Every schoolboy used to know that at the height of the empire, almost a quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, showing the extent of British rule.
But that oft recited fact dramatically understates the remarkable global reach achieved by this country.
A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe.
The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British.
Among this select group of nations are far-off destinations such as Guatemala, Tajikistan and the Marshall Islands, as well some slightly closer to home, such as Luxembourg.
The analysis is contained in a new book, All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To.
Stuart Laycock, the author, has worked his way around the globe, through each country alphabetically, researching its history to establish whether, at any point, they have experienced an incursion by Britain.
Only a comparatively small proportion of the total in Mr Laycock's list of invaded states actually formed an official part of the empire.
The remainder have been included because the British were found to have achieved some sort of military presence in the territory – however transitory – either through force, the threat of force, negotiation or payment.
Incursions by British pirates, privateers or armed explorers have also been included, provided they were operating with the approval of their government.
So, many countries which once formed part of the Spanish empire and seem to have little historical connection with the UK, such as Costa Rica, Ecuador and El Salvador, make the list because of the repeated raids they suffered from state-sanctioned British sailors.
Among some of the perhaps surprising entries on the list are:
* Cuba, where in 1741, a force under Admiral Edward Vernon stormed ashore at Guantánamo Bay. He renamed it Cumberland Bay, before being forced to withdraw in the face of hostile locals and an outbreak of disease among his men. Twenty one years later, Havana and a large part of the island fell to the British after a bloody siege, only to be handed back to the Spanish in 1763, along with another unlikely British possession, the Philippines, in exchange for Florida and Minorca.
*Iceland, invaded in 1940 by the British after the neutral nation refused to enter the war on the Allies side. The invasion force, of 745 marines, met with strong protest from the Iceland government, but no resistance.
* Vietnam, which has experienced repeated incursions by the British since the seventeenth century. The most recent – from 1945 to 1946 – saw the British fight a campaign for control of the country against communists, in a war that has been overshadowed by later conflicts involving first the French and then Americans.
It is thought to be the first time such a list has been compiled.
Mr Laycock, who has previously published books on Roman history, began the unusual quest after being asked by his 11-year-old son, Frederick, how many countries the British had invaded.
After almost two years of research he said he was shocked by the answer. "I was absolutely staggered when I reached the total. I like to think I have a relatively good general knowledge. But there are places where it hadn't occurred to me that these things had ever happened. It shocked me.
"Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don't think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century."
The only other nation which has achieved anything approaching the British total, Mr Laycock said, is France – which also holds the unfortunate record for having endured the most British invasions. "I realise people may argue with some of my reasons, but it is intended to prompt debate," he added.
He believes the actual figure may well be higher and is inviting the public to get in touch to provide evidence of other invasions.
In the case of Mongolia, for instance – one of the 22 nations "not invaded", according to the book – he believes it possible that there could have been a British invasion, but could find no direct proof.
The country was caught up in the turmoil following the Russian Revolution, in which the British and other powers intervened. Mr Laycock found evidence of a British military mission in Russia approximately 50 miles from the Mongolian border, but could not establish whether it got any closer.
The research lists countries based on their current national boundaries and names. Many of the invasions took place when these did not apply.
The research covered the 192 other UN member states as well as the Vatican City and Kosovo, which are not member states, but are recognised by the UK government as independent states.
The earliest invasion launched from these islands was an incursion into Gaul – now France – at the end of the second century. Clodius Albinus led an army, thought to include many Britons, across the Channel in an attempt to seize the imperial throne. The force was defeated in 197 at Lyon.
Mr Laycock added: "One one level, for the British, it is quite amazing and quite humbling, that this is all part of our history, but clearly there are parts of our history that we are less proud of. The book is not intended as any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a light-hearted bit of fun."
The countries never invaded by the British:
Central African Republic
Congo, Republic of
Sao Tome and Principe
well not really......
but that is another story altogether.............
This is unbelievable information..........thank you Harbin.......
The thought of this info is making me remember dinner.....................
“The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin.” Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC)
Tommy Flowers (1908–1998), designer and builder of the first electronic computer
Sir Timothy Berners-Lee (born 1955), inventor of the World Wide Web
Hubert Cecil Booth (1871–1955), inventor of the vacuum cleaner
Joseph Bramah (1748–1814), inventor of the hydraulic press (beer pump)
Christopher Cockerell (1910–1999), inventor of the hovercraft
William Congreve (1772–1828), rocketry pioneer
Abraham Darby (c. 1678 – 1717), ironmaster
James Dyson (born 1947), inventor
James Hargreaves (1720–1778), weaver and inventor
Sir John Harington (1561–1612), poet and inventor of the first water closet
John Harrison (1693–1776), clockmaker
Rowland Hill (1795–1879), inventor of the modern postal service
Archibald Low (1888–1956), radio guidance
Thomas Newcomen (1664–1729), inventor
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), founder of modern physics, inventor of the reflector telescope
James Starley (1831–1881), bicycle pioneer
George Stephenson (1781–1848), engineer
Joseph Wilson Swan (1823–1914), inventor of the light bulb
Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875), inventor
Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996), inventor of the jet engine
Sir Henry Cavendish (1731–1810), discoverer of hydrogen
10 Biggest Empires in the history :
1. British Empire – 33.7 million km
The British Empire constituted or administered by the United Kingdom and it was established in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its golden era, British Empire was known as the biggest empire in history and in the world. By 1922, the British Empire had governed 458 million people and colonized more than 13,000,000 square miles (33,670,000 km2) area or roughly 25% of the Earth’s land area.
