 1500 BC1300 BC[18]
Shang 0.9–1.1[18] 1250 BC1150 BC[18]
New Kingdom of Egypt 0.5–0.6[18] 1100 BC1050 BC[18]
Zhou dynasty 0.35–0.45[18] 1000 BC900 BC[18]
Assyria 0.4–1.4[18] 850 BC650 BC[18]
Median Empire 3.0[18] 600 BC[18]
Achaemenid Empire 2.5–5.5[18] 550 BC350 BC[18]
Macedonian Empire 5.2[18] 323 BC[18]
Seleucid Empire 4.0[18] 300 BC[18]
Maurya Empire 3.5[18] 250 BC[18]
Han dynasty 2.5[18] 200 BC[18]
Xiongnu Empire 5.7[18] 150 BC[18]
Han dynasty 4.2–6.5[18] 100 BC200[18]
Roman Empire 4.4[18] 250350[18]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[18] 400[18]
Hunnic Empire 4.0[18] 450[18]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[18] 500[18]
Göktürk Khaganate 3.0–5.2[18] 550600[18]
Rashidun Caliphate 5.2[18] 650[18]
Umayyad Caliphate 9.0–11.0[18] 700750[18]
Abbasid Caliphate 8.3–11.0[18] 750800[18]
Tibetan Empire 2.5–4.7[18] 850950[18]
Song dynasty 3.0[18] 1000[18]
Seljuk Empire 3.0–4.0[18] 10501100[18]
Tibetan Empire 2.5[18] 1150[18]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 2.3[18] 1200[18]
Mongol Empire 18.0–24.0[18] 12501300[18]
Yuan dynasty 11.0[18] 1350[18]
Timurid Empire 4.0[18] 1400[18]
Ming dynasty 4.7–6.5[18] 14501500[18]
Ottoman Empire 4.3[18] 1550[18]
Tsardom of Russia 6.0–12.0[18] 16001700[18]
Russian Empire 14.0–17.0[18] 17501800[18]
British Empire 23.0–34.0[18] 18501925[18]
Soviet Union 22.5[18] 19501975[18]

See also


By era

By region

By size

By population

By economy

Notes and references

  1. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 117. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq Rein Taagepera (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 492–502. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D. (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires". Journal of world-systems research. 12 (2): 222–223. ISSN 1076-156X. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Barea, María Elvira Roca (10 November 2016). Imperiofobia y leyenda negra: Roma, Rusia, Estados Unidos y el Imperio español (in Spanish). Siruela. pp. 51–52. ISBN 9788416854783.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h 宋岩 [Song Yan] (1994). 中国历史上几个朝代的疆域面积估算 [Estimation of Territory Areas of Several Dynasties in Chinese History] (in Chinese). 中国社会科学院. p. 150.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 121–122, 124–129, 132–133. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  8. ^ a b "Área Territorial Brasileira". (in Portuguese). Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. Retrieved 16 October 2016. A primeira estimativa oficial para a extensão superficial do território brasileiro data de 1889. O valor de 8.337.218 km2 foi obtido a partir de medições e cálculos efetuados sobre as folhas básicas da Carta do Império do Brasil, publicada em 1883. [The first official estimate of the surface area of the Brazilian territory dates from 1889. A value of 8,337,218 km2 was obtained from measurements and calculations made on drafts of the Map of the Empire of Brazil, published in 1883.]
  9. ^ a b James, David H. (1 November 2010). The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire. Routledge. ISBN 9781136925467.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Brzezinski, Zbigniew (2012). Strategic vision : America and the crisis of global power (PDF). New York: Basic Books. ISBN 9780465029556. OCLC 787847809.
  11. ^ a b Harrison, Mark (2000). The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780521785037. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  12. ^ a b VV, AA. (2005). Atlante Storico. Cronologia della storia universale - Le Garzantine (in Italian). Garzanti.
  13. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica: Germany from 1871 to 1918". Retrieved 29 September 2016. At its birth Germany occupied an area of 208,825 square miles (540,854 square km) and had a population of more than 41 million, which was to grow to 67 million by 1914.
  14. ^ a b "Statistische Angaben zu den deutschen Kolonien". (in German). Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 29 September 2016. Sofern nicht anders vermerkt, beziehen sich alle Angaben auf das Jahr 1912. [Except where otherwise noted, all figures relate to the year 1912.]
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 3000 to 600 B.C." Social Science Research. 7 (2): 182–189. doi:10.1016/0049-089x(78)90010-8. ISSN 0049-089X.
  16. ^ a b "Atlas of Europe in the Middle Ages", Ostrovski, Rome, 1998, page 66
  17. ^ a b Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, "Austria, Lower" to "Bacon" Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 1.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and duration of empires: Systematics of size". Social Science Research. 7 (2): 116–117. doi:10.1016/0049-089X(78)90007-8. ISSN 0049-089X.
  19. ^ a b Kamburova, Violeta (1992). Atlas "History of Bulgaria". Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. pp. 18, 20, 23.
  20. ^ a b Obeng, J. Pashington: "Asante Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Reproduction Among the Akan of Ghana", p. 20. BRILL, 1996
  21. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 480. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. ISSN 0020-8833.
Colonial empire

