Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: Xxxxxxxxx hed here

Q&A: An update on the British Empire's 'possessions'

British Empire's 'possessions'

What's left of the once-mighty British Empire's "possessions" worldwide and how does it compare to what it was at its peak?

Back in the 1920s, the British Empire was known as the empire "where the sun never sets" because it consisted of territories in seemingly every corner of the world.

At its peak, the British Empire encompassed more than 13 million square miles — almost a quarter of Earth's land. More than 450 million people lived on those lands, about 20 percent of the world's population at the time.

More than 50 countries fell under the British flag, according to research done by teacher and author Stephen Luscombe (british The largest were Canada, Australia and India. Among the others were the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, South Africa, Tanganyika, Nigeria, Iraq, the Bahamas, the Falkland Islands, Honduras, the Irish Free State, Kenya, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Zealand, Palestine, Rhodesia, Uganda, Cypress, Bermuda, Barbados and the Cameroons.

The empire began contracting after World War II, as countries began to seek and win their independence. That movement culminated in 1997 with the handover of Hong Kong to become a special administrative region of China. In attendance that day was Charles, the prince of Wales, who later wrote: "Such is the end of Empire, I sighed to myself."

Today, the British Empire consists of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and 14 territories known as the British Overseas Territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekalia on Cyprus and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Total land area: A little more than 750,000 square miles, though 600,000 of that is Britain's slice of Antarctica.

That number may dwindle further. Scotland is making noise about independence. And the United Kingdom is currently in dispute over some of the territories: with Spain over Gibraltar; with Argentina over the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands; with Chile and Argentina over the British Antarctic; with Mauritius and the Seychelles over the British Indian Ocean Territory.

There are 16 countries formerly in the empire that now belong to the Commonwealth Realms: The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guineau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Many of the other former British colonies belong to the Commonwealth of Nations. It consists of 54 countries, all of which used to be part of the British Empire except for Mozambique and Rwanda.

Q&A: Xxxxxxxxx hed here

Q&A: An update on the British Empire's 'possessions' 01/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 12:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida TaxWatch calls out $180 million of questionable spending in state budget


    Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee thinktank, has released its annual "budget turkey" list that calls on Gov. Rick Scott to veto nearly $180 million in special projects tucked into the budget, mostly in transportation.

    Kurt Wenner, Florida TaxWatch's vice president for research, presents the organization's 2017 turkey list.
  2. U.S. plans first test of ICBM intercept, with North Korea on mind


    WASHINGTON — Preparing for North Korea's growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test next week. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said Friday

    n this May 21 file photo people watch a TV news program showing a file image of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. With North Korea's nuclear missile threat in mind, the Pentagon is planning a missile defense test next week that for the first time will target an intercontinental-range missile.
  3. A breakdown of the proposed new state budget by the Florida Association of Counties.
  4. Gradebook podcast: Budgets, pre-k, achievement gap and more


    As classes let out across Florida, school district leaders continue to analyze how they're going to balance their budgets given the constraints proposed by state lawmakers.  Reporter Jeff Solochek and editor Tom Tobin discuss the concerns district finance officials are raising as they look at the budget while …

  5. Boehner: Trump's term 'disaster,' aside from foreign affairs


    WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker John Boehner says that aside from international affairs and foreign policy, President Donald Trump's time in office has so far been a "complete disaster."

    John Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president.