How Long Did The British Empire Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Over 400 Years

The British empire is one of the strongest empires of all time. Apart from this, the British empire is also one of the empires which ruled over for the longest duration of time. By the time of 1913, when the British empire was at its peak and ruled over several different territories, about 23% of the world population was under the control of the British empire, which is approximately 412 million people.

How Long Did The British Empire Last

How Long Did The British Empire Last?

Timeline of the British EmpireTime
Initiation of the British Empire1497 to 1707
1st British Empire1707 to 1783
2nd British Empire1783 to 1815
Fall of British Empire1945 to 1997

The British empire came into its origin in a period between 1497 to 1583. It was a period when England and Scotland were two separate territories and both of these nations had different kingdoms. By the 16th century, England was the first-ever nation to grow its colonies overseas.

The span of 1583 to 1707 was the time when the British started to expand their empire in overseas regions. The beginning of the 17th century, that was the time when the British empire began to lead its roots and take its shape as a strong empire. 

The British laid its first-ever empire, which is known as the ‘first British empire’, from 1707 to 1783, or the 18th century. Within this period, the British empire took over the dutch empire by overthrowing them in textile industries and sales. 

Before the 18th century, war situations were laid between the Spanish and Britain. However in the 18th century, after the British laid their first empire, the conditions between Spanish and Britain. In 1946, peace talks were initiated between these two nations. Ultimately, the king of Spain signed a treaty with Britain and agreed that Spain would not attack Britain.

The rise of the second British empire was initiated in the period between 1783 to 1815. In this span, France challenged the British empire to fight a war with them. At this point, looking at the history between France and the British Empire, France was already in a good position and fact had more chances of winning as compared to the British empire.

However, in 1815, France was defeated by the military of the British empire. From the period starting from 1815 to 1945, the British empire was at its peak of strength and empowerment. The British empire was among one of the strongest empires in this period.

1945 to 1997 was a period when the British empire started to decline and was ultimately thrashed. By the end of the 20th century, the British Empire had lost control over almost all of its territories. All these territories had gained freedom and were considered separate nations.

Why Did The British Empire Last That Long?

The decline of the British empire began after the second world war. Though the British Empire had won the second world war, the British Empire had taken great money from the United States to strengthen its military to win over the second world war.

After the second world war, the two most financially strong nations were the United States and the Soviet Union. While on the other hand, the British empire was highly in debt. It is known that the British empire was in about 4.33 billion US dollars of loan from the United States.

By the time of 1935, these two political parties were in high power. Both of these parties were arguing for a separation in the land. Muslim League also played an important role.


As a result, a chaotic situation was led among the people of India, arguing for partition. Consequently, it became difficult for the British empire to have control over the nation, keeping in mind that they were already in debt. Ultimately, the British empire had to promise independence to India along with some other nations, thus losing its power over its territories.

The British empire ruled over its territories for approximately 400 years, that is, the phase beginning from1583 to 1997.


Avatar of Nidhi


Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *