Oh, that was the largest state formation in human history! An Empire Over Which The Sun Never Sets.
The transfer of all territorial acquisitions of Britain to the beginning of the 20th century sounds like a geographical anecdote: British Malaya (present-day Malaysia), Myanmar, modern Pakistan and Bangladesh, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, N. Zeeland, Oceania (Fiji and etc.), South Africa, Botswana and Y. Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Egypt, Gold Coast (present-day Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana). Also among the subordinated territories of the Anglo-Saxons were Iraq and Iran, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain. The British Mandate in Palestine (present-day Israel and Jordan), Jamaica, South American Guyana, the Caribbean islands, Diego Garcia and islands in the Indian Ocean, pieces of land in the middle of the Atlantic - Fr. Ascension, the Falklands archipelago, South Georgia ... - oh, you need to stop, take a sip of water and take a breath - ... an outpost in southern Europe - Gibraltar, the Mediterranean island of Malta and Cyprus. Own territory of the metropolis - Foggy Albion off the coast of Europe (together with Ireland). Kenya, Sudan, a part of Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Mozambique fell into dependence. And, of course, “the pearl of the British crown” - India.
Over the 300 years of active expansion, the British Empire has spread to all continents in both hemispheres of the Earth. Cases in the colonies did not always go according to plan — they had to regularly settle conflicts between tribes, castes and national leaders, fight against Aboriginal traditions, suppress revolts and carry out punitive actions against the local population. The boundaries of some overseas territories were redrawn several times in a hundred years - someone disappeared from the list of British possessions, but at this time new territories fell into bondage to England.
The 13 wealthy colonies on the East Coast of North America were lost in a rather offensive way - the former British and Irish emigrants suddenly wanted independence, and eventually achieved their own requirements, forming their own state - the United States. But the British specifically bartered these lands from Holland (New York - New Amsterdam), giving in return to the Dutch the South American Suriname.
There were also frank failures - the Anglo-Ethiopian war ended in vain, the British did not succeed in subjugating Afghanistan and penetrating into Central Asia. The intervention on the territory of Russia during the years of the Civil War did not cherish anything good - the young Soviet state survived, in the process nationalizing all the enterprises of Western companies. But this was rather an exception to the rule - usually the British sought their way, paving the way to the desired goal with fire and sword.
One of the variants of the British Empire of the late period (Palestine and colonies in the Middle East are not shown)
To say that Britain has bitten off more than it could swallow would be unfair - ALL the occupied territories were settled and plundered with the proper degree of efficiency. In its best years, the East India Company worked with an unprecedented share of 600% annual profit. Britain arranged a world-wide “migration of nations” - the delivery of cheap labor from India to sugar cane plantations in Fiji Islands (Pacific Ocean) and initiated the appearance of black slaves in the US (first brought to British Virginia in 1619 year). The brutal colonial wars, a huge cutting-edge fleet and industrial exhibition in Hyde Park in London in 1851, which became the symbol of the industrial and economic power of the world hegemon - with such a legacy entered Britain in the 20th century. The century is extraordinary. The more interesting it is for the historian, the sadder it is for the contemporary.
The twentieth century ended for the British Empire with a crushing score - she lost everything.
The first round was left for the British - in World War I, they defended their right to overseas possessions and even managed to "cut" a couple of "tidbits" at the expense of the former German colonies. But the next war was a real disaster for them.
Dying in the flames of world war, the Third Reich inflicted a mortal wound on the British lion - as a result of the Second World War, the British Empire was already breathing its last. It will take no more than 20 years - and it will completely disintegrate into a hundred independent states. Left without their colonies, the British economy will decline. One way or another, Germany achieved its goal by destroying an irreconcilable rival - now it has become the leading economy of Europe and a contender for the world superpower (the European Union).
A special role in the collapse of the British Empire was played by the appearance on the geopolitical arena of new players - the USSR and the USA. The industrial colossus, who did not know the ruin of the war years, whose dollar was recognized as the world reserve currency. And the young desperate state that defied all the laws of evolution and subdued the oppressed of the whole world under its banners. In such conditions, the rotten colonial system could only be quietly bent and disappear on the dusty shelves of history. The Great Empire collapsed right before our eyes, awkward attempts to stop the inevitable process of disintegration only accelerated the process of disintegration and independence of the peoples of Africa and Asia.
All that remains of the once Great Empire is an island off the coast of Europe and a kind of strange Commonwealth, which consists of 2,245 billion people in the former British colonies - that is, 30% of the world's population. But it does not provide any specific advantages to the UK. Tribute to the colonial past. Or a mockery of former greatness ...
Probably, it is not bad to head the organization in 53 countries of the world, most of which still feel the trend of the colonial past: language, culture, traditions, and occasionally the governor-general with formal subordination to Her Majesty. But not for Great Britain - which, not in words, but in fact, owned a good half of the globe over the centuries.
And here is another incredible message from the shores of Foggy Albion - a referendum on the independence of Scotland was scheduled for 18 September 2014. All, gentlemen, comrades, this is a complete finish. Checkmate. The destructive process of the collapse of the empire did not end with the loss of the colonies, but continued as a fragmentation of the metropolitan state itself. The once unified and indestructible The United Kingdom - the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - continues to disintegrate and shrink. Slamming the door and not saying goodbye, is going to leave in English the entire northern part of Albion. And then (scary to think) independence will want Wales and rebellious Northern Ireland.
