This is the legacy of Nimrod (which means "let us revolt"): a place he called Babilu, called by the Hebrews "Babel." It was a place of revolution. It was the administrative center of his revolution against God, and thus we can see why some interpreters translate that word "before" in Genesis 10:9 as "against." Even though "before" is literally correct, Nimrod was standing before the Lord as an enemy. God's scattering of the builders reveals Nimrod's, and therefore Babylon's, attitude toward God.
From this point Babylon became a worldwide political, military, economic, and religious system bearing the same basic attitudes as its founder. It can be a nation or a system, but its core characteristic that is against the Lord. Babylon became the Bible's code word for what its New Testament writers call "the world." As they used the Greek term cosmos, it is an organized worldwide system opposed to God. Just as surely as Nimrod was opposed to God, Babylon is an organized worldwide system opposed to God. It is a culture that is anti-Christ, anti-God, and it is everywhere!
This is what the context shows in Genesis 11. The people scattered from the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, taking much of the antagonistic-to-God culture with them, and each language group adapted it to some degree to their ethnic traditions. Undoubtedly, each group altered it somewhat, but secular evidence reveals a common strain connecting all civilizations worldwide to the Tigris-Euphrates region. It is the womb of man's civilization.
It took centuries for the people to migrate to and to settle in their new lands, but occur it did. And so the pattern of worldly government after the Flood was established in Genesis 10 and Genesis 11. God even foreshadows in Genesis 6 that it would rise again: "There were giants [Nephilim] on the earth in those days, and also afterward." Nimrod was the greatest of those Nephilim.
Even though this spread worldwide, not everybody migrated. Some people remained in Babylon, and through the centuries, they became the Babylonian nation. The Chaldeans dominated them. Babylon was the name of their capital city. Hammurabi was one of their great early kings, but later, Nebuchadnezzar became Babylon's greatest king. He was given the dream of a great image, and Daniel informed him that he, Nebuchadnezzar, represented the head of gold (Daniel 2:38).
Each of the other portions of that image represented powerful kingdoms that, in terms of time, would follow Babylon in dominating the Western world through the centuries: Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. They did not dominate the entire world—perhaps they could have—but there is no doubt they dominated the part of the world that the Bible is concerned with, the one that the Israelitish descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live in.
But because the head represented Babylon—and the head directs the entire body—the image in Daniel 2 also shows the continuation of the same general Babylonish system right to its end, represented by the feet and the toes. In other words, that image shows that the pattern established under Nimrod continues right down to today.