List of largest empires
| List of largest empires ： ウィキペディア英語版|
An empire involves the extension of a state's sovereignty over external territories and variety of different ethnic groups. The term "empire" does not have a precise definition, but is generally applied to political entities that are considered to be especially ''large'' by the standards of their time and that have acquired a significant part of their territory by conquest. For example, first the Portuguese Empire, then the Spanish Empire and later the British Empire were called "the empires on which the sun never sets", because of their vast territories and possessions around the globe. This article provides a list of the largest empires in world history, but the list is not and cannot be definitive since the decision about which entities to consider as "empires", such as the concept of American Imperialism, is difficult and fraught with controversy.
There are various notions of size that can be used to rank empires. For each of these notions, only estimates can be given in the case of most historical empires. Furthermore, there is usually no clear consensus among historians regarding the best estimate – if only because there is often no unambiguous information about an empire's historical boundaries or population. Thus, the values given here should be interpreted as only indicative and not as determining an accurate ranking.
The calculation of the land area of a particular empire is controversial. In general, the list aims to include all land that was explored and explicitly claimed, even if the areas were populated very sparsely or not at all. For example, a large portion of Northern Siberia is included in the size of the Russian Empire but not the Mongol Empire. The Mongol Empire's northern border was somewhat ill-defined, but in most places it was simply the natural border between the steppe and the taiga. At the time the majority of the taiga and tundra were unexplored and uninhabited, and the Mongol Empire did not claim them as its own. This area was only very sparsely populated by the Russian Empire, but it had been explicitly claimed by the Russian Empire by the 17th century, and its extent had been entirely explored by the late 19th century. Similarly, the northernmost Canadian islands such as Ellesmere Island were explored and claimed by the British Empire by the mid-19th century (virtually the entire mainland was at least sparsely populated well before that).
Due to the historical trend of increasing population and GDP, the most recent empires tend to score highest in these categories, so the list of largest empires by population or GDP is highly dependent on which recent political entities are defined as empires. The measures of population and GDP as a percentage of the world total can be used to compensate for this historical growth and ensure that each empire is judged by the standards of its own time. However, decent GDP data is only available for the last few centuries, and accurate data only for the last few decades.
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