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British is the adjective and demonym associated with Great Britain and the United Kingdom. It may refer to:


  • British people, Britons, or Brits, citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, one of the Channel Islands, or of one of the British overseas territories, and their descendants
  • Britons (historical), ancient Celtic inhabitants of the southern portion of the island of Great Britain
  • British nationality law, which governs the citizens of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the British Crown dependencies


  • British English, the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom
  • British language (Celtic), also known as Brythonic, the ancient Celtic language once spoken in Britain, ancestral to Welsh, Cornish and Breton


  • British Isles, are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include Great Britain, Ireland and over six-thousand smaller islands
  • British Islands, a legal term describing the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, collectively
  • British Empire, the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BRITISH 1 EAS' `Africa Scale, i :9,000.00a apital of Protectorate .......... .......... - Capitals of Provinces Railways still smaller Lakes Nakuro(5845ft.)and Elmenteita (5860 ft.),followed in turn by that of Lakes Hannington and Baringo. Beyond Baringo the valley is drained north into Lake Sugota, in 2° N., some 35 m. long, while north of this lies the much larger Lake Rudolf, the valley becoming here somewhat less defined.

On the west of the rift-valley the wall of cliffs is best marked between the equator and I° S., where it is known as the Mau Escarpment, and about I° N., where the Elgeyo Escarpment falls to a longitudinal valley separated from Lake Baringo by the ridge of Kamasia. Opposite Lake Naivasha the Mau Escarpment is over 8000 ft. high. Its crest is covered with a vast forest. To the south the woods become more open, and the plateau falls to an open country drained towards the Dogilani plains. On the west the cultivated districts of Sotik and Lumbwa, broken by wooded heights, fall towards Victoria Nyanza. The Mau plateau reaches a height of 9000 ft. on the equator, north of which is the somewhat lower Nandi country, well watered and partly forested. In the treeless plateau of Uasin Gishu, west of Elgeyo, the land again rises to a height of over 8000 ft., and to the west of this is the great mountain mass of Elgon. East of Lake Rudolf and south of Lake Stefanie is a large waterless steppe, mainly volcanic in character, from which rise mountain ranges. The highest peak is Mount Kanjora, 6900 ft. high. South of this arid region, strewn with great lava stones, are the Rendile uplands, affording pasturage for thousands of camels. Running north-west and south-east between Lake Stefanie and the Daua tributary of the Juba is a mountain range with a steep escarpment towards the south. It is known as the Goro Escarpment, and at its eastern end it forms the boundary between the protectorate and Abyssinia. South-east of it the country is largely level bush covered plain, mainly waterless.

Table of contents


The geological formations of British East Africa occur in four regions possessing distinct physiographical features. The coast plain, narrow in the south and rising somewhat steeply, consists of recent rocks. The foot plateau which succeeds is composed of sedimentary rocks dating from Trias to Jurassic. The ancient plateau commencing at Taru extends to the borders of Kikuyu and is composed of ancient crystalline rocks on which immense quantities of volcanic rocks - post-Jurassic to Recent - have accumulated to form the volcanic plateau of Central East Africa.

The formations recognized are given in the following table: - Sedimentary.

i. Alluvium and superficial sands.

2. Modern lake deposits, living coral rock.

3. Raised coral rock, conglomerate of Mombasa Island.

4. Gravels with flint implements.

5. Glacial beds of Kenya.

6. Shales and limestones of Changamwe.

7. Flags and sandstones.

8. Grits and shales of Masara and Taru.

9. Shales of the Sabaki river.

to. Schists and quartzites of Nandi.

Gneisses, schists, granites.

Igneous and Volcanic. Recent. Active, dormant and extinct volcanoes.

Post-Jurassic Kibo and volcanoes of the rift-valley.

to Pleistocene Kimawenzi, Kenya and plateau eruptions.


These rocks prevail in the districts of Taru, Nandi and throughout Ukamba. A course gneiss is the predominant rock, but is associated with garnetiferous mica-schists and much intrusive granite. Hornblende schists and beds of metamorphic limestone are rare. Cherty quartzites interbedded with mylonites occur on the flanks of the Nandi hills, but their age is not known.


From shales on the Sabaki river Dr Gregory obtained fish-scales and specimens of Palaeanodonta Fischeri. Karroo. - The grits of Masara, near Rabai mission station and Mombasa, have yielded specimens of Glossopteris browniana var. indica, thus indicating their Karroo age.


