Numerous legendary empires were built (and destroyed) in the course of history.
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In the 14th century, the South American state of the Inca tribal confederation was only a small city state that included Cuzco and its vicinity. After the Inca conquests in the 15th century, its area increased enormously: it measured about 4,000 km (2,486 mi) from north to south and about 800 km (497 mi) from east to west. The Inca Empire, the largest empire of the Pre-Columbian Americas, reached its greatest territorial extent at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, during the reign of Huayna Capac.
After the death of Huayna Capac, a war that broke out between his successors, together with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, resulted in the fall of the empire.
The name of the Russian Empire was given by Peter the Great himself who wanted to modernize the previous Tsardom. He established a new capital, Saint Petersburg, in 1703 which was named after Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles.
The empire reached its peak during the reign of Catherine II, who made significant territorial gains and the Russian Empire became even larger. It reached its greatest territorial extent in the 2nd half of the 19th century, at which time there were more than a hundred ethnic groups living on an area of about 23 million square kilometers (8,880,349 square miles). The empire started to decline in the mid-19th century and was finally overthrown by the February Revolution in 1917.
In contrast to other states, the English started colonization relatively late but with great enthusiasm. The British Empire became a truly global empire by the 19th century. It was the largest and most populous territory in history ruled by a single state and it had the strongest economy in the world.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the British Empire controlled about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area and one-fifth of the population was living on its territories. The phrase 'the empire on which the Sun never sets' is also true of the British Empire.
The global influence of the British Empire as well as the period of relative peace after the Napoleonic Wars, Pax Britannica, ended in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I.
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