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6 juin 2012 3 06 /06 /juin /2012 03:38

British Empire

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Sony VPCCB3S1E Battery 

At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremostglobal power.[1] By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world's population at the time,[2] and covered more than 33,700,000 km2 (13,012,000 sq mi), Sony VPCCB3S1E/B Battery 

almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.[3][4]As a result, its political, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was often said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories. Sony VPCCB3S1E/W Battery

During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, and in the process established large overseas empires. Envious of the great wealth these empires generated, England, Sony VPCCB4Z1E Battery

Franceand the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia.[5] A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England (and then, following union between England and Scotland in 1707, Sony VPCCB4Z1E/B Battery

Great Britain) the dominant colonial power in North America and India. The loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after a war of independence deprived Britain of some of its oldest and most populous colonies. Sony VPCCB4Z1E/W Battery

British attention soon turned towards Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Following the defeat of Napoleonic France in 1815, Britain enjoyed a century of almost unchallenged dominance, and expanded its imperial holdings across the globe. Increasing degrees of autonomy were granted to its white settler colonies, some of which were reclassified as dominions. Sony VPCCB4Z1E/W.G4 Battery

The growth of Germany and the United States eroded Britain's economic lead by the end of the 19th century. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied heavily upon its empire. Sony vaio VPCY11S1E battery

The conflict placed enormous financial strain on Britain, and although the empire achieved its largest territorial extent immediately after the war, it was no longer a peerless industrial or military power. The Second World War saw Britain's colonies in South-East Asia occupied by Japan, Sony vaio VPCY11S1E/S battery

which damaged British prestige and accelerated the decline of the empire, despite the eventual victory of Britain and its allies. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence two years after the end of the war. Sony vaio VPCY21S1E/G battery

After the end of the Second World War, as part of a larger decolonisation movement by European powers, Britain granted most of the territories of the British Empire independence. This process ended with the political transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997. Sony vaio VPCY21S1E/L battery

The 14 British Overseas Territories remain under British sovereignty. After independence, many former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states. Sixteen Commonwealth nations share their head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, as Commonwealth realms. Sony vaio VPCY21S1E/SI battery

The foundations of the British Empire were laid when England and Scotland were separate kingdoms. In 1496 King Henry VII of England, following the successes of Spain and Portugal in overseas exploration, commissioned John Cabot to lead a voyage to discover a route to Asia via the North Atlantic.[6]Sony vaio VPCY22Z5008B battery

Cabot sailed in 1497, five years after the discovery of America, and although he successfully made landfall on the coast of Newfoundland (mistakenly believing, like Christopher Columbus, that he had reached Asia),[7] there was no attempt to found a colony. Cabot led another voyage to the Americas the following year but nothing was heard of his ships again.[8] Sony vaio VPCYA1V9E/B battery

No further attempts to establish English colonies in the Americas were made until well into the reign of Elizabeth I, during the last decades of the 16th century.[9] The Protestant Reformation had made enemies of England and Catholic Spain.[6] In 1562, Sony vaio VPCYB1S1E/S battery

theEnglish Crown sanctioned the privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake to engage in slave-raiding attacks against Spanish and Portuguese ships off the coast of West Africa[10] with the aim of breaking into the Atlantic trade system. This effort was rebuffed and later, Sony PCG-81111T battery

as the Anglo-Spanish Wars intensified, Elizabeth lent her blessing to further piratical raids against Spanish ports in the Americas and shipping that was returning across the Atlantic, laden with treasure from the New World.[11] At the same time, influential writers such as Richard Hakluyt and John Dee (who was the first to use the term "British Empire")[12]Sony vaio VPCYA15FH/R battery

were beginning to press for the establishment of England's own empire. By this time, Spain was entrenched in the Americas, Portugal had established trading posts and forts from the coasts of Africa and Brazil to China, and France had begun to settle the Saint Lawrence River, later to become New France.[13] Sony vaio VPCS13L8E/B battery

Sony PCG-5J1L battery

Plantations of Ireland

Although England lagged behind other European powers in establishing overseas colonies, it had been engaged during the 16th century in the settlement of Ireland, drawing on precedents dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169.[14][15] Several people who helped establish the Plantations of Ireland also played a part in the early colonisation of North America, particularly a group known as the West Country men.[16] Dell Inspiron 15z battery

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In 1578, Queen Elizabeth I granted a patent to Humphrey Gilbert for discovery and overseas exploration.[17] That year, Gilbert sailed for the West Indies with the intention of engaging in piracy and establishing a colony in North America, but the expedition was aborted before it had crossed the Atlantic.[18][19]HP ProBook 4515s battery

In 1583 he embarked on a second attempt, on this occasion to the island of Newfoundland whose harbour he formally claimed for England, although no settlers were left behind. Gilbert did not survive the return journey to England, and was succeeded by his half-brother, Sony VGN-CR42Z/R battery

Walter Raleigh, who was granted his own patent by Elizabeth in 1584. Later that year, Raleigh founded the colony of Roanoke on the coast of present-day North Carolina, but lack of supplies caused the colony to fail.[20] Sony VPCB11V9E/B Battery

In 1603, King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne and in 1604 negotiated the Treaty of London, ending hostilities with Spain. Now at peace with its main rival, English attention shifted from preying on other nations' colonial infrastructure to the business of establishing its own overseas colonies.[21] Sony VPCB11X9E/B Battery

The British Empire began to take shape during the early 17th century, with the English settlement of North America and the smaller islands of the Caribbean, and the establishment of private companies, most notably the English East India Company, to administer colonies and overseas trade. Sony VPCF11C4E/B Battery

This period, until the loss of the Thirteen Colonies after the American War of Independence towards the end of the 18th century, has subsequently been referred to as the "First British Empire".[22] Sony VPCF11C5E Battery

