The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located 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, 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 the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current 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 Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; 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, 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 a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political 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 high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's 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, military and political influence internationally, it 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 and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
Postage stamp design
Postage stamp design is the activity of graphic design as applied to postage stamps. Many thousands of designs have been created since a profile bust of Queen Victoria was adopted for the Penny Black in 1840. A stamp design includes several elements required for it to accomplish its purpose satisfactorily. Most important is the denomination indicating its monetary value, while international agreements require a country name on all types of stamps. A graphic design is nearly universal; the fundamental purpose of a stamp is to indicate the prepayment of postage. Since different kinds and sizes of mail pay different amounts of postage, the stamps need to carry a value. In a few cases, the denomination has been omitted; the usual form of the denomination is a number, optionally preceded or followed by a currency symbol. Many early stamps wrote the denomination out in words, but the Universal Postal Union required that stamps on international mail use Arabic numerals, for the benefit of clerks in foreign countries.
A number of recent stamps have substituted a textual description of the rate being charged, such as "1st" for first-class letters, or "presorted ZIP+4" to indicate a particular type of bulk mail. Another form of nonnumerical denomination is that used for rate change stamps, in which the timing and politics of the rate-setting process is such that the stamps must be printed before the rate is known. In such cases, the preprinted stamps state "A", "B", etc. with the equivalent rate being announced just before they go on sale. Canada uses a non-numerical denomination, the mark "P" printed over a maple leaf, on its domestic postage rate stamps; the letter "P" stands for "Permanent" which indicates that the stamp is always accepted regardless of the current domestic postal rate. Anytime the domestic rate changes, the permanent value stamps in circulation continue to be accepted and the new rate applies to the purchase of new permanent value stamps. Semi-postal stamps are denominated with two values, with a "+" between, the first indicating the actual rate, the second the additional amount to be given to a charity.
In a few cases a country has had a dual currency, the stamps may depict a value in both currencies. The second required element, at least for stamps intended to be used on international mail, is the name of the country; the first postage stamps, those of the United Kingdom, had no name. In 1874 the Universal Postal Union exempted the United Kingdom from its rule which stated that a country's name had to appear on their postage stamps, so a profile of the reigning monarch was all, required for identification of the UK's stamps. To this day the UK remains the only country not required to name itself on its stamps. For all other UPU members, the name must appear in Latin letters. Many countries using non-Latin alphabets used only those on their early stamps, they remain difficult for most collectors to identify today; the name chosen is the country's own name for itself, with a modern trend towards using simpler and shorter forms, or abbreviations. For instance, the Republic of South Africa inscribes with "RSA", while Jordan used "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan", now just "Jordan".
Some countries have multiple allowed forms. The name may appear in an adjectival form, as in Posta Romana for Romania. Dependent territories may not include the name of the parent country; the graphic element of a stamp design falls into one of four major categories: Portrait bust - profile or full-face Emblem - coat of arms, national symbol, etc. Numeric - a design built around the numeral of value PictorialThe use of portrait busts or emblems was typical of the first stamps, by extension from currency, the closest model available to the early stamp designers. Usage pattern has varied considerably. Norway has issued stamps with the same posthorn motif for over a century, changing only the details from time to time as printing technology improves, while the US has placed the flag of the United States into a wide variety of settings since first using it on a stamp in the 1950s. While numeral designs are eminently practical, in that they emphasize the most important element of the stamp, they are the exception rather than the rule.
By far the greatest variety of stamp design seen today is in pictorial issues. The choice of image is nearly unlimited, ranging from plants and animals, to figures from history, to landscapes, to original artwork. Images may be allegories or abstract designs; the choice of pictorial designs is governed by a combination of anniversaries, required annual issues, postal rate changes, exhaustion of existing stamp stocks, popular demand. Since postal administrations are either a branch of government or an official monopoly under governmental supervision, the government has ultimate control over the choice of designs; this means that the designs tend to depict a country as the government would like it to be
A Christmas stamp is a postage stamp with a Christmas theme, intended for use on seasonal mail such as Christmas cards. Many countries of the world issue such stamps, which are regular postage stamps and are valid for postage year-round, they go on sale some time between early October and early December, are printed in considerable quantities. It is a matter of some debate as to, the first Christmas stamp; the Canadian map stamp of 1898 bears an inscription "XMAS 1898", but it was issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate. The Christmas connection has long been reported to have been the result of quick thinking. For many years these were not included in the Stanley Gibbons catalogues, as they classified them as a “seal” rather than a postage stamp, but they have been properly included since the mid-1960s as they prepaid postage and so, despite the inscription "Letter stamp", are normal stamps, should therefore be counted as the first stamp issued expressly to mark Christmas.
