The British Empire is the largest power in human history. During its heyday, the British controlled 22% of the earth’s surface and united a quarter of the world’s population.
Great Britain was the first to start the process of industrialization, and in the 19th-20th centuries it was a superpower and could interfere in the affairs of the whole world.
Most researchers believe that the rise of the British Empire was more of an accident than a natural phenomenon. At the end of the 16th century, Britain was hopelessly behind Spain, France and Portugal in colonial development, and behind Holland in trade and finance.
For a long time, the British could not even unite their islands under one flag, and the development of new lands was out of the question. Nevertheless, already in the 18th century, Britain seized the initiative from the Western powers and became the leader.
The British owe their success to economic expansion, not political expansion.
At the same time
India was conquered by the East India Campaign, a union of private traders that had its own army. North America was colonized independently by dozens of expeditions. The colonization of Africa was financially supported by the Rothschild family.
Also, the British did not disdain to use the services of privateers — in fact, legalized pirates. They were allowed to rob and plunder ships of other countries, while leaving the loot for themselves.
Through the hands of traders and entrepreneurs, the state conquered new lands without wasting its resources. In the 19th century, the government nationalized the property of all private companies and established direct control over the overseas territories.
Another important instrument of expansion was the British migration policy, which encouraged the settlement of the colonies. From the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century, Britain
The settlers spread English culture and served as the basis for the retention and development of new territories. Also, migrants could immediately take ownership of land, cultivate it and become rich. For Europe, where everything belonged to a handful of aristocrats, this was unheard of generosity.
Often emigration was forced: in the 19th century, a mass famine occurred in Ireland, subject to the British. but
Britain leveraged its resources to forge alliances and consistently followed the classic Divide and Conquer principles.
In Europe, the British sought to use foreign armies to achieve their own goals and never fought alone. In the colonies, Great Britain pitted local tribes against each other, thereby separating them.
The end of the empire took place in the middle of the 20th century. After World War II, Great Britain did not have enough strength to hold the colonies. Its place was taken by the United States and the Soviet Union.