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 Britain. 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. Consolidation 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.