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List of largest empires

The following is a list of the largest empires in world history. Rein Taagepera has defined an empire as "any relatively large sovereign political entity whose components are not sovereign" and its size as the area over which the empire has some undisputed military and taxation prerogatives,[1] and these are the definitions used by this list.

Largest empires by land area

For context, the land area of the Earth, excluding Antarctica, is 134,740,000 km2 (52,023,000 sq mi).[2]

Empires at their greatest extent

Empire size in this list is defined as the dry land area it controls. Where estimates vary, entries are sorted by the lowest estimate. The British Empire is the largest empire by total size, though its constituent units are discontinuous across oceans, whilst the Mongolian Empire is the largest contiguous empire, being one entity in Eurasia.

Empire Maximum land area
million km2 million mi2 % of world Year
British Empire 35.5[3] 13.71 26.35% 1920[3]
Mongol Empire 24.0[3][4] 9.27 17.81% 1270[4] or 1309[3]
Russian Empire[a] 22.8[3][4] 8.80 16.92% 1895[3][4]
Spanish Empire 13.7[3] 5.29 10.17% 1810[3]
Qing dynasty 12.16[5]–14.7[3][4] 4.70–5.68 9.02%–10.91% 1820[5] or 1790[3][4]
Second French colonial empire 11.5[3] 4.44 8.53% 1920[3]
Abbasid Caliphate 11.1[3][4] 4.29 8.24% 750[3][4]
Umayyad Caliphate 11.1[3] 4.29 8.24% 720[3]
Yuan dynasty 11.0[3]–13.72[5] 4.25–5.30 8.16%–10.18% 1310[3] or 1330[5]
Xiongnu Empire 9.0[4][6] 3.47 6.68% 176 BC[4][6]
Empire of Brazil 8.337[7] 3.22 6.19% 1889[7]
Empire of Japan 7.4[8]–8.51 2.86–3.285[9] 5.49%–6.32% 1938[8] or 1942[9]
Iberian Union 7.1[3] 2.74 5.27% 1640[3]
Eastern Han dynasty 6.5[6] 2.51 4.82% 100[6]
Ming dynasty 6.5[3][4] 2.51 4.82% 1450[3][4]
Rashidun Caliphate 6.4[3] 2.47 4.75% 655[3]
Göktürk Khaganate 6.0[4][6] 2.32 4.45% 557[4][6]
Golden Horde Khanate 6.0[3][4] 2.32 4.45% 1310[3][4]
Western Han dynasty 6.0[4][6] 2.32 4.45% 50 BC[4][6]
Achaemenid Empire 5.5[4][6] 2.12 4.08% 500 BC[4][6]
Second Portuguese Empire 5.5[3] 2.12 4.08% 1820[3]
Tang dynasty 5.4[3][4]–10.76[5] 2.08–4.15 4.01%–7.99% 715[3][4] or 669[5]
Macedonian Empire 5.2[4][6] 2.01 3.86% 323 BC[4][6]
Ottoman Empire 5.2[3][4] 2.01 3.86% 1683[3][4]
Roman Empire 5.0[4][6] 1.93 3.71% 117[4][6]
Tibetan Empire 4.6[3][4] 1.78 3.41% 800[3][4]
Timurid Empire 4.4[3][4] 1.70 3.27% 1405[3][4]
Fatimid Caliphate 4.1[3][4] 1.58 3.04% 969[3][4]
Eastern Turkic Khaganate 4.0[6] 1.54 2.97% 624[6]
Hephthalite Empire 4.0[6] 1.54 2.97% 470[6]
Hunnic Empire 4.0[4][6] 1.54 2.97% 441[4][6]
Mughal Empire 4.0[3][4] 1.54 2.97% 1690[3][4]
Great Seljuq Empire 3.9[3][4] 1.51 2.89% 1080[3][4]
Seleucid Empire 3.9[4][6] 1.51 2.89% 301 BC[4][6]
Italian Empire 3.798[10]–4.25[11] 1.47–1.64 2.82%–3.15% 1938[10] or 1941[11]
Ilkhanate 3.75[3][4] 1.45 2.78% 1310[3][4]
