Much of the time, the world was ruled by empires led by the most powerful people or countries . There were shifts of power every so often that led to different nations controlling much of the world at certain points of time. To be considered a notable powerhouse in history, an empire should have control of large tracks of land. Here is a list of the top 10 richest empires in the history of the world based on the econmy.
10. Austro-Hungarian Empire- $100.5 billion (in 1918)
The Austro-Hungarian empire was founded by the Roman Emperor in 1804. Some parts of the Holy Roman empire and Austris went to war against the French and Germans. A ceasefire was then put in place after the Austrians were defeated at Austerlitz. At that time, hungarians and Austrians were given equal rights to use their country as one nation. These two empires always maintained seperate parliaments. There were never any common laws set into place in Austria nor Hungary. The victors dissolved this empire in 1918 at the end of the first world war. Austria and Hungary were then broken into seperate states.
9. Afsharid Persian Empire – $119.85 billion (in 1740)
The Afsharid Empire was a member of a larger faction, the Iranian Dynasty of Turkic that originated from the Afshar tribe from Khorasan. The Afshar Dynasty ruled Persia from 1736 to 1796 under the rule of Nader Shah. The empire was comprised of a small local state in Khorosan. Nader Shah’s rule involved regaining lost Persian land from The Russian and Ottoman forces.
Kandahar and Mughal India were among the conquests of the Afshar empire. After Nader Shah returned to Persia from his conquest in India, the Afsharid rule was plagued by infighting, assassinations and was eventually stopped by Mohammad Khan Qajaym the ruler of the Qajar dynasty who captured, tortured and killed the last Afsharid ruler, Shahrokh.
8. Indian Empire – $134.9 billion (in 1870)
The Indian Empire which was more commonly known as the British Raj when the Queen Victoria of Britain formed the Order of the Indian Empire. The Indian Empire was established by in 1958 and remained active till 1947. Burma was already a part of India which made it an entity of the British Indian Empire. Other nations that became part of the Indian empire include Pakistan, Bangladesh, British Somaliland, Burma, and Singapore.
The first empress of the Indian Empire was Queen Victoria who remained ruler until the British Indian Empire was divided into 2 separate states that include The Union of India which was later on known as the Republic of India and The Dominion of Pakistan. The Dominion of Pakistan was later divided into 2 states as the Republic of Pakistan and the Republic of Bangladesh.
7. Italian Empire – $143.4 billion (in 1938)
The Italian Empire was one of the most powerful in the world which lasted from 1848 to 1960. The modern Italian empire is to be differentiated from the ancient Roman Empire. By the time modern Italy was established as a unified state in 1861, other nations such as France, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands and Britain had already established colonies abroad. By the time Italy started making conquests overseas, the only region left for the taking was the African continent.
After the onset of Work War I in 1914, Italy was able to gain control of Somalia, Eritrea, Dodecanese Islands and Libya. Italy later included Ethiopia, Dalmatia, and Zadar. When the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini came into power in 1922, Albania, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece ad part of Egypt also became part of the Italian Empire with the help of Germany which later turned on its Italian ally to put an end to the Italian Empire.
6. French Empire – $234.1 billion (in 1938)
There were 2 French Colonial Empires. The first one began in the 16th century with the colonization of the Americas. By 1814, the first empire had lost most of its conquests and ceased to exist. The second empire began in 1830 with the occupation of Algeria and ended in 1962. By 1900 the French Empire became one of the largest colonial empires in land size and population. Land conquests totaled 12,300,000 square kilometers and the population under French rule comprised of 110 million people that included French citizens.
Its colonies comprised of many nations and parts of countries in all continents reaching far and wide from Africa to Asia. They had control of dozens of places in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. The French also reached far and wide all the way Oceana and Antarctica.
5. Qing Empire – $241.3 billion (GDP decline to 1912, immediately before its downfall)[
The Empire of the Great Qing is also known as the Manchu Dynasty, which comprised of the last imperial rulers of China. This Chinese Empire began in 1644 and ended in 1912 when the Republic of China was born. This multi-cultural dynasty lasted almost 3 centuries and formed the territorial base of modern China.
The empire was established by the Jurchen Aisin Gioro family from Northeastern China which was previously called Manchuria. The older rulers of the Qing Empire followed Manchu culture while latter leaders governed using the Confucian ways. It had a population of about 300 to 400 million people. During this empire, standards for measurements and currency were established. Borders extended to Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan.
4. Russian Empire – $257.7 billion (in 1917)
The modern Russian Empire was established in 1721 and ended in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. Historians debate about who established the Russian Empire but some records state that it may have been Tsar Peter I, Ivan III, or Ivan VI. This empire was one of the largest in history with a land mass only bested by the British and Mongol empires.
Colonized land stretched from Eastern Europe to Asia and North America. The empire’s possessions crossed the Arctic Ocean, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. The Russian Empire also had its presence in parts of the Northeast in America. Its participation in World War I was also part of the reason of its demise during the February Revolution in 1917.
3. Japanese Empire – $260.7 billion (in 1938)
The powerful Empire of Japan began in January 3, 1868 during the Meiji Restoration and ended when the 1947 Constitution of Japan was enacted. The Japanese conquered a large part of Asia-Pacific and controlled about 7,400,000 square kilometers of land by 1942. The fall of the Japanese Empire ended World War II after the atomic bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima and a declaration of war by the Soviet Union.
The Japanese Empire gained notoriety for war crimes committed during its reign in several countries in the Asia-Pacific. Some nations that were colonized by the Japanese Empire include Korea, Taiwan, Parts of China, Timor, Burma, New Guinea, Philippines, Guam and Brunei among others. Parts of Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Alaska were also occupied. Hawaii and California in the USA were also attacked but not conquered.
2. Nazi German Empire – $375.6 billion (in 1938)
Morgan Hauser / Wikicommons
The Empire of Nazi Germany began when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor by Germany’s President Hindenburg in 1933. Within 3 days of his appointment, Hitler, a native of Austria, defined the Nazi Party’s goal which was to expand the space of the German master race. Within the same year, Hitler banned all other political parties, formed the Gestapo Secret Police, and took over the government.
Hitler proclaimed himself Furor to combine the posts of Chancellor and President after Hindenburg died. In 1935, Hitler announced that the German Army would expand and banned relationships between Jews and Aryans. The Nazi German Empire occupied Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Netherlands, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy and Norway eliminating or capturing all the Jews in these countries as Hitler and his army sequestered their wealth along the way. The Nazi German Empire ended after the suicide of Hitler in April 30, 1945.
1. British Empire – $918.7 billion (in 1938)
The British Empire consisted of colonies, dominions, mandates, protectorates and territories controlled by the United Kingdom. The Empire began when trading posts and possessions overseas were established by England between the 16th and 18th century. Under Queen Victoria’s rule, Britain became the largest empire in the world.
By 1922, the empire controlled 23% of the earth’s surface and comprised of 458 subjects during its peak which was 1/5 of the world’s population during that time. The empire occupied many nations in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Antarctica, Africa, and Asia particularly India. The end of the British Empire was marked by the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.