Shales and limestones of this age are well seen along the railway near Changamwe. They contain gigantic ammonites. According to Dr Waagen the ammonites show a striking analogy to forms from the Acanthicus zone of East India. Belemnites are plentiful.


These are feebly represented by some boulder beds on the higher slopes of Kilimanjaro and Kenya. They show that in Pleistocene times the glaciers of Kilimanjaro and Kenya extended much farther down the mountain slopes.


The ancient and more modern lake deposits have so far yielded no mammalian or other organic remains of interest.

Igneous and Volcanic

A belt of volcanic rocks, over 150,000 sq. m. in area, extends from beyond the southern to beyond the northern territorial limits. They belong to an older and a newer set. The older group commenced with a series of fissure eruptions along the site of the present rift-valley and parallel with it. From these fissures immense and repeated flows of lava spread over the Kapte and Laikipia plateaus. At about the same time, or a little later, Kenya and Kimawenzi, Elgon and Chibcharagnani were in eruption. The age of these volcanic outbursts cannot be more definitely stated than that they are post-Jurassic, and probably extended through Cretaceous into early Tertiary times. This great volcanic period was followed by the eruptions of Kibo and some of the larger volcanoes of the rift-valley. The flows from Kibo include nepheline and leucite basanite lavas rich in soda felspars. They bear a close resemblance to the Norwegian "Rhombenporphyrs." The chain of volcanic cones along the northern lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, those of the Kyulu mountains, Donyo Longonot and numerous craters in the rift-valley region, are of a slightly more recent date. A few of the volcanoes in the latter region have only recently become extinct; a few may be only dormant. Donyo Buru still emits small quantities of steam, while Mount Teleki, in the neighbourhood of Lake Rudolf, was in eruption at the close of the 19th century.] Climate, Flora and Fauna. - In its climate and vegetation British East Africa again shows an arrangement of zones parallel to the coast. The coast region is hot but is generally more healthy than the coast lands of other tropical countries, this being due to the constant beeeze from the Indian Ocean and to the dryness of the soil. The rainfall on the coast is about 35 in. a year, the temperature tropical. The succeeding plains and the outer plateaus are more arid. Farther inland the highlands - in which term may be included all districts over 5000 ft. high - are very healthy, fever being almost unknown. The average temperature is about 66° F. in the cool season and 73° F. in the hot season. Over 7000 ft. the climate becomes distinctly colder and frosts are experienced. The average rainfall in the highlands is between 40 and 50 in. The country bordering Victoria Nyanza is typically tropical; the rainfall exceeds 60 in. in the year, and this region is quite unsuitable to Europeans. The hottest period throughout the protectorate is December to April, the coolest, July to September. The "greater rains" fall from March to June, the "smaller rains" in November and December. The rainfall is not, however, as regular as is usual in countries within the tropics, and severe droughts are occasionally experienced.

In the districts bordering Victoria Nyanza the flora resembles that of Uganda. The characteristic trees of the coast regions are the mangrove and coco-nut palm. Ebony grows in the scrubjungle. Vast forests of olives and junipers are found on the Mau escarpment; the cotton, fig and bamboo on the Kikuyu escarpment; and in several regions are dense forests of great trees whose lowest branches are 50 ft. from the ground. Two varieties of the valuable rubber-vine, Landolphia florida and Landolphia Kirkii, are found near the coast and in the forests. The higher mountains preserve distinct species, the surviving remnants of the flora of a cooler period. The fauna is not abundant except in large mammals, which are very numerous on the drier steppes. They include the camel (confined to the arid northern regions), elephant (more and more restricted to unfrequented districts), rhinoceros, buffalo, many kinds of antelope, zebra, giraffe, hippopotamus, lion and other carnivora, and numerous monkeys. In many parts the rhinoceros is particularly abundant and dangerous. Crocodiles are common in the larger rivers and in Victoria Nyanza. Snakes are somewhat rare, the most dangerous being the puff-adder. Centipedes and scorpions, as well as mosquitoes and other insects, are also less common than in most tropical countries. In some districts bees are exceedingly numerous. The birds include the ostrich, stork, bustard and secretary-bird among the larger varieties, the guinea fowl, various kinds of spur fowl, and the lesser bustard, the wild pigeon, weaver and hornbill. By the banks of lakes and rivers are to be seen thousands of cranes, pelicans and flamingoes.


