East India Trading Co., Peweter Tankard Vintage pewter mug with contemporary engraving.
The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company was an English, and later British, joint-stock company founded in 1600. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with the East Indies (the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia), and later with Qing China. The company seized control of large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong after the First Opium War, and maintained trading posts and colonies in the Persian Gulf Residencies.
Originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East-Indies", the company rose to account for half of the world's trade during the mid-1700s and early 1800s, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, sugar, salt, spices, saltpetre, tea, and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India.
The company eventually came to rule large areas of India, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and lasted until 1858 when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown assuming direct control of India in the form of the new British Raj.
Despite frequent government intervention, the company had recurring problems with its finances. The company was dissolved in 1874 as a result of the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act enacted one year earlier, as the Government of India Act had by then rendered it vestigial, powerless, and obsolete. The official government machinery of British Raj had assumed its governmental functions and absorbed its armies.