“The Sun Never Sets” On Overseas Territories

May 17, 2015

The sun still “never sets over the British Empire” as the sun never actually sets on the British Overseas Territories, although it comes within just 8 minutes of it each June, according to a new website thesunneversets.net.

A well known phrase from the 19th century, the saying “The sun never sets on the British Empire” reflected the fact that the British Empire was once so expansive that there was always some part of it in the world that was sunny.

While the British empire has drastically decreased in size, there are still 14 British overseas territories: British Indian Ocean Territory, Gibraltar, Bermuda, Falkland Islands, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory, St Helena, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, Pitcairn, and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus.

The website says, “The genesis of this website was a bet as to whether the sun actually ever sets over the British Empire. It still does not, as you can see from this realtime image of the sunny Earth, although coming within just 8 minutes of that each June.

Screenshot from the The Sun Never Sets website

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New York Times also concurs, with a report saying, “But it can still be said that the sun does not set on the British Empire. At every moment, at some far-flung corner of the revolving globe, it is daytime in a place where the Union Jack flies.

“Britain now nine inhabited territories, with a total population of about 200,000, and a few tinier uninhabited holdings. The largest remaining time-zone gap is between Pitcairn Island in the eastern Pacific, and Diego Garcia, a military base in the Indian Ocean.

“According to Chief Petty Officer Patrick McCarthy of the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, when the sun set yesterday at 02:02 Greenwich Mean Time in Pitcairn Island, it had already risen 40 minutes before, at 01:22, in Diego Garcia. It is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, so that is about as short a day as the Empire can expect.”

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