The Roman Empire is one of the largest empires in the history of the world. The land belonging to Rome stretched from Europe to Africa and the Middle East. During the reign of emperor Augustus a map of the known world was first created. At its largest, Rome stretched over 5 million square kilometers and housed an estimated population of 55-60 million people. This accounted for an estimated ¼ of all people on Earth. Rome was the home of three huge cities—Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.
The Roman Empire began as The Roman Republic, which was a network of individual, independent small towns. During the late 2nd century BC Rome went through a time of unrest and civil war. This period is known as the Crisis of the Roman Republic. During this time one of Rome’s most famous rulers, Julius Caesar was assassinated. Under the rule of Octavian the Roman Empire was established with Octavian, later renamed Augustus, as its first emperor. Under Augustus Rome went through a time of Peace and Prosperity that lasted around two hundred years and is known as the “Pax Romana.” Generations of emperors followed with some of the most notable being Tiberius, Nero, and Marcus Aurelius. During the 3rd Century BC the Roman Empire entered another period of turmoil. Ruler Diocletian worked to restore the empire and defend it from the perceived threat of Christianity. Diocletian divided the empire into four different regions, ruled by the Tetrarchy. The empire continued to unravel until it was restored under Constantine the Great who is known for establishing the capital of Constantinople in the Eastern Empire. The constant struggle continued for hundreds of years and eventually collapsed in 1453.
The Roman government was composed of three different branches: the military, central government, and provincial government. The military kept tight control of its citizens as well established control over new territories. The emperor was the ultimate leader of the central government and had the power to make policy for the empire. The empire did have a senate that did participate in government but ultimately it was the emperor who had the ruling power and authority. Finally since the empire had so many territories, governors were given power to rule over the territories by the authority of the emperor.
The Roman Empire has a rich history and out of that history came notable architecture, engineering, art, literature, and politics. Modern day travelers visit Rome to experience the architecture and engineering first hand.