Colonialism is a dirty word. It’s not used these days (although it should be). It ranks along with imperialism (which also exists).
But, back to the ‘facts’. Britain no longer has crown colonies. It has two crown dependencies – the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and 14 British Overseas Territories. The overseas territories have had various name changes (crown colonies, dependent territories) but this is the current one.
• British Antarctic Territory
• British Indian Ocean Territory
• British Virgin Islands
• Cayman Islands
• Falkland Islands
• Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
• St Helena and St Helena Dependencies (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha)
• South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
• Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
• The Turks & Caicos Islands
The Overseas Territories
The Overseas Territories are very diverse; with thousands of small islands, vast areas of ocean, but also in Antarctica, land six times the size of the United Kingdom. They include one of the world’s richest communities, in Bermuda; the most remote community, in Tristan da Cunha and one of the smallest, with only 54 people living on Pitcairn Island. The total population of the territories is roughly a quarter of a million.
Quote from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.
The UK government published an extremely good white paper (to my surprise) on overseas territories at the end of June. Should you wish to read 90 or so pages here is the link to the Overseas Territories White Paper.
I did in fact read it when I went for my interview at the Governor’s office here in Gib under the misguided illusion it might be relevant. Those of you who read my post on Clouds will know that it was more on the lines of what do you do about an invasion of cockroaches? (Answers: 1) scream and call for husband and 2) grab tin of spray, shut eyes, and spray wildly – hoping someone else will clean up the dead ones).
What about other countries?
I thought a comparison with a few colonial competitors would be useful:
France, of course, likes to make life trés complicated. It has the overseas regions of:
Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion.
French Polynesia, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna. (That last one sounds like a shop)
a sui generis collectivity: New Caledonia
one overseas territory: French Southern and Antarctic Lands
an uninhabited island in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico: Clipperton Island
The Netherlands has the Dutch Antilles (which apparently are no longer called that as they have changed their status too):
Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Eustatius, Sin Maarten, Saba, and Suriname.
Denmark has Greenland and the Faroe Isles.
Norway has Bouvet Island, Jan Mayen and, Svalbard. Wherever they may be.
But what about newer countries? Well Australia and New Zealand have a few far flung outposts.
Australia: Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island.
New Zealand: Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau.
And the USA? Well, they rank up there with the UK and France in numbers:
American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Wake Island.
As for the other big-hitting world power – China has Hong Kong and Macau. The South China Sea Islands are claimed by China, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia.
Other multiple claims exist in Antarctica. Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the UK all happily claim their chunk of ice. Apparently the USA doesn’t recognise any of these claims. Why not?
On colonisation the United Nations has a list of 16 non-self-governing territories. This is a bizarre list that needless, to state, includes Gibraltar.
There are ten British territories on the list, three American, plus one for New Zealand, one for France, and the Western Sahara.
The UN holds conferences (of course) on decolonisation of these places. Just because we aren’t called a colony any more doesn’t mean we aren’t one – according to the UN. So Gibraltar attends the G24 to state its case. The UK doesn’t like to because it considers the colonies have been decolonised. Cristina Kirchner attends because she wants the Malvinas. Um, Cristina – wouldn’t that be called colonisation by another name?
If people want independence great. If they are happy with the status quo – why fiddle with it?
Anyway, here in British colonial Gibraltar, we held the last ceremonial mounting of the guard this year at the weekend.
The governor and his pals hang out on the balcony, and the huge banner for the jubilee is on the offices of Solomon Levy, a Gibraltarian who is well-known for his British patriotism.
I must say the band routine has changed. They don’t do that clever trick where they turn round and walk within each other. But nevertheless, I took an acceptable vid so you all can enjoy a little bit of Britishness. From Gibraltar.