Map of the Day: Where the Brits never invaded

The British Empire used to be pretty darned big. It was said that the sun never set on England (and it still might not).

A new map is making the rounds that shows the places where the British have invaded. Of the nearly 200 countries out there, the Brits have invaded all but 22. That is just about 90% of all countries!

Mongolia, the Ivory Coast, Bolivia and Sweden are among the selective group of making it to 2013 without a British invasion.  Here is the map showing where (pink) the British have invaded.


The data comes from the new book All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To. Author Stuart Laycock went through the history of every country in the world to see where the Brits invaded.

The author spoke with The Telegraph about his two years of research and the results. He said France may be in second place with most countries invaded and says he hopes people will challenge his findings to determine whether or not he is right or some countries on the no list were actually invaded.

“I was absolutely staggered when I reached the total. I like to think I have a relatively good general knowledge. But there are places where it hadn’t occurred to me that these things had ever happened. It shocked me,” said Laycock to the Telegraph.

“Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don’t think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century.”

The Telegraph lists some of the more surprising entries;

Iceland, invaded in 1940 by the British after the neutral nation refused to enter the war on the Allies side. The invasion force, of 745 marines, met with strong protest from the Iceland government, but no resistance.

HT Snippets of Random


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a Maine-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]

  • NicoleMN6

    Where can I find a list of the 22 countries the Brits never invaded?

  • Sophie

    Not that weird. I bet a similar list for Sweden would include most of the northern hemisphere.

    • Andrew Craig-Bennett

      Gustavus Adolphus and Charles the Twelfth were both pretty active in the invasion business, and if we go back a few centuries more…

      • John

        Sweden occupied at time most of the Baltic coasts, even a part of Germany/Denmark on the North Sea coast.

        • Oscar

          You speak of recognised ownership, above and indeed the whole article is about invading. Swedish forces have been to practially all continental countries north of the alps, whilst at its hight, the Swedish empire formally ruled only the baltic coasts.

    • Pubert Plumbottum

      yeah you mean northern europe i hope. remind me when sweden invaded :
      and Algeria
      my point is unless u consider vikings as swedes, use the term “northern hemisphere” a little better

  • Cardoso

    since when did Britain ever invaded Portugal?

    • zanevorhis


    • Andrew Craig-Bennett

      1807-1812 en route to Spain to defeat Napoleon.

    • jedpc

      Depends on your definition of invasion – I would say we never have, we were there at the request of the legimate government of the day to help them beat back a French invasion by Napolean.

    • Zealot

      Exactly. To consider that Britain invaded Portugal in the Napoleonic wars is the same thing to consider that USA and Canada troops invaded Britain in WWII when deploying troops for “D-Day”. It’s ridiculous and this report loses credibility because of this.

      • skafka

        The UK is still home to US bases, WW2 has been over quiet a while.

      • Oscar

        Ehm, no. Portugal was actually occupied briefly by French troops so the more appropriate analogy would be to claim that the allied Invasion of occupied France in ww2 was an invasion – which it was, called the invasion of Normandy.

        • Zealot

          I fear that we will end up in a semantic argument about the words “occupation” and “invasion”. While there were French troops in Portuguese soil marching to Lisbon, they were thwarted three times by a contingent of British and Portuguese troops. It’s in no way comparable to the entrenched German troops in Normandy because the French troops were on the move and the British troops were already stationed and busy with defensive manoeuvres. Hence, not an invasion.

    • Oscar

      Between 1580 and 1640 Portugal was governed by the kings of Spain, ressulting in the portugeese empire of tradingposts to be mostly lost to dutch, native, regional and in some cases english hostilities. Mostly though the English secretly kept good relations in hope of a future independent Portugal. This period along with the Napoleonic wars could be the strongest candidates for “british”( English) “invasions”.

  • César Cedeño

    As far as I know, they never invaded Ecuador

    • Nico

      William Hague mused about invading Ecuadorian territory last year to kidnap the Wikileaks guy but it was just bluff thankfully.

      • César Cedeño

        Thankfully for them mostly cuz anyone who decides to take the fight against our military in our turf is up for a damm bloody and discouraging assault.

