English Language Blog

British Territories Around the World Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in Culture

Image of Bermuda by kansasphoto on Flickr.com.

Image of Bermuda by kansasphoto on Flickr.com.

Great Britain was once known as ‘the great colonizer’ as it sent fleets of ships across the seven seas to explore and take over large parts of the world. From the 16th to the 18th centuries Great Britain was building an empire on far off large continents and tiny islands (where ships often landed on long journeys). Today, Great Britain continues to have strong connection with many of its former colonies and territories some that you may be familiar with, include: New Zealand, Australia, or Canada. Other former colonies or territories of Great Britain have completely severed their ties with the former colonizer, such as: India, Hong Kong, and the United States.

Today we are going to take a quick look at some of the remaining British Overseas Territories. These are some of Great Britain’s lesser known former colonies. The British Overseas Territories are small island nations. These territories have decided to remain connected to Great Britain (i.e. the reigning British monarch is their head of state), while having their own internal leadership. One of the reasons I am choosing to highlight these interesting little island nations is because some of them make wonderful exotic destinations where you can go to practice your English! So, let’s take a look at few.

The Cayman Islands is a set of three islands that are located in the Caribbean Ocean. The British took control of these islands way back in 1670, but they did not become an Overseas Territory until 1962. People have been speaking English on this island for a long time, with the first permanent English-speaking residents dating back to the early 1700s. Reportedly the Cayman Islands were uninhabited before the 1600s, as they have no archeological evidence of an indigenous population.  The Cayman Islands are known for their tropical beauty and recreational sports such as boating and scuba diving. The islands are perhaps better known for their “offshore financial” dealings. The Cayman Islands are one of a few low-tax jurisdictions that provide financial services to nonresidents. This type of country is often called a “tax haven.”

Bermuda is an archipelago (or group of islands) in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Although this archipelago was first “discovered” by the Spanish it was colonized by the British. Bermuda is both the oldest British Overseas Territory and the one with the largest population (current population 64,000). Bermuda is also a popular tourist destination, even though it is a long ways away from either Europe or North America.  Many people travel to Bermuda on cruises or just to spend a few relaxing weeks out in the middle of the Atlantic. Many people know about Bermuda because of the infamous “Bermuda Triangle.” The Bermuda Triangle is a triangular-shaped area in the western Atlantic Ocean (Bermuda forms one point of this triangle), where many ships and even airplanes are reported to have mysteriously disappeared over the years.

The Pitcairn Islands are four volcanic islands found in the southern Pacific Ocean.  These islands were first inhabited by Polynesians, but were reportedly uninhabited when they were “discovered” in the early 1600s by Europeans. Due to the islands’ remote location for many years after the their discovery the islands remained uninhabited. The islands’ population today primary consists of descendants of mutineers (or sailors who rebelled against their captain and took over the ship) from the ship Bounty. The peak population on these small islands was only ever 233 people. Today there are only 50 full-time inhabitants on the Pitcairn Islands. In fact the Pitcairn Islands are the least populated national jurisdiction in the world!

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a group of islands found in the far southern Atlantic Ocean. These islands probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list in terms of tourist destinations, although there is some work to be found here if you are looking for a job. The territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands was formed in 1985, but the British have had a presence on these islands since the late 1700s. This group of islands is often described as “inhospitable,” but people do live here. British government officials, a postmaster, scientists (and their support staff) and a museum staff all live on these islands. Much of the work done on these islands is connected to the scientific work in Antarctica as these islands are pretty close to the frozen continent. There is no native population on South Georgia or the South Sandwich Islands.

The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Pitcairns, and South Georgia are just four of the fourteen British Overseas Territories, and just some of the many places in the world where English is the official language.

Tags: , , ,
Keep learning English with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.