In 1900, the United Kingdom ruled an empire that covered one-fourth of the world’s land area.
By 1922, the British Empire rules over a population of about 458 million people, or about one-quarter of the world’s population at the time.
The empire slowly broke up, the result of two devastating world wars and the desire of most of the British colonies to gain independence.
Most of the remaining territories of the British Empire became independent at the end of the 20th century, and Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.
At its height the British Empire was the largest and most powerful empire in history, and it was often said that “the sun never sets on the British Empire”.