The white population is chiefly in the Kikuyu uplands, the rift-valley, and in the Kenya region. The whites are mostly agriculturists. There arc also numbers of Indian settlers in the same districts. The African races include representatives of various stocks, as the country forms a borderland between the Negro and Hamitic peoples, and contains many tribes of doubtful affinities. The Bantu division of the negroes is represented chiefly in the south, the principal tribes being the Wakamba, Wakikuyu and Wanyika. By the north-east shores of Victoria Nyanza dwell the Kavirondo, a race remarkable among the tribes of the protectorate for their nudity. Nilotic tribes, including the Nandi (q.v.), Lumbwa, Suk and Turkana, are found in the north-west. Of Hamitic strain are the Masai, a race of cattle-rearers speaking a Nilotic language, who occupy part of the uplands bordering on the eastern rift-valley. A branch of the Masai which has adopted the settled life of agriculturists is known as the Wakuafi. The Galla section of the Hamites is represented, among others, by Borani living Recent .

Pleistocene Jurassic Karroo. Carboniferous ? Archaean. .

south of the Goro Escarpment (though the true Boran countries are Liban and Dirri in Abyssinian territory), while Somali occupy the country between the Tana and Juba rivers. Of the Somali tribes the Herti dwell near the coast and are more or less stationary. Further inland is the nomadic tribe of Ogaden Somali. The Gurre, another Somali tribe, occupy the country south of the lower Daua. Primitive hunting tribes are the Wandorobo in Masailand, and scattered tribes of small stature in various parts. The coast-land contains a mixed population of Swahili, Arab and Indian immigrants, and representatives of numerous interior tribes.

Provinces and Towns

The protectorate has been divided into the provinces of Seyyidie (the south coast province, capital Mombasa); Ukamba, which occupies the centre of the protectorate (capital Nairobi); Kenya, the district of Mt. Kenya (capital Fort Hall); Tanaland, to the north of the two provinces first named (capital Lamu); Jubaland, the northern region (capital Kismayu); Naivasha (capital Naivasha); and Kisumu (capital Kisumu); each being in turn divided into districts and sub-districts. Naivasha and Kisumu, which adjoin the Victoria Nyanza, formed at first the eastern province of Uganda, but were transferred to the East Africa protectorate on the ist of April 1902. The thief port of the protectorate is Mombasa (q.v.) with a population of about 30,000. The harbour on the south-west side of Mombasa island is known as Kilindini, the terminus of the Uganda railway. On the mainland, nearly oppositeMombasa town, is the settlement of freed slaves named Freretown, after Sir Bartle Frere. Freretown (called by the natives Kisaoni) is the headquarters in East Africa of the Church Missionary Society. It is the residence of the bishop of the diocese of Mombasa and possesses a fine church and mission house. Lamu, on the island of the same name, 150 m. north-east of Mombasa, is an ancient settlement and the headquarters of the coast Arabs. Here are some Portuguese ruins, and a large Arab city is buried beneath the sands. The other towns of note on the coast are Malindi, Patta, Kipini and Kismayu. At Malindi, the "Melind" of Paradise Lost, is the pillar erected by Vasco da Gama when he visited the port in 1498. The harbour is very shallow. Kismayu, the northernmost port of the protectorate, 320 m. north-east of Mombasa, is the last sheltered anchorage on the east coast and is invaluable as a harbour of refuge. Flourishing towns have grown up along the Uganda railway. The most important, Nairobi (q.v.), 327 m. from Mombasa, 257 from Port Florence, was chosen in 1907 as the administrative capital of the protectorate. Naivasha, 64 m. north-north-west of Nairobi, lies in the rift-valley close to Lake Naivasha, and is 6230 ft. above the sea. It enjoys an excellent climate and is the centre of a European agricultural settlement. Kisumu or Port Florence (a term confined to the harbour) is a flourishing town built on a hill overlooking Victoria Nyanza. It is the entrepot for the trade of Uganda.


