The Overseas Territories

British Empire 1In 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world’s population at the time.

At its zenith it covered more than a quarter of the Earth’s total land area while its influence spread even further.

The British Empire - Map

A map of British Empire with the remaining Overeas Territories underlined in red.

While the 1st World War saw the inevitable waning of the Imperial Star it was the coming of the 2nd World War that confirmed the beginning of the end. Despite the eventual victory of Britain and its allies, British prestige suffered an almost irrevocable ‘loss of face’ that inevitably served only to accelerate the decline of the empire.

British India, Britain’s most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger post-war de-colonisation movement in which Britain also granted independence to most of the territories of the British Empire.  For many, the political transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked the final nail in the coffin of Empire.

To this day there remain fourteen British Overseas Territories (B.O.T’s) that remain under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom whose culture and heritage are still a part of the greater whole and so deserve recognition here.

Union FlagAkrotiri & Dhekelia

Mediterranean

Anguilla - FlagAnguila

Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean

Bermuda - FlagBermuda   :   Hamilton

North Atlanic Ocean

British Antarctic Territory - FlagBritish Antarctic Territory   :   Rothera

Antarctica

British Indian Ocean Territory - FlagBritish Indian Ocean Territory  :  Diego Garcia

Indian Ocean

British Virgin Islands - FlagBritish Virgin Islands   :    Road Town

Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean

Cayman Islands - FlagCayman Islands    :   Georgetown

Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean

Falkland Islands - FlagFalkland Islands    :    Stanley

South Atlantic Ocean

Gibraltar - FlagGibraltar   :   Gibraltar

Iberian Peninsular

Montserrat - FlagMontserrat   :    (Plymouth) Brades

Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean

Pitcairn Islands - FlagPitcairn Island    :    Adamstown

Pacific Ocean

Saint Helena - FlagSaint Helena    :    Jamestown

South Atlantic Ocean

Tristan da Cunha - Flag#Tristan da Cuhna

 

Ascension Island - Flag#Ascension Island

 

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands - FlagSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands     :      King Edward Point

South Atlantic Ocean

Turks and Caicos Islands - FlagTurks and Caicos Islands   :   Cockburn Town

Lucayan Archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean

Although they are parts of the former British Empire that have not chosen independence or have voted to remain British territories, they are mostly self-governing with their own internal leadership, whilst sharing the British monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) as head of state.

The name “British Overseas Territory” was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, replacing the name British Dependent Territory introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981.

With the exceptions of the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (which host only officials and research station staff) and the British Indian Ocean Territory (used as a military base), the Territories retain permanent civilian populations. Permanent residency for the 7,000 or so civilians living in the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is limited to citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.

Collectively, the Territories encompass a population of approximately 350,000 people and a land area of approximately 667,018 square miles (1,727,570 km2). The vast majority of this, 660,000 square miles (1,700,000 km2), constitutes the British Antarctic Territory. The United Kingdom participates in the Antarctic Treaty System and, as part of a mutual agreement, the British Antarctic Territory is recognised by four of the other sovereign nations making claims to Antarctic territory.

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