It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries.

At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power.

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As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread.

At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

It then became the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after the East India Company's conquest of Mughal Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.