The fourteen British Overseas Territories are territories under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, though they do not form part of it. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories, unlike the Commonwealth realms. They share Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state, and each have their own respective internal leadership, with most being self-governing territories. The name "British Overseas Territory" was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, and replaced the name British Dependent Territory, which was introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981. Before 1981, the territories were known as Crown colonies.
The overseas territories have permanent populations, apart from the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which only host officials and research stations, and the British Indian Ocean Territory, which is purely used as a military base (while the 7,000-strong permanent population of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is limited to citizens of the Republic of Cyprus). Collectively they encompass an approximate land area of 667,018 square miles (1,727,570 km2) (of which the vast majority, 660,000 square miles (1,700,000 km2), is British Antarctic Territory) and a population of approximately 260,000 people. The British Antarctic Territory is part of a mutual recognition agreement with 4 other sovereign nations and their Antarctic territories. The UK is a participant in the Antarctic Treaty System.
The Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man are also under the sovereignty of the British Crown but have a different constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom. The British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are distinct from the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 54 countries that mostly have historic links to the British Empire.
The current minister responsible for the territories is Mark Simmonds MP. However, Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas are the responsibility of the Minister for Europe David Lidington MP, and the Falkland Islands are that of Hugo Swire MP.
Read more about British Overseas Territories: Current Overseas Territories, History, Relations With The United Kingdom, Foreign Affairs, Currencies, Citizenship, Military, Symbols and Insignia, Sporting, Biodiversity
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