Top 10 Largest Empires in History

The history of human culture has seen countless empires rise and fall.
Many of these empires had a regional or worldwide influence on history. Still, it could be said that some empires were “greater” than others.
However, the ‘greatness’ of an empire is not an easily quantifiable aspect, as several factors are to be considered.
An empire must have political and military control over various communities with diverse cultures and ethnicity to quantify the territory.
In that case here are the top 10 largest empires in history by area:

10. Portuguese Empire

  • Area: 10.4
  • Height of power: 1815
  • Capital: Lisbon

The Portuguese Empire was the earliest and longest-lived colonial empire in European History.
The time span ranges from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 and the return of Macau to China in 1999, which is almost six centuries.
Portuguese explorers began exploring the African coast in 1419 by taking advantage of the latest developments in shipping, navigation, and maritime technology in search of a naval route to the source of profitable spices.
In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias reached the African coast of the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1498, Vasco da Gama reached Goa, India.
At its height in the year 1815, the Portuguese Empire covered regions known today as Brazil, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as other regions in Africa that extended across four million square miles.

9. Yuan dynasty

  • Area: 11.0
  • Height of power: 1310 to 1330 AD
  • Capital: Khanbaliq (Beijing)

The Yuan dynasty was founded by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan after the Mongol Empire was distributed between Genghis Khan’s sons.
Kublai got his share of land almost covering China covering and transformed it into the new empire or ruling dynasty of China.
Although the Mongols had ruled territories over decades, including today’s northern China, Kublai Khan declared the dynasty officially in the traditional Chinese style until 1271.
Stability and peace in China brought some economic prosperity as international trade was promoted by Kublai and his successors.
Under the Yuan dynasty, the now united country was open to the wider world.

8. Umayyad Caliphate

  • Area: 11.1
  • Height of power: 720 AD
  • Capital: Damascus

Muawiya, who served as governor of Syria under the Caliphate of Rashidun after the death of the fourth Caliphate, Ali, in 661 CE founded the dynasty of The Umayyad Dynasty.
It was the first dynasty to get the title of the caliphate.
The Umayyads were able to rule the political authority of the caliphate effectively and firmly, the rebellions were brutely crushed, and no quarters were granted to those who instigated uprisings.
Under the stable authority, the Arabic Culture flourished, and the period is often considered the formative period in Arabic art.

7. Abbasid Caliphate

  • Area: 11.1
  • Height of power: 750
  • Capital: Baghdad

The Caliphate of Abbasid ruled over most of the Muslim world lasted between 750 and 1258 A.D.
The Third Islamic Caliphate overthrew the Umayyad Caliphate, which at that time took power in all but the westernmost limits of Islamic holdings.
With substantial help from Persia, they defeated the Ummayads and decided to de-emphasize ethnic Arabs by re-establishing a multi-ethnic entity in the Muslim Caliphate.
The control of power and the focal point of cultural life in the Islamic middle east shifted eastward from Syria to Iraq.
In 762, Baghdad, the circular city of Peace, was founded to the east as the new capital and was the center of Islamic political and cultural life.

6. Second French Empire

  • Area: 11.5
  • Height of power: 1920
  • Capital: Paris

Napoléon III’s regime, from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic in France, is termed as the Second French Empire (formally the French Empire).
While the government machinery of the Second Empire was practically the same as that of the First, it had different founding principles.
Concerning land area, the Second French Colonial Empire, in 1936, was the second-largest in the world at that moment.
It accounted for 10 percent of the global land area and covered over 13,500,000 square kilometers (5 200,000 sq mi).

5. Qing dynasty

  • Area: 12.16
  • Height of power: 1735 to 1790 AD
  • Capital: Peking (Shuntian Prefecture)

The Qing dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China, which was officially known as the Great Qing.
It was founded in 1636, and from 1644 to 1912, the Dynasty ruled China all on its own.
It preceded the Ming dynasty and was succeeded by the Republic of China.
During the reign of the Qing Dynasty, the imperial Chinese influence strengthened its grip over China, which was integral to Chinese culture.
The reigns of Emperor Yongzheng (reign: 1723-1735) and his son the Emperor Qianlong (reign: 1735-1796) marked Qing‘s power at its height.
Over 13 million square miles of territory was in the rule of the Qing Dynasty during this period.

4. Spanish Empire

  • Area: 13.7
  • Height of power: 1810
  • Capital: Madrid
The Spanish Crown administered the territories and colonies in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania under the Spanish Empire. 
It was founded in the Age of Exploration and was one of the world’s first global empires.
Spain reached the height of its political and economic strength under the Spanish Habsburgs when its empire became the unstoppable leading global force.
The establishment of the Spanish Empire in the 15thcentury marked the beginning of the modern global era and of European dominance over global affairs in conjunction with the Portuguese Empire.
It was the most powerful empire of the 16th and 17th centuries.

3. Russian Empire

  • Area: 22.8
  • Height of power: 1895
  • Capital: Saint Petersburg
Russian Empire, from 1721 to 1917, extending over the Eastern part of Europe and the continent of Asia, covered almost 14 million square miles (36 million square km).
The Russian Empire ultimately resulted in Russian Muscovite domination over neighboring in Europe and Asia, where only the British Empire could rival it in size by the end of the 19th century.
The Russian Empire stretched across the northern portions of Europe and Asia at its peak.
The overall area under the monarch comprised almost one-sixth of the earth’s territory.
It occupied modern-day Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Finland, the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), significant parts of Poland and Turkey, the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), and Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan).

2. Mongol Empire

  • Area: 24.0
  • Height of power: 1270 to 1294 AD
  • Capital: Khanbaliq (Dadu)
The Mongol Empire stretched back its peak and covered history’s most adjacent regions.
In the beginning, the Empire was led by Genghis Khan from 1206 to 1368.
During that period, thanks to modern Mongol technology and an enormous horde of nomadic warriors, it expanded to cover most of Eurasia.
The loyal warriors of Genghis Khan were rewarded for their fealties and became their times’ most successful army.

1. British Empire

  • Area: 35.5
  • Height of power: 1920
  • Capital: London

Britain dominated so many parts of the earth in the 19th and early twentieth centuries, it was famously said that ‘Sun never set over the British Empire.’
The British Empire comprised the United Kingdom’s dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories.
It covered 35.5 million sq.km at that same time, which represents a 23.84% of the Earth’s surface area.
And maybe the fact that the British Empire is almost twice that big as Pluto’s (17.8 million sq km) surface area will surprise you.
The British Empire started with conquering colonies and trading posts abroad, and ultimately included dominions, overseas territories, and mandates.
When Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877, the empire reached its peak of power.
Britain’s relative strength peaked, and Queen’s influence on the Berlin Congress was at its peak.
By 1922, the British Empire had a population of about 458 million, one-fifth of the world population at that time, and nearly a quarter of the total Earth’s land area.

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