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The British Empire

“The sun never sets on the British Empire”, is a well-used phrase about the old British Empire, where Britain ruled almost one-quarter of the world’s population. They had colonies in all the continents of the world. How did Britain manage to get all these colonies? And why did they suddenly lose the whole Empire? What have the colonization had to say for the countries involved? And does the old British Empire still have any effect on Britain and the world today? In this essay I will look into the rise and fall of the British Empire and discuss the positive and negative consequences it has had on the countries involved. In my conclusion I will also give a short sketch of the present-day situation.

In the sixteenth century British ships set out to conquer the world. They were amongst the countries to colonize the newfound America. Like many other European countries they entered a foreign country and claimed it as theirs with no regards of the people already living there. When we talk about the British Empire, we actually have two different Empires. The first Empire was from 1450-1800, and the main focus was on America. The colonies were then seen as places to trade, not as markets which produced raw materials. The second Empire came after the industrial revolution and lasted from 1800-1945 with main focus on India and the Far East. In this period there was a huge need for raw materials, and the colonies were exploited for its raw materials. By the end of the eighteenth century Britain lost their colonies in America and many consider this as the fall of the first British Empire. They now concentrated on their colonies in the Far East, with the main focus on India. India became the Jewel in the Crown, the Empire’s most important colony. Britain had established a huge trade route and they got large amounts of their raw materials imported from India. The largest profit however came from opium, which Britain used as trading goods in their...
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