The following table explains when various territories entered or left the British Empire. It can be quite confusing as the borders of these territories could and did change, name changes were frequent, colonies amalgamated and combined with one another - not to mention various treaties and wars! It is very difficult to keep track of all of these changes over the course of the entire history of the empire. There were also different classifications of territories:

Companies - initially private companies capitalised from Britain - tried to set up their own colonies as private commercial concerns. They frequently found the administration far more expensive than they expected and so often turned to the British government for help - particularly when wars or rebellions occurred. I have also included a few settler/missionary inspired settlements in this category.

Colonies were those areas directly ruled by a governor on behalf of the British government and representing the Crown. The governor was responsible to the Colonial Office in London, although he usually had wide powers of discretion. These were the most common form of imperial control.

Protectorates were territories where the local rulers could continue ruling domestically but they had ceded foreign and defence to the British. In fact, even in protectorates, British advisers frequently held influence far beyond foreign and defence fields.

Dominions were those colonies that were granted significant freedom to rule themselves. The settler colonies were afforded this freedom. Dominions were fully independent countries after the 1931 Statute of Westminster, although their Head of State continued to be the British sovereign. I have included some other examples of self-governing colonies in this category.

Mandates were set up after World War One as German and Turkish colonies were passed to Britain and France to prepare for self government on behalf of the League of Nations. Then, after World War Two, the United Nations issued its own mandates.

You can gauge the relative size, population and economic effectiveness of the varying colonies in 1924 by looking at this table.

Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Aden 1839 1858 (from India) Separate from 1937 Interior from 1873 1967
Afghanistan 1839 - 1842 1878 - 1880
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 1789 - 1814 1858 1947
Anguilla 1663
Antigua 1632 1663 1981
Aruba 1799 - 1815
Ascension 1815 by Royal Navy. 1922 Civil Administration
Ashmore and Cartier Islands 1878 1938 to Australia
Australia 1901 1942
Bahamas 1648 - 1657, 1670 - 1717 1717 1964 1973
Bahrain 1835 1971
Baker Island 1886 1934 to USA
Baluchistan 1877, 1887 to India 1947
Banda Islands 1608, 1616 - 1621 1796 - 1817 then back to Dutch
Bantam 1603 1682 to Dutch
Barbados 1627 1966
Barbuda 1666 1628 - 1632, 1981
Basutoland 1868 1884 1966
Batavia 1621 - 1628 1811 - 1816
Bay Islands 1638 - 1650 1742 - 1782, 1820 - 1860 1860 to Honduras
Bechuanaland 1885 1966
Benkulen 1685 1825 to Dutch
Bengal 1681 1858 1947
Berbice 1781 - 1782, 1796 - 1802 1814, 1831 to British Guiana 1966
Bermuda 1609, 1614 1684
Bhutan 1911 1947
Bombay 1661 1858 1947
Bonaire 1807 - 1815 then back to Dutch
Bonin Islands 1827 1875 to Japan
British Cameroons 1914 1920 1961
British Columbia 1849 1846 1871
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
British Guiana Conquered in 1796. 1815 became 3 colonies - unified in 1831 1966
British Honduras 1636 1786 1981
British Indian Ocean Territory 1784
British Kaffraria 1847 joined Cape Colony in 1866
British New Guinea (Papua Territory) 1883 1886, 1906 to Australia 1884 1975
British Somaliland 1905 1884 1960
British Togoland 1914 1920 1956 to Gold Coast
British Virgin Islands 1666 1786
Brunei 1888 1984
Burma 1824 expanded in 1852 and 1885. Ruled from India until 1937 1948
Bushire 1763 1854 1971
Canada 1867 1931, 1982
Lower Canada 1763 Quebec colony divided in 1791 renamed Canada East in 1840 1867
Upper Canada 1763 Quebec colony divided in 1791 renamed Canada West in 1840 1867
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Canton and Enderbury Islands 1889 1936 - 1979 jointly with US 1979
Cape Breton Island 1758 to Nova Scotia in 1820 1867
Cape Colony 1795, 1806 1872, 1910 to South Africa
Cayman Islands 1670 from Jamaica until 1959
Ceylon 1796 expanded in 1802 and 1815 1948
Christmas Island 1888 1945 1958 to Australia
Christmas Island (Pacific) 1888 1979
Cocos Islands 1826 1857 1984 to Australia
Connecticut 1633 1662 1783
Cook Islands 1888 1965
Coorg 1834 1858 1947
Cuba 1762 - 1763
Curacao 1807 - 1815
Cyprus 1914 1878 1960
Cyrenaica 1941 - 1951
Darien, Panama 1698 - 1700
Delaware 1664 1704 1783
Demerara-Essequibo 1781 - 1782, 1796 - 1802 1814, 1831 to British Guiana 1966
Dominica 1763 1978
Dutch East Indies 1811 - 1816
Dutch India 1780 - 1784, 1795 - 1818, 1825 1858 1947
Egypt 1882 1914 1922 1954
Eire/Ireland/Irish Free State 1801 (part of UK proper) 1922 1935, 1948
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Ellice Islands 1916 1892 1978
Eritrea 1941 1952
Falkland Islands 1841 1833
Fernando Po 1827 1855 to Spain
Fiji 1835 1874 1970
Florida 1763 1783 - to Spain
French India 1760 - 1765, 1778-1783, 1793-1816
French Somaliland 1942 - 1946
Gambia 1661 1821 from Sierra Leone, 1888 by itself 1894 inland territory added 1965
Georgia 1732 1755 1783
Gibraltar 1704, confirmed in 1713
Gilbert Islands 1916 1892 1979
Goa 1797 - 1813
Gold Coast 1631 1821 from Sierra Leone, 1874 by itself. 1830 Protectorate extended inland 1957
Goree 1663 - 1664, 1758 - 1763, 1779 - 1783, 1800 - 1817
Grenada 1763 1974
Griqualand West 1873 - 1880 to Cape Colony 1871
Guadeloupe 1759-1763, 1794, 1810-1816
Hawaii 1843 1794 1893
Heligoland 1807 1890 to Germany
Hirado 1613 - 1623
Hong Kong 1842 territory added in 1860 and 1898 1997 to China
Howland Island 1886 - 1935
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
India Incrementally from 1609 1858 1947 to 1950 1947 de facto
Ionian Islands 1809 1864 to Greece
Iraq 1941 to 1945 1920 1932
Italian Somaliland 1941 - 1950
Jamaica 1655 1962
Jarvis Island 1889 - 1935
Kamaran Island 1915 1967
Kenya 1888 1920 1895, 1904 1963
Kuwait 1899 1961
Labuan 1846 1848, 1890 to North Borneo
Lagos 1861 1906 1960
Leeward Islands 1671 1960
Lord Howe Island 1788 1855 to New South Wales
Madeira 1801 - 1814
Madras 1640 1858 1947
Maine 1622 1691 to Massachusetts 1783
Malacca 1824 1795 to 1816, 1826
Malaya 1874, 1896 1957
Maldive Islands 1887 1965
Malta 1800, confirmed in 1814 1919 1964
Martinique 1762-1763,1793-1801,1809-1814
Maryland 1632 1783
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Massachusetts 1620 1691 1783
Mauritius 1810 confirmed in 1814 1968
Minorca 1708 - 1756, 1763 - 1782, 1798 - 1803 1803 to Spain
