Empire is a general term meaning a star system which falls under the direct control of one of the four main factions of the game:

These systems generally have a security status of 0.5 or higher and are heavily policed by factional naval vessels and customs ships. Travel and mining in empire space is usually very safe (although the new factional warfare rules may change this, as empire systems are now potential battlefields, allowing pirate corps to wander more freely), but rare and valuable ore is practically non-existent here.

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