The British Have Invaded 90% Of The World

Apparently, the Brits used to like go around invading other countries:

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.


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.

I’m sure Luxembourg is safe. Right?

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jeremy says:

    I didn’t realize the Beatles traveled so much.

  2. Tim says:


    They didn’t. But the Stones, OMG! Those guys go EVERYWHERE!

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    That explains a lot – it’s part of our gene pool.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Americans are pikers….

  5. John Burgess says:

    You know why the sun never set on the British Empire?

    God didn’t trust them in the dark.

  6. I wonder what the definition of “invaded” is in the study, because based on my knowledge of Latin American history, I am not sure that that map makes sense. Now, if we are talking British influence, I might be onboard.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I saw the same thing Steven, but I chose snark, not fact.

  8. Lynda says:

    Given the number of my compatriots who live in Monaco to evade UK taxes there is a case for marking that pink as well….

  9. Miguel Madeira says:

    All British military interventions in Portugal were in alliance with the Portugueses against Spaniards/Castillians and/or Frenchs. This should be count as “invasion”?

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m also a little puzzled about the claim that the British invaded Switzerland. To the best of my knowledge Switzerland hasn’t been invaded since there’s been a Switzerland and the western cantons since before then.

  11. humanoid.panda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I think they include ‘gun boat diplomacy’ under the invasion rubric.

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I wonder what the definition of “invaded” is in the study, because based on my knowledge of Latin American history, I am not sure that that map makes sense.

    Agreed. “Invasion” seems to be used incredibly broadly to mean “suffered an armed attack” rather than an actual invasion and attempted occupation by an army.

    That said, I’d be very interested to see a map which showed all those countries in the world where US armed forces were in combat — I’d suspect there’d be a lot of overlap.

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Just look at Japan, which is colored pink in the map — yet as every schoolboy knows, Japan as a nation was never successfully invaded until 1945, when it unconditionally surrendered to the Allies (including the British) and then occupied. If this is counting as a British “invasion” of Japan then the term is being used loosely indeed.

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    In a way, this map is a testament to sea power, and to Britain’s favored position as an island. Many other nations would have loved to have projected their power around the globe as Britain did for hundreds of years, but were unable to because, as land-based powers, they were stuck only being able to strike as far as an army could march with its heavy artillery (and, more importantly, march back). But the Royal Navy allowed the British to be everywhere at once, to get there firstest with the mostest.

    It’s the same reason that the US has been able to fight in every inhabited continent on Earth, while other past expansionist powers such as the Ottoman Empire, the Hapsburgs, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, etc. were far more limited in their reach.

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    Looking at this map again, and overlaying those countries in which the US has fought against an enemy foe, it’s….not much different, actually. We haven’t fought in Western, Central and South Africa as much, and miss out on some but not all parts of South America, but pretty much everywhere else that’s colored pink, American armed forces have been in action.

  16. @Dave Schuler:

    I’m also a little puzzled about the claim that the British invaded Switzerland.

    They tried invading Switzerland during the Gugler War of 1375:

  17. Miguel Madeira says:

    This could explain much:

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

    Including the “British invasion” of Portugal:

    He then occupied the Portuguese town of Sagres for a time and finally, in the Azores (a group of islands in the North Atlantic), seized a large Portuguese carrack (ship) with a rich cargo bound homeward from Goa.

  18. Jon Danzig says:

    Following the report of this story in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, I commented in the readers section that it appeared the British have been “the world’s most prolific illegal immigrants”.

    Almost 100 Telegraph readers recommended my comment. But the Telegraph’s editors didn’t approve of the anti-British Empire sentiment, and censored it. For the full story go to:

    Short URL: