25 Largest Empires In History

Posted by on August 12, 2014

Conquering nations and relentlessly expanding their territories has always been a favorite past time of those in power. Whether it was the Romans, Greeks, or Ottomans, it seems that amassing resources, nations, and the pursuit of a powerful legacy played a huge role in the rise and fall of their empires. Although today we no longer see borders shifting back and forth so rapidly, the art of imperialism is still alive and well. Here are the 25 largest empires in history.


Ottoman Empire

Also known as the Turkish Empire or Turkey, the Ottoman state became an empire with the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II in 1453. The Ottoman dynasty lasted for 623 years until the monarchy was abolished in 1922 and covered parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. This multinational, multilingual empire’s economic aim was to increase revenues without drastic changes in the lives of the subjects, their commercial activities, and their traditional beliefs.


Macedonian Empire

Alexander the Great’s aim was to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea” as the king of Macedon. With that in mind he was able to conquer territories that stretched from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas. This feat made him one of the most successful commanders in history.


Tang Dynasty

Despite the rifts in government affairs going into the second half of the Tang Dynasty, the art and culture of the era remained colorful and flourishing. With a population base of nearly 80 million people the dynasty was able to raise up armies of hundreds of thousands of men to compete with the warring forces of inner Asia.


Golden Horde Khanate

The Kipchak Khanate, also referred to as the Golden Horde, was established in the 13th century in the Mongol empire’s north-western sector. Originally a Mongol and later a Turkish khanate, this “empire” lasted for a relatively short hundred year period until 1395.


Mauryan Empire

Chandragupta Maurya founded this empire in 322 B.C and it is the largest empire ever on the Indian subcontinent. Advancements in trade and commerce, and successful agricultural productivity were evident due to an economic system that was kept in check by the military and government. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism played an important role in the kingdom’s governance and the kings’ and their subjects’ lives.


Göktürk Khaganate

Göktürk Khaganate

In 552, the First Turkish or Türk Empire was founded by Bumin Qaghan and his sons. This nomadic confederation had extensive interaction with other kingdoms or dynasties from the northern part of China. Fifty years after the collapse of the First Turkish Empire, the Second Turk Empire was established and controlled the eastern part of the previous kingdom. The Orkhon inscriptions that have been preserved and still exist until today were produced during that time.


Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany

Adolf Hitler is perhaps one of the most infamous figures of the twentieth century. As he controlled the government of the Third Reich, he also transformed it from a republic to a dictatorship employing the process of Gleichschaltung. Although the Nazi government survived quite well and was even flourishing during the Great Depression when the world was in dire straits, it’s infamy arose to even more incredible heights due to their advocacy on racism, specifically antisemitism, causing the ruthless bloodshed that eventually came to be known as the Holocaust.


Han Dynasty

Han Empire

Spanning over four centuries, the period of the Han Dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history. To this day, China’s majority ethnic group refers to itself as the “Han people” and the Chinese script is referred to as “Han characters”.


Roman Empire

Roman Empire

Many fundamental components of the modern world were influenced by the Roman Empire which should come as no surprise considering that it was around for nearly 1,500 years. It had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law, and forms of government in the territory it governed, particularly Europe, and by means of European expansionism, the rest of the modern world.


Ming Dynasty

Ming Dynasty

The Empire of the Great Ming is the second to last Imperial era in Chinese history. It is popularly described as “one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history”. It is also the last dynasty that was ruled by the ethnic Han Chinese. Due to natural and man-made catastrophes, the Ming fell and paved the way for the last imperial dynasty, the Qing.


Sassanid Empire

Sassanid Empire

During it’s Late Antiquity period, the Sassanid Empire is known to have been one of Persia’s most important and influential historical eras. As it stretched farther out to the western parts of Europe, Africa, China and India, it then played a significant roll in the development of European and Asian medieval culture.


Japanese Empire

Japanese Empire

As a member of the Axis alliance, who could forget how powerful the Japanese empire was in World War II? As the largest maritime empire in history, it spanned more than 7 million square kilometers and gained such notoriety that it took atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki plus plenty of defeats to surrender and reconstruct to what is now known as Nippon-koku or State of Japan.


Achaemenid Empire

Achaemenid Empire

In the 6th Century, Cyrus the Great founded the First Persian Empire or the Achaemenid Empire. Named after King Achaemenes, it spanned from the Indus Valley in the east, onto the northeastern border of Greece. It’s line of monarchs aimed to unify the tribes and nationalities through the complex of roads that they constructed. If ranked by population percentage, this empire is the largest with 44% of the world’s population belonging to it.


Empire of Brazil

The Empire of Brazil became the seat of the Portuguese Colonial Empire but was made independent by the son of the king who made it as such. Thus, Pedro I, the son of King Dom João VI, became the first emperor of Brazil. The restriction of slavery was one of the highlights of this era until it was finally abolished in 1888. Although Pedro I’s son Pedro II was able to sustain the peace and economic prosperity, he was not able to sustain the kingdom per se. After a 58 year reign, the empire was not able to hold up on the coup d’etat and eventually fell due to the lack of support.


Rashidun Caliphate

In a span of 24 years of conquest, the first four caliphs in Islam’s history stretched far and wide into North Africa, the Middle East, Transoxiana, the Caucasus, the entire Sassanid Persian Empire plus the islands of Cyprus, Rhodes, the Greater Khorasan, the empires down to the lower Indus river and onto the Western Frontiers to the Atlantic Ocean. This developed Islamic empire had implemented systematic economic policies and strategies like the Bait-ul-Maal or public treasury.