Provinces and settlements of Ancient Rome

Provinces and settlements of Ancient Rome

This animation presents the history of Ancient Rome throughout the centuries.



Római Birodalom, Rome, Ancient Rome, imperial period, Roman, province, Mediterranean Sea, limes, antiquity, trade, Pannonia, Mediterranean, history, capital city, border, conquest, Earth globe, blank map, map knowledge, map, Earth

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Ancient Rome

  • The Roman Empire in 230 A.D. - The territory of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent was 5,000,000 km² (1,931,000 sq mi).

After centuries of wars and conquests, Rome became a powerful empire, ruler of the Mediterranean region.
The huge empire practically surrounded the Mediterranean Sea, this is why Romans referred to it as Mare Nostrum ("our sea").

The area of the Roman Empire at its greatest territorial extent, at the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., during the reign of Trajan, was about 5 million km² (1,931,000 sq mi).

Territorial expansion

  • 510 B.C.
  • 320 B.C.
  • 300 B.C.
  • 270 B.C.
  • 220 B.C.
  • 190 B.C.
  • 140 B.C.
  • 70 B.C.
  • 40 B.C.
  • 20 A.D.
  • 70 A.D.
  • 140 A.D.
  • 230 A.D.
  • 300 A.D.


Provinces were the largest territorial and administrative units of the territorial possessions of Rome outside Italia. The provinces were acquired in wars of conquest, they were subjected to Rome and obligated to pay taxes. Sicilia (Sicily) was the first province of Rome; it was acquired in 241 B.C., after the 1st Punic War.

Generally, the provinces were governed by former magistrates of senatorial rank (e.g. former consuls or praetors) after completing their term of office in Rome. The governors were usually appointed for 1 year and most often they were simply drawn from the list of applicants.


  • Alexandria
  • Aquincum
  • Athenae
  • Byzantium
  • Colonia Agrippina
  • Damascus
  • Londinium
  • Lugdunum
  • Lutetia
  • Mediolanum
  • Neapolis
  • Olisipo
  • Roma
  • Toletum
  • Valentia
  • Vindobona

As Rome was growing, the number of cities was also increasing, since the Romans secured their conquests by founding colonies. In Imperial Rome, there were more than two thousand settlements that can be considered as towns or cities.

Towns were the smallest administrative units of Ancient Rome. Several types of towns were established, e.g. civilian settlements, military settlements. At first, the status and rights of different towns and their inhabitants varied greatly. Later, as Roman law was extended, their status was somewhat standardized.

Culture flourished in Roman towns, and inhabitants could enjoy all the achievements of civilization. Towns were also the centers of trade, production and religion. For every town, Rome was the example to follow.

Trade routes

Roads (called "viae") were the arteries of life and trade in Ancient Rome, with the city of Rome as the heart. Indeed, the center of the Roman road system was the city of Rome. Hence the saying: "Omnes viae Romam ducunt" ("All roads lead to Rome").

As for trade, water transportation was preferred. Romans navigated the Mediterranean Sea as well as major rivers such as the Rhine, the Ebro or the Nile.

As the territories of Rome expanded, the road system also reached beyond the limits of the Eternal City and Italia and was used for trade. Thus the goods produced in the provinces could be transported into the center. There were several land trade routes, such as the Amber Road, which connected the Adriatic Sea with the Baltic Sea.

The limes

The limes was a border defense system along the boundaries of the the Roman Empire which consisted of natural barriers and man-made fortifications.
Important elements of the limes included rivers (e.g. the Danube) and mountain ranges (e.g. the Alps).
In regions where there were no natural features to rely on, walls with watchtowers and gates were built.

One of the best-known section of the system was built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117–138) along the northern border of the province of Britannia.
Hadrian's Wall was built over a period of eight years. It stretched nearly 120 km (74.56 mi) across the island east to west. The wall sections were about 5 m (16.4 ft) high and 3 m (9.84 ft) wide and there were small forts (known as milecastles) built at regular intervals along its length, with two turrets between each.

Game with provinces

Game with settlements


  • 510 B.C.
  • 320 B.C.
  • 300 B.C.
  • 270 B.C.
  • 220 B.C.
  • 190 B.C.
  • 140 B.C.
  • 70 B.C.
  • 40 B.C.
  • 20 A.D.
  • 70 A.D.
  • 140 A.D.
  • 230 A.D.
  • 300 A.D.


The city of Rome, established in the 8th century B.C., was located in the center of the Italian Peninsula. After centuries of wars and conquests, Rome first took control of the peninsula and then the entire Mediterranean region. The vast empire reached its greatest extent in the early 2nd century A.D.

Efficient governance of the empire depended on territorial and administrative units, or provinces, which were established in the conquered territories. The limes, a border defense system consisting of natural barriers and man-made fortifications, protected the empire.

As the boundaries of Rome expanded, a famous road network was developed that spanned the entire empire. Land and sea routes formed the arteries of a flourishing trade.

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