The British Empire began to take shape during the early 17th century, with the English settlement of North America and the smaller islands of the Caribbean, and the establishment of joint-stock companies, most notably the East India Company, to administer colonies and overseas trade.  The 14,000 Loyalists who went to the Saint John and Saint Croix river valleys, then part of Nova Scotia, felt too far removed from the provincial government in Halifax, so London split off New Brunswick as a separate colony in 1784.  Independence had been delayed due to the opposition of the Sultan, who had preferred British protection. , 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.  Britain was left essentially bankrupt, with insolvency only averted in 1946 after the negotiation of a $US 4.33 billion loan from the United States, the last installment of which was repaid in 2006. Although granted legislative independence by the Statute of Westminster 1931, vestigial constitutional links had remained in place.  The demographics of Britain itself were changed after the Second World War owing to immigration to Britain from its former colonies. Ireland had been united with Britain into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the Act of Union 1800 after the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and had suffered a severe famine between 1845 and 1852.  Individual and team sports developed in Britain—particularly football, cricket, lawn tennis, and golf—were also exported. Both claimed in 1908; territories formed in 1962 (British Antarctic Territory) and 1985 (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands). 3 Answers. Jamaica - Jamaica - British rule: In 1655 a British expedition under Admiral Sir William Penn and General Robert Venables captured Jamaica and began expelling the Spanish, a task that was accomplished within five years.  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. On this occasion he formally claimed the harbour of the island of Newfoundland, although no settlers were left behind. How Does the 25th Amendment Work — and When Should It Be Enacted? What Are the Steps of Presidential Impeachment? , The death of Charles II of Spain in 1700 and his bequeathal of Spain and its colonial empire to Philippe of Anjou, a grandson of the King of France, raised the prospect of the unification of France, Spain and their respective colonies, an unacceptable state of affairs for England and the other powers of Europe.  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. They controlled a quarter of the globe in the late 19th century - and boasted that the sun never set on the empire - meaning it was always daytime somewhere. Gibraltar became a critical naval base and allowed Britain to control the Atlantic entry and exit point to the Mediterranean. , Two years later, the Royal African Company was inaugurated, receiving from King Charles a monopoly of the trade to supply slaves to the British colonies of the Caribbean.  That year, Gilbert sailed for the Caribbean with the intention of engaging in piracy and establishing a colony in North America, but the expedition was aborted before it had crossed the Atlantic. 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. , In 1951, the Conservative Party returned to power in Britain, under the leadership of Winston Churchill. What Does George Soros' Open Society Foundations Network Fund? Asked by Wiki User. , 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. It has also held a portion of the present day United States and China.  This decision was the source of much debate in Britain during the 1930s as militaristic governments took hold in Germany and Japan helped in part by the Great Depression, for it was feared that the empire could not survive a simultaneous attack by both nations. The UK retained the military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia as sovereign base areas.  This led to increasing conflict with the Arab population, who openly revolted in 1936.  Facing further opposition from abolitionists, the apprenticeship system was abolished in 1838. , Although England tended to trail behind Portugal, Spain, and France in establishing overseas colonies, it established its first overseas colony in 16th century Ireland by settling it with Protestants from England drawing on precedents dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. A full list of the 166 countries that have been part of the British Empire are shown below. In this context, while other European powers such as France and Portugal, waged costly and unsuccessful wars to keep their empires intact, Britain generally adopted a policy of peaceful disengagement from its colonies.  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.  The British Parliament also had the power to pass laws extending to Canada at Canadian request. While Britain continued to regard Ireland as still within the British Commonwealth, Ireland chose to remain legally neutral throughout the war. The primary aim of these companies was to tap into the lucrative spice trade, an effort focused mainly on two regions; the East Indies archipelago, and an important hub in the trade network, India. However, a lot of countries have since left the UK’s rule.  Although Britain granted Kuwait independence in 1961, it continued to maintain a military presence in the Middle East for another decade. , In 1919, the frustrations caused by delays to Irish home rule led the MPs of Sinn Féin, a pro-independence party that had won a majority of the Irish seats in the 1918 British general election, to establish an independent parliament in Dublin, at which Irish independence was declared. In principle, both nations were opposed to European colonialism. 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. For many British Victorians, India symbolized the Empire. The Dominions themselves also acquired mandates of their own: the Union of South Africa gained South West Africa (modern-day Namibia), Australia gained New Guinea, and New Zealand Western Samoa.  The coast of Australia had been discovered for Europeans by the Dutch in 1606, but there was no attempt to colonise it. Nauru was made a combined mandate of Britain and the two Pacific Dominions.  