Network of colonies owned by the United Kingdom of Great Britain through much of the Industrial Revolution
. These colonies came to be under the control of Britain mainly through trade or conquest, and the empire helped give Britain enormous economic growth, facilitating the export of British technology all around the world. Other upshots of this include the spread of the English
language and, in the present day, much strife in former colonies.
Originally, the British implemented colonies in North America and the Caribbean
, and also Australia: the colonies in America were later lost during the American War of Independence. The empire as we know it was brought about through the introduction of free trade throughout Britain, which ended with the repealing of many trade laws. The British East India Company
, through an elaborate trade network, essentially controlled a large stretch of the East Indies
, most notably India
. Eventually, control of these areas was transferred to the British Crown, leading to the establishment of these areas as colonies. Oddly, despite the Empires formation through free trade, Britain wished to have a large protectionist
empire to ward off potential rivals.
During the 1880s, Britain and many other European countries took part in the Scramble for Africa
in which many African countries, notably Zimbabwe
and South Africa
, became colonies of the Empire.
After the First World War, Britain continued its expansion into the Middle East, with Palestine
added to the Empire. However, after the Second World War
, many colonies began to cry for independence. Britain's idiotic policy on seperating countries before giving them their independence has led to much of the turmoil in the Middle East and India we have today:
- On gaining independence in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was split into a secular state (India) and a smaller Muslim state (Pakistan), with some autonomous regions such as Kashmir-dispute over the ownership of Kashmir has led to the political problems we have today in the region. Burma and Ceylon seceded from the Empire soon after this occurred.
- The Palestinian state was a British colony, and the Holocaust and Zionist beliefs of some Jews led to mass emigration to what many saw as their spiritual homeland. The proportion of Jews in Palestine rose dramatically from 11% to 30%. After some violent terrorist atrocities in the area, the British pulled out in 1947, leaving the UN to split the area into the two states of Palestine and Israel we have today. The Israeli army immediately annexed 26% of Palestinian land, leading to today's struggle.
- Despite proclaiming independence in 1965, Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) remained a colony until the 80s, when the dictator Robert Mugabe was installed, contributing to severe economic decline.
The last of the British Empire was divested to China in the form of Hong Kong in 1997. Certain colonies still exist, such as the Pitcairn Island
, but most of these are either held under international treaty or so small nobody really cares.
Influence on Modern Culture
The actions of the empire led to a mass influx of immigrants, mostly from Asia
. This, combined with the Crown's willingness to justify their invasion of random countries by saying that they were civilising savages, created a large amount of racism in the United Kingdom
and helped precipitate some of the immigration problems we see today, both directly and indirectly through poor handling of the Middle East.