        • pubert plumbottum

          not doubting ur guys strength… but ecuador isnt exactly built to fight a place like britain who have been fighting since the romans with few breaks

        • Mark

          Erm I think he meant the Ecuador embassy in Britain. I see you have a lot of patriotism there, but I doubt the Ecuador military would have done much about that.

  • Nathan Hale

    The last 22 actually fell to the British Invasion… and Beatlemania….

  • KaptKan1 .

    They should show the same map of all the lands the US empire has never invaded and/or installed a military base.

    • TheRuleOfLaw

      The U.S. Empire is part of Britain, and always has been.

      • Phlemmy

        No it isn’t you twat.

        • TheRuleOfLaw

          Do your research. It most certainly is. Idiot

          • John

            I think you mean the Anglo Saxon empire.

          • TheRuleOfLaw


            The City of London has three branches, and three distinct locations that it operates from:

            Finance – London
            Military – U.S./Washington D.C.
            Religious/Social – Rome (Vatican)

            The take over of America happened in in 2 phases. 1871, when the U.S. Gov’t formed itself as a corporation, not under the Constitution, but under laws of a corporation. The final phase happened in 1913 with the Federal Reserve Act.

            The U.S. Gov’t also declared bankruptcy in 1933, the Constitution was suspended, & FDR signed an EO which allowed the U.S. to continue operating.

            That EO is still in effect today.

          • ASCB

            Do you do stand-up?

          • TheRuleOfLaw

            Do your research buffoon. If you cared to even do 5 minutes in research of which I speak of then you will retract your ridiculous question.

  • Richard

    Add Bolivia to the list. The War Of the Pacific, when Chile conquered the Bolivian coastal province, was promoted and financed by British companies after the guano deposits. In the 1880s the best raw materials for nitrogen for gunpowder

    • John

      British troops did not invaded or occupy the land.


    Desperately needed: a map of the nations and territories where the U.S. has military bases and/or JSOC and/or CIA teams.

    • Steve M.

      A start…


        Thank you. How can I open a kmz file?

        • Squintly

          google earth

  • Ipse Dixit

    And what a coincidence it is that the biggest imperialist of today is descended directly from the biggest imperialist of yesterday.

    • John

      The Anglo Saxon empire.

  • Robert Enders

    Wasn’t Belarus part of Russia during the Russian Civil War/ World War I when British and American troops dropped by to fight Bolsheviks?

    • Evrus Microdotismus

      yes it was indeed!

  • Jim

    You are wrong. It was never said that “the sun never sets on England”. England and “Britain” are not interchangeable. No matter how many times ill-informed people say they are.

    • Oscar

      The phrase was actually coined by Spanish in the 1500s to apply to their empire. As it wasn’t a lie to make this claim for the much later British Empire, brits stole the phrase.

  • garibaldi

    Guatemala was invaded too. Belice was part of Guatemala until it was invaded and taken away by the Brits. Paraguay got involved in a war with Brazil when Brazil invaded Uruguay. The Brazilians were having a rough time, so the British created theTriple Alliance, whose text was discused and approved by the British Parliament before it was signed by the Governments of Brasil, Argentina and Uruguay.

  • NeilMc1

    I believe Botswana was never invaded. It was a Protectorate at their request.

    • OooKhalid

      not coerced into requesting, ofcourse.

      • NeilMc1

        Absolutely not. In fact the three chieftans travelled to the UK to lobby for the Protectorate status as they were being threatened on all sides by Rhodes, the Germans in Namibia etc. The UK reluctantly agreed.

        • John

          The Brits ended up with and empire they never really wanted. A recent poll in Jamaica wanted the country to become a British Territory and under UK law. In short back in the empire. Fiji requested to be in the British empire.

          • Oscar

            Maybe it’s actually wrong to claim Britain explicitly aspired to become an Empire, but the government did support the following aspirations: Safe trade routs, safe markets, economically safe home isles, militarily safe home isles, the spread of civlized ideas, safe production sites, less continental power, safe supportive logistical strategic postitions, and so on which all combined with the ability to do it suggests Empire to be a practical solution. Today Empire is no longer a solution to Britains needs.

