Our World | On 22, Nov 2012
Pre recession, the most used phrase in an incentive travel brief was “somewhere different”. The challenge was always to try and take people to new or emerging destinations that provided excitement. This was not easy at times, especially when you think about how many times you have been on holiday and seen a Red Lion pub or “fish and chips” sign. Indeed, with BA as the self styled “world’s favourite airline” because they fly to more countries than anyone else, you might be conned into thinking that Brits get everywhere these days. However a recent survey established that by comparison, Brits are not as well travelled as our ancestors.
The Empire strikes back
Stuart Laycock has produced a new book “All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To” in which he lists all the countries where our armed forces, either official or unofficial (i.e. privateers) have fought.
Now, I know that we Brits used to “get about a bit” and had a rather large empire at one point, but Laycock studied the histories of 200 nations and guess how many we didn’t get round to?……22. Yes that’s right, over the years our boys have fought in a staggering 88% of the world’s countries.
Having read through the list there is a little bit of what I might call manipulation, as a very small proportion of his total list of invaded countries were ever actually conquered or formed part of the British Empire. Many more were included if there was any form of military incursion, including raids by pirates, privateers and armed explorers acting on behalf or with the approval of the government of the day. Sir Walter Raleigh, tobacco and potatoes spring to mind! Hence many countries that seem to have little connection with us, like most of South America, are on the list.
The ones that got away
So who are the lucky ones, or the “ones that got away”? Surprisingly, many are closer to home like Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Andorra – perhaps they were a bit small or simply lacking in the raw materials we wanted to err… purloin. Others like Chad, Mongolia, Congo and Central African Republic were probably just too long a walk from the safety of our ships. Can you guess the only large European country we haven’t sent troops to? I didn’t either, it’s Sweden – which of course means we’ve had a little pop at everyone else in Europe – stunning but true.
So the next time someone asks me for “somewhere new”, at least I can now narrow the list down to 22!