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Friday 19th July
United Kingdom Facts


K'arahunj (or Stonehenge) in ARMENIA is a structure, which may be older than the UK's Stonehenge. It is possible that the builders of K'arahunj had contact with the megalithic cultures of Atlantic Europe. (Brittany, Ireland and Britain).

After Rome withdrew her military protection from Britain in the fifth century, Saxons from "GERMANY" colonised parts of Britain.

Canute, famous as the King of England who showed that he could not order the tide to turn, was also the King of DENMARK.

Ancient GREECE and Rome have been an important influence on the English education system throughout the years; the study of Greek and Latin literature was considered a basic part of a gentleman's education.

PORTUGAL has a long association with England; in 1308 the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship.

The Hundred Years War which began in 1337 between England and France seriously damaged the Flemish textile industry; the Flemings (BELGIUM) sided with the French and could not obtain wool from the English.

The English hunted whales off the coast of GREENLAND in the sixteenth century.

Sir Francis Drake, the English sea captain, attacked Ribeira Grande - now Cidade Velha - (CAPE VERDE) in 1585.

In 1588 King Felipe of SPAIN sent his Armada to invade Britain but the Spanish fleet was defeated by the English and fierce storms.

The fortifications of San Juan in PUERTO RICO were built to protect the Spanish. In 1595 San Juan was saved from an attack by Sir Francis Drake.

The English explorers Francis Drake in the sixteenth century and Captain James Cook in the eighteenth century sailed the PACIFIC OCEAN.

British and European merchants arrived in JAPAN in the mid sixteenth century. In 1639 the Shogun decided to ban foreign visitors. This policy of isolation continued until the end of the 1860s.

In 1609, after being shipwrecked on reefs off the shores of BERMUDA, Admiral Sir George Somers established an English claim to the islands.

In 1613 the [British] East India Company started its first trading post in Gujarat. In 1857 the British government took control of INDIA and Queen Victoria became Empress of India.

The countries now known as BANGLADESH and PAKISTAN were part of the British Empire in India.

Captain John Powell, the English navigator, visited BARBADOS in 1625 and claimed the island in the name of King James I of England (also the King of Scotland).

The British founded settlements on the islands of ST KITTS and NEVIS in the 1620s.

The English colonized the island of MONTSERRAT in 1632.

ANGUILLA became a British Colony in 1650.

In 1655 the British took over JAMAICA. Henry Morgan, a buccaneer, became Lieutenant Governor in 1674.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA became a British Colony in 1667.

The CAYMAN ISLANDS were ceded to England by Spain in 1670 (Treaty of Madrid).

The Territory of the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS was annexed by the British in 1672.

The BAHAMAS came under English control in the mid seventeenth century.

The British established a colony on James Island (THE GAMBIA) in 1661.

The British set up trading posts along the Grain Coast (LIBERIA) in 1663 but the following year they were destroyed by the Dutch.

Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 SURINAME, previously a British colony, became a Dutch possession while the British had gained New Amersterdam (New York) in the Treaty of Breda, 1697.

A number of European countries tried to colonize FRENCH GUIANA including Britain.

King James II was unpopular with the English because of his Roman Catholic sympathies. William of Orange (from the NETHERLANDS), James' Protestant son-in-law, was invited to become King of England. The Battle of the Boyne took place between Catholics in IRELAND led by James and English Protestants led by William of Orange. James and the Irish were defeated (1690).

In 1713 Spain ceded GIBRALTAR to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht.

The British, French and Spanish fought over the island of Hispaniola (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC and HAITI).

In 1762 the British took Havana (CUBA) after a siege of the island.

After the Seven Years' War (1763) Spain exchanged FLORIDA with Britain for Havana in Cuba.

DOMINICA was ceded to Britain in 1763 (Treaty of Paris).

Britain claimed ownership of the TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS in 1764.

The British discovered the island of Wallis (WALLIS AND FUTUNA) in the 1760s. The island of Wallis was named after Samuel Wallis, the English explorer.

In 1769 the English Captain James Cook claimed NEW ZEALAND for Britain.

