British have invaded nine out of ten countries – so look out Luxembourg

November 9, 2012 9:16 am 63 comments Views: 313624

Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history, new research has found.

Every schoolboy used to know that at the height of the empire, almost a quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, showing the extent of British rule.

But that oft recited fact dramatically understates the remarkable global reach achieved by this country.

A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe.

The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British.

Among this select group of nations are far-off destinations such as Guatemala, Tajikistan and the Marshall Islands, as well some slightly closer to home, such as Luxembourg.

he analysis is contained in a new book, All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To.

Stuart Laycock, the author, has worked his way around the globe, through each country alphabetically, researching its history to establish whether, at any point, they have experienced an incursion by Britain.

Only a comparatively small proportion of the total in Mr Laycock’s list of invaded states actually formed an official part of the empire.

The remainder have been included because the British were found to have achieved some sort of military presence in the territory – however transitory – either through force, the threat of force, negotiation or payment.

Incursions by British pirates, privateers or armed explorers have also been included, provided they were operating with the approval of their government.

So, many countries which once formed part of the Spanish empire and seem to have little historical connection with the UK, such as Costa Rica, Ecuador and El Salvador, make the list because of the repeated raids they suffered from state-sanctioned British sailors.

Among some of the perhaps surprising entries on the list are:

* Cuba, where in 1741, a force under Admiral Edward Vernon stormed ashore at Guantánamo Bay. He renamed it Cumberland Bay, before being forced to withdraw in the face of hostile locals and an outbreak of disease among his men. Twenty one years later, Havana and a large part of the island fell to the British after a bloody siege, only to be handed back to the Spanish in 1763, along with another unlikely British possession, the Philippines, in exchange for Florida and Minorca.

*Iceland, invaded in 1940 by the British after the neutral nation refused to enter the war on the Allies side. The invasion force, of 745 marines, met with strong protest from the Iceland government, but no resistance.

* Vietnam, which has experienced repeated incursions by the British since the seventeenth century. The most recent – from 1945 to 1946 – saw the British fight a campaign for control of the country against communists, in a war that has been overshadowed by later conflicts involving first the French and then Americans.

It is thought to be the first time such a list has been compiled.

Mr Laycock, who has previously published books on Roman history, began the unusual quest after being asked by his 11-year-old son, Frederick, how many countries the British had invaded.

After almost two years of research he said he was shocked by the answer. “I was absolutely staggered when I reached the total. I like to think I have a relatively good general knowledge. But there are places where it hadn’t occurred to me that these things had ever happened. It shocked me.

“Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don’t think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century.”

The only other nation which has achieved anything approaching the British total, Mr Laycock said, is France – which also holds the unfortunate record for having endured the most British invasions. “I realise people may argue with some of my reasons, but it is intended to prompt debate,” he added.

He believes the actual figure may well be higher and is inviting the public to get in touch to provide evidence of other invasions.

In the case of Mongolia, for instance – one of the 22 nations “not invaded”, according to the book – he believes it possible that there could have been a British invasion, but could find no direct proof.

The country was caught up in the turmoil following the Russian Revolution, in which the British and other powers intervened. Mr Laycock found evidence of a British military mission in Russia approximately 50 miles from the Mongolian border, but could not establish whether it got any closer.

The research lists countries based on their current national boundaries and names. Many of the invasions took place when these did not apply.

The research covered the 192 other UN member states as well as the Vatican City and Kosovo, which are not member states, but are recognised by the UK government as independent states.

The earliest invasion launched from these islands was an incursion into Gaul – now France – at the end of the second century. Clodius Albinus led an army, thought to include many Britons, across the Channel in an attempt to seize the imperial throne. The force was defeated in 197 at Lyon.

Mr Laycock added: “One one level, for the British, it is quite amazing and quite humbling, that this is all part of our history, but clearly there are parts of our history that we are less proud of. The book is not intended as any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a light-hearted bit of fun.”

