UK sovereign base

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(Redirected from Sovereign Base Areas)

The UK Sovereign Base Areas are those British military base areas located in countries formerly ruled by the United Kingdom which were retained by it and not handed over when those countries attained independence.

Missing image
Map of Cyprus. The Sovereign Base areas are in red.


Akrotiri and Dhekelia are UK Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) in Cyprus, a former British Crown Colony. A British garrison force is stationed there to defend them, and they contain a British listening post, and the only fully fledged RAF station in the Mediterranean (since Gibraltar does not have any aircraft permanently based there), RAF Akrotiri. In addition to the garrison, the UK makes a contribution to the United Nations force in Cyprus. In total, some 3,500 British personnel are based in Cyprus.

There is certain disorientation when entering the military parts of a sovereign base area (unlike Guantanamo Bay, there are roads running through the territory and even through the military camps themselves, which are open to traffic from Cyprus). In particular, the road names in the military camps are all very English, like "Worcester Road". Civilian laws are enacted by the British civilian authorities, but are patterned on those of the Republic of Cyprus. Many Cypriots work in the SBAs, mainly for the British authorities or as farmers, or for a few local businesses. But only those Cypriots with a local connection are permitted to live there, such as those who live in Akrotiri village or in the outskirts of villages neighbouring the bases. Also the villages of Xylotimbou and Ormidhia are exclaves of the Republic of Cyprus surrounded by Dhekelia SBA.

The Sovereign Bases in Cyprus are an overseas territory, but instead of having a Governor, like other such territories, it has an Administrator, who, while appointed by the Queen, is responsible to the Ministry of Defence, not to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


main article: Treaty port (Ireland)

After the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, three deep water Treaty Ports, at Berehaven, Queenstown (renamed Cobh) and Lough Swilly, were retained by the United Kingdom, a condition of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The ports remained under the control of the UK until Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement in 1938, when they were returned to Éire.

Some in Britain considered the handover a short-sighted decision, since the supply lines at the Battle of the Atlantic were stretched until the Allies established bases in Iceland following the British occupation in 1940. However, the ports had been neglected by the British Admiralty and would not have been ready for war.

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