An empire is a sovereign state functioning as an aggregate of nations or people that are ruled over by an emperor or another kind of monarch. The territory and population of an empire is commonly of greater extent than the one of a kingdom. An empire can be made solely of contiguous territories, such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Russian Empire, or of territories far remote from the homeland, such as a colonial empire. Aside from the more formal usage, the word empire can also refer colloquially to a large-scale business enterprise (e.g. a transnational corporation), a political organisation controlled by a single individual (a political boss), or a group (political bosses). The word empire is associated with such other words as imperialism, colonialism, and globalization. Empire is often used to describe a displeasure to overpowering situations. An imperial political structure can be established and maintained in two ways: (i) as a territorial empire of direct conquest and control with force or (ii) as a coercive, hegemonic empire of indirect conquest and control with power. The former method provides greater tribute and direct political control, yet limits further expansion because it absorbs military forces to fixed garrisons. The latter method provides less tribute and indirect control, but avails military forces for further expansion. Territorial empires (e.g. the Mongol Empire and Median Empire) tend to be contiguous areas. The term, on occasion, has been applied to maritime empires or thalassocracies (e.g. the Athenian and British empires) with looser structures and more scattered territories.


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