Like the earlier Silver Jubilee overprints on the “sphinx” stamp, the Christmas stamps were issued in booklet form in panes of 20. In 1937, Austria issued two "Christmas greeting stamps" featuring zodiac signs. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, a mother and child. In 1941 Hungary issued a semi-postal whose additional fees were to pay for "soldiers' Christmas"; the first stamps to depict the Nativity were the Hungary issue of 1943. These were all one-time issues, more like commemorative stamps than regular issues; the next Christmas stamps did not appear until 1951, when Cuba issued designs with poinsettias and bells, followed by Haiti and Spain Australia and Liechtenstein. In cases such as Australia, the issuance marked the first of. Many more nations took up the practice during the 1960s, including the United States and United Kingdom. By the 1990s 160 postal administrations were issuing Christmas stamps on an annual basis.
Islamic countries constitute the largest group of non-participants, although the Palestinian Authority has issued Christmas stamps since 1995. Although some tropical islands produce large-format Christmas stamps intended for sale to stamp collectors, for the rest of the world, Christmas stamps are "working stamps" that will be used in large numbers to send greeting cards and postcards. Accordingly, the stamps tend to be normal-sized, offered in one or a few denominations, for instance to cover differing domestic and international rates; the choice of designs is variable, ranging from an overtly religious image of the Nativity, to secular images of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, so forth. A country may maintain a unified theme for several years change it drastically, in some cases to follow "fashion moves" by other countries. For instance, during the 1970s many countries issued Christmas stamps featuring children's drawings, with the young artist identified by name and age; the choice of secular or religious designs is a bone of contention in some countries.
In the United States, annual discord over "secular" versus "religious" designs was resolved by the Postal Service issuing some of each per year. To avoid difficulties attendant upon contracting for original designs with a religious theme, the latter have been adapted from Old Master paintings hanging in U. S. galleries, thus qualifying as depictions of art. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Mail resolves the difficulty by issuing "religious" and "secular" themed designs in alternate years; the usual usage of Christmas stamps is to apply them to a stack of Christmas cards to go out. In the age of email, Christmas stamps may represent some individuals' largest remaining use of stamps in a year, it is not unusual to see "leftovers" appear on regular mail during the first months of the new year. In Australia and the Netherlands, Christmas stamps are sold at a discount, but can be used after Christmas with additional stamps to make up the correct rate. Christmas is a popular theme for topical collecting.
Because of the quantities printed all Christmas stamps are easy to come by and of negligible cost. Collecting challenges would therefore be to get covers with apropos postal markings, such as a postmark on Christmas Day, or from a particular location (such as Christmas Island.
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage, who affix the stamp to the face or address-side of any item of mail—an envelope or other postal cover —that they wish to send. The item is processed by the postal system, where a postmark or cancellation mark—in modern usage indicating date and point of origin of mailing—is applied to the stamp and its left and right sides to prevent its reuse; the item is delivered to its addressee. Always featuring the name of the issuing nation, a denomination of its value, an illustration of persons, institutions, or natural realities that symbolize the nation's traditions and values, every stamp is printed on a piece of rectangular, but sometimes triangular or otherwise shaped special custom-made paper whose back is either glazed with an adhesive gum or self-adhesive; because governments issue stamps of different denominations in unequal numbers and discontinue some lines and introduce others, because of their illustrations and association with the social and political realities of the time of their issue, they are prized for their beauty and historical significance by stamp collectors whose study of their history and of mailing systems is called philately.
Because collectors buy stamps from an issuing agency with no intention to use them for postage, the revenues from such purchases and payments of postage can make them a source of net profit to that agency. Throughout modern history, numerous methods were used to indicate that postage had been paid on a mailed item, so several different men have received credit for inventing the postage stamp. William DockwraIn 1680, William Dockwra, an English merchant in London, his partner Robert Murray established the London Penny Post, a mail system that delivered letters and small parcels inside the city of London for the sum of one penny. Confirmation of paid postage was indicated by the use of a hand stamp to frank the mailed item. Though this'stamp' was applied to the letter or parcel itself, rather than to a separate piece of paper, it is considered by many historians to be the world's first postage stamp. Lovrenc KoširIn 1835, the Slovene civil servant Lovrenc Košir from Ljubljana in Austria-Hungary, suggested the use of "artificially affixed postal tax stamps" using "gepresste papieroblate", but although civil bureaucrats considered the suggestion in detail, it was not adopted.