William Dampier, the English buccaneer, landed in AUSTRALIA in 1688. In 1770 Captain James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist, arrived in Australia. Cook named the area he explored New South Wales, claiming it for Britain.

Captain James Cook sighted NIUE in 1774 but the inhabitants prevented him from landing on the island.

Cook named NEW CALEDONIA after the Latin name for Scotland. On the same voyage, Captain Cook explored some of the islands of VANUATU which he called the New Hebrides.

James Cook was the first European recorded to have landed in HAWAII landing on Kauai in 1778. The following year he died in Hawaii after being stabbed in a dispute with islanders.

European traders and missionaries arrived in Tahiti (FRENCH POLYNESIA) in the eighteenth century.

The MARSHALL ISLANDS were named by Captain Marshall, a British Naval Captain, in 1788.

PITCAIRN is famous as the hiding place of the HMS Bounty mutineers who arrived on the island in 1790.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, British and American whalers began visiting the Caroline Islands (FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA and PALAU).

The American War of Independence was fought between the British Colonial States of America and Britain from 1775 to 1783. The Declaration of Independence was made by the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on 4 July 1776.

Chocolate, introduced to Europe from MEXICO, became the foundation of the fortunes of the two famous British Quaker families: Cadbury and Rowntree.

Britain has had a special relationship with OMAN since the end of the eighteenth century. The SAS helped the Sultan's army in its fight against rebels during the 1960s.

In 1787 British abolitionists established the settlement of Freetown (SIERRA LEONE) for people who had escaped slavery.

The British had a settlement in Bolama (GUINEA-BISSAU) for a short time at the end of the eighteenth century.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the Scotsman, Mungo Park explored the River Niger (in the country of NIGER). He disappeared while searching for the river's source in 1805.

In 1783 GRENADA was ceded to Great Britain.

The Treaty of Versailles ceded ST VINCENT and the GRENADINES to Great Britain in 1783.

During the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century AUSTRIA joined Britain, Prussia and Russia in a coalition against France and Napoleon.

GUADELOUPE and MARTINIQUE came under brief periods of British rule in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.

Curacao (DUTCH ANTILLES) was occupied by the British for two separate periods at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The islands of TRINIDAD and TOBAGO were ceded to Britain in the early nineteenth century.

From 1807 to 1815 Britain occupied the Danish Virgin Islands (later, the US VIRGIN ISLANDS).

"INDONESIA" was ruled by Britain between 1811 and 1816.

The British controlled the island of MALTA from 1814 to 1964.

In 1814 MAURITIUS and the SEYCHELLES were ceded to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

The island of ST LUCIA was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1814.

After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna assigned SOUTH AFRICA to Britain (1815).

As a result of piracy from North African ports, Algiers (ALGERIA) was attacked by the Americans, the Dutch and the British (1815 and 1816).

The first British Resident was posted to NEPAL in 1816. For over a century, the British had the only foreign diplomatic presence in Kathmandu.

Under British rule the island of SRI LANKA was known as Ceylon. The country's name was not changed to Sri Lanka until 1972.

Sir Stamford Raffles founded a British trading post in SINGAPORE in 1819.

James Brooke, an Englishman born in India, was given the region now known as Sarawak, in MALAYSIA, in return for helping to put down a rebellion in Borneo. He was called the White Rajah.

The English gentleman's travel to ITALY on the Grand Tour had a lasting influence on British architecture. The Palladian style of architecture was brought back to Britain and became one of the sources for the Georgian style.

During the nineteenth century English travellers such as Lord Byron and Edward Lear visited ALBANIA.

In 1816 Lord Byron spent the summer on the shores of Lake Geneva in SWITZERLAND where he wrote the poem, The Prisoner of Chillon.

Prize-money was offered for the first European to reach Timbuktu in MALI. Gordon Laing from Scotland reached Timbuktu in 1826 but never returned home to claim the prize as he was killed by Tuaregs.

In 1817 the Merina king (MADAGASCAR) signed a treaty with the British governor of Mauritius abolishing the slave trade.

In 1826 the British negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with THAILAND increasing British influence in the country until the end of the century.

