The decline of the British Empire

Topics: British Empire, World War II, World War I Pages: 4 (1044 words) Published: May 7, 2015


The decline of the British Empire.
“The sun never sets on the British Empire” this statement was true for many decades, the Empire was ¼ of the world. But why and how did it fall and what were the reasons for decolonization? This I will try to answer in this short essay. The main reasons of the decline was economics and nationalism (including resentment from the rest of the world towards the empire). I have decided to concentrate on post world war events even though you may say the decline already started when General Charles Cornwallis surrendered the American colonies to George Washington in 1781. We also have to mention the Boar war (1899-1902) that proved to be both costlier and longer than intended. The British won that war but we already start to see the world position erode. (1) WW1 (1914-1918) had a devastating effect on the Empire, both in manpower and financially. An entire generation of young men was quite literary destroyed, including massive numbers from the colonies. This resulted in a post-war recession, there was a small rise until the mid-20s but after that the economy slowly declined until the big crack in 1929. The consequence of this were that the UK was left in none or little condition to fend for itself and, in some cases, bankrupt friends and colonies. The depression ended when ww2 started in 1939. (1 and 2) The main fall came after WW2. Britain was on the winning side of the war but they barely survived. Many of the colonies men fought in the wars and lost a lot of men in both of them. World War 2 left Britain nearly bankrupt, and the losses on the battlefields shattered the myth of the Empire’s invincibility. Huge loans and huge costs of administration of ¼ of the world, was also contributing to the decline. Britain could no longer use the “these countries are incapable of governing themselves” (1 and 3), they had proven that statement wrong during the wars. During WW2 UK signed, with other allies, the Atlantic Charter. In...
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