Much has been done to open up the country by means of roads, including a trunk road from Mombasa, by Kibwezi in the upper Sabaki basin, and Lake Naivasha, to Berkeley Bay on Victoria Nyanza. But the most important engineering work undertaken in the protectorate was the construction of a railway from Mombasa to Victoria Nyanza, for which a preliminary survey was executed in 1892, and on which work was begun in 1896. The line chosen roughly coincides with that of the road, until the equator is reached, after which it strikes by a more direct route across the Mau plateau to the lake, which it reaches at Port Florence on Kavirondo Gulf. The railway is 584 m. long and is of metre (3.28 ft.) gauge, the Sudan, and South and Central African lines being of 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. The Uganda railway is essentially a mountain line, with gradients of one in fifty and one in sixty. From Mombasa it crosses to the mainland by a bridge half a mile long, and ascends the plateau till it reaches the edge of the rift-valley, 346 m. from its starting point, at the Kikuyu Escarpment, where it is 7600 ft. above the sea. It then descends across ravines bridged by viaducts to the valley floor, dropping to a level of 6011 ft., and next ascending the opposite (Mau) escarpment to the summit, 8321 ft. above sealevel - the highest point on the line. In the remaining 100 m. of its course the level sinks to 3738 ft., the altitude of the station at Port Florence. The railway was built by the British government at a cost of £5,331,000, or about £9500 per mile. The first locomotive reached Victoria Nyanza on the 26th of December 1901; and the permanent way was practically completed by March 1903, when Sir George Whitehouse, the engineer who had been in charge of the construction from the beginning, resigned his post. The railway, by doing away with the carriage of goods by men, gave the final deathblow to the slave trade in that part of East Africa. It also facilitated the continued occupation and development of Uganda, which was, previous to its construction, an almost impossible task, owing to the prohibitive cost of the carriage of goods from the coast - £60 per ton. The two avowed objects of the railway - the destruction of the slave trade and the securing of the British position in Uganda - have been attained; moreover, the railway by opening up land suitable for European settlement has also done much towards making a prosperous colony of the protectorate, which was regarded before the advent of the line as little better than a desert (see below, History). The railway also shows a fair return on the capital expenditure, the surplus after defraying all working expenses being £ 56,000 in 1905-1906 and £76,000 in 1906-1907.

Mombasa is visited by the boats of several steamship companies, the German East Africa line maintaining a fortnightly service from Hamburg. There is also a regular service to and from India. A cable connecting Mombasa with Zanzibar puts the protectorate in direct telegraphic communication with the rest of the world. There is also an inland system of telegraphs connecting the chief towns with one another and with Uganda.

Agriculture and other Industries

In the coast region and by the shores of Victoria Nyanza the products are tropical, and cultivation is mainly in the hands of the natives or of Indian immigrants. There are, however, numerous plantations owned by Europeans. Rice, maize and other grains are raised in large quantities; cotton and tobacco are cultivated. The coco-nut palm plantations yield copra of excellent quality, and the bark of the mangrove trees is exported for tanning purposes. In some inland districts beans of the castor oil plant, which grows in great abundance, are a lucrative article of trade. The sugar-cane, which grows freely in various places, is cultivated by the natives. The collection of rubber likewise employs numbers of people.

Among the European settlers in the higher regions much attention is devoted to the production of vegetables, and very large crops of potatoes are raised. Oats, barley, wheat and coffee are also grown. The uplands are peculiarly adapted for the raising of stock, and many of the white settlers possess large flocks and herds. Merino sheep have been introduced from Australia. Ostrich farms have also been established. Clover, lucerne, ryegrass and similar grasses have been introduced to improve and vary the fodder. Other vegetable products of economic value are many varieties of timber trees, and fibre-producing plants, which are abundant in the scrub regions between the coast and the higher land bordering the riftvalley. Over the greater part of the country the soil is light reddish loam; in the eastern plains it is a heavy black loam. As a rule it is easily cultivated. While the majority of the African tribes in the territory are not averse from agricultural labour, the number of men available for work on European holdings is small. Moreover, on some of the land most suited for cultivation by white men there is no native population.

In addition to the fibre industry and cotton ginning there are factories for the curing of bacon. Native industries include the weaving of cloth and the making of mats and baskets. Stone and lime quarries are worked, and copper is found in the Tsavo district. Diamonds have been discovered in the Thika river, one of the headstreams.of the Tana.


The imports consist largely of textiles, hardware and manufactured goods from India and Europe; Great Britain and India between them supplying over 50% of the total imports. Of other countries Germany has the leading share in the trade. The exports, which include the larger part of the external trade of Uganda, are chiefly copra, hides and skins, grains, potatoes, rubber, ivory, chillies, beeswax, cotton and fibre. The retail trade is largely in the hands of Indians. The value of the exports rose from £89,858 in 1900-1901 to £234,664 in 1904-1905, in which year the value of the imports for the first time exceeded £500,000. In 1906-1907 the volume of trade was £1,194,352, imports being valued at £753,647 and exports at £440,705. The United States takes 33% of the exports, Great Britain coming next with 15%.