Chagatai Khanate 3.5[3][4] 1.35 2.60% 1310[3] or 1350[3][4]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[4][6] 1.35 2.60% 550[4][6]
Western Turkic Khaganate 3.5[6] 1.35 2.60% 630[6]
Western Xiongnu 3.5[6] 1.35 2.60% 20[6]
First French colonial empire 3.4[3] 1.31 2.52% 1670[3]
Ghaznavid Empire 3.4[3][4] 1.31 2.52% 1029[3][4]
Maurya Empire 3.4[6]–5.0[4] 1.31–1.93 2.52%–3.71% 261 BC[6] or 250 BC[4]
Delhi Sultanate (Tughlaq dynasty) 3.2[3][4] 1.24 2.37% 1312[3][4]
German colonial empire 3.199[12][13] 1.24 2.37% 1912[13]
Song dynasty 3.1[3][4] 1.20 2.30% 980[3][4]
Uyghur Khaganate 3.1[3][4] 1.20 2.30% 800[3][4]
Western Jin dynasty 3.1[6] 1.20 2.30% 280[6]
Sui dynasty 3.0[6] 1.16 2.23% 589[6]
Samanid Empire 2.85[3][4] 1.10 2.12% 928[3][4]
Eastern Jin dynasty 2.8[6] 1.08 2.08% 347[6]
Median Empire 2.8[4][6] 1.08 2.08% 585 BC[4][6]
Parthian Empire 2.8[4][6] 1.08 2.08% 0[4][6]
Rouran Khaganate 2.8[4][6] 1.08 2.08% 405[4][6]
Byzantine Empire 2.7[4]–2.8[6] 1.04–1.08 2.00%–2.08% 555[4] or 450[6]
Indo-Scythian Kingdom 2.6[6] 1.00 1.93% 20[6]
Liao dynasty 2.6[3][4]–4.5[5] 1.00–1.74 1.93%–3.34% 947[3][4] or 1111[5]
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom 2.5[6] 0.97 1.86% 184 BC[6]
Later Zhao 2.5[6] 0.97 1.86% 329[6]
Maratha Empire 2.5[4] 0.97 1.86% 1760[4]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 2.3[3][4] 0.89 1.71% 1126[3][4]
Khwarazmian Empire 2.3[4]–3.6[3] 0.89–1.39 1.71%–2.67% 1210[4] or 1218[3]
Qin dynasty 2.3[6] 0.89 1.71% 220 BC[6]
First French Empire 2.1[3] 0.81 1.56% 1813[3]
Kievan Rus' 2.1[3][4] 0.81 1.56% 1000[3][4]
Mamluk Sultanate 2.1[3][4] 0.81 1.56% 1300[3] or 1400[4]
Third Portuguese Empire 2.1[3] 0.81 1.56% 1900[3]
Almohad Caliphate 2.0[4]–2.3[3] 0.77–0.89 1.48%–1.71% 1200[4] or 1150[3]
Cao Wei 2.0[6] 0.77 1.48% 263[6]
Former Qin 2.0[6] 0.77 1.48% 376[6]
Former Zhao 2.0[6] 0.77 1.48% 316[6]
Inca Empire 2.0[3][4] 0.77 1.48% 1527[3][4]
Kushan Empire 2.0[4]–2.5[6] 0.77–0.97 1.48%–1.86% 200[4][6]
Liu Song dynasty 2.0[6] 0.77 1.48% 450[6]
Northern Wei 2.0[6] 0.77 1.48% 450[6]
Western Roman Empire 2.0[6] 0.77 1.48% 395[6]
Ayyubid dynasty 1.7[3]–2.0[4] 0.66–0.77 1.26%–1.48% 1200[3] or 1190[4]
Gupta Empire 1.7[6]–3.5[4] 0.66–1.35 1.26%–2.60% 440[6] or 400[4]
Buyid dynasty 1.6[3][4] 0.62 1.19% 980[3][4]
Eastern Wu 1.5[6] 0.58 1.11% 221[6]
Northern Qi 1.5[6] 0.58 1.11% 557[6]
Northern Xiongnu 1.5[6] 0.58 1.11% 60[6]
Northern Zhou 1.5[6] 0.58 1.11% 577[6]
Assyria 1.4[4][14] 0.54 1.04% 670 BC[4][14]
Eastern Maurya Empire 1.3[6] 0.50 0.96% 210 BC[6]
Liang dynasty 1.3[4][6] 0.50 0.96% 502,[6] 549,[6] or 579[4]
Kingdom of Aksum 1.25[4] 0.48 0.93% 350[4]
Shang dynasty 1.25[4][14] 0.48 0.93% 1122 BC[4][14]
Francia 1.2[3][4] 0.46 0.89% 814[3][4]
Srivijaya 1.2[4] 0.46 0.89% 1200[4]
Indo-Greek Kingdom 1.1[6] 0.42 0.82% 150 BC[6]
Mali Empire 1.1[3][4] 0.42 0.82% 1380[3][4]
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1.1[3][4] 0.42 0.82% 1480[4] or 1650[3]
