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the term used to describe the general course of English foreign policy in the second half of the 19th century, exhibited in a refusal to conclude long-term international alliances. Great Britain’s insular position, vast colonial territories, the strongest military fleet in the world, and, most important, its industrial and financial supremacy over other powers allowed it to maintain freedom of action in the international arena. Making use of the conflicts among European states, Great Britain tried to broaden and strengthen its international influence. The policy of splendid isolation did not interfere with the conclusion of temporary agreements which aided the realization of Great Britain’s expansionist goals.
With the onset of the age of imperialism and the rapid economic development and strengthening of the military might of other powers, Great Britain’s position became more vulnerable, as was especially clear in the course of the Boer War of 1899–1902. The abrupt sharpening of relations with Germany and other European powers threatened Great Britain with forced isolation. In 1902, England concluded a long-term alliance with Japan, directed against Russia, and, in 1904, an agreement with France, which marked the end of the policy of splendid isolation.