[123] British immigration began to rise after 1820, and pushed thousands of Boers, resentful of British rule, northwards to found their own—mostly short-lived—independent republics, during the Great Trek of the late 1830s and early 1840s. [139], The last decades of the 19th century saw concerted political campaigns for Irish home rule. Below are lists of the countries and territories formerly ruled or administered by the United … [200] The fact that the guerrillas were primarily Malayan-Chinese Communists meant that the British attempt to quell the uprising was supported by the Muslim Malay majority, on the understanding that once the insurgency had been quelled, independence would be granted. Philip V of Spain renounced his and his descendants' claim to the French throne, and Spain lost its empire in Europe. As the threat of war with Germany increased during the 1930s, Britain judged the support of Arabs as more important than the establishment of a Jewish homeland, and shifted to a pro-Arab stance, limiting Jewish immigration and in turn triggering a Jewish insurgency. [15] To seek new markets and sources of raw materials, the British government under Benjamin Disraeli initiated a period of imperial expansion in Egypt, South Africa and elsewhere. [138] The term "dominion status" was officially introduced at the Colonial Conference of 1907. Since the Act of Union in 1707, the United Kingdom has ruled vast swaths of land across the world. [8] The period of relative peace in Europe and the world (1815–1914) during which the British Empire became the global hegemon was later described as Pax Britannica ("British Peace"). [158] Northern Ireland, consisting of six of the 32 Irish counties which had been established as a devolved region under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, immediately exercised its option under the treaty to retain its existing status within the United Kingdom. Eventually the Boers established two republics which had a longer lifespan: the South African Republic or Transvaal Republic (1852–1877; 1881–1902) and the Orange Free State (1854–1902). However, many of the Spaniards’ escaped slaves had formed communities in the highlands, and increasing numbers also escaped from British plantations. [162], In 1922, Egypt, which had been declared a British protectorate at the outbreak of the First World War, was granted formal independence, though it continued to be a British client state until 1954. They worried that Hindu and Muslim India would be Christianized. In 1963, the 11 states of the federation together with Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo joined to form Malaysia, but in 1965 Chinese-majority Singapore was expelled from the union following tensions between the Malay and Chinese populations and became an independent city-state. Historians are still arguing about this question! [187] At the same time, anti-colonial movements were on the rise in the colonies of European nations. In North America, France's future as a colonial power effectively ended with the recognition of British claims to Rupert's Land,[49] and the ceding of New France to Britain (leaving a sizeable French-speaking population under British control) and Louisiana to Spain. There were two original convict colonies: Tasmania and New South Wales. [46] Fleeing from religious persecution would become the motive of many English would-be colonists to risk the arduous trans-Atlantic voyage: Maryland was founded as a haven for Roman Catholics (1634), Rhode Island (1636) as a colony tolerant of all religions and Connecticut (1639) for Congregationalists. Although the bill, if passed, would have granted Ireland less autonomy within the UK than the Canadian provinces had within their own federation,[140] many MPs feared that a partially independent Ireland might pose a security threat to Great Britain or mark the beginning of the break-up of the empire. It used its wealth, its armies and its navy to defeat rival European countries and to conquer local peoples to establish its empire. The episode also had major political consequences, helping to persuade the government of Scotland of the merits of a union of the two countries, rather than just crowns. [139] The parliaments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland were now independent of British legislative control, they could nullify British laws and Britain could no longer pass laws for them without their consent. The manner in which British forces were rapidly defeated in the Far East irreversibly harmed Britain's standing and prestige as an imperial power,[181][182] including, particularly, the Fall of Singapore, which had previously been hailed as an impregnable fortress and the eastern equivalent of Gibraltar. In the British Caribbean, the percentage of the population of African descent rose from 25% in 1650 to around 80% in 1780, and in the Thirteen Colonies from 10% to 40% over the same period (the majority in the southern colonies). Churchill and the Conservatives believed that Britain's position as a world power relied on the continued existence of the empire, with the base at the Suez Canal allowing Britain to maintain its pre-eminent position in the Middle East in spite of the loss of India. On 16 January 1968, a few weeks after the devaluation of the pound, Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his Defence Secretary Denis Healey announced that British troops would be withdrawn from major military bases East of Suez, which included the ones in the Middle East, and primarily from Malaysia and Singapore by the end of 1971, instead of 1975 as earlier planned. Gérin-Lajoie, Paul (1951). [121] The destruction of the Russian Navy by the Japanese at the Battle of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 also limited its threat to the British. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill successfully lobbied President Franklin D. Roosevelt for military aid from the United States, but Roosevelt was not yet ready to ask Congress to commit the country to war. [167] Britain's request for military assistance from the Dominions at the outbreak of the Chanak Crisis the previous year had been turned down by Canada and South Africa, and Canada had refused to be bound by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. [176][177], For Churchill the entry of the United States into the war was the "greatest joy". [213][214][215] The events at Suez wounded British national pride, leading one MP to describe it as "Britain's Waterloo"[216] and another to suggest that the country had become an "American satellite". With textiles becoming the larger trade, by 1720, in terms of sales, the British company had overtaken the Dutch. [176] The war weakened the empire in other ways: undermining Britain's control of politics in India, inflicting long term economic damage, and irrevocably changing geopolitics by pushing the Soviet Union and the United States to the centre of the global stage. [224] Macmillan wished to avoid the same kind of colonial war that France was fighting in Algeria, and under his premiership decolonisation proceeded rapidly. [133], British gains in Southern and East Africa prompted Cecil Rhodes, pioneer of British expansion in Southern Africa, to urge a "Cape to Cairo" railway linking the strategically important Suez Canal to the mineral-rich south of the continent. Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians, around 10 million sq mi (26 million km ) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire. The following year the British government dissolved the Company and assumed direct control over India through the Government of India Act 1858, establishing the British Raj, where an appointed governor-general administered India and Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India. [57] In 1701, England, Portugal and the Netherlands sided with the Holy Roman Empire against Spain and France in the War of the Spanish Succession, which lasted for thirteen years. [228], In Cyprus, a guerrilla war waged by the Greek Cypriot organisation EOKA against British rule, was ended in 1959 by the London and Zürich Agreements, which resulted in Cyprus being granted independence in 1960. The Mediterranean colony of Malta was amicably granted independence from the UK in 1964 and became the country of Malta, though the idea had been raised in 1955 of integration with Britain. [66] The British and French struggles in India became but one theatre of the global Seven Years' War (1756–1763) involving France, Britain, and the other major European powers. Between 1945 and 1965, the number of people under British rule outside the UK itself fell from 700 million to five million during mainly peaceful renegotiations of power. Initially, interaction between the indigenous Māori population and Europeans was limited to the trading of goods. [60], Great Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire continued the War of the Spanish Succession, which lasted until 1714 and was concluded by the Treaty of Utrecht. [77], Tensions between Britain and the United States escalated again during the Napoleonic Wars, as Britain tried to cut off American trade with France and boarded American ships to impress men into the Royal Navy. 53 states are also voluntary members of the Commonwealth of Nations and continue to recognize England's royal family as the heads of state. [183] The realisation that Britain could not defend its entire empire pushed Australia and New Zealand, which now appeared threatened by Japanese forces, into closer ties with the United States and, ultimately, the 1951 ANZUS Pact. [72][73], The war to the south influenced British policy in Canada, where between 40,000 and 100,000[74] defeated Loyalists had migrated from the new United States following independence. In the late 1700's they wanted to use one of their colonies for all the criminals. The History of the United States' Golden Presidential Dollars, How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed Schools and Education in Lasting Ways. An attempt to establish a colony in Guiana in 1604 lasted only two years, and failed in its main objective to find gold deposits. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger decolonisation movement in which Britain granted independence to most territories of the empire. [118] In 1839, Britain moved to pre-empt this by invading Afghanistan, but the First Anglo-Afghan War was a disaster for Britain. Tensions remain between the white settler populations of these countries and their indigenous minorities, and between white settler minorities and indigenous majorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The American colonies were less financially successful than those of the Caribbean, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants who preferred their temperate climates. The US declared war, the War of 1812, and invaded Canadian territory. Queen Victoria called it “the jewel in the crown”, and she herself took on the title of Empress of India. Go to Rosebery, Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th earl of (1847–1929) in A Dictionary of British History (1 rev ed.) These days, a paltry 14 British Overseas Territories still exist. The British Parliament retained the power to amend key Canadian constitutional statutes, meaning that effectively an act of the British Parliament was required to make certain changes to the Canadian Constitution. In the Second World War, Britain's colonies in East and Southeast Asia were occupied by Japan. [1] By 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time,[2] and by 1920 it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi),[3] 24% of the Earth's total land area. [54] Although England eclipsed the Netherlands as a colonial power, in the short term the Netherlands' more advanced financial system[55] and the three Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century left it with a stronger position in Asia. It began with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. A full