The British Empire once comprised a large assortment of colonies and protectorates around the world, populated by a wide range of native peoples, colonists from more advanced nations, and imported workers from other parts of the Empire.
The fate of these colonies after achieving independence provides a window into the innate ability of various populations to administer large populations in the age of advanced technologies and infrastructures. Here is a brief overview of the former colonies of the British Empire:
America, today the USA, was a former colony of the British Empire. More specifically, this applied to the 13 eastern states of the USA. British established colonies in America during the 17th century. They remained an imperial presence in the USA into the 18th century until the Americans declared independence after winning the American War of Independence.
Also in North America, Canada emerged as a colony of the British Empire during the 17th century. As such, it was among the first of Britain’s colonies to emerge and Canada would remain a part of the British Empire until the post-war era in the 1940s.
The jewel in the crown of the British Empire, India provided rich pickings for the British colonialists as a vital trading link in Asia. India remained a British colony into the 20th century until independence movements by the likes of Gandhi emerged. As such, in 1947 India broke from the British Empire.
Australia was a large colony of the British Empire, and supported Britain in defensive matters during conflicts in the 20th century. Most notably at Gallipoli and in the Pacific War. Australia remained a colony of Britain longer than most up until 1988. However, the Queen remains head of state.
During the scramble for Africa in the 19th century Britain expanded their empire into Africa and Egypt. Egypt was a key African colony for the British Empire, given the importance of the Suez Canal route for trade. Britain’s imperial presence remained in Egypt until the Suez Crisis of 1956 when the Suez Canal slipped from British dominion.
At the tip of Africa South Africa remained a British colony until the 1960s. Also in southern Africa, British colonies were established in south west Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Bechuanaland.
In eastern Africa British colonies included Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Somaliland. Of these, Somaliland was the largest colony and became independent in 1956.
The largest colonies in West Africa included Nigeria and Cameroon. The Gold Coast, now modern day Ghana, was also a notable trading colony.
In the Near East, Iraq was a colony of the British Empire that was a link with India. From here, Britain established air-bases in Iraq during the 20th century. Only as India gained independence would Iraq follow in the 1950s, although the discovery of oil fields made Britain reluctant to withdraw.
Aside from these colonies, Britain had a number of further colonies such as Aden, Oman, Cyprus, Kuwait, New Guinea, New Zealand, Jamaica, and the Bahamas in the Caribbean. Hong Kong was one of the more recent colonies to emerge independent in the ’90s.
The empire was at its peak in 1919 after Britain gained a number of additional territories as League of Nations mandates such as Palestine. Today, only 14 small colonies of the former British Empire remain as British overseas territories such as the Falklands. _Helium
If you take note of the population IQ of the former colony as well as the economic and civil trajectory of the former colony since independence, one cannot help but notice an “IQ breakpoint” of sorts.
While the Anglospheric nations of North America and Oceania, along with former East Asian colonies Hong Kong and Singapore, have done relatively well — and have average IQs close to 100 — the former African and other Asian colonies have not done so well. Could the lower average population IQs of the failing former colonies have something to do with their poor performance, subsequent to independence?
The study of the correlation of IQ and the Wealth of Nations provides an intriguing look into the question of why some nations are rich, and some are poor. But juxtaposing that question alongside the trajectory of former colonies since independence, provides an even more thought provoking dynamic conundrum.
Author, scholar, and polymath Niall Ferguson thinks that many primitive populations may have been better off under the liberalising influence of the British Empire. Most honest and well informed persons might quietly hold similar suspicions about Iraq, Egypt, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, and other tribal/clan areas that have deteriorated into savageness since the onset of “self-rule.”
One fascinating aspect of decay following the loss of empire, is that Iraq, Egypt, and India were once locations of some of the earliest and most advanced human civilisations. In fact, such regions over many thousands of years have seen many empires come and go, but always seeming to leave a residual of primitive clannishness and tribalism behind, after the empires are gone.
This dynamic of cyclic rise and decay appears to illustrate the ultimate futility of top-down institution of order, over the long run. If it isn’t “in the people” to be orderly, hard-working, and inventive, no amount of imperial power will impress such productive habits into them.
What is it that must be “in the people” in order for the society to prosper? Let us postulate that an average IQ above 95 would be helpful, along with strong pre-frontal executive functions, good health, and strong cultural institutions that emphasize an equitable system of morality. Beyond that, the stronger the government, the more of a burden it eventually becomes on the populace, in terms of ruinous taxation, regulation, and callous imperiousness.
Lacking those population strengths, a certain amount of top-down control may prevent a great deal of bloodshed and primitive brutality in the short term. In the long run, the human substrate will tend to have its way, as the will of the home empire inevitably weakens.
This is not to excuse the many excesses and injustices perpetrated by agents of the British Empire over the years. But the sheer scope of accomplishment of the Empire over the centuries cannot help but impress anyone who is capable of understanding the difficulty of imposing order on remote societies that are not always capable of meeting the expectations of the “civilising” power.
Here is a list of former British colonies from Flagspot.net:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Basutoland – see Lesotho
- Bechuanaland – see Botswana
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Central Africa
- British East Africa
- British Guiana – see Guyana
- British Honduras – see Belize
- British Indian Ocean Territory
British New Guinea (Papua)
- British Somaliland
- British South Africa Company
- Burma – see Myanmar
- Cape Colony – South Africa
- Ceylon – see Sri Lanka
- Cook Islands
- East India Company
- Federated Malay States
- Gilbert and Ellice Islands
- Gold Coast – see also Ghana
- Ionian Islands
- Hong Kong
- Lagos (Nigeria)
- Leeward Islands
- Liu Kung Tau – see China
- Malaya – see Malaysia
- Mosquito Coast, Nicaragua
- Nauru – see Western Pacific High Commission
- New Hebrides
- New South Wales
- New Zealand
- Niger Coast Protectorate
- Niue – see Western Pacific High Commission
- North Borneo (Sabah)
- Northern Nigeria Protectorate
- Northern Rhodesia
- Oil River Protectorate
- Orange River Colony
- Royal Niger Company
- Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
- Saint Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Australia
- Southern Nigeria Protectorate
- Southern Rhodesia
- Straits Settlements
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Unfederated Malay States – see Historical Flags in Malaysia
- Weiheiwei, China
- West African Settlements
- West Indies Federation
- West Pacific High Commissioner
- Western Australia
- Western Samoa – see Samoa
- Windward Islands
- Witu Protectorate