The Longest-Lived Empire in History

By history’s standard, the United States of America has not been around very long. Not even three centuries old, it cannot come close to matching what were the empires and countries from which the early immigrants came from–England, France, and Italy. And, does the U.S. qualify as an empire? It expanded due to the Louisiana Purchase, the addition of Texas, and the purchase of Alaska. Puerto Rico was added in the last century.

By our definition, an empire comprises many territories ruled by one centralized governing body, often an emperor or other monarch. As long as humans have had aspirations to rule, there have been empires. Some date back more than 4,500 years, almost to the end of the Stone Age.

Some empires are short-lived, while others endure for centuries. Even those that disappear within a few hundred years can make a significant impact, imparting lasting influence on the arts, science, government, commerce, farming techniques, tradesmen crafts, religion, and urban development, among other human endeavors.

To determine the longest-lived empire in history, 24/7 Tempo reviewed numerous articles, encyclopedia entries, and historical and archeological websites, among the Britannica, World History, HistoryFiles, New World Encyclopedia, and Maps of India.

In many instances, it is impossible to determine a precise founding date for an empire, either because there are no trustworthy historical records or because some empires come into being slowly, beginning with minor dynasties that may turn into empires. It is also sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact end of a declining empire unless it was conquered definitively. The date ranges given, then, are often approximate, and may be contested.

This list we consider includes some of the most famous empires in human history – the Roman, the Ottoman, the Byzantine, and the British among them. Less well-known but no less interesting are the three empires that fought for supremacy in Korea for decades – the Goryeo, Paekche, and Silla kingdoms.

Among the many African-based empires we looked is Abyssinia (Ethiopian Empire), which succeeded in fending off European colonization. One of the longest-lasting empires in South America was the Wari civilization that lasted for 500 years and preceded the arrival of the Spanish by half a millennium.

The longest empire in history is the Pandyan Dynasty. Here are the details:

> Dates: 580 B.C.-1345
> Span: 1925 years

This is the world’s longest-lasting empire. Though there were Pandyan kings in earlier centuries, the first Pandyan dynasty is considered to have begun around the early sixth century B.C. Around 960, the Pandyans were driven into exile in Sri Lanka by the Chola (see No. 3), but the empire slowly revived – in the early 1200s, Marco Polo identified the Pandyan dynasty as the world’s richest empire – lasting until a two-decade period of wars and invasions culminated in its dissolution.

Click here to read the longest-lived empires in history


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