The British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council still serves as the highest court of appeal for several former colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific. However, many of the Spaniards’ escaped slaves had formed communities in the highlands, and increasing numbers also escaped from British plantations.  Fourteen overseas territories remain under British sovereignty. , The pro-decolonisation Labour government, elected at the 1945 general election and led by Clement Attlee, moved quickly to tackle the most pressing issue facing the empire: Indian independence.  In 1562, the English Crown encouraged the privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake to engage in slave-raiding attacks against Spanish and Portuguese ships off the coast of West Africa with the aim of breaking into the Atlantic slave trade.  Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival, other than Russia in Central Asia. Many Indians were distressed by the rapid cultural changes imposed by the British. Their priorities changed to maintaining an extensive zone of British influence and ensuring that stable, non-Communist governments were established in former colonies. At its height it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power.  This began with the passing of the Act of Union in 1840, which created the Province of Canada. Gérin-Lajoie, Paul (1951). This wording was ambiguous as to whether it referred to European countries invaded by Germany and Italy, or the peoples colonised by European nations, and would later be interpreted differently by the British, Americans, and nationalist movements. With the passage of the British North America Act, 1867 by the British Parliament, the Province of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were formed into Canada, a confederation enjoying full self-government with the exception of international relations. 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. , 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.  Millions of Muslims crossed from India to Pakistan and Hindus vice versa, and violence between the two communities cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Current, Rise of the "Second" British Empire (1783–1815), East India Company rule and the British Raj in India. Although no longer able to pass any laws that would apply as Australian Commonwealth law, the British Parliament retained the power to legislate for the individual Australian States. Sudan was nominally made an Anglo-Egyptian condominium, but a British colony in reality. The British believed that because they had superior weaponry and were therefore more technologically advanced than the Africans, that they had a right to colonize and exploit the resources of the Africans in the name of promoting civilization. , During his voyage, Cook also visited New Zealand, known to Europeans due to the 1642 voyage of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, and claimed both the North and the South islands for the British crown in 1769 and 1770 respectively. The act ended the need for British involvement in changes to the Canadian constitution. Spain also ceded the rights to the lucrative asiento (permission to sell African slaves in Spanish America) to Britain. This led to tension, particularly in the Punjab region, where repressive measures culminated in the Amritsar Massacre.  During the 1880s and 1890s, Rhodes, with his privately owned British South Africa Company, occupied and annexed territories named after him, Rhodesia.  Several people who helped establish colonies in Ireland also later played a part in the early colonisation of North America, particularly a group known as the West Country men. The French were still majority shareholders and attempted to weaken the British position, but a compromise was reached with the 1888 Convention of Constantinople, which made the Canal officially neutral territory. , Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians, around 10 million sq mi (26 million km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire.  Britain continued to transport convicts to New South Wales until 1840, to Tasmania until 1853 and to Western Australia until 1868.  The Malayan Emergency, as it was called, began in 1948 and lasted until 1960, but by 1957, Britain felt confident enough to grant independence to the Federation of Malaya within the Commonwealth. A deal between the two nations left the spice trade of the East Indies archipelago to the Netherlands and the textiles industry of India to England, but textiles soon overtook spices in terms of profitability.  In 1620, Plymouth was founded as a haven for Puritan religious separatists, later known as the Pilgrims. , The Caribbean initially provided England's most important and lucrative colonies, but not before several attempts at colonisation failed.  In the process the Voortrekkers clashed repeatedly with the British, who had their own agenda with regard to colonial expansion in South Africa and to the various native African polities, including those of the Sotho and the Zulu nations.  Alongside the formal control that Britain exerted over its colonies, its dominance of much of world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many regions, such as Asia and Latin America. , The Napoleonic Wars were therefore ones in which Britain invested large amounts of capital and resources to win. The British Empire is only one of the more recent ones and likely the only one you are familiar with coming from a largely English speaking bias. Photograph: Buyenlarge/Getty . Britain returned Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Réunion to France, and Java and Suriname to the Netherlands, while gaining control of Ceylon (1795–1815) and Heligoland. , For Churchill the entry of the United States into the war was the "greatest joy". , In July 1956, Nasser unilaterally nationalised the Suez Canal. With the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664, England gained control of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, renaming it New York.  In 1937 the Irish Free State introduced a republican constitution renaming itself Ireland. All soon declared war on Germany. , With competitive French, Belgian and Portuguese activity in the lower Congo River region undermining orderly colonisation of tropical Africa, the Berlin Conference of 1884–85 was held to regulate the competition between the European powers in what was called the "Scramble for Africa" by defining "effective occupation" as the criterion for international recognition of territorial claims. , The East India Company drove the expansion of the British Empire in Asia. 