A colonial empire is a collective of territories (often called colonies), mostly overseas, settled by the population of a certain state and governed by that state.

Colonial empires first emerged with a race of exploration between the then most advanced European maritime powers, Portugal and Spain, during the 15th century. The initial impulse behind these dispersed maritime empires and those that followed was trade, driven by the new ideas and the capitalism that grew out of the European Renaissance. Agreements were also made to divide the world up between them in 1479, 1493, and 1494. European imperialism was born out of competition between European Christians and Ottoman Muslims, the latter of which rose up quickly in the 14th century and forced the Spanish and Portuguese to seek new trade routes to India, and to a lesser extent, China.

Although colonies existed in classical antiquity, especially amongst the Phoenicians and the Ancient Greeks who settled many islands and coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, these colonies were politically independent from the city-states they originated from, and thus did not constitute a colonial empire.

Global empire

Global Empire (German language: Weltreich, Dutch language: Wereldrijk) is the concept of imperial domination of the world or the world, belonging to the super imperialist category, often a mighty country with a vast and influential territory around the world. "Global" or "world" means that the territory under its sovereignty is spread throughout the world. The basic criterion is that when sailing in the world, the territory from the westernmost point to the easternmost point must be at least one half of the world perimeter (about 20,000 km, or 12,400 miles), "global" means Empire must pass at least 180 degrees longitude and at least 90 degrees latitude. For example, since the territory of the Spanish Empire was extended all over the world, it was often called the "Empire of the Sun" (in the 16th century). This claim was later applied to the British Empire (in the late 19th century).

Imperial guard

An imperial guard or palace guard is a special group of troops (or a member thereof) of an empire, typically closely associated directly with the Emperor or Empress. Usually these troops embody a more elite status than other imperial forces, including the regular armed forces, and maintain special rights, privileges and traditions.

Because the head of state often wishes to be protected by the best soldiers available, their numbers and organisation may be expanded to carry out additional tasks. Napoleon's Imperial Guard is an example of this.

In heterogeneous polities reliant on a greater degree of coercion to maintain central authority the political reliability and loyalty of the guard is the most important factor in their recruitment. In such cases the ranks of the guard may be filled with on the one hand Royal kinsman and clansman with a stake in the survival of the ruling family, and on the other with members socially and culturally divorced from the general population and therefore reliant on Imperial patronage for their survival, for example the Varangian Guards (recruiting solely foreigners), and the Janissaries (Christian children taken as slaves from childhood, to serve the Sultan).

In the post-colonial period, the term has been used colloquially and derisively to describe the staff of a person, usually a politician or corporate executive officer, that acts to prevent direct communication with the person.


Imperialism is policy or ideology of extending a nation's rule over foreign nations, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. Imperialism was both normal and common worldwide throughout recorded history, the earliest examples dating from the mid-third millennium BC, diminishing only in the late 20th century. In recent times, it has been considered morally reprehensible and prohibited by international law. Therefore, the term is used in international propaganda to denounce an opponent's foreign policy.The term can be applied to the colonization of the Americas between the 15th and 19th centuries, as opposed to New Imperialism, which describes the expansion of Western Powers and Japan during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, both are examples of imperialism.

List of Bronze Age states

The Bronze Age (c. 3300–1200 BC) marks the emergence of the first complex state societies, and by the Middle Bronze Age (mid-3rd millennium BC) the first empires.

This is a list of Bronze Age polities.

By the end of the Bronze Age, complex state societies were mostly limited to the Fertile Crescent and to China, while Bronze Age tribal chiefdoms with less complex forms of administration were found throughout Bronze Age Europe and Central Asia, in the northern Indian subcontinent, and in parts of Mesoamerica and the Andes (although these latter societies were not in the Bronze Age cultural stage).

List of countries and dependencies by area

This is a list of the world's countries and their dependent territories by area, ranked by total area.

