Template talk:British overseas territories

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WikiProject iconBritish Overseas Territories Template‑class
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(Difficult to read)[edit]

This template is pretty much impossible to read. Could it be replaced with a graphic or something? Eleland 15:58, 17 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Have imported format tried in {{Portuguese overseas empire}}. Regards, David Kernow (talk) 16:39, 23 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Links in template[edit]

I changed the link from "Commonwealth of Nations" to "Commonwealth Realms" because the latter is more precise. That is, if the second link is "Commonwealth of Nations", then "British overseas territories" is redundant, as the Overseas Territories are also members of the Commonwealth, albeit with a different status to the realms. "British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations" would also be accurate and would not involve an overlap, as the latter is the historical successor of the former. Grant | Talk 06:21, 20 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

How is the latter more precise? If anything it is too precise in that it excludes members of the Commonwealth, which are not Realms. What's the point of having the flag of the Commonwealth and having links to territories that are still in the Commonwealth if the title only reflects the Realms? Also having only the Realms in the title also misses the important point that the Commonwealth of Nations (and not just the Commonwealth Realms) is the historical successor to the British Empire. The term Commonwealth of Nations is not redundant because of the term "British overseas territories". If the term "British overseas territories" is redundant then it is mainly because of the term "British empire" not "Commonwealth of Nations". Anyway, why the fuss over the title? It was fine before, so if it isn't broken why fix it? The title is only reflecting the gradual change from the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations and the remnant British overseas territories (which are remnants of the Empire) as seen from the perspective of the UK (and to a lesser extent the world). The template makes no attempt to show Australia's or New Zealand's overseas territories although they are just as much a legacy of the British empire as the current overseas territories. Nobody today uses the term British empire to refer to the overseas territories, but likewise neither does anyone use the term Commonwealth of Nations to refer to these same territories. The template would be better served by coming up with a way to show not just the Commonwealth Realms but other Commonwealth countries (for example underlining...hmmm...I think, I'll do just that). Look on the British and Commonwealth citizenship template. It uses the term British and Commonwealth to refer to the fact that before the Commonwealth all the laws concerning citizenship were just British, but it doesn't attempt to discriminate only in favour of the Realms. 20:11, 20 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]


Recently David Kernow attempted an overhaul of the format. The categories and other languages sections did need an overhaul and perhaps a better format can be found for the template as a whole. However the format David used....(see below)...

Font legend
Current territory  ·   Former territory  ·   Former territory now a Commonwealth Realm · now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations

.....while simple and easy to use it doesn't adequately distinguish the categories. It uses capital letters to show both current territories and Commonwealth Realms (which indirectly implies that the Commonwealth realms are also current territories, cf. with older format (to which I reverted excepting for the categories and other languages):

Current territory  ·   Former territory  ·   Former territory now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations  ·   Former territory now a Commonwealth Realm

This format shows that there are: dgfhdhdhhdhdg —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:13, 29 October 2007 (UTC)[reply]

  • "Current territories" and...
  • "Former territories", with the former territories being further categorized/formatted into:
    • "Commonwealth members", which are then further subdivided/categorized into:
      • "Commonwealth members that are Commonwealth Realms"

with each format being distinct for a country's specific status and there being no re-use of any one format except insofar as all current Commonwealth members are also former territories and all Commonwealth Realms are also Commonwealth members and former territories (and thus their formats must necessarily branch from each other in that order). 18:21, 3 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

  • Per the edit summary I've just left, I've substituted a leading asterisk in place of underlining former territories now Commonwealth Realms, as the underlining seemed to draw undue attention. Using the asterisk to identify Realms rather than Commonwealth of Nations members seemed to make more sense given your analysis above. Thanks for spotting the original ambiguity!  David Kernow (talk) 02:46, 4 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Formatting is very difficult to understand. I'd suggest for current use C former use F etc Gnevin (talk) 16:38, 2 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

Does this really have anything at all to do with the Commonwealth? Surely, if it did, the likes of Mozambique (never in the Empire) and Cameroon (only the Cameroons of which were in the Empire) would be linked, whilst the dominions would be considered to be included post-independence (e.g. Canada after 1931, Australia after 1939, etc) or at least up until the London Declaration changed the Commonwealth's name. The fact that they're not, and that inclusion ceases once territories left the Empire, proves that it's not about the Commonwealth. Fine, have italics to denote current Commonwealth members or asterisks to denote Commonwealth Realms, but the template is not fundamentally about the Commonwealth, so it shouldn't be included in the title. Bastin 13:45, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

