How important was the British Empire?

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To answer this question, it is useful to remember that there is no single version of the British Empire. Remember that Britain has really had two empires. The first empire was built in the 1500s during the Age of Exploration. This empire was based mainly in the New World, although...

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To answer this question, it is useful to remember that there is no single version of the British Empire. Remember that Britain has really had two empires. The first empire was built in the 1500s during the Age of Exploration. This empire was based mainly in the New World, although England had already colonized Ireland and Wales. Much of the motivation for this empire came from the competition and rivalry with other European powers, particularly Spain, to colonize newly-discovered lands, as well as the desire for profit.

In contrast, when Britain began building its second empire in the 1800s, it colonized countries that were already well-established, like India and countries in Africa. Not only was this empire far larger than the first, but there was also a strong drive to extend British culture, as well as profit from these newly-acquired territories.

By making a distinction between the first and second empire, we can see how the importance of the British Empire changed. The motivations for building an empire and the character of the empire, for example, were not identical to those in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is a useful starting point for any analysis of the importance of the British Empire.

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The British empire was one of the most expansive empires in the world. There is an old adage that states that "the Sun never sets on the British Empire"—implying that it had so many colonies spanning the various parts of the globe that the sun was always shining on a portion of the British Empire (which actually still holds true today).

One of the greatest influences of the British Empire was spreading and establishing British culture in all the land they conquered and inhabited (for good or ill). Nations touched by British imperialism (e.g., America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, and so on) were irreversibly changed by the touch of British language and social systems.

Additionally, the British Empire was the direct root of many discoveries and breakthroughs. For instance, a large number of famous explorers (Sir Edmund Hillary, for example) were British. Breakthroughs in industrialization, locomotion, and factory machinery during the height of British imperialism revolutionized the world at the turn of the nineteenth century and had an incalculable impact on future generations.

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The British Empire was very important in many ways. The British Empire spread its influence to every continent of the world. (There are even British scientists in Antarctica.) As a result, the British established colonies throughout the world. Because of this, English ways of life are found worldwide. The English language is spoken in many places. The English system of government, or some form of it, can be found as the basis of the structure of many governments. Our system, while not exactly the same, has very similar ideas as that of the British system. The British economic system also spread as British influence moved throughout the world. The industrial revolution that began in Britain allowed British products and technology to be experienced and used by people all over the world. This impacted the standard of living of many people under British rule, usually in a positive manner. The British industrial revolution influenced our industrial revolution. The British system of justice also has been the basis of the legal system of many countries worldwide. The British religious practices also have influenced people wherever British ways have spread. Britain and some of its former colonies played a big role in the Allied victories in both World War I and World War II. The British Empire has had a huge influence on the rest of the world.

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