Americas, Africa and the slave trade

Main articles: British colonization of the Americas, British America, British North America, and Thirteen Colonies

The Caribbean initially provided England's most important and lucrative colonies,[23] but not before several attempts at colonisation failed. An attempt to establish a colony in Guiana in 1604 lasted only two years, and failed in its main objective to find gold deposits.[24]Sony VPCF11D4E Battery

Colonies in St Lucia (1605) andGrenada (1609) also rapidly folded, but settlements were successfully established in St. Kitts (1624), Barbados (1627) and Nevis (1628).[25] The colonies soon adopted the system of sugar plantations successfully used by the Portuguese in Brazil, which depended on slave labour, and—at first—Dutch ships, Sony vaio VPCF11M1E/H battery

to sell theslaves and buy the sugar.[26] To ensure that the increasingly healthy profits of this trade remained in English hands, Parliament decreed in 1651 that only English ships would be able to ply their trade in English colonies. This led to hostilities with the United Dutch Provinces—a series of Anglo-Dutch Wars—Sony vaio VPCF12F4E/H battery

which would eventually strengthen England's position in the Americas at the expense of the Dutch.[27] In 1655, England annexed the island of Jamaica from the Spanish, and in 1666 succeeded in colonising the Bahamas.[28] Sony vaio VPCF12M1E/H battery

England's first permanent settlement in the Americas was founded in 1607 in Jamestown, led by Captain John Smith and managed by the Virginia Company. Bermuda was settled and claimed by England as a result of the 1609 shipwreck there of the Virginia Company's flagship, and in 1615 was turned over to the newly-formed Somers Isles Company.[29] Sony vaio VPCF12S1E battery

The Virginia Company's charter was revoked in 1624 and direct control of Virginia was assumed by the crown, thereby founding the Colony of Virginia.[30]TheNewfoundland Company was created in 1610 with the aim of creating a permanent settlement on Newfoundland, Sony vaio VPCF12S1E/B battery

but was largely unsuccessful.[31]In 1620, Plymouth was founded as a haven for puritan religious separatists, later known as the Pilgrims.[32]Fleeing from religious persecution would become the motive of many English would-be colonists to risk the arduous trans-Atlantic voyage: Sony vaio VPCF12Z1E/BI battery

Maryland was founded as a haven for Roman Catholics (1634), Rhode Island (1636) as a colony tolerant of all religions and Connecticut (1639) for Congregationalists. The Province of Carolina was founded in 1663. With the surrender ofFort Amsterdam in 1664, Sony vaio VPCF13E4E battery

England gained control of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, renaming it New York. This was formalised in negotiations following the Second Anglo-Dutch War, in exchange for Suriname.[33] Sony vaio VPCF13E8E/H battery

In 1681, the colony ofPennsylvania was founded by William Penn. The American colonies were less financially successful than those of the Caribbean, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants who preferred their temperate climates.[34] Sony vaio VPCF13J0E/H battery

In 1670, King Charles II granted a charter to the Hudson's Bay Company, granting it a monopoly on the fur trade in what was then known as Rupert's Land, a vast stretch of territory that would later make up a large proportion of Canada. Forts and trading posts established by the Company were frequently the subject of attacks by the French, who had established their own fur trading colony in adjacent New France.[35] Sony vaio VPCF13L8E/H battery

Two years later, the Royal African Company was inaugurated, receiving from King Charles a monopoly of the trade to supply slaves to the British colonies of the Caribbean.[36]Sony vaio VPCF13M1E/B battery

From the outset, slavery was the basis of the British Empire in the West Indies. Until the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, Britain was responsible for the transportation of 3.5 million African slaves to the Americas, a third of all slaves transported across the Atlantic.[37]Sony vaio VPCF13M1E/H battery

To facilitate this trade, forts were established on the coast of West Africa, such as James Island, Accra and Bunce Island. In the British Caribbean, the percentage of the population of African descent rose from 25 percent in 1650 to around 80 percent in 1780, Sony vaio VPCF13S1E/B battery

and in the 13 Colonies from 10 percent to 40 percent over the same period (the majority in the southern colonies).[38] For the slave traders, the trade was extremely profitable, and became a major economic mainstay for such western British cities as Bristol and Liverpool, Sony vaio VPCF13S8E battery

which formed the third corner of the so-called triangular trade with Africa and the Americas. For the transported, harsh and unhygienic conditions on the slaving ships and poor diets meant that the average mortality rate during the middle passage was one in seven.[39] Sony vaio VPCF13S8E/B battery

In 1695, the Scottish parliament granted a charter to the Company of Scotland, which established a settlement in 1698 on the isthmus of Panama, with a view to building a canal there. Besieged by neighbouring Spanish colonists of New Granada, and afflicted by malaria, the colony was abandoned two years later. Sony vaio VPCF13V5002B battery

TheDarien scheme was a financial disaster for Scotland—a quarter of Scottish capital[40] was lost in the enterprise—and ended Scottish hopes of establishing its own overseas empire. The episode also had major political consequences, persuading the governments of both England and Scotland of the merits of a union of countries, rather than just crowns.[41] This occurred in 1707 with the Treaty of Union, establishing the Kingdom of Great Britain. Sony vaio VPCF13Z1E/B battery

Rivalry with the Netherlands in Asia

At the end of the 16th century, England and the Netherlands began to challenge Portugal's monopoly of trade with Asia, forming private joint-stock companies to finance the voyages—the English, later British, East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, chartered in 1600 and 1602 respectively. Sony VPCCA2S1E Battery

The primary aim of these companies was to tap into the lucrative spice trade, an effort focused mainly on two regions; the East Indies archipelago, and an important hub in the trade network, India. There, they competed for trade supremacy with Portugal and with each other.[42] Sony VPCCA2S1E/D.G4 Battery

