British Empire

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Understand[edit]

The British Empire began in 1578 when Queen Elizabeth I started founding colonies in the Caribbean and North America. It expanded in the following centuries involving frequent fighting with European rivals Holland, France, Portugal and Spain over territory in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The loss of the colonies in North America after the American War of Independence was significant, but the zenith of the empire was only reached much later at the end of the 19th Century with Queen Victoria, when the Empire very nearly covered one quarter of the land in the world.

During the 20th century the effects of World War I and World War II on the United Kingdom led to a decline of empire, with the independence of most of its colonies in the decades thereafter. After a failed military intervention to hold onto the strategic Suez canal in Egypt in 1956, many regarded Britain to be no longer a global power. The formal handover of its last significant possession, Hong Kong, back to China in 1997 was seen as "the end of the Empire".

Today the empire is now reduced to many small islands and lands as 'British Overseas Territories'. It retains a cultural connection to many of its former colonies through the large Commonwealth of Nations, and some countries such as Australia, Canada and others keep a constitutional connection by having the English monarch, Queen Elizabeth II as their formal head of state.

Articles about the Empire[edit]

All areas of the world that were ever part of the British Empire.

There are many articles that cover different aspects of the British Empire:

British Overseas Territories[edit]

Location of British Overseas Territories today

Although the term 'British Empire' is rarely used today, some destinations do remain in the form of 'overseas territories'. They are typically self-governing and do not belong to the European Union. The majority are islands.

Commonwealth Countries[edit]

Countries that form the Commonwealth of Nations today

The following are a list of former colonial countries that choose to be part of the British Commonwealth, with or without the British monarch as the head of state:

Related subjects[edit]

  • Cricket - is a game played by almost all countries of the commonwealth
  • Rugby football - a sport that originated in England and is today played in many nations of the former British Empire, although other countries (such as Argentina, France, Italy and Japan) have also enthusiastically taken it up as well
  • Association Football was invented in England and was in part spread through merchants, missionaries, teachers and expatriates throughout the entire world.
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