🤩 Discover new information from across the web

List of largest empires

British empire, Mongol empire

Top 3 List of largest empires related articles

  (Redirected from Largest empire)

Several empires in world history have been contenders for the largest of all time, depending on definition and mode of measurement. Possible ways of measuring size include area, population, economy, and power. Of these, area is the most commonly used because it has a fairly precise definition and can be feasibly measured with some degree of accuracy.[1] Estonian political scientist Rein Taagepera, who published a series of academic articles about the territorial extents of historical empires between 1978 and 1997,[2][3][4][5] 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;[6] these are the criteria from which these lists are formed. The list is not exhaustive owing to a lack of available data for several empires; for this reason and because of the inherent uncertainty in the area estimates, no rankings are given.

Largest empires by land area

For context, the land area of the Earth, excluding the continent of Antarctica, is 134,740,000 km2 (52,023,000 sq mi).[7]

Empires at their greatest extent

Empire size in this list is defined as the dry land area it controlled at the time, which may differ considerably from the area it claimed. For example: in the year 1800, European powers collectively claimed approximately 20% of the Earth's land surface that they did not effectively control.[8] Where estimates vary, entries are sorted by the lowest estimate.

Empire Maximum land area
Million km2 Million sq mi % of world Year
British Empire 35.5[9] 13.71 26.35% 1920[9]
Mongol Empire 24.0[9][10] 9.27 17.81% 1270[10] or 1309[9]
Russian Empire[a] 22.8[9][10] 8.80 16.92% 1895[9][10]
Qing dynasty[b] 14.7[9][10] 5.68 10.91% 1790[9][10]
Spanish Empire 13.7[9] 5.29 10.17% 1810[9]
Second French colonial empire 11.5[9] 4.44 8.53% 1920[9]
Abbasid Caliphate 11.1[9] 4.29 8.24% 750[9]
Umayyad Caliphate 11.1[9] 4.29 8.24% 720[9]
Yuan dynasty 11.0[9] 4.25 8.16% 1310[9]
United States 9.67[9] 3.73 7.18% 1899[9]
Xiongnu Empire 9.0[10][11] 3.47 6.68% 176 BC[10][11]
Empire of Brazil[c] 8.337[12] 3.22 6.19% 1889[12]
Empire of Japan 7.4[13]–8.51 2.86–3.285[14] 5.49%–6.32% 1942[13][14]
Iberian Union 7.1[9] 2.74 5.27% 1640[9]
Eastern Han dynasty 6.5[11] 2.51 4.82% 100[11]
Ming dynasty 6.5[9][10] 2.51 4.82% 1450[9][10]
Rashidun Caliphate 6.4[9] 2.47 4.75% 655[9]
First Turkic Khaganate 6.0[10][11] 2.32 4.45% 557[10][11]
Golden Horde Khanate 6.0[9][10] 2.32 4.45% 1310[9][10]
Western Han dynasty 6.0[10][11] 2.32 4.45% 50 BC[10][11]
Achaemenid Empire 5.5[10][11] 2.12 4.08% 500 BC[10][11]
Second Portuguese Empire[c] 5.5[9] 2.12 4.08% 1820[9]
Tang dynasty 5.4[9][10] 2.08 4.01% 715[9][10]
Macedonian Empire 5.2[10][11] 2.01 3.86% 323 BC[10][11]
Ottoman Empire 5.2[9][10] 2.01 3.86% 1683[9][10]
Northern Yuan dynasty 5.0[9] 1.93 3.71% 1368[9]
Roman Empire 5.0[10][11] 1.93 3.71% 117[10][11]
Xin dynasty 4.7[11] 1.81 3.49% 10[11]
Tibetan Empire 4.6[9][10] 1.78 3.41% 800[9][10]
Xianbei state 4.5[15] 1.74 3.34% 200[15]
First Mexican Empire 4.429[16] 1.71 3.29% 1821[16]
Timurid Empire 4.4[9][10] 1.70 3.27% 1405[9][10]
Fatimid Caliphate 4.1[9][10] 1.58 3.04% 969[9][10]
Eastern Turkic Khaganate 4.0[11] 1.54 2.97% 624[11]
Hunnic Empire 4.0[10][11] 1.54 2.97% 441[10][11]
Mughal Empire 4.0[9][10] 1.54 2.97% 1690[9][10]
Great Seljuq Empire 3.9[9][10] 1.51 2.89% 1080[9][10]
Seleucid Empire 3.9[10][11] 1.51 2.89% 301 BC[10][11]
Italian Empire 3.825[17] 1.48 2.84% 1941[17]
Ilkhanate 3.75[9][10] 1.45 2.78% 1310[9][10]
Dzungar Khanate 3.6[15] 1.39 2.67% 1650[15]