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. Britain quickly invaded and occupied most of Germany's overseas colonies in Africa. 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. A joint force of British and Egyptian troops defeated the Mahdist Army in 1896, and rebuffed an attempted French invasion at Fashoda in 1898. , The changing world order that the war had brought about, in particular the growth of the United States and Japan as naval powers, and the rise of independence movements in India and Ireland, caused a major reassessment of British imperial policy.  International commercial contracts are often based on English common law.  At the same time, influential writers such as Richard Hakluyt and John Dee (who was the first to use the term "British Empire") were beginning to press for the establishment of England's own empire.  In Palestine, Britain was presented with the problem of mediating between the Arabs and increasing numbers of Jews. , The British declaration of war on Germany and its allies also committed the colonies and Dominions, which provided invaluable military, financial and material support. How many countries did the British Empire ever rule? India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka became members of the Commonwealth, while Burma chose not to join. The British liked drawing lines on maps of other countries; they had done it in the Middle East after World War I, and they did it again in India. The British Empire held Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa, India, Burma, Papa New Guinea, Malaya, Sarawak, Brunei, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Mauritius, the Maldives, South Africa, Swaziland, Nigeria, Gold Coast, and Sierra Leone, among other countries during its reign.  At first British politicians believed it would be possible to maintain Britain's role as a world power at the head of a re-imagined Commonwealth, but by 1960 they were forced to recognise that there was an irresistible "wind of change" blowing.  The matter was complicated by large numbers of Jewish refugees seeking to be admitted to Palestine following the Holocaust, while Arabs were opposed to the creation of a Jewish state.  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"). In the late 1700's they wanted to use one of their colonies for all the criminals. , Under the terms of the concluding Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919, the empire reached its greatest extent with the addition of 1,800,000 square miles (4,700,000 km2) and 13 million new subjects. In return, Egypt was assisted in joining the League of Nations. , The signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1763 had important consequences for the future of the British Empire. This led to hostilities with the United Dutch Provinces—a series of Anglo-Dutch Wars—which would eventually strengthen England's position in the Americas at the expense of the Dutch. In August 1737, two more British ships were boarded by Spanish coastguards near Havana; the crews were imprisoned and kept as slaves. , Peace between England and the Netherlands in 1688 meant that the two countries entered the Nine Years' War as allies, but the conflict—waged in Europe and overseas between France, Spain and the Anglo-Dutch alliance—left the English a stronger colonial power than the Dutch, who were forced to devote a larger proportion of their military budget on the costly land war in Europe. In 1496, King Henry VII of England, following the successes of Spain and Portugal in overseas exploration, commissioned John Cabot to lead a voyage to discover a route to Asia via the North Atlantic. They originally wanted to use the Americas as the jail, but the Americas revolted in the 1770's so they turned to Australia. , The war to the south influenced British policy in Canada, where between 40,000 and 100,000 defeated Loyalists had migrated from the new United States following independence. In the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand occupied German New Guinea and German Samoa respectively. A trend of decolonization began after World War II, with many countries gradually becoming independent. All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To is styled as a ‘lighthearted' look. Relevance . , In 1869 the Suez Canal opened under Napoleon III, linking the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean. There Are Only 22 Countries in the World That the British Haven’t Invaded. The entry of French and Spanish forces into the war tipped the military balance in the Americans' favour and after a decisive defeat at Yorktown in 1781, Britain began negotiating peace terms.  Macmillan wished to avoid the same kind of colonial war that France was fighting in Algeria, and under his premiership decolonisation proceeded rapidly. 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. Queen Victoria's 1837 ascension to the throne ushered in British empire industrialization and global expansion. Plans for a post-war division of the Ottoman Empire, which had joined the war on Germany's side, were secretly drawn up by Britain and France under the 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement. Despite the final victory of Britain and its allies, the damage to British prestige helped to accelerate the decline of the empire. , Belize achieved independence in 1981. The East India Company had failed to implement any coordinated policy to deal with the famines during its period of rule. Although this did not grant outright control of the strategic waterway, it did give Britain leverage. The British empire took that a step further. By this time, Spain had become the dominant power in the Americas and was exploring the Pacific Ocean, Portugal had established trading posts and forts from the coasts of Africa and Brazil to China, and France had begun to settle the Saint Lawrence River area, later to become New France. The British Empire ruled over many countries in Africa, beginning in 1870. These sixteen nations are distinct and equal legal entities – the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. It began with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. 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