The system of government resembles that of a British crown colony. At the head of the administration is a governor, who has a deputy styled lieutenant-governor, provincial commissioners presiding over each province. There are also executive and legislative councils, unofficial nominated members serving on the last-named council. In the "ten-mile strip" (see below, History), the sultan of Zanzibar being territorial sovereign, the laws of Islam apply to the native and Arab population. The extraterritorial jurisdiction granted by the sultan to various Powers was in 1907 transferred to Great Britain. Domestic slavery formerly existed; but on the advice of the British government a decree was issued by the sultan on the 1st of August 1890, enacting that no one born after that date could be a slave, and this was followed in 1907 by a decree abolishing the legal status of slavery. In the rest of the protectorate slavery is not recognized in any form. Legislation is by ordinances made by the governor, with the assent of the legislative council. The judicial system is based on Indian models, though in cases in which Africans are concerned regard is had to native customs. Europeans have the right to trial by jury in serious cases. There is a police force of about 2000 men, and two battalions of the King's African Rifles are stationed in the protectorate. Revenue is derived chiefly from customs, licences and excise, railway earnings, and posts and telegraphs. Natives pay a hut tax. Since the completion of the Uganda railway, trade, and consequently revenue, has increased greatly. In 190o-1901 the revenue was £64,275 and the expenditure £193,438; in 1904-1905 the figures were: revenue £154,756, expenditure £3 02 ,559; in 1905-1906 the totals were £270,362 and £418,839, and in 1906-1907 (when the railway figures were included for the first time) £461,362 and £616,088. The deficiencies were made good by grants-in-aid from the imperial exchequer. The standard coin used is the rupee (r6d.).

Education is chiefly in the hands of the missionary societies, which maintain many schools where instruction is given in handicrafts, as well as in the ordinary branches of elementary education. There are Arab schools in Mombasa, and government schools for Europeans and Indians at Nairobi.


From the 8th century to the 11th Arabs and Persians made settlements along the coast and gained political supremacy at many places, leading to the formation of the so-called Zenj empire. The history of the coast towns from that time until the establishment of British rule is identified with that of Zanzibar (q. v.). The interior of what is now British East Africa was first made known in the middle of the 19th century by the German missionaries Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann, and by Baron Karl von der Decken (1833-1865) and others. Von der Decken and three other Europeans were murdered by Somali at a town called Bardera in October 1865, whilst exploring the Juba river. The countries east of Victoria Nyanza (Masailand, &c.) were, however, first traversed throughout their whole extent by the Scottish traveller Joseph Thomson in 1883-1884. In 1888 Count S. Teleki (a Hungarian) discovered Lakes Rudolf and Stefanie.

The growth of British interests in the country now forming the protectorate arises from its connexion with the sultanate of Zanzibar. At Zanzibar British influence was very strong in the last quarter of the 19th century, and the seyyid or sultan, Bargash, depended greatly on the advice of the British representative, Sir John Kirk. In 1877 Bargash offered to Mr (afterwards Sir) William Mackinnon (1823-1893), chairman of the British India Steam Navigation Company, a merchant in whom he had great confidence, or to a company to be formed by him, a lease for 70 years of the customs and administration of the whole of the mainland dominions of Zanzibar including, with certain reservations, rights of sovereignty. This was declined owing to a lack of support by the foreign office, and concessions obtained in 1884 by Mr (afterwards Sir) H. H. Johnston in the Kilimanjaro district were, at the time, disregarded. The large number of concessions acquired by Germans in 1884-1885 on the East African coast aroused, however, the interest of those who recognized the paramount importance of the maintenance of British influence in those regions. A British claim, ratified by an agreement with Germany in 1886, was made to the districts behind Mombasa; and in May 1887 Bargash granted to an association formed by Mackinnon a concession for the administration of so much of his mainland territory as lay outside the region which the British government had recognized as the German sphere of operations. By international agreement the mainland territories of the sultan were defined as extending 10 m. inland from the coast. Mackinnon's association, whose object was to open up the hinterland as well as this ten-mile strip, became the Imperial British East Africa Company by a founder's agreement of April 1888, and received formed. a royal charter in September of the same year. To this company the sultan made a further concession dated October 1888. On the faith of these concessions and the charters a sum of £240,000 was subscribed, and the company received formal charge of their concessions. The path of the company was speedily beset with difficulties, which in the first instance arose out of the aggressions of the German East African Company. This company had also received a grant from the sultan in October 1888, and its appearance on the coast was followed by grave disturbances among the tribes which had welcomed the British. This outbreak led to a joint British and German blockade, which seriously hampered trade operations. It had also been anticipated, in reliance on certain assurances of Prince Bismarck, emphasized by Lord Salisbury, that German enterprise in the interior of the country would be confined to the south of Victoria Nyanza. Unfortunately this expectation was not realized. Moreover German subjects put forward claims to coast districts, notably Lamu, within the company's sphere and in many ways obstructed the company's operations. In all these disputes the German government countenanced its own subjects, while the British foreign office did little or nothing to assist the company, sometimes directly discouraging its activity. Moreover, the company had agreed by the concession of October 1888 to pay a high revenue to the sultan - Bargash had died in the preceding March and the Germans were pressing his successor to give them a grant of Lam u - in lieu of the customs collected at the ports they took over. The disturbance caused by the German claims had a detrimental effect on trade and put a. considerable strain on the resources of the company. The action of the company in agreeing to onerous financial burdens was dictated partly by regard for imperial interests, which would have been seriously weakened had Lamu gone to the Germans.