Chagatai Khanate 3.5[9][10] 1.35 2.60% 1310[9] or 1350[9][10]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[10][11] 1.35 2.60% 550[10][11]
Western Turkic Khaganate 3.5[11] 1.35 2.60% 630[11]
Western Xiongnu 3.5[11] 1.35 2.60% 20[11]
First French colonial empire 3.4[9] 1.31 2.52% 1670[9]
Ghaznavid Empire 3.4[9][10] 1.31 2.52% 1029[9][10]
Maurya Empire 3.4[11]–5.0[10] 1.31–1.93 2.52%–3.71% 261 BC[11] or 250 BC[10]
Delhi Sultanate 3.2[9][10] 1.24 2.37% 1312[9][10]
German colonial empire 3.147 1.215[18] 2.34% 1911[18]
Northern Song dynasty 3.1[9][10] 1.20 2.30% 980[9][10]
Uyghur Khaganate 3.1[9][10] 1.20 2.30% 800[9][10]
Western Jin dynasty 3.1[11] 1.20 2.30% 280[11]
Danish Empire 3.0[19] 1.16 2.23% 1700[19]
Sui dynasty 3.0[11] 1.16 2.23% 589[11]
Safavid empire 2.9[15] 1.12 2.15% 1630[15]
Samanid Empire 2.85[9][10] 1.10 2.12% 928[9][10]
Eastern Jin dynasty 2.8[11] 1.08 2.08% 347[11]
Median Empire[d] 2.8[10][11] 1.08 2.08% 585 BC[10][11]
Parthian Empire 2.8[10][11] 1.08 2.08% 0[10][11]
Rouran Khaganate 2.8[10][11] 1.08 2.08% 405[10][11]
Byzantine Empire 2.7[10]–2.8[11] 1.04–1.08 2.00%–2.08% 555[10] or 450[11]
Indo-Scythian Kingdom 2.6[11] 1.00 1.93% 20[11]
Liao dynasty 2.6[9][10] 1.00 1.93% 947[9][10]
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom 2.5[11] 0.97 1.86% 184 BC[11]
Later Zhao 2.5[11] 0.97 1.86% 329[11]
Maratha Empire 2.5[10] 0.97 1.86% 1760[10]
Belgian colonial empire 2.366[17]–2.47 0.91–0.95[21] 1.76%–1.83% 1941[17] or 1939[21]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 2.3[9][10] 0.89 1.71% 1126[9][10]
Khwarazmian Empire 2.3[10]–3.6[9] 0.89–1.39 1.71%–2.67% 1210[10] or 1218[9]
Qin dynasty 2.3[11] 0.89 1.71% 220 BC[11]
First French Empire 2.1[9] 0.81 1.56% 1813[9]
Kievan Rus' 2.1[9][10] 0.81 1.56% 1000[9][10]
Mamluk Sultanate 2.1[9][10] 0.81 1.56% 1300[9] or 1400[10]
Southern Song dynasty 2.1[9] 0.81 1.56% 1127[9]
Third Portuguese Empire 2.1[9] 0.81 1.56% 1900[9]
Almohad Caliphate 2.0[10]–2.3[9] 0.77–0.89 1.48%–1.71% 1200[10] or 1150[9]
Cao Wei 2.0[11] 0.77 1.48% 263[11]
Former Qin 2.0[11] 0.77 1.48% 376[11]
Former Zhao 2.0[11] 0.77 1.48% 316[11]
Ghurid dynasty 2.0[15] 0.77 1.48% 1200[15]
Inca Empire 2.0[9][10] 0.77 1.48% 1527[9][10]
Kushan Empire 2.0[10]–2.5[11] 0.77–0.97 1.48%–1.86% 200[10][11]
Liu Song dynasty 2.0[11] 0.77 1.48% 450[11]
Northern Wei 2.0[11] 0.77 1.48% 450[11]
Western Roman Empire 2.0[11] 0.77 1.48% 395[11]
Dutch Empire 1.939[17]–2.08–2.1[15] 0.75–0.80[21]–0.81 1.44%–1.54%–1.56% 1941,[17] 1939,[21] or 1938[15]
Ayyubid dynasty 1.7[9]–2.0[10] 0.66–0.77 1.26%–1.48% 1200[9] or 1190[10]
Gupta Empire 1.7[11]–3.5[10] 0.66–1.35 1.26%–2.60% 440[11] or 400[10]
Hephthalite Empire 1.7[22]–4.0[11] 0.66–1.54 1.26%–2.97% 500[22] or 470[11]
Buyid dynasty 1.6[9][10] 0.62 1.19% 980[9][10]
Eastern Wu 1.5[11] 0.58 1.11% 221[11]
Northern Qi 1.5[11] 0.58 1.11% 557[11]
Northern Xiongnu 1.5[11] 0.58 1.11% 60[11]
Northern Zhou 1.5[11] 0.58 1.11% 577[11]
Neo-Assyrian Empire 1.4[10][23] 0.54 1.04% 670 BC[10][23]
Eastern Maurya Empire 1.3[11] 0.50 0.96% 210 BC[11]
Liang dynasty 1.3[10][11] 0.50 0.96% 502,[11] 549,[11] or 579[10]
Qajar Empire 1.29 0.50[24] 0.96% 1873[24]
Kingdom of Aksum 1.25[10] 0.48 0.93% 350[10]
Shang dynasty 1.25[10][23] 0.48 0.93% 1122 BC[10][23]
Francia 1.2[9][10] 0.46 0.89% 814[9][10]
Srivijaya 1.2[10] 0.46 0.89% 1200[10]
Indo-Greek Kingdom 1.1[11] 0.42 0.82% 150 BC[11]
Mali Empire 1.1[9][10] 0.42 0.82% 1380[9][10]
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1.1[9][10] 0.42 0.82% 1480[10] or 1650[9]
Almoravid dynasty 1.0[10] 0.39 0.74% 1120[10]
Empire of Harsha 1.0[9][10] 0.39 0.74% 625[9] or 648[9][10]
Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty 1.0[9] 0.39 0.74% 860[9]
Holy Roman Empire 1.0[9] 0.39 0.74% 1050[9]
Khazar Khanate 1.0[9]–3.0[10] 0.39–1.16 0.74%–2.23% 900[9] or 850[10]
Khmer Empire 1.0[9][10] 0.39 0.74% 1290[9][10]
New Kingdom of Egypt 1.0[10][23] 0.39 0.74% 1450 BC[23] or 1300 BC[10]
Ptolemaic Kingdom 1.0[11] 0.39 0.74% 301 BC[11]
Qara Khitai 1.0[9]–1.5[10] 0.39–0.58 0.74%–1.11% 1130[9] or 1210[10]
Scythia 1.0[22] 0.39 0.74% 400 BC[22]
Shu Han 1.0[11] 0.39 0.74% 221[11]
Tahirid dynasty 1.0[9] 0.39 0.74% 800[9]
Western Xia 1.0[10] 0.39 0.74% 1100[10]
Swedish Empire 0.99[25] 0.38 0.73% 1700[25]
Nazi Germany 0.824[17] 0.32 0.61% 1941[17]
Akkadian Empire 0.8[23] 0.31 0.59% 2250 BC[23]
Avar Khaganate 0.8[11] 0.31 0.59% 600[11]
Chu 0.8[11] 0.31 0.59% 300 BC[11]
Huns 0.8[11] 0.31 0.59% 287[11]
Songhai Empire 0.8[9] 0.31 0.59% 1550[9]
Hyksos 0.65[23] 0.25 0.48% 1650 BC[23]
Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt 0.65[23] 0.25 0.48% 550 BC[23]
Austro-Hungarian Empire 0.62 0.24[26] 0.46% 1905[26]
Caliphate of Córdoba 0.6[9] 0.23 0.45% 1000[9]
First Portuguese Empire 0.6[9] 0.23 0.45% 1580[9]
Visigothic Kingdom 0.6[11] 0.23 0.45% 580[11]
Zhou dynasty 0.55[27] 0.21 0.41% 1100 BC[27]
Emirate of Córdoba 0.5[9] 0.19 0.37% 756[9]
Kosala 0.5[11] 0.19 0.37% 543 BC[11]
Lydia 0.5[23] 0.19 0.37% 585 BC[23]
Magadha 0.5[11] 0.19 0.37% 510 BC[11]
Middle Kingdom of Egypt 0.5[23] 0.19 0.37% 1850 BC[23]
Neo-Babylonian Empire 0.5[23] 0.19 0.37% 562 BC[23]
Satavahana dynasty 0.5[11] 0.19 0.37% 150[11]
Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt 0.5[23] 0.19 0.37% 715 BC[23]
Western Satraps 0.5[11] 0.19 0.37% 100[11]
New Hittite Kingdom 0.45[23] 0.17 0.33% 1250 BC1220 BC[23]
Xia dynasty 0.45[23] 0.17 0.33% 1800 BC[23]
Kingdom of France (Middle Ages) 0.4[9] 0.15 0.30% 1250[9]
Middle Assyrian Empire 0.4[23] 0.15 0.30% 1080 BC[23]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.4[23] 0.15 0.30% 2400 BC[23]
Sokoto Caliphate 0.4[28] 0.15 0.30% 1804[28]
Ancient Carthage 0.3[11] 0.12 0.22% 220 BC[11]
Indus Valley Civilisation 0.3[27] 0.12 0.22% 1800 BC[27]
Mitanni 0.3[23] 0.12 0.22% 1450 BC1375 BC[23]
First Babylonian Empire 0.25[23] 0.10 0.19% 1690 BC[23]
Aztec Empire 0.22[9] 0.08 0.16% 1520[9]
Zulu Empire 0.21 0.08[29] 0.16% 1822[29]
Elamite Empire 0.2[23] 0.08 0.15% 1160 BC[23]
Phrygia 0.2[23] 0.08 0.15% 750 BC[23]
Second Dynasty of Isin 0.2[23] 0.08 0.15% 1130 BC[23]
Urartu 0.2[23] 0.08 0.15% 800 BC[23]
Middle Hittite Kingdom 0.15[23] 0.06 0.11% 1450 BC[23]
Old Assyrian Empire 0.15[23] 0.06 0.11% 1730 BC[23]
Old Hittite Empire 0.15[23] 0.06 0.11% 1530 BC[23]
Larsa 0.1[23] 0.04 0.07% 1750 BC1700 BC[23]
Neo-Sumerian Empire 0.1[23] 0.04 0.07% 2000 BC[23]
Tarascan empire 0.075[30] 0.03 0.06% 1450[30]
Lagash 0.05[27] 0.02 0.04% 2400 BC[27]
Sumer 0.05[23] 0.02 0.04% 2400 BC[23]
  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.[9]
  2. ^ Its successor state the Republic of China (1912–1949) and its successor in turn, the People's Republic of China (since 1949), reached maximum extents of 7.7 million km2 in 1912 and 9.7 million km2 in 1950, respectively.[9]
  3. ^ a b The reason the Empire of Brazil is listed as having a larger area in 1889 than the Portuguese Empire had in 1820, despite Brazil having been a Portuguese colony, is that the Portuguese settlers only had effective control over approximately half of Brazil at the time of Brazilian independence in 1822.[9]
  4. ^ More recent reassessment of the historical evidence, both archaeological and textual, has led modern scholars to question previous notions of the extent of the realm of the Medes and even its existence as a unified state.[20]

