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The Caribbean initially provided England's most important and lucrative colonies, but not before several attempts at colonisation failed. An attempt to establish a colony in Guiana in 1604 lasted only two years, and failed in its main objective to find gold deposits. Colonies in St Lucia (1605) and Grenada (1609) also rapidly folded, but settlements were successfully established in St. Kitts (1624), Barbados (1627) and Nevis (1628). The colonies soon adopted the system of sugar plantations successfully used by the Portuguese in Brazil, which depended on slave labour, and—at first—Dutch ships, to sell the slaves and buy the sugar. To ensure that the increasingly healthy profits of this trade remained in English hands, Parliament decreed in 1651 that only English ships would be able to ply their trade in English colonies. This led to hostilities with the United Dutch Provinces—a series of Anglo-Dutch Wars—which would eventually strengthen England's position in the Americas at the expense of the Dutch. In 1655 England annexed the island of Jamaica from the Spanish, and in 1666 succeeded in colonising the Bahamas.
England's first permanent settlement in the Americas was founded in 1607 in Jamestown, led by Captain John Smith and managed by the Virginia Company, an offshoot of which established a colony on Bermuda, which had been discovered in 1609. The Company's charter was revoked in 1624 and direct control was assumed by the crown, thereby founding the Colony of Virginia. The Newfoundland Company was created in 1610 with the aim of creating a permanent settlement on Newfoundland, but was largely unsuccessful. In 1620, Plymouth was founded as a haven for puritan religious separatists, later known as the Pilgrims. Fleeing from religious persecution would become the motive of many English would-be colonists to risk the arduous trans-Atlantic voyage: Maryland was founded as a haven for Roman Catholics (1634), Rhode Island (1636) as a colony tolerant of all religions and Connecticut (1639) for congregationalists. The Province of Carolina was founded in 1663. In 1664, England gained control of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (renamed New York) via negotiations following the Second Anglo-Dutch War, in exchange for Suriname. In 1681, the colony of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn. The American colonies were less financially successful than those of the Caribbean, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants who preferred their temperate climates.
In 1670, King Charles II granted a charter to the Hudson's Bay Company, granting it a monopoly on the fur trade in what was then known as Rupert's Land, a vast stretch of territory that would later make up a large proportion of Canada. Forts and trading posts established by the Company were frequently the subject of attacks by the French, who had established their own fur trading colony in adjacent New France.
Two years later, the Royal African Company was inaugurated, receiving from King Charles a monopoly of the trade to supply slaves to the British colonies of the Caribbean. From the outset, slavery was the basis of the British Empire in the West Indies. Until the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, Britain was responsible for the transportation of 3.5 million African slaves to the Americas, a third of all slaves transported across the Atlantic. To facilitate this trade, forts were established on the coast of West Africa, such as James Island, Accra and Bunce Island. In the British Caribbean, the percentage of the population of black people rose from 25 percent in 1650 to around 80 percent in 1780, and in the Thirteen Colonies from 10 percent to 40 percent over the same period (the majority in the southern colonies). For the slave traders, the trade was extremely profitable, and became a major economic mainstay for such western British cities as Bristol and Liverpool, which formed the third corner of the so-called triangular trade with Africa and the Americas. For the transportees, harsh and unhygienic conditions on the slaving ships and poor diets meant that the average mortality rate during the middle passage was one in seven.
In 1695 the Scottish parliament granted a charter to the Company of Scotland, which proceeded in 1698 to establish a settlement on the isthmus of Panama, with a view to building a canal there. Besieged by neighbouring Spanish colonists of New Granada, and afflicted by malaria, the colony was abandoned two years later. The Darien scheme was a financial disaster for Scotland—a quarter of Scottish capital was lost in the enterprise—and ended Scottish hopes of establishing its own overseas empire. The episode also had major political consequences, persuading both England and Scotland of the merits of a union of countries, rather than just crowns. This was achieved in 1707 with the Treaty of Union, establishing the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
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Peace between England and the Netherlands in 1688 meant that the two countries entered the Nine Years' War as allies, but the conflict—waged in Europe and overseas between France, Spain and the Anglo-Dutch alliance—left the English a stronger colonial power than the Dutch, who were forced to devote a larger proportion of their military budget on the costly land war in Europe. The 18th century would see England (after 1707, Britain) rise to be the world's dominant colonial power, and France becoming its main rival on the imperial stage.