The countries never invaded by the British:

Andorra

Belarus

Bolivia

Burundi

Central African Republic

Chad

Congo, Republic of

Guatemala

Ivory Coast

Kyrgyzstan

Liechtenstein

Luxembourg

Mali

Marshall Islands

Monaco

Mongolia

Paraguay

Sao Tome and Principe

Sweden

Tajikistan

Uzbekistan

Vatican City

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  • PSabc

    The article speaks about this as if it were a real achievement of the British. In fact, the British inflicted the greatest amount of cruelty, racialism, exploitation and used more of political cunning than military might to rule most of the world.

    While withdrawing, they have left a world full of divisions, trauma and fractured economies. And damaged psyches that have not healed in many parts.

    That is real contribution of the British.

    • marites four

      yes very evil past that they will have to pay for in the future.

    • Mark T

      The British brought civilisation to the darkest corners of the world. Decolonization is the greatest crime of the 20th. century

      • Krishna

        White man’s burden, eh? Ha ha ha ha! No thanks!

        • Iridium Halo

          Absolutely not! Let’s hav ethe paradises the Third World has made of themselves

          • Rake

            Well britan is flushing down so try to keep the paradise you made for yourself

      • PSabc

        Civilization? The loot of wealth, technology, resources by British was unprecedented in the history of human CIVILIZATION. Wren and Martin were embarrassed by the standards of English grammar when British encountered Sanskrit; the appropriation of Indian gold, the manipulation of exchange rates, the disruption of India’s agriculture, food supply chains, water management systems wreaked havoc and accounted for over 50 million deaths of Indians in the 200 years of British rule.

        Britain wrought havoc and its impact in India is still being felt as many institutions in India & mind-sets still work with British “legacy”.

        • The Commenter

          and India loves cricket..a brit sport..

          • Rake

            The richest man in so called britan is an Indian!

          • Iridium Halo

            Er, so?

          • Rake

            you didn’t get the sarcasm?

        • LordTruth

          For hundreds of years before the British arrived India was ruled by the Persians (called Iranians today) They had nothing but contemt for the Indians Who would you rather have been ruled by the Persians or British..if you dont them why does everyone still speak English and read British books and play cricket ? All of Indias recent success in the world is due to it not getting rid of the British (And Indians have been dying of starvation for centuries and still do today

          • Iridium Halo

            You left out the Mongols but yes, quite correct

          • PSabc

            Indians would have rid themselves of the Mughals and other Islamic invaders like Nadir Shah. Fact is that Indians never had starvation until the Islamic invaders and British colonial (aka looters) arrived. India’s share of Global GDP fell from 25% to 3% in 200 years of British colonization; in 1200 years of Islamic invasion and a state of virtual civil war, India’s share of Global GDP fell from 45% to 25%. The Islamic and British rule saw disruption of India’s supply-chains, appropriation of its productive assets, stripping of her knowledge systems & education.

            Please read about the artificial man made starvation of Indians at the hands of the British to understand the real contribution of the British and stop being so self-righteous. Colonial rule is a White Man’s burden – a burden of sin, debauchery, exploitation and imposition of false, inhuman and unsustainable ideologies on a people who never had any ill-will against anyone.

          • TrueTwit

            I look around the world and compare ‘like for like’ colonized countries and so for instance compare the UK’s Malaysia to Dutch Indonesia and the Spanish Philippines and there is no doubt that in the rule of law, promotion of trade, emerging democratic institutions, language and the manner of their exit, the British on the whole, have nothing to be ashamed of, for many of their former colonies have gone on to do very well indeed. Colonialism was a period in history produced by a very rich and advanced Europe that was able to source materials from other countries by it’s global reach. Those days have now gone. Get over it!

          • Rake

            Stop Reading Modified history, colonization is done for selfish purposes not for liberation, anyone thinking that it is for liberation is a plain pathetic fool!

        • Alex

          Yeah, right. English got raliways and tele communications in India. They also built roads and bridges. Made India one single country, not 500 odd squabbling nation states.

          • PSabc

            Please read about the concept of Bharat and Bharatiya Civilization. A civilization that extended from the Koreas to Indonesia and upto Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

            A civilization does not have to conquer in a militaristic sense. Bharat has a deeper unity than a nation-state. Look at your own map of Europe from 1900 to 2000 and see how much your own world has changed.

