Portal:United Kingdom


The United Kingdom Portal

Flag of the United Kingdom
Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom
Map of the United Kingdom in the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK), or informally as Britain, is a sovereign country in western Europe. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, the UK includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state?--?the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the UK is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 21st-most populous country, with an estimated 65.5 million inhabitants in 2016.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state. The UK's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include the conurbations centred on Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Liverpool. The UK consists of four countries--England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All but England have devolved administrations, each with varying powers, based in their capitals Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation.

The creation of the UK resulted from the medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies.

The UK is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a "very high" Human Development Index, ranking 16th in the world. It was the first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946. It has been a leading member state of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973; however, a referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of UK voters favouring leaving the EU, and the country's exit is being negotiated. The UK is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Featured article

The first edition of the Echo - on 22 December 1873

The Sunderland Echo is an evening provincial newspaper serving the Sunderland, South Tyneside and East Durham areas of North East England. The newspaper was founded by Samuel Storey, Edward Backhouse, Edward Temperley Gourley, Charles Palmer, Richard Ruddock, Thomas Glaholm and Thomas Scott Turnbull in 1873, as the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette. Designed to provide a platform for the Radical views held by Storey and his partners, it was also Sunderland's first local daily paper. The inaugural edition of the Echo was printed in Press Lane, Sunderland on 22 December 1873; 1,000 copies were produced and sold for a halfpenny each. The Echo survived intense competition in its early years, as well as the depression of the 1930s and two World Wars. Sunderland was heavily bombed in the Second World War and, although the Echo building was undamaged, it was forced to print its competitor's paper under wartime rules. It was during this time that the paper's format changed, from a broadsheet to its current tabloid layout, because of national newsprint shortages. (more...)

Featured biography

William IV

William IV (1765-1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death. William, the third son of George III and younger brother and successor to George IV, was the last king and penultimate monarch of the House of Hanover. He served in the Royal Navy in his youth and was, both during his reign and afterwards, nicknamed the Sailor King. He served in North America and the Caribbean, but saw little actual fighting. Since his two older brothers died with no surviving legitimate issue, he inherited the throne when he was sixty-four years old. His reign saw several reforms: the poor law was updated, child labour restricted, slavery abolished throughout the British Empire, and the Reform Act 1832 refashioned the British electoral system. Though William did not engage in politics as much as his brother or his father, he was the last monarch to appoint a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament. At his death William had no surviving legitimate children, though he was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had by the popular actress, Dorothea Bland. He was succeeded in the United Kingdom by his niece, Victoria, and in Hanover by his brother, Ernest Augustus. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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1944 NormandyLST.jpg
Photo credit: Unknown U.S. soldier

The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between the German forces occupying Western Europe and the invading Allied forces as part of the larger conflict of World War II. Sixty years later, the Normandy invasion, codenamed Operation OVERLORD, remains the largest seaborne invasion in history involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in then German-occupied France.

In the news

Wikinews UK

11 June 2018 - Economy of the United Kingdom
British retail chain Poundworld, which employs thousands of people, collapses into administration. (BBC)
8 June 2018 - Economy of the United Kingdom
Gavin Patterson, the chief executive of BT Group, announces that he intends to step down later this year. (BBC)
7 June 2018 - Economy of the United Kingdom
House of Fraser announces that it intends to close 31 of its 59 stores, including its flagship store on London's Oxford Street. (BBC)
7 June 2018 - Abortion in the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the UK dismisses a legal challenge by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission of the restrictive Northern Ireland abortion laws, as the court has no jurisdiction in this specific case. Four of seven judges note that these laws are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights "in prohibiting abortion in cases of rape and incest and fatal foetal abnormality", a matter of right to respect for private and family life guaranteed by the Convention. (The Guardian)
5 June 2018 - Expansion of Heathrow Airport
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom approves a controversial third runway at London's Heathrow Airport. (Sky News)
4 June 2018 - Banking in the United Kingdom, 2008 United Kingdom bank rescue package
The government of the United Kingdom announces its intent to sell a 7.7% stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland, expected to raise £2.6 billion. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says there is "no economic justification" for selling the shares. (BBC)

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