During the early years of the nineteenth century the British fought to stop piracy and impose a treaty on the various shiekhdoms of the area which became the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (in 1971). The Maritime Truce (1835) gave its name to the area which was called the Trucial Coast.

BAHRAIN became a British Protectorate in 1861.

In 1833 the SS Great Western, built by Isambard Brunel, crossed the ATLANTIC OCEAN in fifteen days, convincing the British Admiralty of the advantages of steam over sail.

A British naval base was established in the FALKLAND ISLANDS in 1833.

A dispute over the boundary line between British Guiana (GUYANA) and VENEZUELA began in 1841 when Venezuela protested that Britain had encroached on Venezuelan territory.

The idea of building a canal in PANAMA to connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean dates back to the 1840s. France, Britain and the USA were all interested in a canal linking the oceans.

The British had a number of economic interests in URUGUAY including agriculture and the railways.

Britain gained HONG KONG when CHINA was defeated in the Opium Wars (1842).

Britain leased Fernando Po (now Bioko in EQUATORIAL GUINEA) for a period during the nineteenth century. The island was used as a base to fight against the slave trade.

By the 1850s the British were established around Lagos, NIGERIA.

In 1859 Charles Darwin, the English naturalist, published The Origin of the Species by means of Natural Selection. During his time as a botanist on the HMS Beagle, Darwin visited the GALAPAGOS Islands (ECUADOR) where he collected information on flora and fauna.

The British were involved in the region along NICARAGUA's Caribbean coast from the seventeenth century until 1860.

Although Spain ruled most of HONDURAS a British Protectorate was established on the northern coast which lasted until 1860.

BELIZE became a British Colony in 1862 and took the name of British Honduras.

The first railway line in PARAGUAY, opened in 1861, was built by British engineers.

British citizens and British funds were very much involved in the construction of COSTA RICA's first railway line (to the Atlantic coast).

In 1865 Britain and BHUTAN signed the Treaty of Sinchulu. The Treaty ceded land to British India in return for an annual payment.

The fortress of LUXEMBOURG, one of the world's greatest strongholds, had to be dismantled under the Treaty of London in 1867.

In 1867 the CANADIAN Confederation of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick formed a constitutional monarchy under the British Crown.

FIJI was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1874.

In 1884 the eastern part of New Guinea (PAPUA NEW GUINEA) was divided between the United Kingdom and Germany.

The COOK ISLANDS, TOKELAU and the Gilbert Islands (KIRIBATI) and the Ellice Islands (TUVALU) became British Protectorates towards the end of the nineteenth century.

In 1899 Britain withdrew claims to the islands of Western SAMOA and Eastern [AMERICAN] SAMOA in return for TONGA and the SOLOMON ISLANDS.

Phosphate mining on NAURU, by a consortium of German and British companies, began in 1906.

Basutoland (LESOTHO) became a British Protectorate in 1865.

In 1871 the French offered to exchange the IVORY COAST with the British for Gambia (almost an enclave of SENEGAL).

Walvis Bay, NAMIBIA's best harbour, was annexed by Britain in 1878.

The British rented CYPRUS from Turkey in 1879. After World War One Cyprus became a British Colony.

Britain gave up its ambitions in TUNISIA in the 1880s: the French took over Tunisia and renounced any interest in Cyprus.

Following two Anglo-Afghan wars in the nineteenth century the British controlled AFGHANISTAN's foreign policy.

The British occupation of EGYPT began in 1882 and continued until 1922.

General Charles George Gordon, the British governor of Egyptian SUDAN, was killed by Mahdist forces in Khartoum in 1885.

Britain colonized the north-west of SOMALIA in order to produce food supplies for the British in the port of Aden (YEMEN). France also colonized parts of the Somali coast. French Somaliland later became the country of DJIBOUTI (1977).

Burma, now called MYANMAR, was made a province of British India in 1886.

In 1887 the MALDIVES became a British Protectorate.

Towards the end of the 1880s BRUNEI came under British protection.

Threat of direct Ottoman rule of KUWAIT led Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah to enter the Special Treaty of Friendship with Britain (1899).