By the hinterland doctrine, accepted both by Great Britain and Germany in the diplomatic correspondence of July 1887, Uganda would fall within Great Britain's "sphere of influence"; but German public opinion did not so regard the matter. German maps assigned the territory to Germany, while in England public opinion as strongly expected British influence to be paramount. In 1889 Karl Peters, a German official, led what was practically a raiding expedition into that country, after running a blockade of the ports. An expedition under F. J. Jackson had been sent by the company in the same year to Victoria Nyanza, but with instructions to avoid Uganda. In consequence of representations from Uganda, and of tidings he received of Peters's doings, Jackson, however, determined to go to that country. Peters retired at Jackson's approach, claiming, nevertheless, to have made certain treaties which constituted "effective occupation." Peters's treaty was dated the 1st of March 1890: Jackson concluded another in April. Meantime negotiations were proceeding in Europe; and by the AngloGerman agreement of the 1st of July 1890 Uganda was assigned to the British sphere. To consolidate their position in Uganda - the French missionaries there were hostile to Great Britain - the company sent thither Captain F. D. Lugard, who reached Mengo, the capital, in December 1890 and established the authority of the company despite French intrigues. In July 1890 representatives of the powers assembled at Brussels had agreed on common efforts for the suppression of the slave trade. The interference of the company in Uganda had been a material step towards that object, which they sought to further and at the same time to open up the country by the construction of a railway from Mombasa to Victoria Nyanza. But their resources being inadequate for such an undertaking they sought imperial aid. Although Lord Salisbury, then prime minister, paid the highest tribute to the company's labours, and a preliminary grant for the survey had been practically agreed upon, the scheme was wrecked in parliament. At a later date, however, the railway was built entirely at government cost (supra, § Communications). Owing to the financial strain imposed upon it the company decided to withdraw Captain Lugard and his forces in August 1891; and eventually the British government assumed a protectorate over the country (see Uganda).

Further difficulties now arose which led finally to the extinction of the company. Its pecuniary interests sustained a severe blow owing to the British government - which had taken Zanzibar under its protection in November 1890 - declaring (June 1892) the dominions of the sultan within the free trade zone. This act extinguished the treaties regulating all tariffs and duties with foreign powers, and gave free trade all along the coast. The result for the company was that dues were now swept away without compensation, and the company was left saddled with the payment of the rent, and with the cost, in addition, of administration, the necessary revenue for which had been derived from the dues thus abolished. Moreover, a scheme of taxation which it drew up failed to gain the approval of the foreign office.

In every direction the company's affairs had drifted into an impasse. Plantations had been taken over on the coast and worked at a loss, money had been advanced to native traders and lost, and expectations of trade had been disappointed. At this crisis Sir William Mackinnon, the guiding spirit of the company, died (June 1893). At a meeting of shareholders on the 8th of May 1894 an offer to surrender the charter to the government was approved, though not without strong protests. Negotiations dragged on for over two years, and ultimately the terms of settlement were that the government should purchase the property, rights and assets of the company in East Africa for £250,000. Although the company had proved unprofitable for the shareholders (when its accounts were wound up they disclosed a total deficit of £193,757) it had accomplished a great deal of good work and had brought under British sway not only the head waters of the upper Nile, but a rich and healthy upland region admirably adapted for European colonization. To the judgment, foresight and patriotism of Sir William Mackinnon British East Africa practically owes its foundation. Sir William and his colleagues of the company were largely animated by humanitarian motives - the desire to suppress slavery and to improve the condition of the natives. With this aim they prohibited the drink traffic, started industrial missions, built roads, and administered impartial justice.; In the opinion of a later administrator (Sir C. Eliot), their work and that of their immediate successors was the greatest philanthropic achievement of the latter part of the 19th century.

