During the reign of Victoria, Great Britain was in contact with various colonies; starting during the second half of the 16th century it ruled over 4 million square miles and more than 400 million people.
Britain developed its imperial expansion thanks to its domination of the seas; in the Gulf of Guinea Britain placed safe harbours (from there ships sailed up to the eastern coast and into the Indian Ocean). Further evidence of British influence was the adoption of Greenwich Mean Time, established at the International Meridian Conference.
India came under rule by Britain and Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India in 1877 and India was incorporated into the British Empire; the title continued until India became independent in 1947. During the Victorian age British occupied Australia, New Zealand, parts of China and expanded in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Within 1880 and 1890 Britain took over Egypt to protect its routes through the Suez Canal and later Sudan. Britain was able to shape imperial and colonial policy gradually, it produced an empire united in name but varied in fact.
Civil pride and national fervour was frequent in the late 19th century. Patriotism was influenced by ideas of racial superiority; was believed that the world was divided by physical and intellectual differences.
in the second half of the 19th century, ideological conflicts were beginning to undermine the self-confident attitude; changes regarded scientific achievements, industrialisation, sexuality, religion and the growing pessimism that began to affect intellectuals and artists. In 1859 Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution in On The Origin of Species, based on the theory of “natural selection”; Darwin’s theory discarded the version of creation given by the Bible, the strongest survived and the weakest deserved to be defeated (Herbert Spencer applied his ideas to social life).