25 Largest And Most Epic Empires In History

Posted by , Updated on October 20, 2016


Taking over the world has to be the dream of at least half of all aspiring supervillians everywhere. However, some (questionably) more benevolent people attempt to do so the old fashioned way: exploration, colonization, subjugation, and occasionally (okay… rarely) even mutually-beneficial politics. Though nobody has publicly managed to take over yet (shadow societies don’t count), the age of empires was certainly not boring, and as recently as the late 1900’s, there has been some impressive progress. Let’s begin all the way back at 500 BC and work our way up. Here are the 25 Largest And Most Epic Empires In History.


The Portuguese Empire – Circa 1820 AD

portugueseempireSource: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portuguese_Carracks_off_a_Rocky_Coast.jpg

Also known as the Portuguese Overseas, the Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history. However, it never achieved the massive dominance of the Spanish Empire. With 3.69% of the entire world under its control, this empire is the 19th largest in history. However, it is also the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, having spanned six centuries and just missing the new millennia (December 20th, 1999 officially marked the end of the Portuguese Empire).


Empire of Brazil - Circa 1889 AD

empireofbrazilSource: https://en.wikipedia.org, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pedro_II_of_Brazil_and_politicians.jpg

Originally a part of the Portuguese Empire, the Empire of Brazil declared its independence in 1822. After a few years of instability, in 1843 there was a period of calm that allowed The Empire of Brazil to stabilize before conflicts with Great Britain and Uruguay arose. After successfully handling both of those conflicts, the golden age of the Brazilian Empire began, and it rapidly became known internationally as a progressive and modern nation. By the 1880’s, the empire represented the majority of South America, and having occupied 3.29 million square miles of the earth, it took its place as the 11th largest empire in history.


Russian Empire – Circa 1895 AD

russianempireSource: https://en.wikipedia.org, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Russian_Empire-en.svg (Image has been cropped from original.)

The Russian Empire was a massive state that existed from (officially) 1721 until it was overthrown through revolution in 1917. From its beginning, this empire was all about expansion, and it moved Russia from a primarily agricultural nation into a more modern age. At its height in 1895, the Russian Empire’s population had grown from 15.5 million people to an immense 170 million people inhabiting almost 9 million square miles of land. By adding Baltic, Polish, Finnish, and greater Asian territories to its control, the Russian Empire became the 3rd largest empire in history.


Second French Colonial Empire – Circa 1920 AD

secondfrenchcolonialempireSource: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:French_expeditionary_corps_landing_in_Beyrouth_16_August_1860.jpg

Competing with Spain, Portugal, the United Provinces and (later) Britain, the second French Colonial Empire began in 1830 with the conquest of Algiers. They colonized a large percentage of Africa and took over colonies in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, New Caledonia, and a tiny section of South America. This brought the Empire to its height as the 6th largest empire of all time as 5% of the world’s total population inhabited 7.7% of the total world area.


British Empire – Circa 1920 AD

britishempireSource: http://www.britishempire.co.uk, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg

This may or may not shock you, but in the competition of taking over the world, no empire has been more dominant (or more recent) than The British Empire. At 13.71 million square miles, The British Empire was easily the largest empire in history (30% larger than the Mongol Empire). For over a century, Britain was the foremost superpower of the world and controlled 23% of the world’s population. As a result of their massive expansions throughout the world, their cultural and linguistic legacy can be found in almost any developed culture on earth.

Most consider the official transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 the official end of the British Empire. If you look at the world scene though, Britain is still controlling the largest percentage of the world… they’re just being nicer and more progressive about it.   Perhaps that’s world domination after all… just done right.

SEE ALSO: 25 Biggest Corporate Scandals Ever »

NOW WATCH: 25 Amazing Animals That Came Back From Extinction

Subscribe to List25

Show Us Your Love
Join Over 2 Million+ List25 Fans