Decline of the British Empire
The story of the decline of the British Empire is one that has been told for generations. However, it has not been clearly established why ‘the empire where the sun never sets’ came to its knees. There has never been a precise answer as to why the empire collapsed. There are a series of events that took place towards the time of the decline that one can rely on in order to try and mark out the avenue through which the empire came. In the 19th century, certain sections of the empire had become dominions; states that were still parts of the empire but ruled themselves.
In many cases, the secession of certain states to govern themselves took place quite peacefully while in others like Ireland, violence took center stage. The First and Second World Wars left Britain in a frail condition and with little interest in the empire anymore. Most parts of the empire that contributed troops and resources towards the war pursued an increasingly independent view that only agitated them to break away from the empire after the war. In fact, there was a steady decline after 1945.
In Asian and African colonies, a range of methods were used by nationalist movements to bring an end to British rule and eventually fragment the empire. This continued such that by the late 1960s, quite a number of Britain’s territories had become independent countries. The world wars were the main forces that dragged the British Empire to its knees. After the wars, Britain could no longer afford the expense of administering the whole territory that represented almost a quarter of the entire world’s population, despite emerging victorious in the wars.
The wars left Europe in ruins and saw the shift of power from European rivals to the US and Soviet Union. In the course of the war, Britain had acquired loan from the USA to enable it defend itself from the enemies. This loan had driven Britain to Bankruptcy such that it could no longer be able to pay it back and also defend the colonies effectively. This led to the fall of the British Empire since it had nothing else to hold onto.
According to most analysts, the decline and ultimate fall of the British Empire was also partly due to nationalist pressures from various parts of the world. Based on the British understanding too that the various colonies that made up the empire had now become capable of governing themselves, there was no need in trying to keep them together. Most of the colonies had begun demanding their rights to self-governance through armed rebellion, peaceful protest and politics.
Despite the decline and fall of the British Empire, it has had quite a great impact on the world at large. In fact, that is the reason why majority of its former colonies still keep close ties with Britain through Commonwealth and other avenues.
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