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 covered ten times the area of the previous largest civilisation around the year 3000 BC.[31]

Empire Land area
(million km2)
Year
Upper and Lower Egypt 0.1[23] 3000 BC[23]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.25[23] 2850 BC[23]
0.4[23] 2400 BC[23]
Akkadian Empire 0.65[23] 2300 BC[23]
0.8[23] 2250 BC[23]
New Kingdom of Egypt 1.0[23] 1450 BC[23]
Shang dynasty 1.25[23] 1122 BC[23]
Neo-Assyrian Empire 1.4[23] 670 BC[23]
Median Empire[a] 2.8[11] 585 BC[11]
Achaemenid Empire 3.6[11] 539 BC[11]
5.5[11] 500 BC[11]
Xiongnu Empire 9.0[11] 176 BC[11]
Umayyad Caliphate 11.1[9] 720[9]
Mongol Empire 13.5[9] 1227[9]
24.0[9] 1309[9]
British Empire 24.5[9] 1880[9]
35.5[9] 1920[9]
  1. ^ More recent reassessment of the historical evidence, both archaeological and textual, has led modern scholars to question previous notions of the extent of the realm of the Medes and even its existence as a unified state.[20] If the Median Empire never surpassed the size of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the latter remained the largest empire the world had seen until the Achaemenid Empire surpassed it.[23][11]

