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United Kingdom
France (Overseas)
Netherlands
Antarctica

Overseas Territories

Of the four sections on this page, the first three are about overseas territories of three of Europe's greatest (former) colonial powers, and the fourth is about a place where seven countries have claims.

The United Kingdom

As of 2012, the UK has 14 Overseas Territories.  From the end of the Empire until 1981 they were known as Crown Colonies; from 1981 to 2002 they were known as British Dependent Territories.

Flat, low–lying island in the Caribbean – one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands; its name is a 'latinised' form of the Spanish word for an eel, in reference to its shape Click to show or hide the answer
Group of islands in the North Atlantic, named after the Spanish sea captain who discovered them in 1505; nearest land is in North Carolina; 2010 population 64,237, far more than any of the other 13.  Capital Hamilton Click to show or hide the answer
By far the largest of the 14 (area 660,000 square miles) but no permanent population Click to show or hide the answer
The six atolls of the Chagos Archipelago – largest Diego Garcia; a US and UK military base with no native population Click to show or hide the answer
Over 50 Caribbean islands including Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke; 23,000 of the 27,800 population live on Tortola Click to show or hide the answer
South of Cuba, 180 miles West of Jamaica: name derived from the local (native) word for an alligator Click to show or hide the answer
South Atlantic archipelago, capital Stanley Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's last European possession Click to show or hide the answer
Island in the Leeward Islands, capital Plymouth; two–thirds of the population evacuated in 1995 after the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted Click to show or hide the answer
Four volcanic islands in the South Pacific (including Henderson, Ducie and Oeno); first settled by British citizens in 1790; capital Adamstown Click to show or hide the answer
Three widely–scattered islands in the South Atlantic; capital Jamestown Click to show or hide the answer
Principal settlement Grytviken; capital King Edward Point Click to show or hide the answer
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia form a British Dependent Territory on Click to show or hide the answer
Two groups of islands in the West Indies, geographically part of the Bahamas; capital Cockburn Town Click to show or hide the answer

France

Regions and départements

As integral parts of France and the European Union, France's overseas departments are represented in the National Assembly, Senate, and Economic and Social Council. They vote to elect members of the European Parliament (MEP), and use the euro as their currency. Each overseas department is a region with only one département.

The only one on a continental mainland (South America); capital Cayenne Click to show or hide the answer
Caribbean island where Columbus is said to have discovered the pineapple; named by him after a monastery in Spain; capital Basse–Terre Click to show or hide the answer
Caribbean island: capital Fort–de–France Click to show or hide the answer
Island in the Comoro group (between Madagascar and the African mainland –Mozambique) Click to show or hide the answer
Island in the Indian Ocean – east of Madagascar, 130 miles south–west of Mauritius; capital Saint–Denis Click to show or hide the answer

Collectivities

The five French collectivités d'outre–mer (overseas collectivities) have a distinct status from the regions and départements, but are "first–order" administrative divisions of France with a "certain freedom of administration".

Group of Pacific islands, the most famous of which is Tahiti Click to show or hide the answer
One of the Leeward Islands Click to show or hide the answer
One of the Leeward Islands: (northern half; southern half is one of the four countries that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands) Click to show or hide the answer
Islands off Newfoundland (actually joined by a tombolo) that form an "overseas collectivity" of France – the last remnant of New France Click to show or hide the answer
Three small islands in the Pacific Click to show or hide the answer

Special Status

An archipelago south of Vanuatu, about 750 miles off the north–coast of Australia; power is gradually being transferred to local govenrment, but the people voted in 2018 against independence Click to show or hide the answer

Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is made up of four "countries":

An island in the Leeward Antilles, capital Oranjestad Click to show or hide the answer
A larger island in the Leeward Antilles, capital Willemstad Click to show or hide the answer
The main bit! Includes three more Caribbean islands: Saba, St. Eustatius (both in the Leeward Islands, south of Saint Martin and north–west of St. Kitts) and Bonaire (another island in the Leeward Antilles) Click to show or hide the answer
The southern half of one of the Leeward Islands (the other half belongs to France) Click to show or hide the answer

Note: the Leeward Antilles are distinct from the Leeward Islands – they are a third main group that make up the Lesser Antilles. They are distributed off the coast of Venezuela

Antarctica

Seven countries have claims to parts of Antarctica. Four of these claimed territories are named after the country that makes the claim:

Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

The three countries with claims to parts of Antarctica that have more interesting names are:

Adélie Land Click to show or hide the answer
Ross Dependency Click to show or hide the answer
Peter I Island, Queen Maud Land Click to show or hide the answer

These claims have been recognized only between the countries making claims. The UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway all recognise each other's claims. Part of the British Antarctica Territory is claimed by Argentina, and there has been speculation that Brazil may claim part of this disputed territory.

Most of these territories are bordered by lines of longitude; in other words, they radiate from the South Pole itself. The exception is Peter I Island, which is on the border between the Chilean zone and the neutral territory (see below).

The area that includes the South Shetland Islands is claimed by both Argentina and the UK. The area that includes the South Orkney Islands is claimed by Argentina, Chile and the UK.

For a map showing the South Shetland and South Orkney Islands – along with the Falklands, South Georgia and parts of the mainlands of Antarctica and South America (nicked from Bing Maps), please click here.

The section of Antarctica that's not claimed by any country Click to show or hide the answer

This name was originally given by the American Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, in honour of his wife, to the part of the area that was that was discovered and explored during his expedition in 1929. It was later applied to the whole of that sector of Antarctica.

Note that neither the USA nor Russia currently has any claim anywhere in Antarctica, but each has large research facilities in the sectors of other countries and has reserved the right to make claims.

© Haydn Thompson 2017–19