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. 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 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

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, 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 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 Premature Burial" by Antoine Wiertz

The Manchester Mummy, Hannah Beswick (1688–1758), was a wealthy woman with a pathological fear of premature burial whose body was embalmed and kept above ground for over 100 years after her death, the "cold dark shadow of her mummy hung over Manchester in the middle of the eighteenth century", according to writer Edith Sitwell. The mid-18th century saw an upsurge in the public's fear of being mistakenly buried alive, and Beswick had seen one of her brothers show signs of life just as his coffin lid was about to be closed. Writing in 1895, the physician J. C. Ouseley claimed that as many as 2,700 people were buried prematurely each year in England and Wales, for more than 50 years Beswick's mummified body was kept in an old clock case in the home of her family physician, Dr Charles White, and periodically checked for signs of life. Eventually it was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Natural History Society, where it was put on display in the entrance hall. Beswick's home was converted into workers' tenements following her death; several of those living there claimed to have seen an apparition dressed in a black silk gown and a white cap, and described it as Hannah Beswick. (more...)

Featured biography

John Wark in Aalesund in 2006

John Wark (born 1957) is a Scottish former footballer who spent most of his playing time with Ipswich Town. He won a record four Player of the Year awards before becoming one of the four inaugural members of the club's Hall of Fame. Wark had long spells at the club, at both the start and end of his career, and a third, brief interlude dividing his briefer periods at Liverpool and Middlesbrough. A versatile player, Wark played most of his professional games as a midfielder, although he sometimes played as a central defender and on occasion as a striker. Born in Glasgow, Wark represented Scotland in international football, winning 29 caps and scoring seven goals, this included selection for Scotland in the 1982 FIFA World Cup in which he made three appearances and scored twice. During his playing career, Wark appeared in the film Escape to Victory, since retiring as a professional player in 1996, he has continued to work for Ipswich Town—since April 2009 in the corporate hospitality department. His autobiography was published in 2009. (more...)

Did you know...

Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Featured picture

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels, Incipit to the Gospel of Matthew

The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The manuscript was produced on Lindisfarne in Northumbria in the late 7th century or early 8th century, and is generally regarded as the finest example of the kingdom's unique style of religious art, a style that combined Anglo-Saxon and Celtic themes, what is now called Hiberno-Saxon art.

In the news

Wikinews UK

12 July 2018 – International presidential visits made by Donald Trump, United Kingdom–United States relations
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in the UK for his presidential trip to the country amid widespread protests. (BBC)
9 July 2018 – Politics of the United Kingdom
Boris Johnson resigns as the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs amid disagreements with Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit negotiations. Johnson is the second member of May's cabinet to resign in two days. (BBC)
8 July 2018 – Politics of the United Kingdom
David Davis resigns as the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union amid disagreements with Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit negotiations. (BBC)
3 July 2018 – LGBT rights in the United Kingdom
Theresa May announces a ban on gay conversion therapy. (BBC)
3 July 2018 – Economy of the United Kingdom
The UK's Financial Reporting Council launches an investigation into financial services provider KPMG over its most recent audit of Convivality, the defunct owner of retail chain Bargain Booze. (ITV)
29 June 2018 – 2018 United Kingdom wildfires
As the Saddleworth Moor wildfire continues to burn for a sixth day, the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have requested for military assistance in fighting the fire to be extended for at least another three days. (HuffPost)

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