Although England would ultimately eclipse the Netherlands as a colonial power, in the short term the Netherlands' more advanced financial system[43] and the three Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century left it with a stronger position in Asia. Hostilities ceased after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when the Dutch William of Orange ascended the English throne, Sony VPCCA2S1E/L Battery

bringing peace between the Netherlands and England. A deal between the two nations left the spice trade of the East Indies archipelago to the Netherlands and the textiles industry of India to England, but textiles soon overtook spices in terms of profitability, and by 1720, in terms of sales, the British company had overtaken the Dutch.[43] Sony VPCCA2S1E/R Battery

Global struggles with France

Peace between England and the Netherlands in 1688 meant that the two countries entered the Nine Years' War as allies, but the conflict—waged in Europe and overseas between France, Spain and the Anglo-Dutch alliance—left the English a stronger colonial power than the Dutch, Sony VPCCA3S1E Battery

who were forced to devote a larger proportion of their military budget on the costly land war in Europe.[44] The 18th century would see England (after 1707, Britain) rise to be the world's dominant colonial power, and France becoming its main rival on the imperial stage.[45] Sony VPCCB2S1E Battery

The death of Charles II of Spain in 1700 and his bequeathal of Spain and its colonial empire to Philippe of Anjou, a grandson of the King of France, raised the prospect of the unification of France, Spain and their respective colonies, an unacceptable state of affairs for England and the other powers of Europe.[46] Sony VPCCB2S1E/B Battery

In 1701, England, Portugal and the Netherlands sided with the Holy Roman Empire against Spain and France in the War of the Spanish Succession, which lasted until 1714. At the concluding Treaty of Utrecht, Philip renounced his and his descendants' right to the French throne and Spain lost its empire in Europe.[46] Sony VPCCB2S1E/W Battery

The British Empire was territorially enlarged: from France, Britain gained Newfoundland and Acadia, and from Spain, Gibraltar andMinorca. Gibraltar, which is still a British territory to this day, became a critical naval base and allowed Britain to control the Atlantic entry and exit point to the Mediterranean. Sony VPCCB3S1E Battery

Minorca was returned to Spain at the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, after changing hands twice. Spain also ceded the rights to the lucrative asiento (permission to sell slaves in Spanish America) to Britain.[47] Sony VPCCB3S1E/B Battery

The Seven Years' War, which began in 1756, was the first war waged on a global scale, fought in Europe, India, North America, the Caribbean, the Philippines and coastal Africa. The signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763) had important consequences for the future of the British Empire. Sony VPCCB3S1E/W Battery

In North America, France's future as a colonial power there was effectively ended with the recognition of British claims to Rupert's Land,[35] the ceding of New France to Britain (leaving a sizeableFrench-speaking population under British control) and Louisiana to Spain. Sony VPCCB4Z1E Battery

Spain ceded Florida to Britain. In India, the Carnatic War had left France still in control of its enclaves but with military restrictions and an obligation to support British client states, ending French hopes of controlling India.[48] The British victory over France in the Seven Years' War therefore left Britain as the world's most powerful maritime power.[49] Sony VPCCB4Z1E/B Battery

Rise of the Second British Empire (1783–1815)

During its first century of operation, the English East India Company focused on trade with the Indian subcontinent, as it was not in a position to challenge the powerful Mughal Empire,[50] which had granted it trading rights in 1617. Sony VPCCB4Z1E/W Battery

This changed in the 18th century as the Mughals declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French counterpart, theCompagnie française des Indes orientales, during the Carnatic Wars in the 1740s and 1750s. The Battle of Plassey in 1757, which saw the British, led by Robert Clive, Sony VPCCB4Z1E/W.G4 Battery

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defeat the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, left the Company in control ofBengal and as the major military and political power in India.[51] In the following decades it gradually increased the size of the territories under its control, either ruling directly or via local rulers under the threat of force from the British Indian Army, the vast majority of which was composed of Indian sepoys.[52]Sony vaio VPCCW2S1E/L Battery

British India eventually grew into the empire's most valuable possession, "the Jewel in the Crown"; covering a territory greater than that of the Roman Empire, it was the most important source of Britain's strength, defining its status as the world's greatest power.[53] Sony vaio VPCCW2S1E/P Battery

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Loss of the Thirteen American Colonies

Main article: American Revolution

During the 1760s and 1770s, relations between the Thirteen Colonies and Britain became increasingly strained, primarily because of resentment of the British Parliament's attempts to govern and tax American colonists without their consent,[54] summarised at the time by the slogan "No taxation without representation". Sony vaio VPCCW2S1E/W Battery

Disagreement over the American colonists' guaranteed Rights as Englishmen resulted in the American Revolution and the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1775. The following year, the colonists declared the independence of the United States. With assistance from France, the United States would go on to win the war in 1783. Dell Inspiron M5030 battery

The loss of such a large portion of British America, at the time Britain's most populous overseas possession, is seen by historians as the event defining the transition between the "first" and "second" empires,[55] in which Britain shifted its attention away from the Americas to Asia, Sony VGN-FW31ZJ battery

the Pacific and later Africa. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, had argued that colonies were redundant, and that free trade should replace the old mercantilist policies that had characterised the first period of colonial expansion, dating back to the protectionism of Spain and Portugal.[49][56] Sony VGN-FZ38 battery

The growth of trade between the newly independent United States and Britain after 1783 seemed to confirm Smith's view that political control was not necessary for economic success.[57][58] Tensions between the two nations escalated during theNapoleonic Wars, Sony VGN-SR29XN/S battery

as Britain tried to cut off American trade with France, and boarded American ships to impress into the Royal Navy men of British birth. The U.S. declared war, the War of 1812, during which both sides invaded each others' territories, but the Treaty of Ghent, ratified in 1815, restored the pre-war boundaries.[59] Asus A32-F82 battery

