The British Empire and the Geography of Power

How did Britain become a superpower in the 19th century? 

What is the legacy of British colonialism today?

Why did the British Empire decline?

 Why does Britain continue to have international power and influence today?


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The British Empire and the Geography of Power
How did Britain become a superpower in the 19th century?
Britain became a superpower through colonialism; this is a system by which an external
nation takes control of a territory in another part of the world, often by force. It then
reinforces this control by settling the new colony with its own people. Military power was
the main reason how Britain gained power internationally. The British navy of 100,000 men ­
the worlds largest ­ existed largely to protect Britain's trade routes and protects its power
overseas. British manufacturers saw colonialism as a way of obtaining cheap raw materials
and markets for their products. Britain's industrial revolution resulted in high quality,
mass-produced goods flooding global markets which would provide a technology gap that
non-European nations would find difficult to compete with. The development of
precision-made muskets, rifles, machine guns, train locomotives and steam ships meant
that Britain could take on vastly larger enemies and yet beat them off. Britain's combination
of industrial might and maritime power meant that it had a massive advantage over the rest
of the world.
What is the legacy of British colonialism today?
By the end of the 19th century the British Empire had encompassed more than 20% of the
world's land area and over four hundred million people. Therefore it inevitably left a large
legacy all over the world; you could say that the British Empire caused the political map of
the world to be changed for ever. One of the most significant legacies is the number of
new English speaking countries created. They also left behind a stable government
template which many countries still used after they became independent. The `Jewel in the
Crown' of the British Empire and where a large legacy can still be seen is in India. When
Britain occupied India it brought to the country the western technology culture which had its
good effects such as improving infrastructure, government, technology and education which
can still be seen today. English is also spoken in India and sports such as Cricket are
commonly played. However, you could argue that the British left behind a legacy of
inequality as British rule led to the creation of different classes.
Why did the British Empire decline?
There are several different factors that contributed to cause the collapse of the British
Empire. The First and Second World Wars left Britain weakened; many parts of the empire
contributed troops and resources to the war effort and therefore took an increasingly
independent view. In the Asian and African colonies, nationalist movements used a range of
methods to end British rule. This led to a steady decline of the empire after 1945.To avoid
being trapped in a costly struggle with local nationalist movements, Britain backed out of
most of the remaining colonies. Britain was in an economic crisis after the war and therefore

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By the late 1960s, most of Britain's
territories had become independent countries.
Why does Britain continue to have international power and influence today?
Britain is a major player in international affairs and fulfils an important role in the EU, UN and
Nato. It has major economic and military power, with considerable political and cultural
influence around the world. The media plays a key role in causing a global influence e.g.…read more


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