The Achaemenid Empire c. 550–330 BC), or First Persian Empire,was an empire based in Western Asia, founded in the 6th century BC by Cyrus the Great.
Cyrus the Great abolished slavery and declared that everyone had certain basic human rights. Freedom of religion, freedom of opinion freedom of occupation, freedom to live anywhere within the empire.
The empire expanded to eventually rule over significant portions of the ancient world, which at around 500 BC stretched from parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria-Pannonia) and Thrace-Macedonia in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen.The Achaemenid Empire would eventually control Egypt as well. It was ruled by a series of monarchs who unified its disparate Iranian tribes and other nationalities by constructing a complex network of roads.
At the height of its power after the conquest of Egypt, the empire encompassed approximately 8 million square kilometers spanning three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa. At its greatest extent, the empire included the modern territories of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, all significant population centers of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya, Turkey, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, much of Central Asia, Afghanistan, northern Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and parts of Oman and the UAE. According to Guinness World Records, the empire at its peak ruled over 44% of the world's population, the highest such figure for any empire in history. In 480 BC, it is estimated that 50 million people lived in the Empire.
Alexander the Great, an avid admirer of Cyrus the Great, would eventually cause the collapse of the empire and its disintegration around 330 BC.
The Persian Empire would also set the tone for the politics, heritage and history of modern Persia (now called Iran).