On the 1st of July 1895 the formal transfer to the British crown of the territory administered by the company took place at Mombasa, the foreign office assuming responsibility for its administration. The territory, hitherto known as "Ibea," from the initials of the company, was now styled the East Africa protectorate. The small sultanate of Witu on the mainland opposite Lamu, from 1885 to 1890 a German protectorate, was included in the British protectorate. Coincident with the transfer of the administration to the imperial government a dispute as to the succession to a chieftainship in the Mazrui, the most important Arab family on the coast, led to a revolt which lasted ten months and involved much hard fighting. It ended in April 1896 in the flight of the rebel leaders to German territory, where they were interned. The rebellion marks an important epoch in the history of the protectorate as its suppression definitely substituted European for Arab influence. "Before the rebellion," says Sir C. Eliot, "the coast was a protected Arab state; since its suppression it has been growing into a British colony." From 1896, when the building of the Mombasa-Victoria Nyanza railway was begun, until 1903, when the line was practically completed, the energies of the administration were largely absorbed in that great work, and in establishing effective control over the Masai, Somali, and other tribes. The coast lands apart, the protectorate was regarded as valuable chiefly as being the high road to Uganda. But as the railway reached the high plateaus the discovery was made that there were large areas of land - very sparsely peopled - where the climate was excellent and where the conditions were favourable to European colonization. The completion of the railway, by affording transport facilities, made it practicable to open the country to settlers. The first application for land was made in April 1902 by the East Africa Syndicate - a company in which financiers belonging to the Chartered Company of South Africa were interested - which sought a grant of 500 sq. m.; and this was followed by other applications for considerable areas, a scheme being also propounded for a large Jewish settlement.

During 1903 the arrival of hundreds of prospective settlers, chiefly from South Africa, led to the decision to entertain no more applications for large areas of land, especially as questions were raised concerning the preservation for the Masai of their rights of pasturage. In the carrying out of this policy a dispute arose between Lord Lansdowne, foreign secretary, and Sir Charles Eliot, who had been commissioner since 1900. The foreign secretary, believing himself bound by pledges given to the syndicate, decided that they should be granted the lease of the 500 sq. m. they had applied for; but after consulting officials of the protectorate then in London, he refused Sir Charles Eliot permission to conclude leases for 50 sq. m. each to two applicants from South Africa. Sir Charles thereupon resigned his post, and in a public telegram to the prime minister, dated Mombasa, the 21st of June 1904, gave as his reason:- "Lord Lansdowne ordered me to refuse grants of land to certain. private persons while giving a monopoly of land on unduly advantageous terms to the East Africa Syndicate. I have refused to execute these instructions, which I consider unjust. and impolitic." 1 On the day Sir Charles sent this telegram the appointment of Sir Donald W. Stewart, the chief commissioner of Ashanti,, to succeed him was announced. Sir Donald induced the Masai whose grazing rights were threatened to remove to another district, and a settlement of the land claims was arranged. An. offer to the Zionist Association of land for colonization by Jews was declined in August 1905 by that body, after the receipt of a report by a commissioner sent to examine the land (6000 sq. m.) offered. Sir Donald Stewart died on the 1st of October 1905, and was succeeded by Colonel Hayes Sadler, the commissioner of Uganda. Meantime, in April 1905, the administration of the' protectorate had been transferred from the foreign to the colonial office. By the close of 1905 considerably over a million acres of land had been leased or sold by the protectorate authorities - about half of it for grazing purposes. In 1907, to meet the demands of the increasing number of white inhabitants, who had formed a Colonists' Association 2 for the promotion of their interests, a legislative council was established, and on this council representatives of the settlers were given seats. The style of the chief official was also altered, "governor" being substituted for "commissioner." In the same year a scheme was drawn up for assisting the immigration of British Indians to the regions adjacent to the coast and to Victoria Nyanza, districts not suitable for settlement by Europeans.

