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The fourteen British Overseas Territories (BOT) are territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom, but not part of it. They are those parts of the former British Empire that have not chosen independence or have voted to remain British territories. While each has its own internal leadership, most being self-governing, they share the British monarch (Elizabeth II) as head of state.
The name "British Overseas Territory" was introduced by the British Indian Ocean Territory (used as a military base), the Territories retain permanent civilian populations. Permanent residency for the 7,000 or so civilians living in the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is limited to citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.
Collectively, the Territories encompass a population of about 350,000 people and a land area of about 667,018 square miles (1,727,570 km2). The vast majority of this, 660,000 square miles (1,700,000 km2), constitutes the British Antarctic Territory. The United Kingdom participates in the Antarctic Treaty System and, as part of a mutual agreement, the British Antarctic Territory is recognised by four of the other sovereign nations making claims to Antarctic territory.
Although the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are also under the sovereignty of the British Crown, they are in a different constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom. The British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are themselves distinct from the Commonwealth realms, a group of 15 independent countries (and the United Kingdom) each having Queen Elizabeth II as its reigning monarch, and from the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 countries mostly with historic links to the British Empire (which also includes all Commonwealth realms).
The current minister responsible for the Territories is James Duddridge MP, of the Foreign Office. Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas, however, are the responsibility of the Minister for Europe David Lidington MP, while the Falkland Islands are the responsibility of Hugo Swire MP, also of the Foreign Office.
The fourteen British Overseas Territories are:
Our faith is our strength
Early colonies, in the sense of English subjects residing in lands hitherto outside the control of the English government, were generally known as "Plantations".
The first, unofficial, colony was Newfoundland, where English fishermen routinely set up seasonal camps in the 16th century. It is now a province of Canada known as Newfoundland and Labrador. It retains strong cultural ties with Britain.
English colonization of North America began officially in 1607 with the settlement of New World). Bermuda and Bermudians have played important, sometimes pivotal, but generally underestimated or unacknowledged roles in the shaping of the English and British trans-Atlantic Empires. These include maritime commerce, settlement of the continent and of the West Indies, and the projection of naval power via the colony's privateers, among other areas.
The growth of the British Empire in the 19th century, to its territorial peak in the 1920s, saw Britain acquire nearly one quarter of the world's land mass, including territories with large indigenous populations in Asia and Africa. The late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries saw the larger settler colonies – in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – becoming self-governing colonies and achieving independence in all matters except foreign policy, defence and trade. Separate self-governing colonies federated to become Canada (in 1867) and Australia (in 1901). These and other large self-governing colonies had become known as Dominions by the 1920s. The Dominions achieved almost full independence with the Statute of Westminster (1931).
Through a process of decolonisation following the second world war, most of the British colonies in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean gained independence. Some colonies became Commonwealth realms, retaining the British monarch as their own head of state. Most former colonies and protectorates became member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, a non-political, voluntary association of equal members, comprising a population of around 2.2 billion people.
After the independence of Cayman Islands has consequently become the largest city in the Overseas Territories.
In 2002, the British Parliament passed the British Overseas Territories Act 2002. This reclassified the UK's dependent territories as overseas territories and, with the exception of those people solely connected with the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus, restored full British citizenship to their inhabitants.
The head of state in the overseas territories is the British monarch, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The Queen's role in the territories is in her role as Queen of the United Kingdom, and not in right of each territory. The Queen appoints a representative in each territory to exercise her executive power. In territories with a permanent population, a Governor is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British Government, usually a retired senior military officer, or a senior civil servant. In territories without a permanent population, a Commissioner is usually appointed to represent the Queen. Exceptionally, in the overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, an Administrator is appointed to be the Governor's representative in each of the two distant parts of the territory, namely Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.
The role of the Governor is to act as the de facto head of state, and they are usually responsible for appointing the head of government, and senior political positions in the territory. The Governor is also responsible for liaising with the UK Government, and carrying out any ceremonial duties. A Commissioner has the same powers as a Governor, but also acts as the head of government.
All the overseas territories have their own system of government, and localised laws. The structure of the government appears to be closely correlated to the size and political development of the territory.
The Turks and Caicos Islands adopted a new constitution effective 9 August 2006; their head of government now also has the title Premier, their legislature is called the House of Assembly, and their autonomy has been greatly increased.
Each overseas territory has its own legal system independent of the United Kingdom. The legal system is generally based on English common law, with some distinctions for local circumstances. Each territory has its own attorney general, and court system. For the smaller territories, the UK may appoint a UK-based lawyer or judge to work on legal cases. This is particularly important for cases involving serious crimes and where it is impossible to find a jury who will not know the defendant in a small population island.
Many of them, such as Isle of Man, Cayman islands and Bermuda are used as tax havens and as flags of convenience for ships as part of the Red Ensign group.
The Pitcairn sexual assault trial of 2004 is an example of how the UK may choose to provide the legal framework for particular cases where the territory cannot do so alone.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has the responsibility of looking after the interests of all overseas territories except Akrotiri & Dhekelia, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence. Within the FCO, the general responsibility for the territories is handled by the Overseas Territories Directorate, which is headed by the Minister for the Overseas Territories. As of August 2014 the Minister is James Duddridge, a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.
In 2012, the FCO published the The Overseas Territories: security, success and sustainability which set out Britain's policy for the Overseas Territories, covering six main areas:
Britain and the overseas territories do not have diplomatic representations, although the governments of the overseas territories with indigenous populations all retain a representative office in London. The United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) also represents the interests of the territories in London. The governments in both London and territories occasionally meet to mitigate or resolve disagreements over the process of governance in the territories and levels of autonomy.
Britain provides financial assistance to the overseas territories via the Department for International Development. Currently only Montserrat and Saint Helena receive budgetary aid (i.e. financial contribution to recurrent funding). Several specialist funds are made available by the UK, including:
The territories have no official representation in the UK Parliament, but have informal representation through the All-Party Parliamentary Group, and can petition the UK Government through the Directgov e-Petitions website. Only Gibraltar has representation in the European Parliament and it shares its Member with the region of South West England.
Foreign affairs of the overseas territories are handled by the Caribbean Community, the Caribbean Development Bank, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and the Association of Caribbean States. The territories are members of the Commonwealth of Nations through the United Kingdom. The inhabited territories compete in their own right at the Commonwealth Games, and three of the territories (Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands) sent teams to the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Gibraltar is the only overseas territory that is part of the European Union (EU), although it is not part of the European Customs Union, the European Tax Policy, the European Statistics Zone or the Common Agriculture Policy. Gibraltar is not a member of the European Union in its own right. The Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus are not part of the European Union, but they are the only British overseas territory to use the Euro as official currency. None of the other Overseas Territories are members of the EU, the main body of EU law does not apply and, although certain slices of EU law are applied to those territories as part of the EU's Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT Association), they are not commonly enforceable in local courts. The OCT Association also provides overseas territories with structural funding for regeneration projects.
Since the return of full British citizenship to most 'belongers' of overseas territories (mainly since the British Overseas Territories Act 2002), the citizens of those territories hold concurrent European Union citizenship, giving them rights of free movement across all EU member states.
Several nations dispute the UK's sovereignty in the following overseas territories:
None of the overseas territories has its own nationality status, and all citizens are classed as British Overseas Territories citizens (BOTC). They do, however, have legislative independence over immigration, and holding the status of a BOTC does not automatically give a person a right of abode in any of the territories, as it depends on the territory's immigration laws. A territory may issue Belonger status to allow a person classed as a BOTC to reside in the territory that they have close links with. Non-BOTC citizens may acquire Belonger status to reside in a particular territory (and may subsequently become naturalised BOTC if they wish).
