Republic vs Empire
Republic and empire are words that are used for nations and groups of nations respectively. The most classic example of republic and empire is that of Roman republic and Roman Empire while there have been innumerable empires in world history with British Empire being the most influential in reach and spread. While the concept of empire has connotations that are disliked by modern nation states reminding them of the colonial times, more and more countries prefer to be labeled as republics to not to be confused with autocracies and monarchies. There are many differences between a republic and an empire that will be clear after reading this article.
Republic is a word that lets others know that the country is sovereign and does not believe in monarchy or inheritance of power. The word is derived from Latin res publica that tells that the governance of the country is a public matter, and it is not ruled by a king or a monarch. The term republic is not a new one, and we all know about Roman Republic existing in 100 BC. It is another matter that this Republic later got converted into Empire and in the process lost its democratic face. The most prominent and distinguishing feature of a republic is that the head of the state is elected by the people of the country and does not assume power through inheritance. The term republic also indicates the rule of laws as against autocracy as in monarchies and kingdoms.
It is hard to imagine now that even two thousand years ago, there was a system of governance in Rome that resembled modern republics with a powerful senate comprised of representatives chosen by the citizens of Rome. However, personal ambitions and power struggles led to chaos and eventual transformation of a republic into an empire. This was the time when Augustus took over from Creaser and turned Rome into an Empire.
The geographical area represented by different states and nations ruled by an empire is referred to as an empire. The word has been derived from a Latin word Imperium that means power or authority. The word Empire brings to mind images of the British Empire and before that the Roman Empire that controlled large geographical areas comprised of many countries. While the Roman Empire is the biggest empire seen by the western world after the rule of Alexander, there have been many empires in other parts of the world with Mauryan Empire in 320 BC, in Indian subcontinent being a very powerful and influential empire. There have been Islamic Empire, Mongol Empire, and several more in the medieval period while the world saw the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian Empires in the 20th century. It was the landing of European explorers in Americas and Australia, and later in Asia that led to the emergence of the so called New World and the use of the word imperialism in favor of Empire.
What is the difference between Republic and Empire?
• Republic is a term used to refer to countries where head of the state is elected by the people directly whereas empire refers to a geographical area ruled by a single person called the emperor.
• While the word Empire is still used for the Japanese Empire as it is still ruled by an emperor, the concept is not seen under a favorable light nowadays. The result is that with the end of World War II and countries attaining independence from the British Empire, more and more countries chose to become republics to sever even vestigial remains with empire and the colonial impressions.
• Rome was a republic before personal ambitions and power struggles led to its eventual conversion into the Roman Empire.
• While US is the most powerful country in the world at present, it resists the temptation to be called an empire despite having a strong influence over many countries and remains a democracy or republic.