This chapter is intended to provide a general background for the reader, before he enters more deeply into the comparative consideration of West Indian affairs. It may in the first place be desirable to set these small island dependencies in perspective against the wider background of total British and American commitments in underdeveloped areas. On the British side, the Colonial Empire consists of some forty- five different territories under thirty-five separate governors, who have responsibility for between sixty and seventy million persons. The tiny islands of the B.W.I. with less than three million persons thus constitute only a very small part of the total British commitment. On the American side the Caribbean dependencies, which like the British number about three million persons, are, in proportion, a larger part of the United States commitment. If Hawaii, Alaska and the South Pacific islands are included, the total American responsibility for dependent areas is still for less than four million persons. But American interests in underdeveloped areas are not, of course, limited to the small number of United States dependencies. Thus the Philippines are still, in a very real sense, an American commitment; and the study of American methods in independent states, as in Central America or Liberia where local economies are supported by dollars, has still to be made. These areas are apart altogether from America's Point Four programme for backward areas, which is a third kind of responsibility.
It should be realized that the Caribbean dependencies do not exhibit either of the metropolitan powers at their best. On the British side, the declared purpose of colonial policy today is that the economic and other resources of dependent areas for which the United Kingdom is responsible shall be developed to a point at which responsible government becomes practicable. It is, however, accepted as axiomatic that this point is not reached until a dependency has become virtually self-supporting in the economic sphere. The United Kingdom government has always