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Yeah they where. They held a 5th of the worlds landmass (and very resource rich valuable landmass at that), they had the best scholars until around the 1900’s when the U.S. started outpacing them (remember though by the 1900’s Britain has been around for hundreds of years, a lot longer than the U.S. or most nations for that matter. They had thousands of ships with hundreds patrolling every ocean, a military that had very high training standards and the best tactical knowledge (Britain was among the first nations to be able to use musket men as highly effective guerrilla light infantry. With the most famous being Roger’s Rangers which is what the U.S. army rangers took their name from) and a massive population that had good living standards. You would find the British in every landmass on Earth in one way or another. By the 1850’s they dominated the Caribbean, out produced the U.S. (Britian itself didn’t but it’s collective Empire did), owned swaths of Northern Africa, owned India which was before that one of the world’s richest and strongest nations at the time (so they conquered a super power in a way), Australia and parts of China. They dwarf the U.S. in terms of power and still remain one of the strongest Empires to date. Best of all they where highly progressive, they abolished slavery and even made an effort to hunt slavers in the 18th century, they where highly tolerant of science and even atheism (see Secular Humanism, a name they gave atheism and agnosticism in order to not piss off the Catholic hordes in Europe), and had a law system that allowed a decent amount of Freedom without the constraints and slow going, and corruption that early republics had.
If you’re thinking I’m saying a 18th century British man-o-war can’t beat a U.S. Cruiser armed with missiles and there for the U.S. is stronger than you don’t understand what relativity is. The British Empire, the empire the sun never and still hasn’t seen a sun set for hundreds of years, was much more powerful than the U.S. has ever been and has lasted longer than the majority of nations of Earth have lasted.