The Rise of the British Empire
The British Empire was the greatest empire the world ever knew. It covered one quarter of the Earths land mass and dominated most of the Earth’s waters. It also included 450 million people, a quarter of the world’s total population 300 million of whom lived in India.
Britain is what you would call an “island fortress” because we are completely surrounded by water and the English Channel is a kind of moat that hasn’t been successfully crossed for 1000 years as Britain’s last successful invasion was in 1066. Many have tried since then but all have failed, such as the Spanish armada in 1588.
As we are surrounded by water a strong navy has always been crucial throughout the ages. At the time of the British Empire we had a navy that was at least twice the size of anybody else’s. We are a small island and we cannot feed our population with what we grow in this country so we relied upon supplies from overseas.
We had a stable political system which was a huge advantage, because in other countries they still had monarchy and if one person disagreed with the king the he would be beheaded. We have had a government since the 17th century with Oliver Cromwell and the civil war.
Britain was the first nation in the world to industrialise, with the invention of a steam engine. The invention of the steam engine led to the invention of the train and factories. This meant faster transport and with the invention of the factories economic growth as well. As the economy grew then we capitalised, and as we invested in different things insurance was invented and so financial institutions were formed.
Being a small island we had excellent communications so we can get an army together quickly and efficiently so this proved helpful in succeeding in military campaigns, as we were a powerful land force as well as a powerful naval force, such as the battle of Waterloo.