  • a greatly surprised Finn

    I would very much like to know when the Brits invaded Finland. Unti 1809 Finland was a part of Sweden and between 1809 and 1917 a Grand Duchy within the Russian empire. Under neither regimes Brittain certainly did now invade Finland. In Crimean war Britain indeed war in war with Finland, and few british ships did some attacks on on minor Finnish coastal towns, but did not ‘invade’ even the smallest parts of the country.

    Under the second world war Finland was indeed on the losing German side, but was not invaded by anyone, certainly not by the British.

    • Lihaliemikuutio

      That’s incorrect. They occupied a number of islands (Isosaari, for example) during the crimean was, and also bombed Petsamo during the continuation war.

      • John

        Bombing a place and invading is very different. The British declared war on Finland in WW2 as Finland was a co-belligerent of Germany. One of the few instances of a democratic country declaring war on another – if you could call Finland democratic, as they banned certain political groups. However the USA did not declare war on Finland.

        • Lihaliemikuutio

          The soviet sockpuppet party being banned hardly makes Finland undemocratic. As to bombing vs. invading, note the bit about the crimean war.

        • Oscar

          I think the premiss of the book is actually that some kind of violent act directed at that countrys territory occured and that this was sponsored if not directed by british officialls. The Petsamo bombings thus suffice while the crimean war might or might not depending on the definition of a country.

    • John

      The Soviets invaded Finland in WW2.

    • Patrick Sullivan

      When Brits sent forces to block Soviet revolution, they prabably entered Finland?! My bet is many Finns & Russians wish they had succeeded!

  • Mark Tolman

    What a load of crap. If you must prey upon peoples lack of historical knowledge, do so factually.

  • Daaaaaaaaaaarlin

    …When have the Brits invaded Poland?
    Poland was pretty much invisible to everyone else til it started getting partitioned, then it *poof* disappeared from the map for like a hundred years, and then it returned only to be taken over in WW2 when it was the Germans who invaded, and not the British.

    • Francesca

      Russia also wasn’t invaded by the Brits but by the Germans; Bing at war with a nation doesn’t mean that an invasion and colonisation has taken place youy dummy anahistoric crreature…

      • reiver97

        British troops, along with those of 14 other nations, invaded Russia in 1918 to support those seeking to overthrow the Soviet government.

        • John

          The Crimea war in 1855.

      • estonian

        During Crieman war Brits ivaded small island called Naissaar in Estonia, since Estonia was then part of russian empire, that counts as invasion to Russia. Period.

        • estonian


  • Francesca

    could the author enlighten me and inform WHEN DID BRASIL + ARGENTINA +Mexico, Italy, ……. were invaded by the British? Malvinas isn’t in territorial Argentina; Brasil when Portuguese colony was invaded by the Dutch, Mexico was invaded by the USA, Italy was invaded by a coaition of USA British and others… How inaccurate… BUT that doesn’t make British imperialism any less greedy..

    • Claudia

      1806 and 1807, Argentine was still under a Spain goverment

    • John

      You will find that the British were more concerned at securing trade routes tan occupying land for the sake of it. They did this which all others benefitted from.

    • Oscar

      Beeing in a coalition doesn’t mean that country isn’t participating as a sovereign military in its own right. No coalition ever had their own, unified military force but consisted of the forces of each participant. NATO for example has no military, its members does.

  • Evrus Microdotismus

    thats why we write in english here from different nationalities, languages, cultures… this is a good advantage i guess. connecting people :)

    • John

      Hitler admired the British empire not wanting its dismembering.

  • Mel Gibson’s Cousin

    Yet again “Britain” and “England” are seamlessly substituted……Britain does not mean England!!

    The sooner we vote out of this Union the better

    • OooKhalid

      they flew the british flag after they defeated their enemies. not the english one afaik.

