The citizens of the empire in Constantinople believed that they were the citizens of Rome. Even after the city of Rome fell in the Fifth Century, contemporary Romans felt that the empire survived by moving East. In this way, Eastern and Western Rome were one in the same. It was only later that historians designated the title Byzantine Empire to the remaining remnants of the Roman Empire in the East. The reason that historians made this distinction is because of some of the cultural differences that exist between the East and West. These differences included variations in religion, language, and architecture between the two cities.
Aside from the obvious language and religious distinctions between Rome and Constantinople, other important cultural differences existed. The Eastern Roman empire was more cosmopolitan in nature than Western Rome and had accepted differing philosophies, religions, and ideas than the city of Rome. While Rome was an important center of trade and commerce, Constantinople was one of a number of important cities in the east. It could be stated the Roman Empire in Constantinople was more of an urban culture than it was when centered in Rome.
Because of the urban nature of the East, it had a much larger population per square mile. The East was also much wealthier than the West. The wealth of the empire was distributed more evenly than the East, which led to less class struggle and more harmony. While Western Rome was rich in territory, much of the land was undeveloped forests. In the East, centers of trade were firmly established and a strong network of trade existed with Asia.
Another important distinction existed in the relationship between the church and the state. Towards the end of the imperial empire in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church exerted considerable authority over the emperors. In the East, the emperors established a system by which the state was firmly in authority over the church and the two entities remained separated. Other differences existed in the legal realm. In Western Rome, laws were diverse in different regions. The Eastern Roman empire established a unified code of law for the entire empire. This allowed for a more unified society. The wealth and trade networks, separation of church and state, and codified system of laws that the Byzantine Empire possessed allowed it to thrive long after Rome fell to barbarian invaders.