The death of Charles II of Spain in 1700 and his bequeathal of Spain and its colonial empire to Philippe of Anjou, a grandson of the King of France, raised the prospect of the unification of France, Spain and their respective colonies, an unacceptable state of affairs for England and the other powers of Europe. In 1701, Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands sided with the Holy Roman Empire against Spain and France in the War of the Spanish Succession, which lasted until 1714. At the concluding Treaty of Utrecht, Philip renounced his and his descendants' right to the French throne and Spain lost its empire in Europe. The British Empire was territorially enlarged: from France, Britain gained Newfoundland and Acadia, and from Spain, Gibraltar and Minorca. Gibraltar, which is still a British territory to this day, became a critical naval base and allowed Britain to control the Atlantic entry and exit point to the Mediterranean. Minorca was returned to Spain at the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, after changing hands twice. Spain also ceded the rights to the lucrative asiento (permission to sell slaves in Spanish America) to Britain.
The Seven Years' War, which began in 1756, was the first war waged on a global scale, fought in Europe, India, North America, the Caribbean, the Philippines and coastal Africa. The signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763) had important consequences for the future of the British Empire. In North America, France's future as a colonial power there was effectively ended with the recognition of British claims to Rupert's Land, the ceding of New France to Britain (leaving a sizeable French-speaking population under British control) and Louisiana to Spain. Spain ceded Florida to Britain. In India, the Carnatic War had left France still in control of its enclaves but with military restrictions and an obligation to support British client states, effectively leaving the future of India to Britain. The British victory over France in the Seven Years' War therefore left Britain as the world's dominant colonial power.
Macmillan gave a speech in Cape Town, South Africa in February 1960 where he spoke of "the wind of change blowing through this continent." Macmillan wished to avoid the same kind of colonial war that France was fighting in Algeria, and under his premiership decolonisation proceeded rapidly. To the three colonies that had been granted independence in the 1950s—Sudan, the Gold Coast and Malaya—were added nearly ten times that number in the 1960s.
Britain's remaining colonies in Africa were all granted independence by 1968 (see map). British withdrawal from the southern and eastern parts of Africa was complicated by the region's white settler populations, particularly in Rhodesia where racial tensions had led Ian Smith, the Prime Minister, to a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the British Empire in 1965. Rhodesia remained in a state of civil war between its black and white population until the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, under which Rhodesia was temporarily returned to British colonial rule until elections could be held, under British supervision. The elections were held the following year and won by Robert Mugabe, who became the Prime Minister of the newly independent state of Zimbabwe.
In the Mediterranean, a guerrilla war waged by Greek Cypriots ended (1960) in an independent Cyprus, with the UK retaining the military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo were amicably granted independence from the UK in 1964, though the idea had been raised in 1955 of integration with Britain.
Most of the UK's West Indies territories achieved independence after the departure in 1961 and 1962 of Jamaica and Trinidad from the West Indies Federation, established in 1958 in an attempt to unite the British Caribbean colonies under one government, but which collapsed following the loss of its two by far largest members. Barbados achieved independence in 1966 and the remainder of the eastern Caribbean islands in the 1970s and 1980s, but Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands opted to revert to British rule after they had already started on the path to independence. The British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Montserrat opted to retain ties with Britain. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966. Britain's last colony on the American mainland, British Honduras, became a self-governing colony in 1964 and was renamed Belize in 1973, achieving full independence in 1981. A dispute with Guatemala over claims to Belize was left unresolved.
British territories in the Pacific acquired independence between 1970 (Fiji) and 1980 (Vanuatu), the latter's independence having been delayed due to political conflict between English and French-speaking communities, as the islands had been jointly administered as a condominium with France. Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea chose to become Commonwealth realms.