Almoravid dynasty 1.0[4] 0.39 0.74% 1120[4]
Empire of Harsha 1.0[3][4] 0.39 0.74% 625[3] or 648[3][4]
Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty 1.0[3] 0.39 0.74% 860[3]
Holy Roman Empire 1.0[3] 0.39 0.74% 1050[3]
Khazar Khanate 1.0[3]–3.0[4] 0.39–1.16 0.74%–2.23% 900[3] or 850[4]
Khmer Empire 1.0[3][4] 0.39 0.74% 1290[3][4]
New Kingdom of Egypt 1.0[4][14] 0.39 0.74% 1450 BC[14] or 1300 BC[4]
Ptolemaic Kingdom 1.0[6] 0.39 0.74% 301 BC[6]
Qara Khitai 1.0[3]–1.5[4] 0.39–0.58 0.74%–1.11% 1130[3] or 1210[4]
Shu Han 1.0[6] 0.39 0.74% 221[6]
Tahirid dynasty 1.0[3] 0.39 0.74% 800[3]
Western Xia 1.0[4] 0.39 0.74% 1100[4]
First Bulgarian Empire 0.807[15] 0.31 0.60% 927[15]
Akkadian Empire 0.8[14] 0.31 0.59% 2250 BC[14]
Avar Khaganate 0.8[6] 0.31 0.59% 600[6]
Chu (state) 0.8[6] 0.31 0.59% 300 BC[6]
First Portuguese Empire 0.8[3] 0.31 0.59% 1580[3]
Huns 0.8[6] 0.31 0.59% 287[6]
Songhai Empire 0.8[3] 0.31 0.59% 1550[3]
Hyksos 0.65[14] 0.25 0.48% 1650 BC[14]
Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt 0.65[14] 0.25 0.48% 550 BC[14]
Austro-Hungarian Empire 0.62 0.24[16] 0.46% 1905[16]
Caliphate of Córdoba 0.6[3] 0.23 0.45% 1000[3]
Visigothic Kingdom 0.6[6] 0.23 0.45% 580[6]
Zhou dynasty 0.55[17] 0.21 0.41% 1100 BC[17]
Kosala 0.5[6] 0.19 0.37% 543 BC[6]
Lydia 0.5[14] 0.19 0.37% 585 BC[14]
Magadha 0.5[6] 0.19 0.37% 510 BC[6]
Middle Kingdom of Egypt 0.5[14] 0.19 0.37% 1850 BC[14]
Neo-Babylonian Empire 0.5[14] 0.19 0.37% 562 BC[14]
Satavahana dynasty 0.5[6] 0.19 0.37% 150[6]
Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt 0.5[14] 0.19 0.37% 715 BC[14]
Western Satraps 0.5[6] 0.19 0.37% 100[6]
Second Bulgarian Empire 0.477[18] 0.18 0.35% 1241[18]
New Hittite Kingdom 0.45[14] 0.17 0.33% 1250 BC1220 BC[14]
Xia dynasty 0.45[14] 0.17 0.33% 1800 BC[14]
Middle Assyrian Empire 0.4[14] 0.15 0.30% 1080 BC[14]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.4[14] 0.15 0.30% 2400 BC[14]
Ancient Carthage 0.3[6] 0.12 0.22% 220 BC[6]
Indus Valley Civilisation 0.3[17] 0.12 0.22% 1800 BC[17]
Mitanni 0.3[14] 0.12 0.22% 1450 BC1375 BC[14]
First Babylonian Empire 0.25[14] 0.10 0.19% 1690 BC[14]
Aztec Empire 0.22[3] 0.08 0.16% 1520[3]
Elamite Empire 0.2[14] 0.08 0.15% 1160 BC[14]
Phrygia 0.2[14] 0.08 0.15% 750 BC[14]
Second Dynasty of Isin 0.2[14] 0.08 0.15% 1130 BC[14]
Urartu 0.2[14] 0.08 0.15% 800 BC[14]
Middle Hittite Kingdom 0.15[14] 0.06 0.11% 1450 BC[14]
Old Assyrian Empire 0.15[14] 0.06 0.11% 1730 BC[14]
Old Hittite Empire 0.15[14] 0.06 0.11% 1530 BC[14]
Ashanti Empire 0.1[19] 0.04 0.07% 1872[19]
Larsa 0.1[14] 0.04 0.07% 1750 BC1700 BC[14]
Neo-Sumerian Empire 0.1[14] 0.04 0.07% 2000 BC[14]
Lagash 0.05[17] 0.02 0.04% 2400 BC[17]
Sumer 0.05[14] 0.02 0.04% 2400 BC[14]
  1. ^ Its successor state the USSR and its successor in turn, Russia, reached maximum extents of 22.3 million km2 in 1945 and 17.1 million km2 in 1991, respectively.[3]

