In the century 1815–1914, 10 million square miles of territory and 400 million people were added to the British Empire. By the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 Britain was the 'Mother Country' of a worldwide empire which covered a fifth of the land in the world, and Britannia 'ruled the waves'.
|1787||First shipment of transported prisoners to Australia.|
|1839||The Opium War forced China to allow British traders to sell the drug opium into China.|
|1857||There was a rebellion in India (the Indian Mutiny). The government took over rule of India from the East India Company.|
|1867||Canada was given 'dominion' (self-governing) status, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 1907.|
|1876||Queen Victoria was declared 'Empress of India'.|
|1881‒1919||The 'Scramble for Africa' – Britain acquired colonies in Africa stretching from Cairo to Cape Town.|
|1899‒1902||The Second Boer War – the British conquered South Africa.|
|1919||The Treaty of Versailles gave Germany's colonies as 'mandates' for Britain and France to administer.|
|1924||The British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. The Empire looked happy and strong.|
The British Empire had clearly changed in this period. Whilst owning territories around the world still gave Britain space, power and global influence, the Empire was now more than just about discovering new lands and building them up. Most of the world was now known and belonged to someone. Therefore, the British had to colonise established countries with populations and leadership systems of their own. It is true that many of these countries were disunited and in some form of chaos. Many were also split between various tribes and tribal chiefs rather than united by one common leader.
However, the British were now repressing various groups and even entire countries. In Africa, following the ‘Scramble’, British soldiers controlled many villages that they saw as disruptive and removed many local leaders. The British helped these countries by opening up trade markets with them and developing them more than they had ever been developed before.