An empire can simply be defined as a large territory ruled by an emperor or any other centralised authority. An empire is usually larger than a kingdom in size and influence. For example, there was Igala Kingdom, Jukun Kingdom, Itsekiri Kingdom or Ebira Kingdom. These cover smaller areas when you compare them with Kanem-Borno Empire, Oyo Empire, Benin Empire or Sokoto Empire. Their influence on the people in those kingdoms can also not be compared with the influence on the people in the empire.



There were certain characteristics of an empire. They included:

  1. Exercise political control or influence over vast territories, exceeding its boundaries.
  2. Consisted of people of diverse origins.
  3. Had a centralised government usually by an emperor or any other authority.
  4. Usually had buoyant economy in agriculture, trade and mines.
  5. Had strong army and defence structure.
  6. Maintained diplomatic relations with other strong empires.
  7. Had the tendency to acquire more territories.