The Truth about the British Empire


But was the British Empire a bad thing? Does it deserve the bad publicity that it is given in our schools and in the press? Was it wrong that a tiny little Island in the northern part of Europe went on to one quarter of the surface of the Earth?

Well firstly, you are able to read this essay because you can understand the English language. This is to be expected if you were born in Great Britain, as this is our natural language, obviously. But this essay will be understood by millions of people, in all countries, all around the world.

This is because is the language of the world. It is the main language used in things like communications, science and business. 300-400 million people have it as their first language and about 600 million have it as their second language. It is estimated that by 2030, half of the world’s population will be proficient in speaking English.All of this is because of the British Empire. When the British went to other parts of the world, they took their language with them and the nations that were under British rule came to learn the language as well.

Imagine if there wasn’t an international language, like English. How would anyone from different countries communicate with each other? With so many different languages across the globe, such things as conducting business with other countries would be pretty impossible as everyone would have to learn each others language before they could interact.

And the world itself would be a very different place as well if it wasn’t for the British Empire. Modern nations like Australia, Egypt, India, New Zealand, South Africa and of course America, were largely built by the British Empire. These countries wouldn’t have the standard of living or civilisation they enjoy today if the Empire hadn’t existed.

When Britain went to the land that was to become India, the country was made up of more than 400 independent principalities that waged constant warfare on each other. The British helped bring these warring tribes together to eventually form the independent nations that are today known as India and Pakistan. The area was always prone to famine and disease but the British helped reduce this on a massive scale thanks to their advanced irrigation methods. The British also founded India’s most prosperous and famous cities, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.

Africa too benefited enormously from the British Empire. Prior to the arrival of the British, Africa also had numerous tribes that constantly fought against one another. When one African tribe was victorious over another, the losing tribe would then be sold into slavery by the victors. The British put a stop to this by bringing to an end the tyranny and bloodshed that had been normal across Africa. The Empire saw law and order brought to Africa and the notion of all men being equal before the law.

The British put into place the modern sovereign African states that we know today. These nation’s governments were designed on the British parliament, which gave Africa all the checks and balances that made sure corruption and dictatorship would be a thing of the past in Africa. Unfortunately, the Africans themselves chose not to learn the lessons the British had taught them and modern Africa has largely shunned the many positive innovations the British left behind for them.

There have been many empires throughout history: the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Mongol Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Mogul Empire, the French Empire, the Portuguese Empire and the Egyptian Empire amongst others. Most races of the world have at some point ruled others through an empire. So the British Empire isn’t special because it was the only empire in the world. But it is special in the way in which it dealt with those who lived under its rule.

As opposed to many empires in history, Britain’s Empire was a benevolent Empire, motivated by noble ideas and intentions, based on Christian compassion and not one that treated it subjects badly or with malice, like many other Empires. Britain wasn’t interested in forcing the Imperial colonies to change their cultures and religions. What they did do was try to bring a system of stable governments and economies to their colonial dominions.

Compare countries that were part of the British Empire in the modern world with countries who were ruled by other Imperial powers. Haiti, which was once ruled by France, is one of the most backward and violent nations in the world. Yet the Bahamas, which was part of the British Empire, is a modern, stable democracy. In Asia, Singapore, which was once a British colony, is a booming, technologically advanced country whereas Indonesia, once ruled by the Dutch Empire, is a hotbed of instability, dictatorship and violence.

These countries are stable and prosperous because Britain cared about these nations and put time and effort into building them up. They left an infrastructure there for these countries to build on when the British left. Some countries have chosen to dismantle this infrastructure, countries like Zimbabwe which was called Rhodesia when it was part of the Empire, but the failure of these countries is down to corrupt and inept governments run by the Africans themselves, not the British Empire.

When British genius put in place the building blocks for the Industrial Revolution, this was then exported to the rest of the world through the Empire. Imagine if Britain hadn’t had taken their invention of the railways to other nations. In India, Britain laid 35,000 miles of railway by the start of World War I. Imagine if they hadn’t laid telegraph lines across the ocean that form the basis of the world’s modern telecommunications industries. Imagine how different the world would be today if Britain had just kept these inventions for themselves. The world would be a very different place indeed!

The British Empire not only built the world but it largely educated it as well. In India, Britain built many universities to educate what would become the country’s rulers when they left. In Africa too, the British took great pains to give a good education to the people of Africa.

It really is inconceivable to imagine a world without the British Empire. It has brought so much to the modern world in the way of language, education, technology and economics that the world would be a much poorer place without it. Was it perfect? Of course not. But given the importance of the Empire to the modern world, why do our schools try and give it such a bad name and ignore all of its achievements?