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Events of her reign

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Britain fought in the Opium War (1839-1842) in China and acquired the island of Hong Kong. Britain also fought in the Crimean War (1853-1856) against Russia, and in the Boer war (1899-1902) in order to protect its interests in southern Africa.

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In 1858, control of India was transferred from the East India Company, a trading firm, to the British government. Victoria was proclaimed empress of India in 1876. Britain seized control of Egypt and many other areas. British colonies united in Australia and Canada, and these countries became important members of the growing British Empire.

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The development of a world wide colonial empire made Britain the richest country in the world. Britain ended restrictions on foreign trade, and its colonies became both sources of raw material and markets for its manufactured goods. Britain was called the workshop of the world. The British Empire included a fourth of the world's land and a fourth of its people.

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The population of Britain itself increased 50 percent during Victoria's reign, and Britain changed from mainly an agricultural to mainly and industrial nation. More people won the right to vote, and local government became increasingly democratic. The British Parliament passed acts that improved labor conditions, required all children to attend school, and reformed the civil service. In Ireland, the Church of Ireland was separated from the government, and the land system was reformed.