Entries in this list include, but are not limited to, those in the ISO 3166-1 standard, which includes sovereign states and dependent territories. Largely unrecognised states not in ISO 3166-1 are included in the list in ranked order, but are not given a rank number. The areas of such largely unrecognised states are in most cases also included in the areas of the more widely recognised states that claim the same territory; see the notes in the "notes" column for each country for clarification.

Not included in the list are individual country claims to parts of the continent of Antarctica, entities such as the European Union that have some degree of sovereignty but do not consider themselves to be sovereign countries or dependent territories, and unrecognised micronations such as the Principality of Sealand.

This list includes three measurements of area:

Total area: the sum of land and water areas within international boundaries and coastlines.

Land area: the aggregate of all land within international boundaries and coastlines, excluding water area.

Water area: the sum of the surface areas of all inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, and rivers) within international boundaries and coastlines. Coastal internal waters (some small bays) may be included. Territorial waters are not included unless otherwise noted. Contiguous zones and exclusive economic zones are not included.Data is taken from the United Nations Statistics Division unless otherwise noted.

List of empires

This is an alphabetical list of empires. The table may be resorted by other columns if your browser supports this function.

List of former transcontinental countries

This is a list of transcontinental former countries, i.e. countries which covered land on two or more continents, including islands associated with a continent other than the one where the country was based. The examples below are listed in chronological order with the number of continents covered in parentheses and the country's primary continent listed first. When a timespan is included, it is the time period in which the country was transcontinental.

List of largest empires in India

This is a historical list of the largest empires in India with an area covering more than 1 million square kilometres. An empire involves the extension of a state's sovereignty over external territories. The values given here should generally be interpreted as being only indicative, and not as determining a precise ranking. The calculation of the land area of a particular empire is controversial. In general, the list centres on the side of including any land area that was explored and explicitly claimed, even if the areas were populated very sparsely or not at all.

List of medieval great powers

This is a list of great powers during the medieval period. The term "great power" has only been used in historiography and political science since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.Lord Castlereagh, the British Foreign Secretary, first used the term in its diplomatic context in 1814. Use of the term in medieval historiography is therefore idiosyncratic to each author. In historiography of the pre-modern period, it is more typical to talk of empires (itself a poorly-defined term, see list of empires).

List of political and geographic subdivisions by total area

This is an index of a series of comprehensive lists of continents, countries, and first level administrative country subdivisions such as states, provinces, and territories, as well as certain political and geographic features of substantial area. Some divisions are listed twice, with one listing including territory that is excluded in the other for various reasons, including territorial disputes. Names of currently existing countries are bolded, while names of geographic features are italicized. There is intentional overlap between the lists in order to maximize ease of use.

List of political and geographic subdivisions by total area from 500,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers

This is one of a series of comprehensive lists of continents, countries, and first level administrative country subdivisions such as states, provinces, and territories, as well as certain political and geographic features of substantial area. Some divisions are listed twice, with one listing including territory that is excluded in the other for various reasons, including territorial disputes. Names of currently existing countries are bolded, while names of geographic features are italicized. There is intentional overlap between the lists in order to maximize ease of use.

== See also ==

Smaller divisions

200,000+ square kilometers • 100,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers • 50,000 to 200,000 square kilometers • 20,000 to 50,000 square kilometers

5,000 to 20,000 square kilometers • 1,000 to 5,000 square kilometers • 0.1 to 1,000 square kilometersSmaller divisions

1,000,000+ square kilometers • 500,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers • 200,000 to 500,000 square kilometers • 100,000 to 200,000 square kilometers

50,000 to 100,000 square kilometers • 30,000 to 50,000 square kilometers • 20,000 to 30,000 square kilometers • 10,000 to 20,000 square kilometers

7,000 to 10,000 square kilometers • 5,000 to 7,000 square kilometers • 3,000 to 5,000 square kilometers • 1,000 to 3,000 square kilometers

250 to 1,000 square kilometers • 0.1 to 250 square kilometersOther

List of countries and dependencies by area

List of largest empires

List of administrative divisions by country

Category:Ranked lists of country subdivisions

== References ==

List of political and geographical subdivisions by population

This is a list of continents, countries, and first level administrative country subdivisions such as states, provinces, and territories, as well as certain political and geographic features of substantial population. Some divisions are listed twice, with one listing including territory that is excluded in the other for various reasons, including territorial disputes.

List of states during Late Antiquity

Late Antiquity is a historiographical term for the historical period from c. 200 AD to c. 700 AD, which marks the transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but historian Peter Brown proposed a period between the 2nd and 8th centuries. While generally, it can be thought of as from the end of the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century (c. 235 – 284) to the re-organization of the Eastern Roman Empire under Heraclius and the Muslim conquests in the mid-7th century, for the purposes of this page it will be considered the period 200 to 700 AD.

