In all of history, only two countries or empires have managed to control more than 330 million people before breaking up. Thousands of countries and empires have arisen in history, but only two managed to hold the allegiance of this many people.
How long will the USA last? Does the USA have the unique characteristics that only three others have used to remain united? Can it remain united without the kind of authoritarian government that China has? Chinese culture is based on Confucianism, which teaches intense respect of authority. Americans certainly don’t respect authority like the Chinese. India is holding together, barely, to defend itself from Pakistan and China. The USA is far stronger than India, so any sizable federation of US states could deter Chinese invasion.
Populous countries or empires always break up.
For the title of this essay, we counted China once and India once.
1 China (2019) 1.4 billion people (is dealing with secessionist movements in Tibet and Xinjiang, and already lost Mongolia)
2 India (2019) 1.3 billion people (Pakistan and Bangladesh already seceded, and Assam and Muslim Kashmir want to)
British Empire (1938) 460 million people, including India, but then colonies seceded following WWII.
Qing Empire, China (1850) 440 million people before the Taiping Rebellion resulted in 25 million deaths due to civil war. Followed by the Miao rebellion, the Panthay Rebellion, and the Dungan Revolt.
3 USA (2019) 329 million people, but a 2016 Reuters poll showed more Texans are in favor of secession than opposed. Texas secession could lead to a federation of red states.
Soviet Union (1991) 293 million people, but then its constituent parts peacefully seceded in an orderly, planned way.
4 Indonesia (2019) 268 million (East Timor already seceded, and Papua has a secessionist movement)
5 Brazil (2019) 209 million
6 Pakistan (2019) 203 million
7 Nigeria (2019) 193 million (a plethora of secession movements)
Russian Empire(1916) 181 million, but then Finland peacefully seceded, and Russia lost Manchuria and parts of Eastern Europe.
8 Bangladesh (2019) 166 million
Ming Dynasty (1600) 160 million, but then suffered rebellions. It had much of the land China claims today.
Mughal Empire, India (1700): 150 million, but broke up into multiple kingdoms
9 Russia (2019) 147 million
Empire of Japan (WWII): 134 million
10 Mexico (2019) 127 million
11 Japan (2019) 126 million
Northern Song Dynasty, China (1103 AD) 123 million
French Colonial Empire (1939) 120 million
Southern Song Dynasty, China (1120 AD) 118 million
Mongol Empire (1300) 110 million
12 Philippines (2019) 107 million
Lesser empires are given here:
Nazi German empire (1941) 90 million
Spanish Empire (1600s) 68 million
Roman Empire (150 AD) 65 million
Admittedly, not all empires fall due to secession. Empires can lose territory if they are conquered by neighboring areas, but in some cases the area being conquered was willing to be conquered to escape their existing oppressors. In other words, internal secessionist sentiment assisted the external conquest.
Some of these empires never took a census so it is guesswork. The population density on earth has increased dramatically as technology has improved agriculture and health.
USA a nation or an empire?
“Nation” is defined: a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language inhabiting a particular territory”
Are we united by descent? No
United by history? No
United by culture? No
United by language? 20% of US households don’t speak English at home.