Events in America influenced British policy in Canada, where between 40,000 and 100,000[60] defeated Loyalists had migrated from America following independence.[61] The 14,000 Loyalists who went to the Saint John and Saint Croix river valleys, then part of Nova Scotia, Sony VGN-CS11S/P battery

felt too far removed from the provincial government in Halifax, so London split off New Brunswick as a separate colony in 1784.[62] The Constitutional Act of 1791 created the provinces of Upper Canada (mainly English-speaking) and Lower Canada (mainly French-speaking) to defuse tensions between the French and British communities, HP Pavilion dv2-1137ax battery

and implemented governmental systems similar to those employed in Britain, with the intention of asserting imperial authority and not allowing the sort of popular control of government that was perceived to have led to the American Revolution.[63] HP 500028-142 battery

Exploration of the Pacific

Since 1718, transportation to the American colonies had been a penalty for various criminal offences in Britain, with approximately one thousand convicts transported per year across the Atlantic.[64] Forced to find an alternative location after the loss of the 13 Colonies in 1783, Sony vaio VPCYB35JC battery

the British government turned to the newly discovered lands of Australia.[65] The western coast of Australia had been discovered for Europeans by the Dutch explorer Willem Jansz in 1606 and was later named by the Dutch East India Company New Holland,[66] HP Pavilion dv2-1137ax battery

but there was no attempt to colonise it. In 1770 James Cook discovered the eastern coast of Australia while on a scientific voyage to the South Pacific Ocean, claimed the continent for Britain, and named it New South Wales.[67] In 1778, Joseph Banks, HP Pavilion g6 battery

Cook's botanist on the voyage, presented evidence to the government on the suitability of Botany Bay for the establishment of apenal settlement, and in 1787 the first shipment of convicts set sail, arriving in 1788.[68] Britain continued to transport convicts to New South Wales until 1840.[69]HP 513130-321 battery

The Australian colonies became profitable exporters of wool and gold,[70] mainly due to gold rushes in the colony of Victoria, making its capital Melbourne the richest city in the world[71] and the largest city after London in the British Empire.[72] HP WD549AA battery

During his voyage, Cook also visited New Zealand, first discovered by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642, and claimed the North andSouth islands for the British crown in 1769 and 1770 respectively. Initially, interaction between the indigenous Māori population and Europeans was limited to the trading of goods. HP WD548AA battery

European settlement increased through the early decades of the 19th century, with numerous trading stations established, especially in the North. In 1839, the New Zealand Company announced plans to buy large tracts of land and establish colonies in New Zealand. On 6 February 1840, HP NBP6A175 battery

Captain William Hobson and around 40 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi.[73] This treaty is considered by many to be New Zealand's founding document,[74] but differing interpretations of the Maori and English versions of the text[75] have meant that it continues to be a source of dispute.[76] HP Pavilion dv3-2028tx battery

War with Napoleonic France

Britain was challenged again by France under Napoleon, in a struggle that, unlike previous wars, represented a contest of ideologies between the two nations.[77]It was not only Britain's position on the world stage that was threatened: Napoleon threatened to invade Britain itself, just as his armies had overrun many countries of continental Europe. Sony VGP-BPS10 battery

The Napoleonic Wars were therefore ones in which Britain invested large amounts of capital and resources to win. French ports were blockaded by the Royal Navy, which won a decisive victory over a Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in 1805. Overseas colonies were attacked and occupied, Sony VGN-CR290 battery

including those of the Netherlands, which was annexed by Napoleon in 1810. France was finally defeated by a coalition of European armies in 1815.[78] Britain was again the beneficiary of peace treaties: France ceded the Ionian Islands, Malta (which it had occupied in 1797 and 1798 respectively), Compaq Presario CQ42-100 battery

Mauritius, St Lucia, and Tobago; Spain ceded Trinidad; the Netherlands Guyana, and the Cape Colony. Britain returned Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, andRéunion to France, and Java and Suriname to the Netherlands, while gaining control of Ceylon (1795–1815).[79] HP Pavilion dv9000 Laptop Battery

Abolition of slavery

Under increasing pressure from the British abolitionist movement, the British government enacted the Slave Trade Act in 1807 which abolished the slave trade in the empire. In 1808, Sierra Leone was designated an official British colony for freed slaves.[80]Dell Studio 1735 battery

The Slavery Abolition Act passed in 1833 abolished slavery in the British Empire on 1 August 1834 (with the exception of St. Helena, Ceylon and the territories administered by the East India Company, though these exclusions were later repealed). Under the Act, slaves were granted full emancipation after a period of 4 to 6 years of "apprenticeship".[81] HP Pavilion dv7-4000eh battery

Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians,[82][83] around 10,000,000 square miles (26,000,000 km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire.[84] Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival, Asus A32-U80 battery

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other than Russia in central Asia.[85] Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica,[86] and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation".[87] Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Sony VGP-BPS13A/S battery

Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam, which has been characterised by some historians as "informal empire".[88][89] Sony VGP-BPS13A/S battery

British imperial strength was underpinned by the steamship and the telegraph, new technologies invented in the second half of the 19th century, allowing it to control and defend the empire. By 1902, the British Empire was linked together by a network of telegraph cables, the so-called All Red Line.[90] Sony VGP-BPS8B battery

East India Company in Asia

the expansion of the British Empire in Asia. The Company's army had first joined forces with the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War, and the two continued to cooperate in arenas outside India: the eviction of Napoleon from Egypt (1799), the capture of Java from the Netherlands (1811), the acquisition of Singapore (1819) and Malacca (1824) and the defeat of Burma (1826).[85] Toshiba Satellite M55 Series Battery

From its base in India, the Company had also been engaged in an increasingly profitable opiumexport trade to China since the 1730s. This trade, illegal since it was outlawed by the Qing dynasty in 1729, helped reverse the trade imbalances resulting from the British imports oftea, Ibm/Lenovo Thinkpad X300 Battery

which saw large outflows of silver from Britain to China.[91] In 1839, the confiscation by the Chinese authorities at Canton of 20,000 chests of opium led Britain to attack China in the First Opium War, and resulted in the seizure by Britain of Hong Kong Island, at that time a minor settlement.[92] Dell Studio 1537 Laptop Battery

