British Overseas Territories

The British Government maintains sovereignty overall territory belonging to the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man. As well as this, the Government Owns 14 overseas territories, remnants of the British Empire, which have autonomous control of their internal affairs, with the British responsible for Defence and World Affairs.

The 14 Territories are:

1) Akrotira and Dhekelia

This territory is made up of two army bases on the Island of Cyprus that are under British Control. They comprise about 3% of the Islands total area.

The acting capital for the territory is called Episkopi Cantonment, located in the middle of the bases. The bases were created in 1960, when Cyprus gained independence from the British Empire, and the British retained control of the bases so there was a permanent military presence in the area.

2) Anguilla

Anguilla is located in the Caribbean, and is made up of a number of islands, the main one being Anguilla itself. It is around 16 miles and 3 miles wide, and the capital city of the territory is called The Valley, which has a population of just over 1000 people.

Anguilla was colonised by the English in 1650, and after a brief period of occupation by French Forces in 1666, it was returned to English Control and became British when the United Kingdom was formed in 1707.

3) Bermuda

Bermuda is made up of one large island, 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina, United States. The Spanish were the first European’s to claim the island after discovering it in 1503, and was taken over in 1609 by the English Virginia Company, who founded a settlement. Their charter was revoked in 1684, and the English took over full control.

The capital city of Bermuda is called Hamilton, and has almost 2000 inhabitants. It is located at the main port in Bermuda, and was created in 1790 when land was set aside for the building of a new capital by the Bermuda Government. It was completed by 1815 and the Government moved from the former capital of St George’s.

4) British Antarctic Territory

The territory comprises of a sector of Antarctica between longitudes 20°W and 80°W and south of  60°S latitude. It forms a wedge shape extending to the South Pole and overlaps the Antarctic claims of Argentina and Chile. Although it was officially formed on March 3rd 1962, the UK has had claims to this portion of the Antarctic since the Letters Patent of 1908 and 1917.

The serving capital of the British Antarctic territory is Rothera, a research station located on Adelaide Island. It is the BAS (British Antarctic Survey) logistics centre for the Antarctic and is home to well-equipped biological laboratories and facilities. In the summer, there is a non-permanent population of scientists and support staff.

5) British Indian Ocean Territory

 The Indian Ocean Territory, also known as the Chagos Islands, lies around halfway between the counties of Tanzania and Indonesia, and is made up of over 1000 islands in an archipelago. The UK captured Mauritius in 1810, then controlled by France, and it was ceded to the UK. It was split from Mauritius by the United Kingdom in 1965, to allow a joint military facility to be built for the benefit of both the UK and the USA.

The main island is called Diego Garcia, 1970 miles away from Tanzania. There is still a military base there today and it acts as the capital of the territory. There are no native inhabitants, as they were resettled to allow the base to be built. The only inhabitants are 3000 British and American Military Personnel.

6) British Virgin Islands

 The Virgin Islands were first discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus on his way to America. The Spanish claim they discovered the islands in the 16th century, but they never introduced a colony and various nations fought for control he islands. The Danish were successful in 1648, but the English invaded and annexed the rest of the main islands in 1672 and 1680. Some of the outer islands were retaken by the Dutch and sold on to the United States in 1917, leading to the United States Virgin Islands colony.

 The Capital city is called Road Town, and is located on Tortola, the largest of the islands. The other main islands are called Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, which are supplemented by over 50 small islands.

7) Cayman Islands

 The Cayman Islands are in the west Caribbean, close to Cuba and Jamaica. there were no inhabitants until the 17th century and the first permanent settler was Isaac Bodden, born in 1661. His grandfather was one of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers that deserted from the invasion of Jamaica in 1655. England took both Jamaica and the islands in the 1730’s. Jamaica became an independent country in 1962, but the islands remained under British control.

George Town is the territories capital, on Grand Cayman, the largest of the three main islands, the other two being Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. It is a major financial destination with nearly 600 Bank and Trust Companies located here. It also has a much larger population than most other British Territory capitals, with nearly 28 000 inhabitants.

8) Falkland Islands

 The Falkland Islands were discovered in 1690 when the Englishman John Strong arrived in the area. There were no permanent settlers until 1764 when the French created Port Louis on East Falkland, one of the two main islands making up the territory, the other being West Falkland. The Spanish, British and French made different claims over the islands until all nations left by 1811 to avoid a war. Buenos Aires in Argentina made a claim to all Spanish territories in the area after they gained independence from Spain, and they took control. In 1832 the British arrived and retook the islands. Argentina has since made constant claims that they own the islands and have tried to regain sovereignty, even going so far as to invade in 1982, however the British Army easily repelled the attacks and retook the islands in just 2 months. The Islands have voted to remain British in various referendums and look set to remain under British control for the foreseeable future.

 The Capital city is called Port Stanley, on East Falkland island. There around 2100 people living there, and it is the main settlement in the territory, containing the Government House, Museum and War Memorials.

9) Gibraltar

 Gibraltar is an unusual territory, as it isn’t an island, or part of an island group. It is a small peninsula a few miles long that sticks out from a border with Spain, looking out towards Morocco in Africa. It contains a large rock/cliff in the centre that is a major landmark, and there are ferries over to Morocco. The area has been inhabited for centuries, and in 1704 a joint Dutch and English force invaded and took the peninsula. The invasion was in support of a pretender to the Spanish Throne, who subsequently ceded Gibraltar to the British, who retain it today. Spain still asserts claims over the area, but in referendums Gibraltar has always voted by a very large majority to remain British.

As it is only a few miles long and a mile wide, Gibraltar is almost a city state and is it’s own capital, with a City Hall and Government Buildings.


10) Montserrat

Blue field with Union Jack in the top left corner and coat of arms in the field.




11) Pitcain Islands




12) St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha




13) South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands




14) Turks and Caicos Islands


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