Can you explain the British Empire at its zenith in the 19th century?

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The British Empire reached its height just before World War I. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it had been growing steadily in its imperial conquests. With the exception of the loss of the thirteen North American colonies, it continued to grow up until the early 20th century. The 19th century is often viewed as the pinnacle of British imperialism. The Victorian Era saw British dominion expand to encompass a significant portion of the global population.

When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, her empire stretched over 100 million people and covered around two million square miles. This included the expansive, but mostly empty, colony of Canada, far-off Australia, nearby Ireland, and India, the most lucrative colonial holding of all. At this time, around 1.2 million British colonists lived outside of Britain in various parts of the large empire.

One factor that allowed for this expansion was the defeat of Great Britain's greatest imperial rival, France. Without much serious competition, British imperialists had free reign to conquer the far-flung civilizations of the world. By the 1880s, a new resurgence in European imperialism emerged. Once again, the French, along with the Belgians, Germans, and others, sought to increase their imperial power. This was particularly the case in Africa. However, as the undisputed imperial powerhouse, the British were able to maintain most of their empire. They even expanded it during that time.

At the end of the 19th century, the British Empire was larger than ever. In fact, it was the largest empire in world history by that point. It had grown to encompass 11 million square miles, which included nearly one-quarter of the world's population. Great Britain dominated world commerce and became an extremely wealthy and influential nation.

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