An empire is a state structure with extensive colonial possessions or a large multinational entity ruled by a single center. The most important criterion is the presence of internal specific systemic relations between the central governing part of the state, that is, the metropolis, which concentrates political and economic power, and its subordinate colonies, which are sources of geopolitical and economic resources.
It requires a strong army and police force, great foreign policy influence, a powerful state idea in the form of religion and ideology, rigid, as a rule, sole authority, and high population loyalty. It also requires an active foreign policy aimed at expansion and striving for regional or world domination. In this case, the monarchy as a type of state structure is not required.
Example of Empire government system
In all of Earth’s history, many empires have been founded. But which one is the largest? It turns out that it all depends on how you measure the size of a state.
The largest empire was The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire. The citizens of that state, founded in 550 BC, numbered 44% of the world’s population, but there were only 112.4 million people on Earth at the time. In 1901, the British had “only” a quarter of the world’s population under their rule, but the number of people on the planet had risen to 1.6 billion by then.
But the population is not the only way to measure the size of a nation. Is it reasonable to compare the British and Persian empires by this measure? Yes and no. Each metric designed to measure the power of a state has its pros and cons. In addition to the proportion of a country’s population in the global population, the land area that a country occupies, the volume of its gross domestic product, the size of its army, and so on, can be used to assess the size of a state.
For a more objective measure of the power of an empire, one should also use a value that shows the empire’s stability throughout world history. The example of the Third German Reich shows that the state had considerable military and economic power, its population was nearly 110 million people. Still, no one calls it an empire because this state existed for only six years.
Suppose we choose the most powerful empire relying on this metric. In that case, the Mongol Empire, which is considered the largest in history in terms of territory, lost to the British Empire, as it lasted only 88 years. The British Empire, on the other hand, retained this status for over 400 years.