The Tang Dynasty (Chinese: 唐朝; pinyin: Táng Cháo; IPA: [tʰɑ̌ŋ tʂʰɑ̌ʊ]; Middle Chinese: Dâng) (June 18, 618 – June 1, 907) was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (October 8, 690 – March 3, 705) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, becoming the only Chinese empress regnant to rule in her own right.
The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), which at the time was the most populous city in the world, is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization—equal to, or surpassing that of, the earlier Han Dynasty—a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han Dynasty. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people. Yet, even when the central government was breaking down and unable to compile an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population had grown by then to about 80 million people. With its large population base, the dynasty was able to raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia and the lucrative trade routes along the Silk Road. Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang also conquered or subdued several regions which it indirectly controlled through a protectorate system. Besides political hegemony, the Tang also exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring states such as those in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.