2. Mongol Empire – 33.0 million km
The Mongol Empire was a giant state in 13th and 14th century. The territory was spanning from Eastern Europe to Asia. Mongol Empire came out from the unification of Mongol and Turkic tribes and it grew through invasions.
After Genghis Khan proclaimed his kingship in 1206. Land of Mongol Empire stretched from the Danube to the Japan Ocean and from the Arctic land to Cambodia. The total area was 33,000,000 km2 (12,741,000 sq mi) or 22% of the Earth’s total land area. The land of Mongol Empire was a home of over 100 million people from many different cultures.
3. Russian Empire – 23.7 million km
The Russian Empire was a nation that existed since 1721 until, the Russian Revolution, 1917. It was preceded by Stardom of Russia and after its fall, the power of Russian Empire was continued by the Soviet Union. At its golden era in 1866, Russian empire stretched from Eastern Europe, all across Asia, and North America. The total territory was 23.7 million km2.
4. Spanish Empire – 20.0 million km
The Spanish Empire colonized and administrated Spain in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. In the top of its glory, Spanish Empire was known as one of the largest empires in world history, and one of the long-lasting empires on earth. It lasted from the 15th century up to 20th century. During the Spanish Golden age, the Spanish Empire constituted Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Italy, parts of France, parts of Germany, most territories of Africa, Asia and Oceania, plus chunk areas in North and south Americas. By the 17th century Spain governed an empire of – 20.0 million km2 territorial and it had never been done by any of its predecessors before.
5. Qing Empire, China – 14.7 million km
The Qing Dynasty or Manchu Dynasty was the last powerful dynasty in China. The dynasty was ruling from 1644 until 1912 (with a brief, unsuccessful restoration in 1917). The Dynasty was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and after it collapsed, the ruling was continued by the Republic of China. Qing Dynasty was founded by the Manchu clan Aisin Gioro in northeast China or Manchuria. Starting in 1644, their territory was expanding deep to China mainland. Complete peace treaty of China was achieved around 1683s under the rule of Kangxi Emperor. The Qing Dynasty declined in the mid-19th century when it was subverted by the Xinhai Revolution, on February 12, 1912.
6. Yuan Dynasty – 14.0 million km
Yuan Dynasty or also known Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty from Mongolia to China, from 1271 to 1368. In Chinese history, the Yuan Dynasty continued Song Dynasty and was preceded by the Ming Dynasty. A Famous Yuan Dynasty ruler was Kublai Khan and the dynasty itself was found by his own grandfather, Genghis Khan. Under the rule of Kublai khan , Yuan Dynasty controlled the whole policy of 14.0 million km2 area.
7. Umayyad Caliphate – 13.0 million km
Umayyad Caliphate was 2nd Islamic Caliphate after the death of Prophet Muhammad. Umayyad Caliphates / Umayyad Dynasty led by Umayyad bin Shams and the dynasty located their center of government in Damascus. Their territory stretch 13.0 million km2 from Mecca to Turkey.
8. French Colonial Empire – 12.3 million km
French Colonial Empire started its expansion from 1600s to the late 1960s. Total area that they colonized was12,347,000 km² (4,767,000 sq. miles) and the top of glory was in 1920s and 1930s where total amount of land under French government hit 12,898,000 km² (4,980,000 sq. miles). From 1960-1970, most France empire`s colonies freed from its colonization, and today, total territory of French is only 123,150 km² (47,548 sq. miles).
9. Abbasid Caliphate – 11.1 million km
Abbasid Caliphate was 3rd Islamic Caliphates. Abbasid Caliphate or Abbasid dynasty was centered in Baghdad. Abbasid Caliphate ruled 11.1 million km2 of land for 150 years before Turkish army began to rise its struggle. From 1258-1261, Mongol dynasty, Hulagu Khan, struck Baghdad and they end the whole story of Abbasid Caliphate.
10. Portuguese Empire – 10.4 million km
Portuguese is known as one of the first global empire on earth. Their colonization started from capture of Ceuta in 1415 in Africa until the handover of Macao back to China in 1999. Portuguese territory was around 10.4 million km2 for 6 centuries. From the map you know how big it was :
http://www.facts-about-world.com/bigges ... story.html
Scouser012 wrote:Not bad for a tiny little island.
I've always wondered the same thing. How a tiny Island was so "intimidating" back in the old days.
This is how it is now a days.
USA on the left, GB on the right.
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