Portal:United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom Portaledit
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, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. 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 UK 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, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.

The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, based in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies, the United Kingdom has fourteen overseas territories. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922, encompassed almost a third of the world's land surface and was the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories.

The UK is an EMDC and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialised state and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks third or fourth in the world. The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946; it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.

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South facade of Belton House

Belton House is a country house near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. The mansion is surrounded by formal gardens and a series of avenues leading to follies within a greater wooded park. Belton has been described as a compilation of all that is finest of Carolean architecture, the only truly vernacular style of architecture that England had produced since the Tudor period. Only Brympton d'Evercy has been similarly lauded as the perfect English country house, for three hundred years, Belton House was the seat of the Brownlow and Cust family, who had first acquired land in the area in the late 16th century. Between 1685 and 1688 the young Sir John Brownlow and his wife had the present mansion built, despite great wealth they chose to build a modest country house rather than a grand contemporary Baroque palace. The contemporary, if provincial, Carolean style was the selected choice of design. However, the new house was fitted with the latest innovations such as sash windows for the principal rooms, and more importantly completely separate areas for the staff. (more...)

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William Wilberforce by Karl Anton Hickel, ca. 1794

William Wilberforce (1759–1833) was a British politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780 and became the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire. In 1785 he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform, he championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, the introduction of evangelical Christianity to India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Wilberforce headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade until the eventual passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807; in later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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William Hogarth - Beer Street.jpg
William Hogarth - Gin Lane.jpg
Beer Street Gin Lane

Beer Street and Gin Lane are 1751 engravings by William Hogarth published partly to support the 1751 Gin Act. Beer Street shows a happy city drinking the 'good' beverage of English beer, whereas Gin Lane claims to show what would happen if people started drinking gin, a harder liquor. People are shown as healthy, happy and hard working in Beer Street, while in Gin Lane they are scrawny, lazy and acting carelessly, including a drunk mother accidentally sending her baby tumbling to its doom.

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