Moluccas 1796-1802,1810-1816
Montserrat 1632 1663
Mosquito Coast 1655 1860
Natal 1843 1893, 1910 to South Africa
Nauru 1914 1919 1968
Nepal 1816 1947
Nevis 1628 1663, 1882 joined with St. Christopher 1983
New Brunswick 1784 1854, 1867
New Caledonia, (Darien), Panama 1698 - 1700
Newfoundland 1497, 1583 1713, 1934 1855, 1949 to Canada
New Hampshire 1623 1679 1783
New Hebrides 1906 1887 1980
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
New Jersey 1664 1738 1783
New York 1664 1783
New South Wales 1770 1855, 1901 to Australia
New Zealand 1769, 1792, 1840 1907 1947
Nigeria 1914 1954 1960
Niue 1901 to New Zealand 1900 1974
Norfolk Island 1788 - 1814 from New South Wales, 1825 - 1855 from Van Diemen's Land, 1897 - 1913 from New South Wales 1856 - 1897 1914 - Australian Territory
North Borneo 1775 1946 1881, 1888 1963 to Malaysia
North Carolina 1663 1729 1783
North West Frontier Province 1849 1901 1947
North West Territories 1670 1869 1870 to Canada
Northern Nigeria 1885 1914 to Nigeria 1899
Northern Rhodesia 1891 1924 1964
Nova Scotia 1621 to 1632, 1713 1846, 1867 to Canada
Nyasaland 1875 1907 1889 1964
Ocean Island 1900 1901 1979
Oman (Muscat and Oman) 1646 1800 1970
Orange River Colony (Orange Free State) 1848 to 1854, 1900 1907, 1910 to South Africa
Palestine 1920 1948
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Palmyra Atoll 1889 1898 to USA
Penang 1786 1826 1957
Pennsylvania 1681 1783
Philippines 1762 - 1764
Pitcairn Island 1838
Popham Colony 1607 to 1608
Prince Edward Island 1745 - 1748, 1758 1851, 1873 to Canada
Prince Edward Islands 1908 1776 1947 to South Africa
Providence Island 1629 - 1642
Pulo Condor Island 1702 - 1705
Punjab 1849 1858 1937 1947
Qatar 1916 1971
Quebec 1629 - 1632 1759 1841
Queensland 1824 1859 1901
Roanoke 1585 - 1590?
Redonda 1872 to Antigua 1981
Reunion 1810 - 1815, 1942 - 1945
Rhode Island 1636 1663 1783
Rodriguez 1809, 1814 to Mauritius 1968
Rupert's Land and North West Territories 1670, 1774 1870 to Canada
Saint Barthelemy 1758, 1779, 1781
Saint Croix and Saint Thomas 1587 1625 - 1650, 1801 - 1802, 1807 - 1815
St Christopher 1623 1663 1983
Saint Domingue, Haiti 1793 - 1798
Saint Eustatius 1625 1665 - 1668, 1672 - 1682, 1690 - 1696, 1781, 1801 - 1802, 1810 - 1816
St Helena 1651 1834
St Lucia 1778 to 1783, 1796, 1803 confirmed in 1814 1979
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Saint Martin 1690 - 1699 1781, 1801 - 1802, 1810 - 1816
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 1713 - 1763, 1778 - 1783, 1793 - 1816
St Vincent 1762 to 1779, 1783 1979
Saba 1665, 1672 - 1679, 1781 1801 - 1803, 1810 - 1816
Samoa 1914 1889, terminated in 1899 New Zealand Mandate from 1920 1962
Sarawak 1841 1946 1963
Senegal 1693 1758 - 1779, 1809 - 1817
Seychelles 1794, 1811 from Mauritius, 1888 by itself 1976
Sierra Leone 1787 1807 1896 inland protectorates 1961
Sikkim 1890, 1918 1947
Sind 1843 1858 1947
Singapore 1819 1826 1957, 1965
Somalia 1941 - 1950
Solomon Islands 1893 1978
South Africa 1910 1934
South Australia 1834 1855, 1901 to Australia
South Carolina 1663 1729 1783
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 1775, 1843, 1908
South West Africa 1919 to South Africa 1960
Southern Nigeria 1884 1900, 1914 to Nigeria
Southern Rhodesia 1890 1888 1923 (1965 - 1979 UDI) 1980
Straits Settlements 1826 1867 1858 1963
Name Company Colony Protectorate Dominion Mandate Independence
Sudan 1898 1956
Suez Canal Zone 1881 1922 1956
Surat 1612, 1703 to Bombay 1858 1947
Surinam 1651 1799 - 1802, 1804 - 1816 1667 to Dutch
Swaziland 1893, 1902 1968
Tanganyika 1919 1961
Tangier 1661 1684
Tasmania 1803 1825 1856, 1901 to Australia
Tobago 1762 to 1781, 1793 confirmed in 1814, joined with Trinidad 1888 1962
Tokelau 1898 1889 1976
Tonga 1879, 1900 1970
Tranquebar (Danish India) 1845 1801 - 1815, 1858 1947
Transjordan 1920 1946
Transvaal 1877 to 1881, 1900 1906, 1910 to South Africa 1961
Trinidad and Tobago 1797 confirmed in 1814, joined with Tobago 1888 1962
Tripolitania 1941 - 1950
Tristan da Cunha 1816, 1938 from St Helena
Trucial Oman 1835 1887 1971
Turks and Caicos Islands 1678 1766 1973
Uganda 1888 1905 1894 1962
Vancouver Island 1843 1849 1866 to British Columbia
Virginia 1607 1624 1783
Victoria 1851 1855, 1901 to Australia
Walvis Bay 1878, 1884 1922 to South Africa
Weihaiwei 1898 1930 to China
Western Australia 1829 1826 1890, 1901 to Australia
Willoughby 1651 - 1688 1799 - 1802, 1804 - 1816
Windward Islands 1871 - 1960
Zanzibar 1890 1963
Zululand 1887, 1897 to Natal 1879





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