British Empire

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					The British Empire 1815-1913
During the 19th Century, the British extended and consolidated their Empire. Britain had
taken over more land than any other nation in history.

At its height, during the reign of Queen Victoria, the British Empire had included a quarter of the
world’s land and people. From the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the start of World
War I in 1914, Britain acquired so many new colonies that the empire stretched around the
world. Britain was able to control, this vast empire by its domination of the seas and world trade
routes. Throughout the 19th century, British naval strength was unbeatable and its boats
constantly patrolled countries belonging to the empire. Because the empire covered both
hemispheres it was known as ‘the empire on which the sun never sets’ Colonies in the
Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Pacific were ruled from London and were all united
under the British monarch. Strategic harbors such as Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Singapore and Aden
came into British hands, and vital trading routes such as the Cape route to India, or the Suez
Canal (via Egypt) to the spice and rubber plantations of southeast Asia were also controlled by

Raw materials
The empire provided the British with raw materials for manufacturing industry and British
demand for colonial products such as silk, spices, rubber, cotton, tea, coffee and sugar led
to the gradual takeover of many countries. Several countries became colonies when the
British government acquired a bankrupt trading company. India was an example of a
country where the British had come to trade and stayed to rule. It was the most prized
colony in the empire. In 1850, India remained under the rule of the British East India
Company. After the rebellion of 1857, India was placed under the rule other British
government1 and its policies were more cautious. British officials left control of local
affairs to the princes.
The British subjugated Egypt in l883to guard the Suez Canal and the route to India. After
rebellion in the south of Egypt led by religious leader, the Mahdi, Britain entered to
Sudan in 1898. The British set up trade links throughout the empire by appointing an
agent in every port. They organized local produce for exports and markets for British
imports. The British navy protected their interests and kept the sea routes safe for
shipping. British influence extended into mainland settlements in Central and South
America and into China where it had trading outposts. Queen Victoria, herself Empress
of India since l876, was a keen supporter of a foreign policy that pursued colonial
expansion and upheld the empire. As more British people emigrated to countries Within
the empire, so these lands were given freedom to govern themselves. Many colonies,
notably Canada, Australia and South Africa became dominions rather than colonies and
were allowed self-government.

End of empire
Towards the end of the 19th century, some colonies began to break away from British
rule. Home rule was granted to Canada in 1867, and independence to Australia in 1901.
Both countries became dominions, although they remained part of the British Empire.
The gradual loosening of ties with the British Empire reflected the fact that
Britain had ceased to be the leading industrial nation in the world. Germany and the
United States had overtaken it, with France and Russia close behind.

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