In general the relations of the British with the tribes of the interior have been satisfactory. The Somali in Jubaland have given some trouble, but the Masai, notwithstanding their warlike reputation, accepted peaceably the control of the whites. Thiswas due, in great measure, to the fact that at the period in question plague carried off their cattle wholesale and reduced them for years to a state of want and weakness which destroyed. their warlike habits. One of the most troublesome tribes proved to be the Nandi, who occupied the southern part of the plateau west of the Mau escarpment. They repeatedly raided their less warlike neighbours and committed wholesale thefts from the railway and telegraph lines. In September 1905 an expedition was sent against them which reduced the tribe to submission in. the following November; and early in 1906 the Nandi were removed into a reserve. The majority of the natives, unaccustomed to regular work, showed themselves averse from taking; service under the white farmers. The inadequacy of the labour supply was an early cause of trouble to the settlers, while the' labour regulations enforced led, during 1907-1908, to considerable' friction between the colonists and the administration.

For several years after the establishment of the protectorate' the northern region remained very little known and no attempt was made to administer the district. The natives were frequently raided by parties of Gallas and Abyssinians, and in the absence of a defined frontier Abyssinian government posts were pushed south to Lake Rudolf. The Abyssinians also made themselves masters of the Boran country. After long negotiations an agreement as to the boundary line between the lake and 1 See Correspondence relating to the Resignation of Sir C. Eliot, Africa, No. 8 (1904).

2 The Planters and Farmers' Association, as this organization was originally called, dates from 1903.

the river Juba was signed at Adis Ababa on the 6th of December 1907, and in 1908-1909 the frontier was delimited by an AngloAbyssinian commission, Major C. W. Gwynn being the chief British representative. Save for its north-eastern extremity Lake Rudolf was assigned to the British, Lake Stefanie falling to Abyssinia, while from about 4° 20' N. the Daua to its junction with the Juba became the frontier.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - The most comprehensive account of the protectorate to the close of 1904, especially of its economic resources, is The East Africa Protectorate, by Sir Charles Eliot (London, 1905). The progress of the protectorate is detailed in the Reports by the governor issued annually by the British government since 1896, and in Drumkey's Year Book for East Africa (Bombay), first issued in 1908. The Precis of Information concerning the British East Africa Protectorate (issued by the War Office, London, 1901) is chiefly valuable for its historical information. The work of the Imperial British East Africa Company is concisely and authoritatively told from official documents in British East Africa or Ibea, by P. L. McDermont (new ed., London, 1895). Another book, valuable for its historical perspective, is The Foundation of British East Africa, by J. W. Gregory (London, 1901). Bishop A. R. Tucker's Eighteen Years in Uganda and East Africa (London, 1908) contains a summary of missionary labours. Of the works of explorers Through Masai Land, by Joseph Thomson (London, 1886), is specially valuable. For the northern frontier see Capt. P. Maud's report in Africa No. 13 (1904). For geology see, besides Thomson's book, The Great Rift Valley, by J. W. Gregory (London, 1896); Across an East African Glacier, by Hans Meyer (London and Leipzig, 1890); and Report relating to the Geology of the East Africa Protectorate, by H. B. Muff (Colonial Office, London, 1908). For big game and ornithology see On Safari, by A. Chapman (London, 1908). The story of the building of the Uganda railway is summarized in the Final Report of the Uganda Railway Committee, Africa, No. II (1904), published by the British government. (F. R. C.)

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Most common English words: school « language « court « #752: British » meant » tears » expected


Old English Bryttisc "Britons" [1].


Proper noun




  1. With the, the citizens or inhabitants of Britain collectively.
  2. With the, the citizens or inhabitants of the United Kingdom collectively.
  3. (history) The ancient inhabitants of the southern part of Britain, also called ancient Britons.
  4. The British English language.


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British (comparative more British, superlative most British)


more British

most British

  1. of Britain
  2. of the United Kingdom
  3. (history) of the ancient inhabitants of the southern part of Britain. Also Brythonic.


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Simple English

A British person or object comes from the United Kingdom of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland. It is sometimes used by the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands (near France). It can also be used for some overseas places like Gibraltar (near Spain) or the Falkland Islands (near South America).

The term "British" is often used to describe something unique to the UK, for example 'the British way of life' or 'the British weather'. Sometimes it is accidentally used to describe some English, though it is usually over looked because English is British. Britain is not England, though.

A British person can also be called a Briton. A unique symbol of the "British" is the Union Jack flag which is recognised globally as a symbol of the United Kingdom.

Although being British is a collective identity, the countries of England, Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales have separate identities and flags which make them unique.

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