Colonization of the Americas began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia and continued to the founding of a formal Georgia colony in 1733. Great Britain also colonized the west coast of North America indirectly via the Hudson's Bay Company licenses west of the Rocky Mountains. Three types of colonies existed in the British Empire in America during the eighteenth century. These were charter colonies, proprietary colonies and royal colonies.
Historians estimate that by 1775 the population of the American colonies (not including tribes outside the colonies, tribes living under colonial control or slaves - indentured servants) was 2,400,000. In 1776 about 85% of the white population was of English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh descent, with 9% of German origin and 4% Dutch.
The United States of America was finally recognized as an independent nation internationally with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. They included those entities that had originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. For the more than one hundred years the empire was at its peak of power it was the greatest global force in the world.
The Empire, in 1922 A.D., was considered the greatest maritime power in history. That same year it governed a total population of about 458 million people, which was one-quarter of the world's entire population. In 1922 it also became the largest empire in history in terms of land controlled, with 36.6 million square kilometers (14.13 million square miles) under its rule. In 1938 it became the wealthiest superpower in history up to that time with a Gross Domestic Product (total value of all goods and services) reaching $683.3 billion. Since the late 1930's its historic wealth has only been eclipsed by the United States, which had a GDP of $1,713.6 billion in 1944.
In its prime it was often said that "the sun never set on the British Empire." This phrase was literally true, as the empire's influence across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories.