10 Greatest Empires In World History

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Updated on 9 Apr, 2018 at 9:07 pm


Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too. Take a glimpse of our past through this article. 

1. Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was a mighty Islamic state from the 13th to 20th centuries, with lands that covered Turkey, parts of southwest Asia, southeast Europe, and North Africa. The capital was Constantinople (now known as Istanbul). This was the most powerful empire in the world during the 1500s and 1600s. From then on the empire began to decline because its rulers refused to modernize and they lost lands in several wars. The empire was already weak when it allied with Germany in World war I. Defeat was the last straw, and the empire’s remaining lands were divided up among the victors.



2. Mayan Empire


The Mayan Empire was made up of city-states that stretched across southern Mexico and northern Central America. There have been Mayan people since 2000 BC but their greatest period was from AD 300 to 900 when architectural wonders such as Palenque and Uxmal were built. These structures and many others show that the Mayans had a very advanced knowledge of Mathematics. The Mayan Empire gradually declined after 900, and the Spanish invaded the area in the 15th century.



3. Mesopotamia Empire

Mesopotamia was a region around a Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which is known part of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The area was controlled by several different peoples, beginning with the Sumerians in around 3500 BC. they set up a number of city-states that constantly battled to control land and trade routes until they were united under one ruler in 2350 BC. The Sumerians are said to have invented the wheel and cuneiform script, which many people claim is the earliest form of writing. They finally became absorbed into other races around 2000 BC.



4. Chinese Empire

China was one of the first places where people are known to have lived. From 1600 BC it was made up of many small kingdoms which all united in 221 BC under one leader or emperor. Various dynasties ruled the empire, starting with the Qin dynasty. During this time, The Great Wall of China was built to keep invaders out. China was an extremely learned civilization, ahead of Europe in the arts and sciences by up to 200 years. The empire finally fell apart under the Han dynasty in AD 220 as a result of corruption and poverty.



5. Greek Empire

Ancient Greece was called Hellas. The civilization was at its strongest in 00-400 BC after Greece colonized Cyprus, parts of Italy, Ukraine, and South France. The era was known as the golden age. Some city-states such as Athens and Sparta, became great centers of art, learning politics. Many famous thinkers lived in Athens during this period, including Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and Aristophanes. The ancient Greeks also created the idea of democracy: its citizens were encouraged to debate and then vote on the issue. The golden age ended in wars between the city-states, which paved the way for King Philip of Macedonia to invade Greece, followed later by his son Alexander.



6. Egyptian Empire

Egypt is an area in the Nile valley which was ruled as a single state from about 3200 BC. There were 30 dynasties, led by pharaohs who were both kings and gods. The pyramids were built during the fourth dynasty (2575-2467 BC) as tombs for the pharaohs of that time. The great pyramid of Giza was the world’s tallest building for 4000 years, and it is the only wonder of the world that still stands. The Egyptians are also famous for their hieroglyphic writing and sea-going ships. Like other powerful empires, ancient Egypt was weakened by invasions, until it was taken over by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.



7. Mogul Empire

The Mogul Empire was founded in AD 1526 in northern India by a descendant of Genghis Khan. This was a hugely wealthy civilization and the Moguls greatly valued education, culture and art. The Taj Mahal was built by Moguls from 1632-53. This beautiful mausoleum was made for Emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and is built of the marble with exquisite inlaid decoration. The empire’s Muslim leaders wanted the people to keep Muslim away, but many of its subjects were Hindu. In 1691 the empire was torn apart by bloody battles between Muslims and Hindus. The Mogul empire was finally overthrown by the British in 1857.



8. Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was formed in 31 BC under the leadership of Caesar Augustus, who ruled over every aspect of Roman life. Caesar Augustus brought peace, prosperity, and culture. The empire expanded so much that by the 2nd century AD Rome had colonies which stretched from the Middle East to Spain and from Great Britain to North Africa. The sheer size of the empire brought problems. There was not enough money to pay for any army spread across the world, which made the empire vulnerable to enemies. Constant attacks by German barbarians eventually defeated the army, and the empire fell in AD 476. The influence Rome is staggering: Roman roads still cross Europe and Latin America, and its language, Latin, is the basis of many languages spoken today.



9. Alexander the Great’s Empire

Alexander III of Macedonia lived for only 33 years, from 356 to 323 BC. In that short time, he built an empire covering Persia (modern Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey), Egypt, Greece, and Babylon. It was difficult to keep this huge empire together and it collapsed soon after his death.



10. British Empire

At the beginning of the 20th century, about a quarter of the world’s people lived under British rule. The British had been expanding their empire since the 15th century, and by 1900 its lands included South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Nepal Singapore, Malta, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Most of Britain’s former colonies have now won or been granted independence. Many belong to the Commonwealth, which is a voluntary association of independent states founded in 1931.



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