Britain was the most successful of the nineteenth-century European powers in expanding its territory overseas, but that very success brought an increasing nervousness and sense of vulnerability as well as prestige and status as a world power. As early as the 1830s, the possession of India had led to growing fears about the threat of Russian expansion in Central Asia. The development of intense imperial rivalry with France in Africa and Asia, disagreements with the United States over the Canadian-American boundary and over Central America, pressures from Germany to make colonial concessions, and the perception that the Russian threat had extended to Manchuria and China as well as the Middle East caused the British to reconsider their whole diplomatic position. They decided that they were no longer able to stand aloof from the alliances of the other European powers and alone defend their interests against a number of potential enemies. When the attempt to conclude an agreement with Germany failed, they made an alliance with Japan in 1902 to help protect their interests in the Far East and settled their differences with the United States in 1902 and 1903, with France in 1904 and with Russia in 1907. Although the memories of years of rivalry and friction could not be expunged, Britain’s relations with France and the USA steadily improved.
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