The 1857 mutiny of sepoys, Indian troops under British officers and discipline, grew into a wider conflict which ended with the dissolution of the company and the assumption of direct control by the British government.[93] The Indian Rebellion took six months to suppress, Dell Latitude C640 AC Adapter/Charger

with heavy loss of life on both sides. Afterwards the British government assumed direct control over India, ushering in the period known as the British Raj, where an appointed governor-general administered India and Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India. The East India Company was dissolved the following year.[94] HP Pavilion dm4 Laptop Battery

India suffered a series of serious crop failures in the late 19th century, leading to widespread famines in which it is estimated that over 15 million people died. The East India Company had failed to implement any coordinated policy to deal with the famines during its period of rule. Acer Aspire 557x Battery

This changed during the Raj, in which commissions were set up after each famine to investigate the causes and implement new policies, which took until the early 1900s to have an effect.[95] Acer Aspire 5052ANWXMi Battery

ine">Rivalry with Russia

During the 19th century, Britain and Russia vied to fill the power vacuums that had been left by the declining Ottoman, Persian and Qing Chinese empires. This rivalry in Eurasia came to be known as the "Great Game".[96] As far as Britain was concerned, Acer Aspire 5920G AC AdapterCharger

defeats inflicted by Russia on Persia and Turkey demonstrated its imperial ambitions and capabilities, and stoked fears in Britain of an overland invasion of India.[97] In 1839, Britain moved to pre-empt this by invadingAfghanistan, but the First Anglo-Afghan War was a disaster for Britain.[79Dell XPS M1330 Battery

]When Russia invaded the Turkish Balkans in 1853, fears of Russian dominance in theMediterranean and Middle East led Britain and France to invade the Crimean Peninsula in order to destroy Russian naval capabilities.[79] The ensuing Crimean War (1854–56), Dell Mini 1010 Laptop Battery

which involved new techniques of modern warfare,[98] and was the only global war fought between Britain and another imperial power during the Pax Britannica, was a resounding defeat for Russia.[79] The situation remained unresolved in Central Asia for two more decades, Dell Latitude D820 AC AdapterCharger

with Britain annexing Baluchistan in 1876 and Russia Kirghizia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For a while it appeared that another war would be inevitable, but the two countries reached an agreement on their respective spheres of influence in the region in 1878, and on all outstanding matters in 1907 with the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente.[99]Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

The destruction of the Russian Navy at the Battle of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 also limited its threat to the British.[100] HP Pavilion ZX5200 Battery

Cape to Cairo

The Dutch East India Company had founded the Cape Colony on the southern tip of Africa in 1652 as a way station for its ships travelling to and from its colonies in the East Indies. Britain formally acquired the colony, and its large Afrikaner (orBoer) population in 1806, HP Pavilion dv2-1000 Laptop Battery

having occupied it in 1795 in order to prevent its falling into French hands, following the invasion of the Netherlands by France.[101] British immigration began to rise after 1820, and pushed thousands of Boers, resentful of British rule, northwards to found their own—mostly short-lived—independent republics, Sony VGP-BPS13A/S Laptop Battery

during the Great Trek of the late 1830s and early 1840s.[102] In the process the Voortrekkers clashed repeatedly with the British, who had their own agenda with regard to colonial expansion in South Africa and with several African polities, including those of the Sotho and the Zulu nations. HP Pavilion ZT1270 Battery

Eventually the Boers established two republics which had a longer lifespan: the South African Republic or Transvaal Republic (1852–77; 1881–1902) and the Orange Free State (1854–1902).[103] In 1902 Britain occupied both republics, concluding a treaty with the two Boer Republics following the Second Boer War 1899–1902.[104] HP Compaq 6710b AC Adapter/Charger

In 1869 the Suez Canal was opened under Napoleon III, linking the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean. The Canal was at first opposed by the British,[105] but once open its strategic value was quickly recognised. In 1875, the Conservative government ofBenjamin Disraeli bought the indebted Egyptian ruler Ismail Pasha's 44 percent shareholding in the Suez Canal for £4 million (£280 million in 2012). Dell Latitude E6400 Laptop Battery

Although this did not grant outright control of the strategic waterway, it did give Britain leverage. Joint Anglo-French financial control over Egypt ended in outright British occupation in 1882.[106]Dell Inspiron 1464 Laptop Battery

The French were still majority shareholders and attempted to weaken the British position,[107] but a compromise was reached with the 1888 Convention of Constantinople, which made the Canal officially neutral territory.[108] Ibm/Lenovo Thinkpad X200 Battery

As French, Belgian and Portuguese activity in the lower Congo River region threatened to undermine orderly penetration of tropical Africa, the Berlin Conference of 1884–85 sought to regulate the competition between the European powers in what was called the "Scramble for Africa" by defining "effective occupation" as the criterion for international recognition of territorial claims.[109]Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook S6000 AC Adapter/Charger

The scramble continued into the 1890s, and caused Britain to reconsider its decision in 1885 to withdraw from Sudan. A joint force of British and Egyptian troops defeated the Mahdist Army in 1896, and rebuffed a French attempted invasion at Fashoda in 1898. Sudan was nominally made an Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, but a British colony in reality.[110] Compaq Presario C700 AC Adapter/Charger

British gains in southern and East Africa prompted Cecil Rhodes, pioneer of British expansion in Africa, to urge a "Cape to Cairo" railway linking the strategically important Suez Canal to the mineral-rich South.[111] In 1888 Rhodes with his privately owned British South Africa Company occupied and annexed territories subsequently named after him, Rhodesia.[112] Sony DSC-P5 Battery