Timeline of largest empires to date

The earliest empire which can with certainty be stated to have been larger than all previous empires was that of Upper and Lower Egypt, which tenfolded the area of the previous largest civilisation.[20]

Empire Land area (million km2) Year
Upper and Lower Egypt 0.1[14] 3000 BC[14]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.25[14] 2850 BC[14]
0.4[14] 2400 BC[14]
Akkadian Empire 0.65[14] 2300 BC[14]
0.8[14] 2250 BC[14]
New Kingdom of Egypt 1.0[14] 1450 BC[14]
Shang dynasty 1.25[14] 1122 BC[14]
Assyria 1.4[14] 670 BC[14]
Median Empire 2.8[6] 585 BC[6]
Achaemenid Empire 3.6[6] 539 BC[6]
5.5[6] 500 BC[6]
Xiongnu Empire 9.0[6] 176 BC[6]
Umayyad Caliphate 11.1[3] 720[3]
Mongol Empire 13.5[3] 1227[3]
24.0[3] 1309[3]
British Empire 24.5[3] 1880[3]
35.5[3] 1920[3]

Timeline of largest empires at the time

Empire Land area during time

as largest empire

(million km2)

Year
Upper Egypt 0.1[17] 3000 BC[17]
Old Kingdom of Egypt 0.25–0.4[17] 2800 BC2400 BC[17]
Akkadian Empire 0.2–0.6[17] 2300 BC2200 BC[17]
Indus Valley Civilisation 0.15[17] 2100 BC[17]
Middle Kingdom of Egypt 0.2–0.5[17] 2000 BC1800 BC[17]
Xia dynasty 0.4[17] 1700 BC[17]
Hyksos 0.65[17] 1600 BC[17]
New Kingdom of Egypt 0.65–1.0[17] 1500 BC1300 BC[17]
Shang 0.9–1.1[17] 1250 BC1150 BC[17]
New Kingdom of Egypt 0.5–0.6[17] 1100 BC1050 BC[17]
Zhou dynasty 0.35–0.45[17] 1000 BC900 BC[17]
Assyria 0.4–1.4[17] 850 BC650 BC[17]
Median Empire 3.0[17] 600 BC[17]
Achaemenid Empire 2.5–5.5[17] 550 BC350 BC[17]
Macedonian Empire 5.2[17] 323 BC[17]
Seleucid Empire 4.0[17] 300 BC[17]
Maurya Empire 3.5[17] 250 BC[17]
Han dynasty 2.5[17] 200 BC[17]
Xiongnu Empire 5.7[17] 150 BC[17]
Han dynasty 4.2–6.5[17] 100 BC200[17]
Roman Empire 4.4[17] 250350[17]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[17] 400[17]
Hunnic Empire 4.0[17] 450[17]
Sasanian Empire 3.5[17] 500[17]
Göktürk Khaganate 3.0–5.2[17] 550600[17]
Rashidun Caliphate 5.2[17] 650[17]
Umayyad Caliphate 9.0–11.0[17] 700750[17]
Abbasid Caliphate 8.3–11.0[17] 750800[17]
Tibetan Empire 2.5–4.7[17] 850950[17]
Song dynasty 3.0[17] 1000[17]
Seljuk Empire 3.0–4.0[17] 10501100[17]
Tibetan Empire 2.5[17] 1150[17]
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) 2.3[17] 1200[17]
Mongol Empire 18.0–24.0[17] 12501300[17]
Yuan dynasty 11.0[17] 1350[17]
Timurid Empire 4.0[17] 1400[17]
Ming dynasty 4.7–6.5[17] 14501500[17]
Ottoman Empire 4.3[17] 1550[17]
Tsardom of Russia 6.0–12.0[17] 16001700[17]
Russian Empire 14.0–17.0[17] 17501800[17]
British Empire 23.0–34.0[17] 18501925[17]
Soviet Union 22.5[17] 19501975[17]