list of the 166 countries that have been part of the British Empire are shown below. In the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand occupied German New Guinea and German Samoa respectively. [258], Political boundaries drawn by the British did not always reflect homogeneous ethnicities or religions, contributing to conflicts in formerly colonised areas. What Does George Soros' Open Society Foundations Network Fund? The British Empire provided refuge for religiously persecuted continental Europeans for hundreds of years. [209][210], The Suez Crisis very publicly exposed Britain's limitations to the world and confirmed Britain's decline on the world stage and its end as a first-rate power,[211][212] demonstrating that henceforth it could no longer act without at least the acquiescence, if not the full support, of the United States. [122], The Dutch East India Company had founded the Cape Colony on the southern tip of Africa in 1652 as a way station for its ships travelling to and from its colonies in the East Indies. French ports were blockaded by the Royal Navy, which won a decisive victory over a Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in 1805. All soon declared war on Germany. [52] For the slave traders, the trade was extremely profitable, and became a major economic mainstay for such western British cities as Bristol, Glasgow and Liverpool, which formed the third corner of the triangular trade with Africa and the Americas. Envious of the great wealth these empires generated,[6] England, France, and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia. [165] In Palestine, Britain was presented with the problem of mediating between the Arabs and increasing numbers of Jews. The British empire in 1850. [36], The Caribbean initially provided England's most important and lucrative colonies,[37] but not before several attempts at colonisation failed. In 1731, Spanish patrol boat La Isabela boarded the British brig Rebecca off Havana and Captain Julio León Fandiño cut off the left ear of Captain Robert Jenkins, accusing him of being a smuggler. It has also held a portion of the present day United States and China. [195] Millions of Muslims crossed from India to Pakistan and Hindus vice versa, and violence between the two communities cost hundreds of thousands of lives. The independence of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after the American War of Independence resulted in Britain losing some of its oldest and most populous colonies. What Are the Steps of Presidential Impeachment? [106] Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica,[10] and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation". [174], After the Fall of France in June 1940, Britain and the empire stood alone against Germany, until the German invasion of Greece on 7 April 1941. [146], The British declaration of war on Germany and its allies also committed the colonies and Dominions, which provided invaluable military, financial and material support. 5 of the worst atrocities carried out by the British Empire. Gilbert did not survive the return journey to England, and was succeeded by his half-brother, Walter Raleigh, who was granted his own patent by Elizabeth in 1584. [172] In 1937 the Irish Free State introduced a republican constitution renaming itself Ireland. [80] Forced to find an alternative location after the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in 1783, the British government turned to Australia. The conflict placed enormous strain on the military, financial, and manpower resources of Britain. [13][14], British imperial strength was underpinned by the steamship and the telegraph, new technologies invented in the second half of the 19th century, allowing it to control and defend the empire. [143] Germany was rapidly rising as a military and industrial power and was now seen as the most likely opponent in any future war. [246] Under the terms of the 1842 Treaty of Nanking and 1860 Convention of Peking, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula had been respectively ceded to Britain in perpetuity, but the vast majority of the colony was constituted by the New Territories, which had been acquired under a 99-year lease in 1898, due to expire in 1997. [119] The ensuing Crimean War (1854–1856), which involved new techniques of modern warfare,[120] was the only global war fought between Britain and another imperial power during the Pax Britannica and was a resounding defeat for Russia. [107] Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam, which has been described by some historians as an "Informal Empire". The Company's army had first joined forces with the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War, and the two continued to co-operate in arenas outside India: the eviction of the French from Egypt (1799),[109] the capture of Java from the Netherlands (1811), the acquisition of Penang Island (1786), Singapore (1819) and Malacca (1824), and the defeat of Burma (1826). At its peak, the British Empire was composed of about one-fifth of the entire world's population and covered about a quarter of the world's total land mass. [119], When Russia invaded the Turkish Balkans in 1853, fears of Russian dominance in the Mediterranean and Middle East led Britain and France to invade the Crimean Peninsula to destroy Russian naval capabilities. [221] By that time over 50,000 British military personnel were still stationed in the Far East, including 30,000 in Singapore. [234], British territories in the Pacific acquired independence in the 1970s beginning with Fiji in 1970 and ending with Vanuatu in 1980. British people had been present in India since 1600, when they began trading there. By the start of the 20th century, Germany and the United States had begun to challenge Britain's economic lead. 9 years ago. [114] India became the empire's most valuable possession, "the Jewel in the Crown", and was the most important source of Britain's strength. 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