Portal:United Kingdom

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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 Britain, is a sovereign country in Western Europe, with some definitions also including it and the rest of the British Isles in Northern Europe.[irrelevant citation] Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, the United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 21st-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom'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 United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Their capitals are London, Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff respectively. Apart from England, the countries have devolved administrations, each with varying powers. 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 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 created 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 United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom 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 European Union, and the country's exit is being negotiated. The United Kingdom 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

Sheerness clock tower

Sheerness is a town located beside the mouth of the River Medway on the northwest corner of the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, England. With a population of 12,000, it is the largest town on the island. Sheerness began as a fort built in the sixteenth century to protect the River Medway from naval invasion. After a Dutch attack in 1692, Samuel Pepys, the Secretary to the Admiralty, established a Royal Navy dockyard in the town, where warships were built and repaired until its closure in 1960. In the nineteenth century, Sheerness also became a seaside resort, when a pier and promenade were constructed. Industry remains an important part of the town, and the port of Sheerness is one of the United Kingdom's leading car and fresh produce importers. The town is the site of one of the UK's first co-operative societies and the world's first multi-storey building with a rigid metal frame. (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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The Royal College of Music.
Photo credit: Diliff

The Royal College of Music is a prestigious music school located in Kensington, London, founded in 1882. The college building was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield.

In the news

Wikinews UK

5 September 2018 – Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Russia says that the United Kingdom declines to provide them with the suspects' fingerprints. (TASS)
30 August 2018 – Economy of the United Kingdom
Panasonic announces their intent to move their European headquarters from London to Amsterdam, citing concern over Brexit. (BBC)
Wonga, the largest payday lender in the United Kingdom, collapses into administration. (BBC)
27 August 2018 – Politics of the United Kingdom
Home Secretary Sajid Javid comes under criticism for describing Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter as "one of the biggest threat's [sic] to our national security". (Talk Radio UK)
23 August 2018 – Brexit
The government of the United Kingdom publishes the first 25 of 80 planned "technical notices" providing practical guidance to businesses in case of a no-deal Brexit. (Fortune)
12 August 2018 – Moss Side mass shooting
Ten people are injured in a mass shooting in Manchester, United Kingdom. (BBC)

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