During the 19th century, Britain's population increased at a dramatic rate, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, which caused significant social and economic stresses. To seek new markets and sources of raw materials, the British government under Benjamin Disraeli initiated a period of imperial expansion in Egypt, South Africa, and elsewhere. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand became self-governing dominions.
By the start of the 20th century, Germany and the United States had begun to challenge Britain's economic lead. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied heavily upon its empire. The conflict placed enormous strain on the military, financial and manpower resources of Britain. Although the British Empire achieved its largest territorial extent immediately after World War I, Britain was no longer the world's pre-eminent industrial or military power. In the Second World War, Britain's colonies in East and Southeast Asia were occupied by Japan. Despite the final victory of Britain and its allies, the damage to British prestige helped to accelerate the decline of the empire. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger decolonisation movement in which Britain granted independence to most territories of the empire. The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire. Fourteen overseas territories remain under British sovereignty.
Despite the colony's relatively short history, Plymouth holds a special role in American history. Rather than being entrepreneurs like many of the settlers of Jamestown, a significant proportion of the citizens of Plymouth were fleeing religious persecution and searching for a place to worship as they saw fit. The social and legal systems of the colony became closely tied to their religious beliefs, as well as English custom. Many of the people and events surrounding Plymouth Colony have become part of American folklore, including the North American tradition known as Thanksgiving and the monument known as Plymouth Rock.
Born in Dalhousie Castle, Scotland, he crowded into his relatively short life conspicuous public service in the United Kingdom, and established an unrivalled position among the master-builders of the Indian empire. Denounced on the eve of his death and to this day by some as having failed to notice the signs of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and even having aggravated the crisis by his overbearing self-confidence, centralising activity, and reckless annexations. (more...)
Evolution of the British Empire
This Map of the world animates the Empire's rise and fall.
9 Dependencies of St. Helena since 1922 (Ascension Island) and 1938 (Tristan da Cunha) 10 Both claimed in 1908; territories formed in 1962 (British Antarctic Territory) and 1985 (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) 11 Occupied by Argentina during the Falklands War of April–June 1982