            Bharatiya civilization will survive all these attacks and thrive. If the Indian civilization is wiped out, be sure that Humans will descend to the level of animals – just like the ISIS and Christian colonizers. Think the Christian colonizers were innocent do-gooders? Read about the Goa Inquisition, British mand made famines in India and the Dutch war on Bali in 1907. Read how native American Indians, Incas, Mayans were decimated. Read also about how Europe became Christian in the first place and the amount of struggle your own people have to really go through to free Science for Christianity. Science has no conflict with Eastern spirituality like Hindu Sanatana Dharma, Vedas, Upanishads or the various smriti texts.

        • Pratik

          Mr. Indian, the development in your country you are watching now is because of the British left infrastructure. Your neighboring countries which were not invaded by or slaved by British is still working on new infrastructure.

      • Miguel

        Portugal and Spain did that, not England -.-

      • Rake

        No colonization is the greatest crime, civilization flourished even before british came into existence british have just destroyed civilization and culture, it is their greatest mistake not achievement. Colonization is the greatest crime of the west. Read some history moron british just stole what ever they can get and rose even richer now they have stooped as low as obeying americans. Pathetic!

        • Iridium Halo

          Stop reading popular histiry

          • Rake

            You should stop reading modified history.

      • Rake

        No one thinks decolonization as crime except hippocrates.

    • Verk

      Ah yes, because “divisions, trauma and fractured economies” did not exist before the British began their overseas adventures.

  • T1970

    The Opium Wars of the 19th century were against the Qing dynasty. As this dynasty was founded by Mongolian chiefs, by extension we can say that an invasion of the Qing was an invasion of Mongolia.

    • Michael Le Houllier

      Manchus, not Mongols…

    • PSabc

      The Opium Wars were basically fought by British to uphold their right to sell drugs to Chinese people. This is the real nature of “liberal” values of the British /US systems even today – they want the right to sell junk/inferior products in the name of free trade and obtain in return the rights to really valuable assets globally. To me it sounds like organized and systematic loot supported by fronts like WTO et al.

  • http://luvsiesous.com/ el_guero2000

    It would have been much better had they separated the ‘invaded’ from the negotiated.

    Negotiating a base in a foreign country is not the same as an invasion.

    Wayne
    Luvsiesous

  • Aqq

    When did they invade countries like Poland, Estonia or Moldova?

  • Jaan

    This is a lie. British did not invade Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. The helped us Baltic people kick out the Russian invaders and for that we are greatful.

    • Alex

      That also helped you write bad English. God save the (English) language!

      • Iridium Halo

        That was an unnecessary jibe. And not all that accurate. His statement was understandable. You cannot expect someone who is not a native speaker to have perfect grammar. Bad form.

  • John Magne Trane

    Sweden was on the list of countries to be invaded during the Napoleonic wars, but their attack on Denmark-Norway and subsequent appeasement by Russia and their neutral alliance aborted that.

  • nodepositfreespins

    Complete rubbish! When did the Brits ever invade Finland? The Soviets failed and so would the Brits should they come.

    • plorf

      Or Switzerland for that matter, we certainly were never invaded by the Brits either.

      • ddd

        also I can’t recall when it was when Poland was invaded by them ?

    • Zeno

      For example Battle of Bomarsund, Aaland Island, Finland, 1854

      • nodepositfreespins

        One little island.. besides it was a English-French attack.

  • Mahila Utthan Samiti (MUS)

    And now the UK is opposing the takeover of russian-speaking Crimea by Russia!
    Hypocrit looters of (almost) the whole world.

    • w smith

      Crimea is Ukranian- (MUS)= mujahadien

  • jackcandobutwont

    And some countries simply did not exist during England’s hey day!!

  • http://freehpi.org FreeHpi:org

    what about tonga that wasn´t invaded by the British was it?

  • telescope

    This crap is meant to appease the British who will soon find their entire Isle is under the waters, and they say they want to withdraw from EU. Sheer boloney.

  • http://www.sunsetreflector.blogspot.com WufanGohan

    The fish and chips are very arrogant and warlike, but they didn’t conquer as much.

