The Chinese civilization is one of five ancient civilizations of world. From Xia Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, China has experienced about 4,000 years of history and many dynasties. So, in last 4,000 years, when did China's land area rank first in world? We have to make some comparisons with world history to find out.1. First ranked first in world: Western Zhou Dynasty.
During Xia and Shang dynasties, development of Chinese civilization was relatively behind that of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian civilization were more than 1,000 years older than Xia Dynasty, and ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian civilization far surpassed Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties in terms of maturity of civilizational development. At same time, China's territory was also very limited. At same time, Ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon had hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land, while Xia Dynasty was limited to Henan Province, and Shang Dynasty was mainly limited to parts of Henan, Shandong, Hebei, and Huaibei.
The first time China's land area ranked first in world was during Western Zhou Dynasty, to be precise, it was early Western Zhou Dynasty. Around 1050 BC King Wu destroyed Shang Dynasty and incorporated lands originally belonging to Shang Dynasty into territory of Western Zhou Dynasty. Later, after Duke Zhou's expedition to east, King Zhao's expedition to south, and King Mu's expedition to west, territory of Western Zhou Dynasty was expanded to its full splendor. During reign of King Mu Zhou, territory of Western Zhou Dynasty covered 1 million square kilometers, mainly including today's Northern China, Shaanxi, Huaibei and Jianghan.
At same time, New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt perished in 1085 BC, entered an era of division and was reunited only in 664 BC. In region of Western Asia, Hittites fell into decline and have long been unable to maintain their hegemony. But Assyria in Western Asia is on rise. However, emerging Assyrian kingdom had not yet become powerful, and its area is far from reaching scale of Western Zhou dynasty. Thus, Western Zhou dynasty was undoubtedly largest country in world at that time.2. Ranked No. 1 in World for Second Time: Middle and Late Western Han Dynasty
In 771 BC. e. Western Zhou dynasty fell, and China entered an era of great division during Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period. During this era, a large number of Central Plains countries fought against each other, and finally, in Warring States Period, "Seven Heroes of Warring States" were formed. Among them, Chu State has largest area, about 1 million square kilometers. However, during this period, size of China could not compete with countries of Western Asia. During period of early Spring and Autumn, two large countries arose in Western Asia, one Neo-Assyria, which united Mesopotamia and parts of Egypt during period of Isarhaddon (680-669 BC), with an area of 1.5 million square meters. . The other is Kingdom of Milan (700 BC - 500 BC), whose territory mainly covered the Iranian Highlands and northern Mesopotamia, with an area of 2.8 million square kilometers.
After that, Mediterranean began to move into imperial stage. In 550 BC In Iran, Persian Achaemenid dynasty (the first Persian Empire) was founded, which, after three generations of imperial conquests, united all of Western Asia and North Africa and created first major empire in history of mankind, covering Asia and Europe. and African Empire, its territory reached 5.6 million square meters. After Persian Empire came Macedonian Empire. In 336 BC Alexander conquered Persian Empire, and then founded Macedonian Empire with an area of about 5.5 million square kilometers. Before split of Macedonia, Seleucid Kingdom basically inherited territory of Macedonian Empire in Western Asia, with a total area of about 3.5 million square kilometers, and was also largest country in world at that time. In India, after this incident, a great empire was also created - Magadha Empire (Mauryan dynasty: 322-185 BC). During Ashoka period (273-232 BC), Magadha empire unified entire subcontinent of South Asia, covering an area of 4.2 million square kilometers, making it largest country in world at that time.
At same time, China also began transition to empire. In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang united six countries and founded Qin Dynasty, which, after restoration of Hetao and conquest of Baiyue, has exceeded 3 million square kilometers, but has not yet become largest country in world. After founding of Han Dynasty, territory at an early stage was mainly sum of areas of seven countries and was not as large as in Qin Dynasty. During era of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty (141 BC-87 BC), he conquered Southwest Yi, South Vietnam, Korea, etc., defeated Xiongnu, received Hetao and Hexi, and controlled western regions, doubling size of Han Dynasty. At end of reign of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, its area reached 5.6 million square kilometers, making it largest country in world. Prior to Eastern Han Dynasty, territory of China also occupied approximately this territory. At same time, area of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire also amounted to about 5 million square kilometers, ranking second in world.