Timeline of largest empires at the time

Empire Land area during time
as largest empire
(million km2)
Approximate period
Upper Egypt 0.1[27] 3000 BC[27]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.25–0.4[27] 2800 BC2400 BC[27]
Akkadian Empire 0.2–0.6[27] 2300 BC2200 BC[27]
Indus Valley Civilisation 0.15[27] 2100 BC[27]
Middle Kingdom of Egypt 0.2–0.5[27] 2000 BC1800 BC[27]
Xia dynasty 0.4[27] 1700 BC[27]
Hyksos 0.65[27] 1600 BC[27]
New Kingdom of Egypt 0.65–1.0[27] 1500 BC1300 BC[27]
Shang dynasty 0.9–1.1[27] 1250 BC1150 BC[27]
New Kingdom of Egypt 0.5–0.6[27] 1100 BC1050 BC[27]
Zhou dynasty 0.35–0.45[27] 1000 BC900 BC[27]
Neo-Assyrian Empire 0.4–1.4[27] 850 BC650 BC[27]
Median Empire[a] 3.0[27] 600 BC[27]
Achaemenid Empire 2.5–5.5[27] 550 BC350 BC[27]
Macedonian Empire 5.2[27] 323 BC[27]
Seleucid Empire 4.0[27] 300 BC[27]
Maurya Empire 3.5[27] 250 BC[27]
Han dynasty 2.5[27] 200 BC[27]
Xiongnu Empire 5.7[27] 150 BC[27]
Han dynasty 4.2–6.5[27] 100 BC200[27]
Roman Empire 4.4[27] 250350[27]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[27] 400[27]
Hunnic Empire 4.0[27] 450[27]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[27] 500[27]
Göktürk Khaganate 3.0–5.2[27] 550600[27]
Rashidun Caliphate 5.2[27] 650[27]
Umayyad Caliphate 9.0–11.0[27] 700750[27]
Abbasid Caliphate 8.3–11.0[27] 750800[27]
Tibetan Empire 2.5–4.7[27] 850950[27]
Song dynasty 3.0[27] 1000[27]
Seljuk Empire 3.0–4.0[27] 10501100[27]
Tibetan Empire 2.5[27] 1150[27]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 2.3[27] 1200[27]
Mongol Empire 18.0–24.0[27] 12501300[27]
Yuan dynasty 11.0[27] 1350[27]
Timurid Empire 4.0[27] 1400[27]
Ming dynasty 4.7–6.5[27] 14501500[27]
Ottoman Empire 4.3[27] 1550[27]
Tsardom of Russia 6.0–12.0[27] 16001700[27]
Russian Empire 14.0–17.0[27] 17501800[27]
British Empire 23.0–34.0[27] 18501925[27]
Soviet Union 22.5[27] 19501975[27]
  1. ^ More recent reassessment of the historical evidence, both archaeological and textual, has led modern scholars to question previous notions of the extent of the realm of the Medes and even its existence as a unified state.[20] If the largest empire in the year 600 BC was not the Median Empire, it was Late Egypt with an area of 0.55 million km2.[27]

List of largest empires Largest empires by land area articles: 175

Largest empires by share of world population

Because of the trend of increasing world population over time, absolute population figures are less relevant for comparison between different empires than their respective shares of the world population at the time.[32]

Empire Empire population

as percentage of

world population

Year
Qing dynasty 37[33] 1800[33]
Northern Song Dynasty 33[33] 1100[33]
Western Han dynasty 32[33] 1[33]
Mongol Empire 31[33] 1290[33]
Roman Empire 30[33] 150[33]
Jin dynasty (266–420) 28[33] 280[33]
Ming dynasty 28[33] 1600[33]
Qin dynasty 24[33] 220 BC[33]
Mughal Empire 24[33] 1700[33]
Tang dynasty 23[33] 900[33]
Delhi Sultanate 23[33] 1350[33]
British Empire 23[33] 1938[33]
Empire of Japan 20[33] 1943[33]
Maurya Empire 19[33] 250 BC[33]
Former Qin 19[33] 376[33]
Northern Zhou 16[33] 580[33]
Macedonian Empire 15[33] 323 BC[33]
Empire of Harsha 15[33] 647[33]
Gupta Empire 13[33] 450[33]
Northern Wei 13[33] 500[33]
Umayyad Caliphate 13[33] 750[33]
Achaemenid Empire 12[33] 450 BC[33]
Former Yan 12[33] 366[33]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 12[33] 1200[33]
Nazi Germany 12[33] 1943[33]
Kushan Empire 11[33] 200[33]
Pala Empire 11[33] 800[33]
Later Zhao 10[33] 330[33]

List of largest empires Largest empires by share of world population articles: 4

See also

References

  1. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and duration of empires: Systematics of size" (PDF). Social Science Research. 7 (2): 111. doi:10.1016/0049-089X(78)90007-8. ISSN 0049-089X. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  2. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and duration of empires: Systematics of size" (PDF). Social Science Research. 7 (2): 108–127. doi:10.1016/0049-089X(78)90007-8. ISSN 0049-089X. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  3. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 3000 to 600 B.C." (PDF). Social Science Research. 7 (2): 180–196. doi:10.1016/0049-089x(78)90010-8. ISSN 0049-089X. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  4. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 115–138. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  5. ^ Taagepera, Rein (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia" (PDF). International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 475–504. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  6. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.".