In the 18th century, the country played an important role in developing Western ideas of the parliamentary system and in making significant contributions to literature, the arts, and science. The British-led Industrial Revolution transformed the country and fuelled the growing British Empire. During this time Britain, like other great powers, was involved in colonial exploitation, including the Atlantic slave trade, although with the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 the UK took a leading role in battling the trade in slaves. The colonies in North America had been the main focus of British colonial activity. With their loss in the American War of Independence, imperial ambition turned elsewhere, particularly to India.
In 1800, while the wars with France still raged, the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland each passed an Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which came into being on 1 January 1801.
The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the start of Pax Britannica.
After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), the UK emerged as the principal naval and economic power of the 19th century (with London the largest city in the world from about 1830 to 1930) and remained a foremost power into the mid-20th century. Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica. It was also a period of rapid economic, colonial, and industrial growth. Britain was described as the "workshop of the world", and the British Empire grew to include India, large parts of... [continues]
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