This list's the main types state that existed in Africa, Americas, Central Asia, East Asia, Europe, Eurasian Steppe, South Asia, and West Asia.

Russian Empire

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.The third largest empire in world history, at its greatest extent stretching over three continents, Europe, Asia, and North America, the Russian Empire was surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires. The rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Golden Horde, the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Persia and the Ottoman Empire. It played a major role in 1812–1814 in defeating Napoleon's ambitions to control Europe and expanded to the west and south.

The House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, and its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov ruled from 1762. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean, into Alaska and Northern California in America on the east. With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it featured great diversity in terms of economics, ethnicity, and religion. There were numerous dissident elements, who launched numerous rebellions and assassination attempts; they were closely watched by the secret police, with thousands exiled to Siberia.

Economically, the empire had a predominantly agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs (Russian peasants) until they were freed in 1861. The economy slowly industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways and factories. The land was ruled by a nobility (the boyars) from the 10th through the 17th centuries, and subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III (1462–1505) laid the groundwork for the empire that later emerged. He tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, and laid the foundations of the Russian state. Emperor Peter the Great (1682–1725) fought numerous wars and expanded an already huge empire into a major European power. He moved the capital from Moscow to the new model city of St. Petersburg, and led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political mores with a modern, scientific, Europe-oriented, and rationalist system.

Empress Catherine the Great (reigned 1762–1796) presided over a golden age; she expanded the state by conquest, colonization and diplomacy, continuing Peter the Great's policy of modernization along Western European lines. Emperor Alexander II (1855–1881) promoted numerous reforms, most dramatically the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861. His policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. That connection by 1914 led to Russia's entry into the First World War on the side of France, the United Kingdom, and Serbia, against the German, Austrian, and Ottoman empires.

The Russian Empire functioned as an absolute monarchy on principles of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality until the Revolution of 1905 and then became a de jure constitutional monarchy. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917, largely as a result of massive failures in its participation in the First World War.

Spanish colonization of the Americas

The overseas expansion under the Crown of Castile was initiated under the royal authority and first accomplished by the Spanish conquistadors. The Americas were incorporated into the Spanish Empire, with the exception of Brazil, Canada, the eastern United States and several other small countries in South America and The Caribbean. The crown created civil and religious structures to administer the region. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Catholic faith through indigenous conversions.

Beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean and continuing control of vast territory for over three centuries, the Spanish Empire would expand across the Caribbean Islands, half of South America, most of Central America and much of North America (including present day Mexico, Florida and the Southwestern and Pacific Coastal regions of the United States). It is estimated that during the colonial period (1492–1832), a total of 1.86 million Spaniards settled in the Americas and a further 3.5 million immigrated during the post-colonial era (1850–1950); the estimate is 250,000 in the 16th century, and most during the 18th century as immigration was encouraged by the new Bourbon Dynasty. In contrast, the indigenous population plummeted by an estimated 80% in the first century and a half following Columbus's voyages, primarily through the spread of Afro-Eurasian diseases. This has been argued to be the first large-scale act of genocide in the modern era, although this claim is largely disputed due to the unintended nature of the disease introduction, which is considered a byproduct of Columbian exchange. Racial mixing was a central process in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and ultimately led to the Latin American identity, which combines Hispanic, native American and often African ethnicities.

Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when silver and gold from American mines increasingly financed a long series of European and North African wars. In the early 19th century, the Spanish American wars of independence resulted in the secession and subsequent balkanization of most Spanish colonies in the Americas, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, which were finally given up in 1898, following the Spanish–American War, together with Guam and the Philippines in the Pacific. Spain's loss of these last territories politically ended the Spanish rule in the Americas.

World domination

World domination (also called global domination or world conquest or cosmocracy) is a hypothetical power structure, either achieved or aspired to, in which a single political authority holds the power over all or virtually all the inhabitants of the planet Earth. Various individuals or regimes have tried to achieve this goal throughout history, without ever attaining it.

The theme has been often used in works of fiction, particularly in political fiction, as well as in conspiracy theories (which may posit that some person or group has already secretly achieved this goal), particularly those fearing the development of a "New World Order" involving a world government of a totalitarian nature.

World war

A world war is a large-scale war which affects the whole world directly or indirectly. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents or just two countries, with battles fought in many theaters. While a variety of global conflicts have been subjectively deemed "world wars", such as the Cold War and the War on Terror, the term is widely and usually accepted only as it is retrospectively applied to two major international conflicts that occurred during the 20th century: World War I (1914–18) and World War II (1939–45).


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