    • Oscar

      In the book, Britain is seen as a successor state of England, or continuation if you want. Note that scottish invasions like the wars with Norway does not count. This does not neglect or exclude the view that Scotland is also succeded or continued as Britain. Remember that it is all constructed just to simply find a country that did invaded the most others and makes no further suggestions on the terminology of political science or indeed preferences of individual citizens in the british isles

  • Jay Unique

    evil imperialists undeniably! tricking, polluting, robbing, killing and enslaving! but yeh go on ffs discuss if this n that is right about the article…

    • truth sayer

      everyone was doing it, they just did it better

      • Bhrat Daswani

        no, only britian turned invasion and plunder into a mechanised system and set the world alight. The world wars and the subsequent conflicts in the middle east are directly linked to britains wonderlust for wealth and power and the mental ills of the society at large.

  • Craig McGeady

    I don’t believe Britain ever invaded Korea, North, South or Unified.

  • nanana

    created a war against paraguay with the uruguayan, brazilian and
    argentinian army back in late 19th century, It applies for an invation.

    • Nico

      Good point. An invasion by proxy, using British weapons for British economic goals that laid waste to the country.

      • John

        Invasion is direct occupation of land. Supplying weapons does not count, otherwise China has invaded the would as would have the USA and UK. Being on the same allied side and one of the allies invades does not count.

        • pubert

          ummm who did china tell to attack USA/UK?

  • Sardar Kami Khan

    They never invaded Afghanistan though they tried so many time.Even they had Sikh Army from Subcontinent who were great fighters during that Era but they were buried in sand too that s for sure.

    • John

      Britain did invade Afghanistan and semi ruled the place. British forces that there right now, although not “invading”.

    • Oscar

      As the tried invasions actually crossed the border, the invasions was carried out. Eternal occupation or successfull operations are not definitions of Invasion.

  • Kyle

    To suggest that England/Britain “invaded” North America is slightly misleading. Further, the “invasions” of France included deposing the dictator Napoleon and the Nazi regime the following century. The invasion of Russia was aimed at stopping the Bolshevik Revolution, which later claimed the lives of tens of millions of innocent Eurasian people.

    Let’s also remind everyone that the largest parliamentary, multi-cultural democracy (India) in the world are a direct result of British influence, and that the Anglo-phone countries that were “invaded” have led the world in humanitarian efforts, education, and economic development (US, Australia, Canada).

    • John

      Fighting on an opponents soil and invading to permanently occupy that soil is very different. In 1812 the USA decaled war on the UK. UK forces moved south from Canada to repel the invading USAians and defeated them on their soil, then moved out not wanting the place.
      Moving into French held territory in North America is definitely invading.

      • DaveAtherton20

        I thought the 1812-14 war was about the USA annexing Canada? Also the USA was supporting France in the Napoleonic wars.

      • Oscar

        Invasion is simply any military operation aimed at seizing enemy territory in what would constitute an operation larger than that of a sortie or raid, which both also have more limited purposes. To carry out larger ground operations on the opponents soil would necessitate an invasion of some sort. There is no time-phrame necessary by which the invading force need to be present at a location, nor any specific size of the territory seized.
        A cross-border counter-offensive such as those in the war of 1812 could qualify as an invasion as from the opponents point of view the facts on the ground during such an event would be exactly the same. This will and must be allowed to create confusion, as what could have been planned as a larger raid could turn into an invasion due to its success or need of assistance or just simply justifiably be viewed as such by the opponent due to the consequences beeing exactly the same.
        Also in the war of 1812 british forces landed near New Orleans and Delaware Bay in large enough numbers to disqualify them as mere raids despite the fact that the nature of these operations changed, back and forth between beeing attempts to strike hard and end the war into becoming more raid-like in light of their failure.

    • Rosie

      Misleading how? Ask the Natives of North America if they count it as an invasion.

  • Kyle

    Interesting – I posted here but I guess my views don’t align with the moderator’s as it has been deleted. How liberal.

  • Finlandia woman

    Finland was never invaded by Brits, just like someone said in an earlier comment.

    • John

      I was. Finnish islands were occupied in the Crimea war.

  • Brian Powell

    It all really depends on your meaning of invaded but, Paraquay has a very seriously large Welsh background.

  • A

    Pretty sure Thailand has never been invaded?

    • John

      British troops did occupy some Thai territory in WW2.