Bechuanaland (BOTSWANA) was made a British Protectorate in 1885.

Zanzibar (part of present-day TANZANIA) became a British Protectorate in 1886.

In the early 1890s Britain made MALAWI (Nyasaland) a British Protectorate.

The Gold Coast (GHANA) became a British Colony in 1898.

At the turn of the century the French negotiated the present boundaries of GUINEA with the British and the Portuguese (the British kept Sierra Leone).

Mary Kingsley, an English explorer, travelled up the Ogooue River (GABON). In 1897 she wrote Travels in West Africa.

Following wars between the Boer Republics and the British SWAZILAND - now eSwatini - became a British Protectorate (1902).

Mauretania, the name of the Roman province, was given to one of the greatest ocean liners built in the UK and launched in 1907. The Islamic Republic of MAURITANIA is the name chosen for part of the French colonial empire when the countries gained independence.

Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the British assisted the commercial development of nitrate fields in northern CHILE.

In 1908 large quantities of oil were discovered in IRAN and a British company (later British Petroleum) was formed to develop the resource.

From the early twentieth century Britain was involved in developing IRAQ's oil industry.

By the early twentieth century QATAR was a British Protectorate.

Ferdinand I became the King of ROMANIA in 1914. Ferdinand's wife, Queen Marie, was a granddaughter of the United Kingdom's Queen Victoria.

One of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, Alexandra, married the last Czar of RUSSIA, Nicholas II.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Ottoman Empire was defeated in SYRIA by the Arab, British and French armies.

Colonel T.E Lawrence, a British soldier, helped defeat the Turks in the Middle East in the 1914-18 War. Arabia was renamed SAUDI ARABIA adding the name of the ruling Al Saud family and Lawrence became known as Lawrence of Arabia.

PALESTINE became a League of Nations Mandate in 1922. Britain was given the responsibility to prepare for a Jewish homeland (ISRAEL).

KENYA became a British Colony in 1920.

A League of Nations mandate (1922) divided Togoland (TOGO) into two: the French were given the east of the country and Britain administered the west.

In 1923 Southern Rhodesia (later ZIMBABWE) became a self-governing British Colony.

Northern Rhodesia (ZAMBIA) became a British Protectorate in 1924.

In 1938 Britain, France, Italy and Germany signed the Munich Agreement that forced CZECHOSLOVAKIA to surrender the Sudetenland to Adolf Hitler and Germany.

For over fifty years the City of Oslo has sent a Christmas tree to the UK which stands in Trafalgar Square in London. The tree commemorates the protection given by Britain to members of NORWAY's royal family during the Second World War.

During the Second World War British troops invaded COMOROS and Madagascar, handing the islands to the Free French government.

In 1941 British troops, Commonwealth troops and the Ethiopian resistance defeated Mussolini's troops who had invaded ETHIOPIA.

At the end of the War, the UK was given the administration of ERITREA (a United Nations Trust Territory).

The Kingdom of LIBYA was established in 1951 after five years under a British administration appointed by the United Nations.

After the Second World War, administration of CAMEROON was divided between the British (twenty percent) and the French (eighty percent).

Members of the British Commonwealth Forces served in KOREA during the Korean War (1950-53).

In 1963 the UK became the first western country to establish diplomatic relations with MONGOLIA.

In the 1960s and 70s there was a dispute between ICELAND and the UK over fishing grounds. This was known as the "Cod Wars".

In 1972 Idi Amin gave the Asian community ninety days to leave UGANDA. Thousands of expelled Asian Ugandans were British passport holders who moved to the UK.

Following the Vietnam War diplomatic relations were established between the Socialist Republic of VIETNAM and the UK (1973).

1982 saw the war between ARGENTINA and the United Kingdom over the British held Islas Malvinas (the Falkland Islands).

During the 1980s Iranian supported Shiite groups in LEBANON held a number of western hostages. These included British hostages, John McCarthy (journalist), Jackie Mann (ex fighter pilot) and Terry Waite (envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury).

The Cambodia Trust, founded in Oxford (UK) in 1989, aims to provide artificial limbs for the huge numbers of landmine amputees in CAMBODIA.

The Channel Tunnel, opened in 1994, is the first land link between Britain and FRANCE since the Ice Age.

In 1995 Austria, FINLAND and Sweden joined the EU aligning themselves with the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Europe (including the UK) is one of TAIWAN's most important trading partners.

The UK has been a long term trading partner of BRAZIL.

In 1995 MOZAMBIQUE, although previously a Portuguese Colony, became a member of the Commonwealth.

The United Kingdom opened an Embassy in RWANDA for the first time in 1995.

Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 the UK was one of the first countries to recognise UKRAINE's independence.

A Tajik-British joint venture was set up in the 1990s to mine gold in TAJIKISTAN.

A consortium of international companies, from seven countries, formed to develop AZERBAIJAN's offshore oil fields in the Caspian Sea - this included the UK's British Petroleum.

Teams of people from the UK have been participants in a charitable venture building homes for families in KYRGYZSTAN.

Kurash, a traditional sport in UZBEKISTAN, is becoming popular in the UK.

Both Queen Elizabeth II and her daughter owned Akhal-Teke horses from TURKMENISTAN.

In 2001 an English conductor became the Artistic Director of the National Chamber Orchestra of MOLDOVA.

Following the break-up of the USSR the UK provided training programmes to assist universities in BELARUS with management training.

Jajouka musicians from the Jebala foothills in MOROCCO recorded with the UK's Rolling Stones.

At the end of the twentieth century BALI (in Indonesia) was a popular destination with UK tourists visiting South Eastern Asia.

Davor Suker, who was the best scorer in the 1998 World Cup CROATIAN National Team, played for London football teams.

Sven Goran Eriksson from SWEDEN became the coach for England's national football team in 2001.

In September 1999 British troops were sent to EAST TIMOR as part of a UN peacekeeping operation.

In 2001 British troops made up almost two thirds of the three thousand-strong NATO peacekeeping force in MACEDONIA.

Paddy Ashdown, the British politician, took up his post as the High Representative for BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA on 27 May 2002. The Dayton Peace Agreement (1995) established the post of High Representative to oversee the civilian aspects of the Agreement.

The Royal Family of SERBIA is related to the British Royal Family through Queen Victoria and the Greek Royal Family.

King Abdallah, the ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of JORDAN, is the son of King Hussein and his second wife, Princess Muna (Antoinette Gardiner from Britain).

On 1 May 2004 the Czech Republic, ESTONIA, HUNGARY, LATVIA, LITHUANIA, POLAND, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SLOVENIA, Cyprus and Malta joined the UK and other EU member countries in the European Union. BULGARIA and Romania joined in 2007. TURKEY also hopes to join the EU. However the United Kingdom formally left the EU on 31 January 2020.

In 2004 the UK was the second largest investor in PERU - mostly in the mining, industrial and financial sectors.

UK energy companies, such as Shell and BG, have invested heavily in the Kashagan oil field in KAZAKHSTAN.

British Petroleum is a BTC partner - the oil pipeline extends through Baku (Azerbaijan) and Tbilisi (GEORGIA) to Ceyhan (Turkey).

BOLIVIA has supplied gas to many countries including the European countries of France (Total) and the United Kingdom (British Gas).

A number of British people work in the REPUBLIC OF CONGO's offshore oil fields.

The UK military has provided COLOMBIA with training in explosive device disposal.

British organisations have assisted in the removal of landmines in ANGOLA since the end of the Angolan civil war (2002).

At the turn of the century funding for Central America from the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) concentrated on GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The PHILIPPINES was one of the UK's major recruitment countries for nurses. At the end of 2004 over twenty thousand Filipino nurses were employed in the UK.

Clothes made in the NORTHERN MARIANAS are sold in shops in the United Kingdom.

Britain's Overseas Territories:

carved by Radley Christian, Pitcairn Anguilla, British Antarctic Territory, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory (including Diego Garcia), British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha), Turk and Caicos Islands, Pitcairn Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus.

Commonwealth Countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zambia. Zimbabwe withdrew in 2003.

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