Changing status of the white colonies

From the 18th century, there had been a marked contrast between the status of the British Empire's white colonies and that of colonies peopled by non-whites. While the empire was characterised by autocratic rule—"enlightened" despotism—and military imperialism in the latter, it became a champion of free thought and evolving self-government in the white colonies.[113] HP 586006-361 Laptop Battery

The path to independence for the white colonies of the British Empire began with the 1839 Durham Report, which proposed unification and self-government for the two Upper and Lower Canada, as a solution to political unrest there.[114] This began with the passing of the Act of Union in 1840, HP Compaq 6715b AC Adapter/Charger

which created the Province of Canada. Responsible government was first granted to Nova Scotia in 1848, and was soon extended to the other British North American colonies. With the passage of the British North America Act, 1867 by the British Parliament, Upper and Lower Canada, Acer Aspire 5920 Battery

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were formed into theDominion of Canada, a confederation enjoying full self government with the exception of international relations.[115] Australia and New Zealand achieved similar levels of self-government after 1900, with the Australian colonies federating in 1901.[116]The term "dominion status" was officially introduced at the Colonial Conference of 1907.[117] Dell XPS M1530 AC Adapter/Charger

The last decades of the 19th century saw concerted political campaigns for Irish home rule. Ireland had been united with Britain into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the Act of Union 1800 after the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and had suffered a severe famine between 1845 and 1852. sony VAIO PCG-SRX3E/BD Battery

Home rule was supported by the British Prime Minister, William Gladstone, who hoped that Ireland might follow in Canada's footsteps as a Dominion within the empire, but his 1886 Home Rule bill was defeated in Parliament. Although the bill, if passed, HP Pavilion dv5 AC Adapter/Charger

would have granted Ireland less autonomy within the UK than the Canadian provinces had within their own federation,[118] many MPs feared that a partially independent Ireland might pose a security threat to Great Britain or mark the beginning of the break-up of the empire.[119] Acer Travelmate 2200 AC Adapter/Charger

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A second Home Rule bill was also defeated for similar reasons.[119] A third bill was passed by Parliament in 1914, but not implemented due to the outbreak of the First World War leading to the 1916 Easter Rising.[120] HP Pavilion DV6500 AC Adapter/Charger

World wars (1914–1945)

By the turn of the 20th century, fears had begun to grow in Britain that it would no longer be able to defend the metropole and the entirety of the empire while at the same time maintaining the policy of "splendid isolation".[121] Germany was rising rapidly as a military and industrial power and was now seen as the most likely opponent in any future war. HP Compaq nx6310 AC Adapter/Charger

Recognising that it was overstretched in the Pacific[122] and threatened at home by the German navy, Britain formed an alliance with Japan in 1902, and its old enemies France and Russia in 1904 and 1907, respectively.[123] Sony VAIO PCG-955A Battery - 4400mAh

First World War

Britain's fears of war with Germany were realised in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. The British declaration of war on Germany and its allies also committed the colonies and Dominions, which provided invaluable military, financial and material support. Sony VAIO PCG-NV Battery

Over 2.5 million men served in the armies of the Dominions, as well as many thousands of volunteers from theCrown colonies.[124] Most of Germany's overseas colonies in Africa were quickly invaded and occupied, and in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand occupied German New Guinea and Samoa respectively. Sony NP-FH70 Battery

The contributions of Australian, Newfoundland and New Zealand troops during the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign against the Ottoman Empire had a great impact on the national consciousness at home, and marked a watershed in the transition of Australia and New Zealand from colonies to nations in their own right. HP Pavilion ZD7300 Battery

The countries continue to commemorate this occasion on ANZAC Day. Canadians viewed the Battle of Vimy Ridge in a similar light.[125]The important contribution of the Dominions to the war effort was recognised in 1917 by the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George when he invited each of the Dominion Prime Ministers to join an Imperial War Cabinet to coordinate imperial policy.[126] HP Pavilion N6195 Battery

Under the terms of the concluding Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919, the empire reached its greatest extent with the addition of 1,800,000 square miles (4,700,000 km2) and 13 million new subjects.[127] The colonies of Germany and the Ottoman Empire were distributed to the Allied powers as League of Nations Mandates. Sony vaio VPCYB16KG/S Laptop Battery

Britain gained control of Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, parts ofCameroon and Togo, and Tanganyika. The Dominions themselves also acquired mandates of their own: South-West Africa (modern-dayNamibia) was given to the Union of South Africa, Australia gained German New Guinea, and New Zealand Western Samoa. Nauru was made a combined mandate of Britain and the two Pacific Dominions.[128] Asus A31-K42 Laptop Battery

Inter-war period & Irish War of Independence

The changing world order that the war had brought about, in particular the growth of the United States and Japan as naval powers, and the rise of independence movements in India and Ireland, caused a major reassessment of British imperial policy.[129] Forced to choose between alignment with the United States or Japan, Sony VGN-SR45H/B Laptop Battery

Britain opted not to renew its Japanese alliance and instead signed the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, where Britain accepted naval parity with the United States.[130] This decision was the source of much debate in Britain during the 1930s[131]Sony vaio VPCY11V9E Laptop Battery

as militaristic governments took hold in Japan and Germany helped in part by the Great Depression, for it was feared that the empire could not survive a simultaneous attack by both nations.[132] Although the issue of the empire's security was a serious concern in Britain, at the same time the empire was vital to the British economy.[133] Sony vaio VPCS149FJ/P Laptop Battery

In 1919, the frustrations caused by delays to Irish home rule led members of Sinn Féin, a pro-independence party that had won a majority of the Irish seats at Westminster in the 1918 British general election, to establish an Irish assembly in Dublin, at which Irish independence was declared. Sony vaio VPCS139GC/B Laptop Battery

