Portal:British Empire

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British Empire

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British Empire, 1897

The British Empire was the largest empire in history, and for a substantial time was the foremost global power. It was a product of the European age of discovery, which began with the maritime explorations of the 15th century, that sparked the era of the European colonial empires.

By 1921, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, approximately one-quarter of the world's population. It covered about 36.6 million km² (14.2 million square miles), about a quarter of Earth's total land area. As a result, its legacy is widespread: in legal and governmental systems, economic practice, militarily, educational systems, sports (such as cricket, rugby, and football), traffic practices (such as driving on the left), and in the global spread of the English language. At the peak of its power, it was often said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous colonies or subject nations.

During the five decades following World War II, most of the territories of the Empire became independent. Many went on to join the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states.

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British overseas territories

The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories which the United Kingdom considers to be under its sovereignty, but not as part of the United Kingdom itself.

The name "British Overseas Territory" was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, and replaced the name British dependent territory which was introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981. Before that, the territories were known as colonies or Crown colonies. The British Overseas Territories are also referred to as overseas territories of the United Kingdom, UK overseas territories, or when the context is clear, simply the Overseas Territories.

The territories of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, though also under the sovereignty of the British Crown, have a slightly different constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom, and are consequently classed as Crown dependencies rather than Overseas Territories.

Territories and dependencies are distinct from the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of former British colonies and latterly other nations such as Mozambique that have joined because of the benefits it offers. (more...)

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Beijing Castle Boxer Rebellion 1900 FINAL.jpg
Credit: Torajirō Kasai

A 1900 print depicting a battle between allied British and Japanese troops against Chinese combatants at Beijing Castle during the Boxer Rebellion.

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SingaporeStone-drawings-detail.jpg

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Richard Clement Moody (1859).JPG

Col. Richard Clement Moody (February 13, 1813 in Barbados- March 31, 1887 in Bournemouth, England), was a Lieutenant-Governor, and later Governor, of the Falkland Islands, and the first Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of British Columbia. While serving under this post, he selected the site of the new capital, New Westminster. Moody was also a Colonel in the Royal Engineers, and was the commander of the Columbia Detachment, the force that was brought to BC to establish British order during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. (more...)

Evolution of the British Empire

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British Empire evolution3.gif

This Map animates the Empire's rise and fall.

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British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations

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Legend

Current territory  ·   Former territory

* now a Commonwealth realm  ·   now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
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