Current British overseas territories

Posted in Geography 2

The British overseas territories are 14 territories throughout the world that are under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom (UK). They are not classed as part of the UK, although, from 2002, the inhabitants of all but one again have full British citizenship.

Restrictions on the rights of abode and work had first been placed on citizens from the then colonies by an Act of 1971. Following the government statement that the Crown Colony of Hong Kong would be returned to China when the British lease expired, an Act was passed in January, 1982, which separated citizens of the colonies into a new class of citizenship. Prior to that, one citizenship, "Citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and Colonies", had sufficed. As of 1 January, 1983, colonials became British: British Dependent Territories Citizens, with the name of the newly 'dependent territory' following in parentheses. The reason for a year being allowed to pass before the Act went into effect was to allow the local governments of the Colonies to lodge protests. The only colony which protested was the Falkland Islands, which was invaded by Argentina in that year. Full British citizenship was later returned to citizens in Gibraltar following their difficulties with Spain. Many citizens in the remaining territories saw this exclusion of all but those two territories with an overwhelmingly white population as revealing a racial imperative. A similar suspicion was widely harboured about the distinction made between the Dependent Territories and the British Crown Dependencies (see below). Conservative Party back benchers had reported that it was the policy of the party then in Government to return full British citizenship to the Dependent Territories (a term which caused great ire within those territories, especially in Bermuda) once Hong Kong had returned to China, but the official policy of the Government made no reference to this. In any case, the Conservative Party was no longer in power after the return of Hong Kong. The Labour Party, in its victorious campaign under Tony Blair, however, declared that the Dependent Territories had been 'hard-done by', and that a single citizenship would again encompass them, repairing rights of abode and work in the UK, as well as within the European Union. This was not the Labour Party's highest priority, however, and the press of other business meant that it failed to make good on its promise during its first term in Government.

The House of Lords finally tabled and passed its own bill, passing it down to the House of Commons for confirmation, the reverse of the normal procedure. The territories are the last remaining overseas possessions of the British Empire that have not chosen independence. This can be due to several different reasons ranging from a wish to retain ties with the United Kingdom; while others are small or uninhabited lands that cannot become independent.  

  Territory Capital Population
  Anguilla The Valley 12,800
  Bermuda Hamilton 64,482
  British Antarctic Territory none 200 staff
  British Indian Ocean Territory none 3,200 military and staff
  British Virgin Islands Road Town 21,730
  Cayman Islands George Town 41,934
  Falkland Islands Stanley 2,967
  Gibraltar Gibraltar 27,776
  Montserrat Plymouth 9,000
  Pitcairn Islands Adamstown 50
  Saint Helena (including Ascension , Tristan da Cunha and Gough )   Jamestown 6,563
  South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands King Edward Point /Grytviken 11-26 staff
  Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia none 15,000 military and staff  
  Turks and Caicos Islands Cockburn Town 19,500

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