The inclusion doesn't cease once the territories left the empire. It's supposed to be understood that once a territory leaves the empire it enters the Commonwealth in its own right (hence the font formats). What would be the point of having two date sets? For instance Barbados would have to have a colonial date set and a commonwealth date set that would go something like:
  • 1624-1966; from 1966 in the Commonwealth  *Barbados
This is rather redundant, since by the very format, it is known that Barbados is in the Commonwealth and probably has been since 1966. Why repeat the information? As you point out though, Mozambique is not in the list and thats mainly because this list is about the Empire and the Commonwealth that evolved from it. As Mozambique was never a part of the empire it can't be fitted in with the normal format. But that shouldn't be a problem, since Mozambique is a special case anyway. All that is needed is a footnote in the Africa section (probably something like: N.B. Mozambique joined the Commonwealth in 199- even though it was never a part of British Empire due to its efforts against apartheid etc, etc.) Additional footnotes in the various sections could also clarify the dates for those countries which did not immediately enter the Commonwealth upon leaving the British Empire such South West Africa (which left along with South Africa but only joined upon independence in 1990) or countries which left the Commonwealth at some point (Ireland and Zimbabwe) or countries which left and rejoined (South Africa). 16:08, 3 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]
How come Mozambique hadn't been mentioned until now? Perhaps Mozambique is the exception that proves the rule. Or, failing that, how about Zimbabwe? It's under '1890-1980 Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)'. Huh? Not only was it called 'Rhodesia', not 'Southern Rhodesia' from 1964 onwards (after Northern Rhodesia gained independence as 'Zambia'), but Zimbabwe was in the Commonwealth from 1980 until 2003. Those are two exceptions.
But, let's test it. How about Nauru, which is only a Special Member of the Commonwealth? Should that really be in italics when Nauru isn't a full member? What happens if Yemen enters the Commonwealth, as it has applied to do? Should Yemen be in talics, or should some new designation be concocted for countries that don't join upon independence, but do later? What happens if more countries (e.g. Rwanda, Cambodia, etc) join (they both applied in 1997) that weren't member of the Empire? Do they get exceptions like Mozambique? Why isn't there a footnote denoting that Pakistan or Fiji withdrew and rejoined? Or that Fiji is currently suspended? Or that the Eire was a member of the Empire (1922 - 1931) and the Commonwealth (1931 - 1949), but isn't any more? These exceptions aren't noted, nor are they accomodated. Your suggestion requires myriad footnotes and designations, when none is required.
This template implies that the Commonwealth and the Empire are the same and that they require simply italics, i.e. stylistics to differentiate. They're not the same, and the fact that this template treats them as such is POV. The Empire is in the past, so this template can be complete NOW. The fact that some POV-pushers, those that adopt Mugabesque "Commonwealth = Empire" attitudes, merge the two, when the template {{Commonwealth of Nations}} already exists, prevents that. Bastin 00:36, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Mozambique isn't the only Commonwealth member not mentioned. Nauru isn't mentioned either. That doesn't mean Mozambique proved anything other than the fact that it was overlooked until now, just like Nauru. As for Zimbabwe, it left the Commonwealth so it isn't in italics. Rhodesia was the name that the country called itself from 1965-1979, but it was never recognized....ever. Not even by South Africa. It tried to change its name to Rhodesia after the independence of Northern Rhodesia, but this name change was denied by the British. Hence why would this template list the country that declared independence (and considered itself outside of the Empire and the Commonwealth from 1970-1979 and was not recognized as a member of the Commonwealth in its own right from 1965-1970) as opposed to listing the colony that was recognized internationally as still being the colony of Southern Rhodesia de jure from 1890-1980 (but de facto from 1890-1965 and again from 1979-1980)?
Nauru is a special member, and a special member is still a member in some form. If you really want to be nitpicky Nauru could be added with a footnote.
If Yemen entered there would be no problem, since as you should know (based on your arguments thus far), that the majority of Yemen was a part of the British Empire at some point. It would be like Cameroon and South Africa (in the main list with a footnote on when it entered the Commonwealth, if really necessary).
As you should know, Wikipedia isn't a crystal ball. Rwanda and Cambodia haven't joined (and are very unlikely to anyway), but if they did join it would probably be based on Rwanda being part of German East Africa (Tanganyika) which was occupied by the British and Belgians. If the probability of those coutries joining is low, and if the criteria for membership in the Commonwealth today is primarily based on past association with the British Empire, then why argue over it and create a fuss over them?
The reason there aren't footnotes denoting the instances of exit, reentry and suspension of Fiji and Pakistan is that suspended members are still members. I doubt notes really need to be added for countries that left the Commonwealth and reentered, possibly for those that left and never reentered or those that did not enter upon independence but the exit and reentry of Pakistan, Fiji and South Africa are not essential. Besides, in case you have forgotten, this is a template not a written article. It merely serves to allow readers to navigate and garner basic information. If templates covered every detail what would be the point of articles? Any reader can simply click one of the two links to the Commonwealth of Nations article to find out more on such things as suspension of membership and so on. If your going to complain about this aspect of the template, I expect you would do the same for the OAS template and its lack of information about Cuba's suspension in the organization? Or the Andean Community template's similar lack about Venezeula's moves from being a full member to being an associate member by moving to Mercosur? I also don't understand why you would expect something of this template, when the Commonwealth of Nations template has nothing on past members, Pakistan's exit and reentry or on the suspension of any of its members.
Have you ever considered that many of the various instances you pointed could have been oversight? We are talking about a hundred or so places scattered around the globe (some of them pretty obscure as well). Why not just add the ones that you've noticed have been forgotten.
You say that this template implies something that it was not intended to, however if you read the title in a straightforward fashion you will notice title uses the terms "British Empire" and "Commonwealth of Nations" with links to the two separate, but related entities. The fact that you are viewing the template otherwise is based on your own opinion. And the template clearly notes that current Commonwealth members are also former territories of the British empire. If current Commonwealth members are fomer territories (which is true, isn't it?) then how can the template be implying that the Commonwealth members are still part of the British Empire and that the Commonwealth and British Empire are one and the same? If the template did try to imply it, then it would have all Commonwealth members in the same style as the current territories (which it doesn't). As for any template that "can now be completed" because the "Empire is in the past", I suppose you've forgotten about the 10 inhabited territories still under the sovereignty of (but not a part of) the United Kingdom? Since in your view the Empire came to a definitive end, would you care to point out when that was exactly? 1931? 1948? 1980? 1997? And when did Bermuda become a part of the UK? What will happen when any or all of those territories become independent? We could debate this til we are blue in the face, but there would be little point since you could never give an exact date (since there isn't one). What's the problem if this template shows what became of the various former territories in simple italics? 23:36, 8 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with Bastin's reasoning. I think the template on "Commonwealth of Nations" should be separate from that on "British Empire", and that neither should not try to encompass the other. The latter template could be used in articles and sections about history of nations and territories, and the former one in articles about modern nations and dependencies of modern nations. Teemu Leisti 08:05, 24 October 2007 (UTC)[reply]