For five hundred years the proud land of Scotland defended its independence, with varying success reflecting London’s attempts to subjugate these territories to itself. Still, the forces turned out to be unequal - military, economic and cultural expansion from the South gradually supplanted the national Gaelic language and culture of the Scots (Celts). Under threat of another looting of the country and a military blockade, the Scottish Parliament, jointly with the British, adopted the Unity Act in 1707, thus forming the Kingdom of Great Britain in the form in which we know it today.
The Scots acquired a lot - they got access to the unlimited wealth of the British colonies, the entire military, industrial and economic power of England. But the fee for the benefits brought was high - Scotland has almost completely lost its language and national culture, becoming part of the "indivisible whole." The most famous Scottish masters of the pen - R. Burns and Arthur Conan-Doyle - wrote in pure English.
The Scottish nation dissolved in time. There was only a dream. The dream of their own state. Even in ordinary conversation, modern Scots are outraged when they are called by the British, arrogantly emphasizing that they are Scottish People. And not any Anglo-Saxons. It remains only to smile politely and repeat the Scottish, although the unpretentious look of the Russian people makes no difference between them. All white, freckled, with the correct Oxford pronunciation.
And yet it is worth recognizing: unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland has retained the greatest autonomy - its own judicial system and the Presbyterian church, which, according to surveys, owns 42% of the population.
Castle Elian Donan, Scotland
New conversations about the division of the state arose in the 1970s — when oil was discovered on the shelf of Scotland. Lots of oil. Revenues from which went past the Scottish budget - straight to the British treasury. Of course, this state of affairs angered the proud inhabitants of Edinburgh.
At first, weak and barely audible calls for secession from Great Britain grew into a powerful political action - the result was the popular referendum on the 1979 of the year in which Scotland decided its future. Proponents of independence won with a minimum margin (49: 51) - which gave London reason to declare the referendum results invalid and forget about the problem for many years. It would have been useless to start such conversations with Margaret Thatcher. An important role in the failure of the referendum was played by a low turnout of voters (about 60%) - which once again confirmed the truth that when it comes to concrete decisions, the majority, as usual, doesn’t care.
A new surge of Scottish nationalism came at the end of the past century - feeling the slack in the British political arena, the Scottish authorities struck a new blow. The policy of devolution of the legislature of Great Britain brought its sorrowful fruit - the result was a revival in 1998-99. Scotland’s own parliament, which had been inactive since 1707. Own norms and laws in the field of health, education, taxation are pillars of the modern state. It lacks only military power, border control and international recognition of independence.
The next stage in the British-Scottish relations came in 2012 year - British Prime Minister David Cameron and the first minister of the regional government of Scotland Alex Salmond signed an agreement on the procedure for holding a referendum on independence in 2014. If successful, by the year 2016 Scotland should declare independence from the rest of England.
What does the future Scottish government promise its future citizens? That's right - joining the European Union. They will live by selling oil, exporting a national drink (whiskey) and tourism. Everything is as usual. The European Parliament gives discreet comments on this issue, bearing in mind the human rights and the right of the nation to self-determination. At the same time, it is obvious that serious politicians and businessmen from Germany, France and Italy are looking at the new raw materials appendage with a wolfish grin and are just waiting for the moment to get under control such an interesting territory with a developed infrastructure and rich oil reserves.
However, there is one problem - most Scots does not support the idea of independence of Scotland. Whiskey, kilt and ostentatious pride in their "bestial" origin - is one thing. But the new "Berlin Wall" across Albion is quite another. Business and family ties between various parts of a small island are too strong to take such a serious step. The separation of the northern part of Great Britain will inevitably break industrial chains and sever economic relations between different parts of the former united state. Business is definitely against.
Been bent tourism. Millions of people visit the UK according to the London + scheme. Just watch Edinburgh and Glasgow, no one will. Do additional visas and pass customs checkpoints? .. Such an “exotic” will immediately alienate the lion’s share of those who want to enjoy the beauty of Scotland’s landscapes.
The NATO command expresses many concerns - in the event of secession, Scotland wishes to proclaim a nuclear-free status and is highly likely to consider it necessary to leave the North Atlantic alliance.
The stakes are too high - the Scots will long doubt the correctness of such a decision. The idea of independence in the referendum-2014 will fail with a probability close to 100%. As today's polls show, the idea is supported by no more than a third of the respondents.
And yet - this is a signal. The very fact of a public discussion of such issues testifies to the weakening ties between various parts of the country. In times of empires such conversations are burned with a hot iron. And rightly so: a country that has embarked on the path of devolution and disintegration awaits an unenviable future.
PS For hundreds of years of its world domination, Britain has made many enemies. British arrogance and hypocrisy can ruin a relationship with any partner. Nowadays, there are many who want to see how the entire northern part of the British Isle on the map will be colored with the color of another state.
"Riots" on the streets of Edinburgh. Lonely inscription "The end of the reign of London"