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British Raj

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Indian Empire
Imperial political structure (comprising British India, a quasi-federation of presidencies and provinces directly governed by the British Crown through the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, Princely States, governed by Indian rulers, under the suzerainty of The British Crown exercised through the Viceroy of India)[1]



"God Save the King/Queen" [2]
1909 Map of the British Indian Empire, showing British India in two shades of pink and the princely states in yellow.
Capital Calcutta (1858–1911)
New Delhi (1911–1947)
Religion Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism
Government British Colonial Government
Monarch of the United Kingdom and Emperor/Empressa
 - 1858–1901 Victoria
 - 1901–1910 Edward VII
 - 1910–1936 George V
 - 1936 Edward VIII
 - 1936–1947 George VI
 - 1858–1862 The 2nd Viscount Canning (first)
 - 1947 The 1st Viscount Mountbatten (last)
Secretary of State
 - 1858–1859 Lord Stanley (first)
 - 1947 The 5th Earl of Listowel (last)
Legislature Imperial Legislative Council
 - Battle of Plassey & Indian Rebellion 23 June 1757 & 10 May 1857
 - Government of India Act 2 August 1858
 - Indian Independence Act 18 July 1947
 - Partition of India 14 and 15 August 1947
Currency Indian rupee
Warning: Value not specified for "continent"

The British Raj is a term of history. "Raj" is a word in the Hindi language which means "rule", so "British Raj" means rule by the British in India. This rule was before 1947 and was over parts of what are now four countries, the Republic of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar At that time, these four countries were all part of the British Indian Empire, known at the time as the Indian Empire and sometimes now spoken of as the "British Raj".

The "British Raj" is used to talk of the direct British rule over areas which had been conquered by the British, known as British India, and also the British influence over hundreds of independent "princely states" ruled by their own Indian rulers, under the overall authority of the British crown.

Undivided India is another term which is used to mean the whole area of British rule, but it does not take in Burma, which from 1937 was a British colony on its own. The colony of Aden came under the same government in India from 1858 to 1937, and so did British Somaliland (now part of Somalia) from 1884 to 1898 and Singapore from 1858 to 1867.

British rule in Pakistan and the East Bengal region ended on 14 August 1947, while British rule in the rest of what had been British India ended on 15 August 1947, however the boundaries came into effect on the 18th of that month as two countries.

Jammu and Kashmir, like the other princely states, had not been under direct British rule. India and Pakistan have gone to war over this area, and it is now divided between them.


  1. Interpretation Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vict. c. 63), s. 18.
  2. Charles Capwell (1987). Sourindro Mohun Tagore and the National Anthem Project. University of Illinois Press. pp. 407. doi:10.2307/851664 .