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Top 10 Greatest Empires in History

by AaronAhmadi   July 13, 2011 at 7:00AM  |  Views: 70,597
What defines a great empire? Is it its sheer size? Or perhaps its influence over others? Some may say an empire's wealth is what truly makes it great. Whatever it is, there are some empires that stand out in history as being the greatest of all time.

10. Egyptian Empire

Image: Matt Champlin/Getty Images

One of the oldest empires in history, the Egyptian Empire can be traced back to as long ago as 3000 BC. As the territory was situated near the Nile River, Egyptians learned how to use irrigation and advanced agricultural techniques to produce a wealth of goods for their people. Egyptians even were among the first civilizations to create ships. When you go as far back in history as Ancient Egypt, you'll always find the inventors that changed our way of life.

9. Byzantine Empire

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When the Roman Empire was divided in 395 AD, the Western half was still ruled by Rome, but the Eastern half was known as the Byzantine Empire. While the Western half of the Roman Empire fell during the 5th century, the Byzantine Empire on the other hand lasted for over a thousand years, becoming one of the most advanced and influential Christian states ever to have existed.

8. Russian Empire

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After the Tsardom of Russia, but before the Soviet Union, there existed the Russian Empire. Between 1721 and 1917 this empire grew to be one of the largest in history, spanning through Eastern Europe, Asia, and up to North America. This world superpower even defeated Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812 when Napoleon's troops marched through a harsh Russian winter.

7. Qing Dynasty

Image: China Photos/Getty Images

For almost 300 years the Qing Dynasty ruled over China, and is in fact the last imperial dynasty that ruled the country. But here's the real kicker – it was not ruled by the Han Chinese, the major ethnic population in China, but instead by the Manchus, a small minority. At the time, this dynasty's form of military organization was touted as being the best in the world.

6. Achaemenid Empire

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At its height, the Achaemenid Empire (also known as the Persian Empire) was nearly eight million square kilometers in size. From 550 to 330 B.C. the world saw the expansion of an empire so large in size that it had an extensively multicultural society, abundant wealth, and power. The Achaemenid Empire was so vast that at the time, that by 5th century B.C. almost 45% of the entire world's population lived under it.