  • Kataro Quasinzki

    And now the their government protests “too many decisions being made in Brussels”; haha, sovereignty matters unless it’s not British (very interesting and quite Freudian coming from the symbol of global banditry).

  • Mystic_Speculator

    This article is not factually correct. For example Colombia has never ever been invded by the British. The Brits fought the Spanish in Cartagena for a couple of months in 1741. Vice Admiral Edward Veron fought Admiral Blas de Lezo with the british attackers experiencing defeat and forced to retreat to Jamaica. These reporters are really full of it.

  • Ads132x

    “Invasion”

    an act or instance of invading or entering as an enemy, especially by an army.

    “Entering as an enemy”

    HOW did you get a degree ? or a collage cert… you are the typical understanding of why an education makes you dumb.

  • paweł

    looks like Brits look for good feelings about what they are or what they were..i’m polish
    and never heard of invading Poland..sure Russians,Germans and so yes..this list is a joke .good example is that English soldiers were invited to Poland for training purposes but that is something else..i can understand that when you get smaller you seek for a boost but author should keep with the true. not very tasty..

  • Tejendra baruwal

    When nepal was invaded? yep, nepal was under influence as much same as present bhutan is in influence of India.That’s diplomatic but British troops never arrived in Kathmandu. Rather we sent Gorkhas with them everywhere! Need serious correction in the list an

  • Aki

    Poland? When?

  • freefallcrusader

    It is rather interesting the way so many world leaders are against what Russia is doing in the Ukraine, and are creating and increasing so many sanctions against Russia. I note these events with curiosity as so many “borders” in that part of the country have repeatedly changed from before I was even born. Areas in that part of the world (where my great-grandparents came from) have had their borders changed repeatedly, and countries like Czechoslovakia split up and new countries were formed or boundaries of existing countries changed. The town where one of my grandparents came from in the Ukraine actually became part of Russia a long, long time ago. I believe other countries should stay OUT of the conflict, and I am greatly disappointed in how my country leaders are handling this situation. Countries have been getting invaded as far back as history has been recorded, but this should be left up to the countries to determine how they want to do this. From what I read, the people in the part of the Ukraine that Russia has invaded “wanted” to become part of Russia. So why should the rest of us complain and interfere?

  • matthewe emery

    the world was more stable under british rule,people try to be like them ,lok at football

  • LordTruth

    Why shouldnt the British be proud? People dont realise just how tiny England/Britian was compared to the rest of the world..For example when Henry VIII made England Protestant it had a population of under t million ..Yet Catholic France was foyur times bigger in land and had a population of 12 million Catholic Spain had ten million etcetc

    Even at the time of the American wars of Independence Britain population was only seven million against the colonies seven million (including slaves) It is amazing that this tiny country could conquer the world as it did .It was brains bravery and technological skill that did it..
    Incidentally,for those attacking the British and its empire ,which empire would you prefer to live in the Turkish Mexican German Japanese Russian French Belgian Italian Spanish Russian Japanese etc etc etc….Y

    • Rake

      South east asia is the best place to live and is the top in world business before british invasion. plus british almost never colonized waging a war they stoop to selfish and absurd tricks to do it if you think about then they should feel ashamed for doing such a thing.

  • Iridium Halo

    Nonsense. The British left countyries that had severe racial and tribal divisions as functioning entities. Sadly those same stupid racial and tribal divisions reasserted themesleves after they had gone

    • Rake

      Not quite true

  • juan Briceno

    The Author of this article is full of it ! There are more countries never invaded by the British. For example, Colombia

  • Offyatree

    Malta was NOT invaded by the British. They were invited in by the Maltese. (Google Alexander Graham Ball + Malta) and go visit his monument on the Island. While you’re there, you may notice the statue of Queen Victoria in a prominent place and notice the prevalence of the English language. Oh, and if you drive, make sure you drive on the left.
    Invasion indeed!

  • Pratik Bhadel

    Wrong. It should be 23 countries included Nepal. Nepal helped British for achieving that result. That is Gurkhas.

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