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British Empire homepage
British Empire
British Empire Overview
Learning Curve homepage
Why should we study the British empire?
How big was the empire?
How long did it last?
How did a small country like Britain rule so much territory?
Was the British empire a force for good or not?
Why did the British empire decline?
What has the British empire left behind?
british empire overview
What are the big questions when we study the history of the British empire?
6. Why did the British empire decline?

There is no simple answer to this question. The empire changed throughout its history. In the 19th century, some parts of the empire became Dominions. These were states that were still part of the empire, but ruled themselves. In most cases this happened peacefully, although there was serious violence in Ireland.

The First and Second World Wars left Britain weakened and less interested in its empire. Also many parts of the empire contributed troops and resources to the war effort and took an increasingly independent view. This led to a steady decline of the empire after 1945. In the Asian and African colonies, nationalist movements used a range of methods to end British rule. By the late 1960s, most of Britain's territories had become independent countries.
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