The Irish Republican Armysimultaneously began a guerrilla war against the British administration.[134] The Anglo-Irish War ended in 1921 with a stalemate and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, creating the Irish Free State, a Dominion within the British Empire, Sony vaio VPCY115FGS Laptop Battery

with effective internal independence but still constitutionally linked with the British Crown.[135] Northern Ireland, consisting of six of the 32 Irish counties which had been established as a devolved region under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, immediately exercised its option under the treaty to retain its existing status within the United Kingdom.[136] Sony vaio VPCM13M1E/L Laptop Battery

A similar struggle began in India when the Government of India Act 1919 failed to satisfy demand for independence.[137]Concerns over communist and foreign plots following the Ghadar Conspiracy ensured that war-time strictures were renewed by the Rowlatt Acts. The led to tension,[138] Sony vaio VPCYA16EC/R Laptop Battery

particularly in the Punjab, where repressive measures culminated in the Amritsar Massacre. In Britain public opinion was divided over the morality of the event, between those who saw it as having saved India from anarchy, and those who viewed it with revulsion.[138]HP 506066-721 Battery

The subsequent non-cooperation movement was called off in March 1922 following the Chauri Chaura incident, and discontent continued to simmer for the next 25 years.[139] In 1922, Egypt, which had been declared a British protectorate at the outbreak of the First World War, was granted formal independence, HP 506781-001 Battery

though it continued to be a British client state until 1954. British troops remained stationed in Egypt until the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty in 1936,[140] under which it was agreed that the troops would withdraw but continue to occupy and defend the Suez Canal zone. HP HSTNN-CB86 Battery

In return, Egypt was assisted to join the League of Nations.[141] Iraq, a Britishmandate since 1920, also gained membership of the League in its own right after achieving independence from Britain in 1932.[142] HP HSTNN-E01C Battery

The ability of the Dominions to set their own foreign policy, independent of Britain, was recognised at the 1923 Imperial Conference.[143] Britain's request for military assistance from the Dominions at the outbreak of the Chanak crisis the previous year had been turned down by Canada and South Africa, HP HSTNN-XB87 Battery

and Canada had refused to be bound by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.[144][145] After pressure from Ireland and South Africa, the 1926 Imperial Conference issued the Balfour Declaration, declaring the Dominions to be "autonomous Communities within the British Empire, HP 586006-761 Battery

equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another" within a "British Commonwealth of Nations".[146] This declaration was given legal substance under the 1931 Statute of Westminster.[117] The parliaments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, HP 586007-121 Battery

the Irish Free State and Newfoundland were now independent of British legislative control, they could nullify British laws and Britain could no longer pass laws for them without their consent.[147]Newfoundland reverted to colonial status in 1933, suffering from financial difficulties during the Great Depression.[148] Ireland distanced itself further from Britain with the introduction of a new constitution in 1937, making it a republic in all but name.[149] HP 586007-141 Battery

Second World War

Britain's declaration of war against Nazi Germany in September 1939 included the Crown colonies and India but did not automatically commit the Dominions. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa all soon declared war on Germany, but the Irish Free State chose to remain legally neutral throughout the war.[150]HP 586007-541 Battery

After the German occupation of France in 1940, Britain and the empire stood alone against Germany, until the entry of the Soviet Union to the war in 1941. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill successfully lobbied President Franklin D. Roosevelt for military aid from the United States, HP 586007-851 Battery

but Roosevelt was not yet ready to ask Congress to commit the country to war.[151] In August 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt met and signed the Atlantic Charter, which included the statement that "the rights of all peoples to choose the form of governmentunder which they live" should be respected. HP 586028-321 Battery

This wording was ambiguous as to whether it referred to European countries invaded by Germany, or the peoples colonised by European nations, and would later be interpreted differently by the British, Americans, and nationalist movements.[152][153] HP 586028-341 Battery

In December 1941, Japan launched, in quick succession, attacks on British Malaya, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, and Hong Kong. Churchill's reaction to the entry of the United States into the war was that Britain was now assured of victory and the future of the empire was safe,[154] HP 588178-141 Battery

but the manner in which the British rapidly surrendered irreversibly altered Britain's standing and prestige as an imperial power.[155][156] Most damaging of all was the fall of Singapore, which had previously been hailed as an impregnable fortress and the eastern equivalent of Gibraltar.[157]HP 593550-001 Battery

The realisation that Britain could not defend the entire empire pushed Australia and New Zealand, which now appeared threatened by Japanese forces, into closer ties with the United States, which after the war eventually resulted in the 1951 ANZUS Pact between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America.[152] HP 593553-001 Battery

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Decolonisation and decline (1945–1997)

Though Britain and the empire emerged victorious from the Second World War, the effects of the conflict were profound, both at home and abroad. Much of Europe, a continent that had dominated the world for several centuries, was in ruins, and host to the armies of the United States and the Soviet Union, HP 593562-001 Battery

to whom the balance of global power had now shifted.[158] Britain was left virtually bankrupt, with insolvency only averted in 1946 after the negotiation of a $3.5 billion loan from the United States,[159] the last installment of which was repaid in 2006.[160] HP HSTNN-CB0W Battery

At the same time, anti-colonial movements were on the rise in the colonies of European nations. The situation was complicated further by the increasing Cold Warrivalry of the United States and the Soviet Union. In principle, both nations were opposed to European colonialism. HP HSTNN-CB0X Battery

In practice, however, American anti-Communism prevailed over anti-imperialism, and therefore the United States supported the continued existence of the British Empire where it kept Communist expansion in check.[161] HP HSTNN-F01C Battery

The "wind of change" ultimately meant that the British Empire's days were numbered, and on the whole, Britain adopted a policy of peaceful disengagement from its colonies once stable, non-Communist governments were available to transfer power to. This was in contrast to other European powers such as France and Portugal,[162] HP HSTNN-F02C Battery

which waged costly and ultimately unsuccessful wars to keep their empires intact. Between 1945 and 1965, the number of people under British rule outside the UK itself fell from 700 million to five million, three million of whom were in Hong Kong.[163] HP HSTNN-I78C Battery