See also

General

By era

By region

By size

By population

By economy

Notes and references

  1. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 117. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq Rein Taagepera (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 492–502. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793. Archived from the original on 17 August 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D. (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires". Journal of World-Systems Research. 12 (2): 222–223. ISSN 1076-156X. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h 宋岩 [Song Yan] (1994). 中国历史上几个朝代的疆域面积估算 [Estimation of Territory Areas of Several Dynasties in Chinese History] (in Chinese). 中国社会科学院. p. 150.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 121–122, 124–129, 132–133. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  7. ^ a b "Área Territorial Brasileira". www.ibge.gov.br (in Portuguese). Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016. A primeira estimativa oficial para a extensão superficial do território brasileiro data de 1889. O valor de 8.337.218 km2 foi obtido a partir de medições e cálculos efetuados sobre as folhas básicas da Carta do Império do Brasil, publicada em 1883. [The first official estimate of the surface area of the Brazilian territory dates from 1889. A value of 8,337,218 km2 was obtained from measurements and calculations made on drafts of the Map of the Empire of Brazil, published in 1883.]
  8. ^ a b Barea, María Elvira Roca (10 November 2016). Imperiofobia y leyenda negra: Roma, Rusia, Estados Unidos y el Imperio español (in Spanish). Siruela. pp. 51–52. ISBN 9788416854783. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b James, David H. (1 November 2010). The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire. Routledge. ISBN 9781136925467. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  10. ^ a b Harrison, Mark (2000). The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780521785037. Archived from the original on 16 October 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b VV, AA. (2005). Atlante Storico. Cronologia della storia universale - Le Garzantine (in Italian). Garzanti.
  12. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica: Germany from 1871 to 1918". Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. At its birth Germany occupied an area of 208,825 square miles (540,854 square km) and had a population of more than 41 million, which was to grow to 67 million by 1914.
  13. ^ a b "Statistische Angaben zu den deutschen Kolonien". www.dhm.de (in German). Deutsches Historisches Museum. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2016. Sofern nicht anders vermerkt, beziehen sich alle Angaben auf das Jahr 1912. [Except where otherwise noted, all figures relate to the year 1912.]
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 3000 to 600 B.C." Social Science Research. 7 (2): 182–189. doi:10.1016/0049-089x(78)90010-8. ISSN 0049-089X.
  15. ^ a b "Atlas of Europe in the Middle Ages", Ostrovski, Rome, 1998, page 66
  16. ^ a b Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, "Austria, Lower" to "Bacon" Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 1. Archived from the original on 12 January 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl Taagepera, Rein (1978). "Size and duration of empires: Systematics of size". Social Science Research. 7 (2): 116–117. doi:10.1016/0049-089X(78)90007-8. ISSN 0049-089X. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  18. ^ a b Kamburova, Violeta (1992). Atlas "History of Bulgaria". Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. pp. 18, 20, 23.
  19. ^ a b Obeng, J. Pashington: "Asante Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Reproduction Among the Akan of Ghana", p. 20. BRILL, 1996
  20. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 480. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. ISSN 0020-8833. Archived from the original on 17 August 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.