Rule Britania – More than 80 percent of Planet Invaded by Brits, Book Reveals

The last stand of the 44th Regiment near Kabul in 1841. Afghanistan is just one of the many countries the British have sent troops to over the centuries. In fact, according to a new book, the vast majority of nations worldwide have at one time or another been attacked or aided by British forces.

What do Burundi, Guatemala, Luxembourg and Uzbekistan all have in common? Simple: They are four of the small handful of countries in the world that have never directly experienced British military intervention.

According to a new book, entitled All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To by British author Stuart Laycock, Great Britain has used its military to coerce, dominate, assist or subjugate more than 82 percent of the countries in the world – no small feat for a tiny island nation that’s roughly half the size of the state of California.

Laycock told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph last weekend that the idea for the book came to him when his son asked how many locations on the planet the United Kingdom had fought in.

“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,” Laycock told the Telegraph. “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.”

Laycock admits that the definition of “invaded” is broad for the purposes of his book. To make the list, a country or region didn’t necessarily have to be conquered or colonized by the British. He included any state that had ever played host (either willingly or unwillingly) to British troops, aircraft or warships. According to The Telegraph piece, Laycock even considered forays by British pirates and privateers, as well as those by armed explorers as meeting his definition of military involvement. Based on these criteria, only 22 countries can claim  to be untouched by the force of British arms.

The author told the newspaper that he doesn’t want anyone to confuse his book for an indictment of British Imperialism – he wrote it mostly out of curiosity.

“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,” Laycock told The Telegraph.

Amazon.com is selling the book here.

By the way, here is the list of countries never ‘visited’ 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

* Since this article was first published in Nov. 2012, the British have sent forces to the troubled Central African Republic. Thanks to Stephen Morrison for the tweet.
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5 comments for “Rule Britania – More than 80 percent of Planet Invaded by Brits, Book Reveals

  1. 6 November, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Reblogged this on Asatru / Heathen South Africa.

  2. Solwen
    12 November, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    This article omit to mention that the original book says that the only country to come really close to England tally is France, not the USA.

  3. M Ripley
    28 April, 2015 at 6:42 am

    why do Americans persist in saying ‘England’ when it should be Britain ?

    • 28 April, 2015 at 7:59 am

      While England comprises only part of the United Kingdom, the word is an acceptable substitute for ‘Britain’ so long as the latter has been used repeatedly previously in the story. While not being *entirely* accurate it’s used to in such cases to add word variety.
      Similarly, after writing ‘Soviet’ in a passage of writing a few times, ‘Russia’ is an acceptable alternative.

      PS — Not an American.

  4. 21 November, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    There’s an interesting black legend surrounding British-Bolivian relations. It is based on some historical events, but the more extreme details are more interesting than true.

    What happened was the Bolivian dictator, Mariano Melgarejo, took the British ambassador’s refusal to drink chicha during a toast to the dictator’s mistress as a slight; so he forced the ambassador to drink a huge bowl of it through a funnel and then paraded him backwards on a donkey through the town square.

    The ambassador was expelled and he went to see queen Victoria. The queen declared they would send a naval expedition to bombard the Bolivian capital, but she relented when she was told the capital laid hundreds on miles inland and thousands of feet above sea level. Instead she exclaimed “Bolivia does not exist!” and crossed it off the map.

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