chapter  3
Pages 14

In the last two decades of the nineteenth century the major European powers engaged in a competition for territory in several parts of the underdeveloped world. More than one contemporary used the phrase a ‘partition of the world’ to describe this phenomenon, which affected the Pacific, the Far East and Africa. Of the powers ‘scrambling’ for empire, Britain emerged with the most substantial gains. It has been calculated that, between 1874 and 1902, Britain acquired an additional 4,750,000 square miles of territory, together with authority over almost 90 million people.1 Her gains included the annexation of numerous South Pacific islands, the imposition of British authorities upon several Malay states and the conquest of Upper Burma.