Difference Between Empire and Kingdom

Main Difference – Empire vs Kingdom

Both empire and kingdom are states or countries ruled by a king or an empire. The main difference between empire and kingdom is that empire is ruled by an emperor whereas a kingdom is ruled by a king. An empire can consist of a group of kingdoms as well.

What is an Empire

Empire is a widespread group of states or countries ruled over by a single monarch, an oligarchy, or a sovereign state. The ruler of an empire is an emperor. Empress is a female ruler or a wife of an emperor. Emperor is considered to be more powerful than a king because he has control over a larger geographical area. The different states and regions can also be ruled by kings. But it is the emperor who has the major control of the empire. The Roman Empire, the British Empire, Mughal Empire, Caliphate or the Arab Empire are some examples of historical empires. Today the only remaining emperor in power is the emperor of Japan.    

An empire can come into power by inheritance or conquest. Most of the powerful empires in the world have been created by conquering many different countries. When a king conquers his neighboring kingdoms and unites all under his power, he becomes the empire of the whole region.

Difference Between Empire and Kingdom

The Eastern Roman Empire during the reign of Emperor Maurice.

What is a Kingdom

Kingdom is a region, state, or country ruled by a king or queen. A queen usually becomes the ruler, when there are no male heirs in the Royal family. A queen can also become the ruler of a kingdom when her husband, the king dies. A kingdom ruled by one king is called a monarchy; a kingdom ruled by many kings is called oligarchy. A kingdom ruled by two people is called a biarchy.

Although the king is considered to be the ruler of a kingdom, a kingdom can also become a part of an empire. In such cases, the king is under the control of the empire. Kingdoms still exist in the modern day as well; they can exist as either constitutional monarchies or traditional monarchies. Countries like United Kingdom, Spain, and Nepal are constitutional monarchies whereas countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are traditional monarchies.Main Difference - Empire vs  Kingdom

Difference Between Empire and Kingdom


Empire is a group of countries, states or regions ruled by a monarch, an oligarchy, or a sovereign state.

Kingdom is a country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen.


Empire is ruled by an emperor.

Kingdom is ruled by a king.


Empire is larger in geographical area than a kingdom.

Kingdom is small in comparison to an empire.


Examples of empire include Roman Empire, British Empire, Caliphate or the Arab empire.

Examples of kingdoms include the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Spain, etc.Difference Between Empire and Kingdom - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Roman Empire” by Tataryn77 – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 

“Saudi Arabia” by  Keepscases – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.