  • John

    Invaded? mmmmmmmmmm The author has to get his facts right.
    An, e.g., the UK has never invaded Finland. The UK has fought against Finland, as they were belligerents with Germany, but not invaded. No UK troops were on Finnish soil.

  • John

    The world’s largest ever empire is the USA empire. It is an economic empire and does not occupy land.

    • DaveAtherton20

      At its height we ruled 1/5th of the world’s land mass and 1/4 of the world’s population.

    • Oscar

      USA is more like a power, the most powerfull power ever, but it’s not an Empire according to my understanding that an empire has to have formal power over its subjects. USA only has strong cultural and economical influence and military might. Now, that said, beeing outside the british empire and beeing outside the US might have enough similar effects for an outside party to deem the differences uninportant

  • John

    Being invited in and invading are not the same thing.

  • TimJones

    I question the accuracy of this. Please san someone tell me when Britain invaded: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greenland, Laos, Latvia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, South Korea, Switzerland and Uzbekistan? Is having troops in a country in support of its government being counted as invasion? And is supporting a UN security council resolution being counted as an invasion?

    • Oscar

      I think they cheat on what constitute an invasion but most of those you mentioned actually saw british armed forces at some point. For example, there was a lot of british “assistance” to newborn states going on at the end of ww1 and Russian revolution.

  • Question

    Did Britain ever invade/occupy Korea?

    • Oscar

      Britains BCFKs 1st Commonwealth Division were a mayor part of the UN-coalition ground operations to defend South Korea against the North in the Korean war (1950-1953) which in its middle phase was fought in the North

  • Oscar

    They missed one!
    Between 1810 and 1812 a Royal Navy fleet operated in the baltics using a swedish island (Hanö) that they occupied unresisted in the only really warlike action of that mockery war, during which trading relations was maintained and no further violence where commited. Never the less, british forces thus invaded swedish territory and Sweden should not be left out,

  • pubert plumbottum

    i believe part of ivory coast was attacked by brits when it was under french occupation

  • Ana Sanchez

    With regards to Central America: as far as I know, Britain only invaded and took possession of what is now the independent country Belize (then called “British Honduras” to differentiate it from the other Honduras, to the south). Where are the facts for this map? And is it worth replicating this ambitious information?

  • Ana Sanchez

    I meant AMBIGUOUS information. (Auto-correct!)

  • John Wong

    This is quite wrong, the British never actually invaded Thailand along with a few other places on this list.

  • questions

    They can far as far as Japan and Korea?
    Didn’t know that Britain invaded Japan and Korea.
    When was that?

  • questions

    They came as far as Japan and Korea?
    Didn’t know that Britain invaded Japan and Korea.
    When was that?

  • Haleyita

    I don’t remember invading Balkan countries as well. Except if he thinks are we watching English based movies?

  • Leonardo

    And some think that the monarchy system is the reason why UK is wealthy.

  • Vishal

    I think Brits didn’t invaded Nepal too. Yes, Nepal did lost some parts of its territory during signing a treaty. But,Nepal was never under their control.

  • José

    What a stupid map and article! Britain never invaded Portugal.

  • Hell5x5x2 .
  • andychrist

    do one for the evil mongolians or the vicious alexanda

  • Morgan Parker

    Sweden should be on the “invaded” list. Cnut the Great was king of Denmark, Britain, Norway and part of Sweden, so he must have invaded… but I did not find a record on my short internet search.

  • Purna Gurung

    what a load of crap…..Nepal was neither colonized nor conquered by the british. Though a treaty was signed and nepal did loose some parts but the british were never in control. Do some homework….

  • nik

    But the chickens came home to roost with WW1 and WW2.

  • ……..

    Thailand wasn’t invaded by England!!

  • Prakash Kafle

    Nepal was never colonised by the Brit! Brave Gurkha

  • Bikash Shrestha

    what about nepal then?

  • Viv Reddy

    Greedy bastards.

  • man

    When did Brits ever invade Nepal? Inaccurate study.

  • joly

    LOL…this map is so wrong!! I advise author to learn something about history before posting such thing. Not even the brits would go so far in distorting the history.