Western Han dynasty territory3 ranked first in world for third time: early Tang dynasty
After fall of Eastern Han Dynasty, China entered Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties and fell into a great schism. During this period, only Western Jin dynasty had a brief unification. At same time, several great empires arose side by side in West. First, there is Roman Empire. In fact, already during Eastern Han Dynasty, area of the Roman Empire surpassed area of the Han Dynasty. During era of Trajan (98-117), area of the Roman Empire expanded rapidly, reaching 5.9 million square kilometers, surpassing Eastern Han dynasty. From then until split of Roman Empire in 395, goose square of Roman Empire remained largest in world. In addition, Persia in Western Asia was also restored, and Parthian dynasty (247-224 BC) and Sassanid dynasty (224-651) were established. Among them, Persian Sassanid Dynasty, also known as Second Persian Empire, basically inherited rule of Persian Empire in Western Asia, and its area reached 5.6 million square kilometers. After division of Roman Empire, Persian Sassanid dynasty was largest country in world in terms of area and remained so until its death.
Persian Sasanian Empire
For China, national unification was completed under Sui dynasty, but its area reached a peak of about 4.6 million square kilometers, which could not compete with area of the Persian Sasanian dynasty. In 618, Tang Dynasty was founded, and it was not until 628 that country was unified. Then Tang dynasty began to move towards large-scale expansion and successively liquidated Eastern Turkic, Xue Yantuo, Goguryeo, Western Turkic and other countries. In 645, Tang Dynasty destroyed Xue Yantuo and incorporated Mongol Highlands into their territory, noting that area of the Tang Dynasty surpassed Persian Sasanian Empire and ranked first in world. In 657, Tang Dynasty destroyed Western Turks, and area of the Tang Dynasty exceeded 10 million square kilometers, becoming largest country in world. However, after Wu Zetian, area of the Tang Dynasty shrank rapidly and remained at about 6 million square kilometers. After Anshi Rebellion, area of the Tang Dynasty was further reduced, and since then it has been maintained at about 4 million square kilometers.
At this time, a large empire arose in Western Asia - Arab Empire (632-1258). In 661, Umayyad dynasty was founded and continued to expand. In 651, Persian Sassanid was destroyed and became largest empire in world after Tang Dynasty. During era of Wu Zetian, area of the Arab Empire surpassed that of Tang Dynasty, ranking first in world. Since then, Arab Empire has dominated world for almost 100 years. The peak of its territory exceeded 13 million square kilometers. At that time, in addition to Tang dynasty and Arabia, Eastern Roman Empire existed in world, but due to its shrinking area, it was finally limited to Turkish peninsula and southeastern Europe.
Territory of Arab Empire4, world's first place for 4th time: Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming
Since Tang Dynasty, China has again entered an era of division. However, Arabs also disintegrated after 8th century and fell into decline. Since then, China has entered Song and Yuan dynasties. During this era, world did not have such a huge empire as Arabian and Tang dynasties. At this time, Chinese Liao and Jin were among largest countries in world. For example, area of the Liao kingdom is about 4.9 million square kilometers, while Seljuk empire is about 4.2 million square kilometers, thus Liao kingdom has become largest country in world. Since then, Jin Dynasty has been established, with an area of about 3.6 million square kilometers, and Khorezm in same period was also about 3.6 million square kilometers. Of course, area of the two Songs was relatively small: only 2.8 million square kilometers in Northern Song Dynasty and only 2 million square kilometers in Southern Song Dynasty.
The Eurasian continent during Liao and Song dynasties
During late Jin Dynasty, Mongol Empire arose and established a pastoral empire spanning interior of Eurasian continent. With an area of about 24 million square kilometers, it has undoubtedly become largest country in world. In 1260 Kublai Khan came to power and empire was divided. After that, Kublai Khan founded Yuan Dynasty, after Southern Song Dynasty was destroyed, territory of Yuan Dynasty exceeded 13 million square kilometers.
The Yuan Dynasty and Four Khanates
After fall of Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty inherited rule of Yuan Dynasty in Han region of Central Plains, and its original area reached 4 million square kilometers. During Yongle period (1402-1424), territory of Ming Dynasty reached over 6 million square kilometers. At beginning of Ming Dynasty, a huge empire similar to Timurid empire also appeared in Western Asia, but its territory could only occupy second place in world.
At end of Ming Dynasty, territorial area shrank again and remained at about 4 million square kilometers. At this time, Turkish Ottoman Empire arose in Western Asia. During reign of Suleiman I (1520-1566), territory of Ottoman Empire reached 4.5 million square kilometers, exceeding area of the Ming Dynasty. By time of Ottoman heyday, area had reached 5.5 million square kilometers. Of course, Ottoman Empire did not sit firmly in world for many years. After opening of a new sea route, Spain and Portugal carried out a comprehensive colonial expansion. From middle of 16th century, Spain mainly controlled South America, except for Brazil, as well as Central America, Mexico and Philippines. The area of \u200b\u200bher empire reached 17 million square kilometers. After Portugal occupied Brazil, its area reached 10 million square kilometers. At end of 17th century, Russian Empire arose, and its area quickly reached 20 million square kilometers.