Historically, most inhabitants of the British Empire held the status of British subject, which was usually lost upon independence. From 1949, British subjects in the United Kingdom and the remaining colonies became citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. However changes in British immigration and nationality law between 1962 and 1983 saw the creation of a separate British Dependent Territories citizenship (BDTC) with effect from January 1983. Citizens in most territories were stripped of full British citizenship. This was mainly to prevent a mass exodus of the citizens of Hong Kong to the UK before the agreed handover to China in 1997. Exception was made for the Falkland Islands, which had been invaded in 1982 by Argentina. Full British citizenship was soon returned to the people of Gibraltar due to their friction with Spain.
However, the British Overseas Territories Act 2002 replaced British Dependent Territory citizenship with British Overseas Territories citizenship (BOTC), and restored full British citizenship to all BOTCs except those from Akrotiri and Dhekelia. This restored to BOTCs the right to reside in the UK.
British citizens, however, do not have an automatic right to reside in any of the Overseas Territories. Some territories prohibit immigration, and any visitors are required to seek the permission of the territory's government to live in the territory.
Defence of the Overseas Territories is the responsibility of the UK. Many of the overseas territories are used as military bases by the UK and its allies.
The many British overseas territories use a varied assortment of currencies, including the British Pound, US dollar, or their own currencies, which may be pegged to either.
Falkland Islands pound (parity with Pound Sterling)
Gibraltar pound (parity with Pound Sterling)
Saint Helenian pound (parity with Pound Sterling)
(US$ accepted in Ascension Island)
United States dollar (de facto)
Pound sterling (de jure)
United States dollar
Eastern Caribbean dollar (2.7EC$=1US$)
Bermudian dollar (parity with United States dollar)
Cayman Islands dollar (1KY$=1.2US$)
New Zealand dollar
Each overseas territory has been granted its own flag and coat of arms by the British monarch. Traditionally, the flags follow the Blue Ensign design, with the Union Flag in the canton, and the territory's coat of arms in the fly. Exceptions to this are Bermuda which uses a Red Ensign; British Antarctic Territory which uses a White Ensign; British Indian Ocean Territory which uses a Blue Ensign with wavy lines to symbolise the sea; and Gibraltar which uses a banner of its coat of arms (the flag of the city of Gibraltar).
Akrotiri and Dhekelia and Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha are the only British overseas territories without their own flag. The Union Flag is used in these territories.
As a British Overseas Territory, all apart from Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands do not have a recognised National Olympic Committee (NOC); the British Olympic Association is recognised as the appropriate NOC for such athletes and thus athletes who hold a British passport are eligible to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games.
Gibraltar strived to represent Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. Proctor, Wade-Fray and Cassar qualified for Team GB, with Williams missing the cut, however wishing to represent the UK in 2016.
The Gibraltar national football team was accepted into UEFA in 2013 in time for the 2016 European Championships. It has also applied to be part of FIFA and hopes to be accepted in time for eligibility for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The British Overseas Territories have more biodiversity than the entire UK mainland. There are at least 180 
Two areas, Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Islands as well as the Gough and Inaccessible Islands of Tristan Da Cunha are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and two other territories, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Saint Helena are on the United Kingdom's tentative list for future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The three regions of biodiversity hotspots situated in the British Overseas Territories are the 
The UK created the largest continuous marine protected areas in the world, the Chagos Marine Protected Area, and announced in 2015 funding to establish a new, larger, reseve around the Pitcairn Islands.
A Stoplight Parrotfish in Princess Alexandra Land and Sea National Park, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
South Georgia, 2010.
Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Islands
Rothera Research Station.
There are 14 Overseas Territories which retain a constitutional link with the UK. .... Most of the Territories are largely self-governing, each with its own constitution and its own government, which enacts local laws. Although the relationship is rooted in four centuries of shared history, the UK government’s relationship with its Territories today is a modern one, based on mutual benefits and responsibilities. The foundations of this relationship are partnership, shared values and the right of the people of each territory to choose to freely choose whether to remain a British Overseas Territory or to seek an alternative future.
The United Kingdom also manages a number of territories which, while mostly having their own forms of government, have the Queen as their head of state, and rely on the UK for defence and security, foreign affairs and representation at the international level. They do not form part of the UK, but have an ambiguous constitutional relationship with the UK.
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