Where's Ireland seeing as it is the oldest occupied territory of the British Empire. 19:50, 29 July 2008

I came here wondering the same thing. It became part of the UK in 1801 so technically it ceased being a colony then, but from 1171-1801 it was a territory, overseas, governed by the British.--Lairor (talk) 14:07, 22 June 2009 (UTC)[reply]
No, it was in personal union with the Kingdom of Great Britain, and never an overseas territory. Bastin 03:10, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

British India[edit]

As I understand it, the term "British India" refers specifically to the territories under direct company/British rule, and excludes the princely states, which are thus not included in the list. But the princely states of India were clearly as much a part of the British empire as a number of other protectorates which are listed on the page (the High Commission territories of southern Africa and the Pacific, the Malay States, Egypt, the gulf states).

I also wonder if it wouldn't make sense to distinguish those parts of the British Empire directed from the India Office from those directed from the Colonial Office. Mandates might also be distinguished separately, as might pre-1931 dominions. This might be of more use than the continent based list. john k (talk) 09:33, 4 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Things missing[edit]

There were somewhere between 400-500 princely states in the British Raj. They certainly weren't an integral part of British India, but I don't think WP has an article for each of them, esp. not the petty ones in Gujarat. Perhaps listing either:
  1. the individual salute states
  2. the individual residencies
...or even just adding the link to Princely state somewhere? Also missing is the Hawai'ian protectorate. Night w (talk) 13:55, 24 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Mauritius and Seychelles?[edit]

Where are Mauritius and Seychelles? I assumed I would find them under 'Africa', but to no avail. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:58, 27 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]