The pro-decolonisation Labour government elected at the 1945 general election and led by Clement Attlee, moved quickly to tackle the most pressing issue facing the empire, that of Indian independence.[164] India's two independence movements—theIndian National Congress and the Muslim League—had been campaigning for independence for decades, HP HSTNN-I79C Battery

but disagreed as to how it should be implemented. Congress favoured a unified secular Indian state, whereas the League, fearing domination by the Hindu majority, desired a separate Islamic state for Muslim-majority regions. Increasing civil unrest and the mutiny of the Royal Indian Navy during 1946 led Attlee to promise independence no later than 1948. HP HSTNN-I81C Battery

When the urgency of the situation and risk of civil war became apparent, the newly appointed (and last) Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, hastily brought forward the date to 15 August 1947.[165] The borders drawn by the British to broadly partition India into Hindu and Muslim areas left tens of millions as minorities in the newly independent states of India and Pakistan.[166]HP HSTNN-I83C Battery

Millions of Muslims subsequently crossed from India to Pakistan and Hindus in the reverse direction, and violence between the two communities cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Burma, which had been administered as part of the British Raj, and Ceylon gained their independence the following year in 1948. India, Pakistan and Ceylon became members of the Commonwealth, though Burma chose not to join.[167] HP HSTNN-I84C Battery

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The British Mandate of Palestine, where an Arab majority lived alongside a Jewish minority, presented the British with a similar problem to that of India.[168] The matter was complicated by large numbers of Jewish refugees seeking to be admitted to Palestine following theHolocaust, HP HSTNN-IB0W Battery

while Arabs were opposed to the creation of a Jewish state. Frustrated by the intractability of the problem, attacks by Jewish paramilitary organisations and the increasing cost of maintaining its military presence, Britain announced in 1947 that it would withdraw in 1948 and leave the matter to the United Nations to solve.[169] The General Assembly voted for a plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. HP HSTNN-IB0X Battery

Following the defeat of Japan in the Second World War, anti-Japanese resistance movements in Malaya turned their attention towards the British, who had moved to quickly retake control of the colony, valuing it as a source of rubber and tin.[170]HP HSTNN-IB1E Battery

The fact that the guerrillas were primarily Malayan-Chinese Communists meant that the British attempt to quell the uprising was supported by the Muslim Malay majority, on the understanding that once the insurgency had been quelled, independence would be granted.[170]HP HSTNN-LB10 Battery

The Malayan Emergency, as it was known, began in 1948 and lasted until 1960, but by 1957, Britain felt confident enough to grant independence to the Federation of Malaya within the Commonwealth. In 1963, the 11 states of the federation together with Singapore, HP HSTNN-OB0X Battery

Sarawak and British North Borneo joined to form Malaysia, but in 1965 Chinese-dominated Singapore was expelled from the union following tensions between the Malay and Chinese populations.[171] Brunei, which had been a British protectorate since 1888, declined to join the union[172] and maintained its status until independence in 1984. HP HSTNN-OB0Y Battery

Suez and its aftermath

In 1951, the Conservative Party was returned to power in Britain, under the leadership of Winston Churchill. Churchill and the Conservatives believed that Britain's position as a world power relied on the continued existence of the empire, with the base at the Suez Canal allowing Britain to maintain its pre-eminent position in the Middle East in spite of the loss of India. HP HSTNN-Q47C Battery

However, Churchill could not ignore Gamal Abdul Nasser's new revolutionary government of Egypt that had taken power in 1952, and the following year it was agreed that British troops would withdraw from the Suez Canal zone and that Sudan would be granted self-determination by 1955, with independence to follow.[173] Sudan was granted independence on 1 January 1956. HP HSTNN-Q48C Battery

In July 1956, Nasser unilaterally nationalised the Suez Canal. The response of Anthony Eden, who had succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister, was to collude with France to engineer an Israeli attack on Egypt that would give Britain and France an excuse to intervene militarily and retake the canal.[174]HP HSTNN-Q49C Battery

Eden infuriated his US counterpart, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, by his lack of consultation, and Eisenhower refused to back the invasion.[175] Another of Eisenhower's concerns was the possibility of a wider war with the Soviet Union after it threatened to intervene on the Egyptian side. HP HSTNN-Q50C Battery

Eisenhower applied financial leverage by threatening to sell US reserves of the British pound and thereby precipitate a collapse of the British currency.[176] Though the invasion force was militarily successful in its objectives,[177] UN intervention and US pressure forced Britain into a humiliating withdrawal of its forces, and Eden resigned.[178][179] HP HSTNN-Q51C Battery

The Suez Crisis very publicly exposed Britain's limitations to the world and confirmed Britain's decline on the world stage, demonstrating that henceforth it could no longer act without at least the acquiescence, if not the full support, of the United States.[180][181][182] The events at Suez wounded British national pride, HP HSTNN-Q60C Battery

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leading one MP to describe it as "Britain's Waterloo"[183]and another to suggest that the country had become an "American satellite".[184] Margaret Thatcher later described the mindset she believed had befallen the British political establishment as "Suez syndrome", from which Britain did not recover until the successful recapture of the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982.[185] HP HSTNN-Q62C Battery

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While the Suez Crisis caused British power in the Middle East to weaken, it did not collapse.[186] Britain again soon deployed its armed forces to the region, intervening in Oman (1957), Jordan (1958) and Kuwait (1961), though on these occasions with American approval,[187]HP HSTNN-Q64C Battery

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as the new Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's foreign policy was to remain firmly aligned with the United States.[183] Britain maintained a presence in the Middle East for another decade, withdrawing fromAden in 1967, and Bahrain in 1971.[188] HP HSTNN-UB1G Battery

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