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British Raj

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Indian Empire

1909 Map of the British Indian Empire, showing British India in two shades of pink and the princely states in yellow.
1909 Map of the British Indian Empire, showing British India in two shades of pink and the princely states in yellow.
StatusImperial political structure (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)[2]
CapitalCalcutta (1858–1911)
New Delhi (1911–1947)
Common languages
Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism
GovernmentBritish Colonial Government
Monarch of the United Kingdom and Emperor/Empressa 
• 1858–1901
• 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)
LegislatureImperial Legislative Council
23 June 1757 & 10 May 1857
2 August 1858
18 July 1947
14 and 15 August 1947
CurrencyIndian rupee
ISO 3166 codeIN
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Company rule in India
Mughal Empire
Dominion of India
Dominion of Pakistan
  1. Title of Emperor/Empress of India existed 1876–1948
  2. Full title was "Viceroy and Governor-General of India"

The British Raj is a term: "Raj" is a word in the Hindi language which means "rule", so "British Raj" means rule by the British Empire in Southern Asia. This rule ended in 1947. It was over parts of what are now five countries, the Republic of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma (now Myanmar). At that time, these countries were all part of the British Indian Empire, known at the time as the Indian Empire and sometimes called the "British Raj".[3][4]

The term "British Raj" is used to talk of the direct British rule over areas which had been conquered by the British, known as British India. This includes the British influence over many independent princely states. These areas were governed by their own traditional rulers, but 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 ended on 15 August 1947. Boundaries between India and Pakistan came into effect on the 18th of that month. Many people died as a result of the partition of India into these parts.

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.

The 1861 census showed that the English population in the subcontinent was 125,945. Of these only about 41,862 were civilians as compared with 84,083 European officers and men of the Army.[5] In 1880, the standing Indian Army consisted of 66,000 British soldiers, 130,000 Natives, and 350,000 soldiers in the princely armies.[6]


  1. Charles Capwell (1987). Sourindro Mohun Tagore and the National Anthem Project. University of Illinois Press. pp. 407. doi:10.2307/851664 . 
  2. Interpretation Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vict. c. 63), s. 18.
  3. Bowen H.V; Mancke, Elizabeth; Reid, John G. 2012. Britain's Oceanic Empire: Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds c1550–1850. Cambridge University Press
  4. Mansergh, Nicholas 1974. Constitutional relations between Britain and India. London: HMSO.
  5. Ernst, W. (1996). "European Madness and Gender in Nineteenth-century British India". Social History of Medicine 9 (3): 357–82. doi:10.1093/shm/9.3.357 . PMID 11618727 . 
  6. Robinson, Ronald Edward, & John Gallagher. 1968. Africa and the Victorians: the climax of imperialism. Garden City, NY: Doubleday "'Send the Mild Hindoo:' The Simultaneous Expansion of British Suffrage and Empire∗".