Approximately 60 modern countries were formerly colonies of the British Empire. Notable modern countries among these include Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Nigeria, Malaysia, India, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and the United States. The empire was so vast that it spawned the saying, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”
The beginnings of the British Empire trace back to 1578. During the latter parts of the Empire’s reign, the British frequently clashed with the Netherlands over land in Asia. Additionally, France was a significant adversary at the time, as both nations tried to conquer as many areas as possible. The British Empire began collapsing shortly after World War I. Several factors contributed to the collapse of the empire, including the unwillingness of some of the colonies to continue to accept British rule and the incredible cost of maintaining such a vast empire. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 made it difficult for Britain to exercise control over its colonies. Accordingly, the empire was dissolved and replaced with a voluntary union, called the Britain Commonwealth of Nations.
In September 2014, the citizens of Scotland voted to reject a proposal for independence from the United Kingdom. This represents the first time a country voted to stay aligned with the former empire.