The UK retains sovereignty over 14 territories outside of the British Isles, collectively named the British overseas territories, which remain under British rule because of their small size, lack of support for independence among the local population or because the territory is uninhabited except for transient military or scientific personnel. British sovereignty of several of the overseas territories is disputed by their geographical neighbours: Gibraltar is claimed by Spain, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are claimed by Argentina, and the British Indian Ocean Territory is claimed by Mauritius and Seychelles. The British Antarctic Territory is subject to overlapping claims by Argentina and Chile, while many nations do not recognise any territorial claims to Antarctica.
Most former British colonies (and one former Portuguese colony, Mozambique) are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, a non-political, voluntary association of equal members, in which the UK has no privileged status. The head of the Commonwealth is currently Queen Elizabeth II. Fifteen members of the Commonwealth continue to share their head of state with the UK, as Commonwealth realms.
Decades, and in some cases centuries, of British rule and emigration have left their mark on the independent nations that arose from the British Empire. The English language is the primary language of over 300 million people, and the secondary language of over 400 million, helped in part by the cultural influence of the United States, itself a product of the British Empire. The English parliamentary system served as the template for the governments for many former colonies, and English common law for legal systems. The British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, one of the UK's highest courts of appeal, still serves as the highest court of appeal for several former colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific. British Protestant missionaries who fanned out across the globe often in advance of soldiers and civil servants spread the Anglican Communion to all continents. British colonial architecture, such as in churches, railway stations and government buildings, continues to stand in many cities that were once part of the British Empire. Ball games that were developed in Victorian Britain—football, cricket, rugby, lawn tennis and golf—were exported, as were the British choice of system of measurement, the imperial system, and the British convention of driving on the left hand side of the road.
Political boundaries drawn by the British as they granted independence to colonies did not always reflect homogeneous ethnicities or religions, contributing to conflicts in Kashmir, Palestine, Sudan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka. The British Empire was also responsible for large migrations of peoples. Millions left the British Isles, with the founding settler populations of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand coming mainly from Britain and Ireland. Tensions remain between the white settler populations of these countries and their indigenous minorities, and between settler minorities and indigenous majorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe. British settlement of Ireland continues to leave its mark in the form of divided Catholic and Protestant communities. Millions of people also moved between British colonies, with large numbers of Indians emigrating to other parts of the Empire, creating the conditions for the expulsion of Indians in Uganda in 1972 and the 1987 Fijian coups d'état. The makeup of Britain itself was changed after the Second World War with immigration to the United Kingdom from the colonies to which it was granting independence.
- James, p. 17.
- Canny, p. 71.
- Canny, p. 221.
- Olson, p. 600.
- Olson, p. 897.
- Ferguson 2004, pp. 72–3.
- Buckner, p. 25.
- Lloyd, p. 37.
- Ferguson 2004, p. 62.
- Canny, p. 228.
- Marshall, pp. 440–64.
- Magnusson, p. 531.
- Macaulay, p. 509.
- Canny, p. 441.
- Pagden, p. 90.
- Olson, p. 1045.
- Olson, p. 1122.
- Olson, pp. 1121–22.
- Pagden, p. 91.
- Olson, p. 1165.
- Louis, p. 46.
- Olson, p. 945.
- Olson, p. 715.
- Olson, p. 1155.
- Olson, p. 1111.
- Olson, p. 1133.
- Olson, p. 276.
- Olson, p. 753.
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refhdbe806라는 이름을 가진 주석에 제공한 텍스트가 없습니다
- “UK Overseas Territories Foreign and Commonwealth Office”. UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2007년 9월 5일에 확인함.
- “British Indian Ocean Territory”. 《The World Factbook》. CIA. 2008년 12월 13일에 확인함.
- “Antarctica”. 《The World Factbook》. CIA. 2008년 12월 13일에 확인함.
- “Commonwealth Secretariat - FAQs”. The Commonwealth. 2008년 11월 20일에 확인함.
- Crystal, p. 109.
- Ferguson 2004, p. 307.
- Marshall, pp. 238–40.
- Olsen, pp. 1051–6.
- Dalziel, p. 135.