Rowland HillIn 1836, a Member of Parliament, Robert Wallace, gave Sir Rowland Hill numerous books and documents about the postal service, which Hill described as a "half hundred weight of material". After a detailed study, on 4 January 1837 Hill submitted a pamphlet entitled Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability, marked "private and confidential," and not released to the general public, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring Rice; the Chancellor summoned Hill to a meeting at which he suggested improvements and changes to be presented in a supplement, which Hill duly produced and submitted on 28 January 1837. Summoned to give evidence before the Commission for Post Office Enquiry on 13 February 1837, Hill read from the letter he wrote to the Chancellor that included a statement saying that the notation of paid postage could be created "...by using a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, covered at the back with a glutinous wash...". This would become the first unambiguous description of a modern adhesive postage stamp.
Shortly afterward, Hill's revision of the booklet, dated 22 February 1837, containing some 28,000 words, incorporating the supplement given to the Chancellor and statements he made to the Commission, was published and made available to the general public. Hansard records that on 15 December 1837, Benjamin Hawes asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "whether it was the intention of the Government to give effect to the recommendation of the Commissioners of the Post-office, contained in their ninth report relating to the reduction of the rates of postage, the issuing of penny stamps?"Hill’s ideas for postage stamps and charging paid-postage based on weight soon took hold, were adopted in many countries throughout the world. With the new policy of charging by weight, using envelopes for mailing documents became the norm. Hill’s brother Edwin invented a prototype envelope-making machine that folded paper into envelopes enough to match the pace of the growing demand for postage stamps. Rowland Hill and the reforms he introduced to the United Kingdom postal system appear on several of its commemorative stamps.
James ChalmersIn the 1881 book The Penny Postage Scheme of 1837, Scotsman Patrick Chalmers claimed that his father, James Chalmers, published an essay in August 1834 describing and advocating a postage stamp, but submitted no evidence of the essay's existence. Until he died in 1891, Patrick Chalmers campaigned to have his father recognized as the inventor of the postage stamp; the first independent evidence for Chalmers' claim is an essay, dated 8 February 1838 and received by the Post Office on 17 February 1838, in which he proposed adhesive postage stamps to the General Post Office. In this 800-word document concerning methods of indicating that postage had been paid on mail he states: "Therefore, of Mr Hill’s plan of a uniform rate of postage... I conceive that the most simple and economical mode... would be by Slips... in the hope that Mr Hill’s plan may soon be carried into operation I would sugg
A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp issued on a significant date such as an anniversary, to honor or commemorate a place, person, or object. The subject of the commemorative stamp is spelled out in print, unlike definitive stamps which depict the subject along with the denomination and country name only. Many postal services issue several commemorative stamps each year, sometimes holding first day of issue ceremonies at locations connected with the subjects. Commemorative stamps can be used alongside ordinary stamps. Unlike definitive stamps that are reprinted and sold over a prolonged period of time for general usage, commemorative stamps are printed in limited quantities and sold for a much shorter period of time until supplies run out. There are several candidates for the title of first commemorative. A 17-cent stamp issued in 1860 by New Brunswick, showing the Prince of Wales in anticipation of his visit is one possibility. Cited as the world’s first commemoratives are the sixteen stamps of the United States Columbian Issue, produced to celebrate the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago honoring the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.
The United States 15-cent black stamp of 1866 depicts Abraham Lincoln, was the first stamp issued after his assassination in 1865, but it was not declared as a memorial to him. The U. S. issued a 5-cent stamp in 1882 showing the murdered President James A. Garfield. In addition, the United States issued stamped envelopes for the Centennial Exposition in 1876, although technically these are postal stationery and not stamps; the British Jubilee Issue of 1887 may be thought of as commemorative of the 50 years' reign of Queen Victoria, although there are no special inscriptions on the stamps, they were intended as regular stamps. In 1870 Peru issued a 5¢ scarlet Locomotive and Arms stamp and is regarded as the first commemorative postage stamp, issued to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first railway in South America. Though the United Kingdom set the precedent for postage stamps and their designs, they were the late runners with the issue of their first commemorative stamp, not issuing one until 1924 when it printed and released the British Empire Exhibition issue of 1924.
Other premier commemorative stamps were issued by New South Wales in 1888 to mark its 100th anniversary. Commemoratives followed in 1891 for Hong Romania. In 1892 and 1893 a half-dozen nations of America and Spain issued commemorative stamps for the 400th anniversary of the West's discovery of America by Christopher Columbus; the appearance of commemorative postage stamps caused a backlash among some stamp collectors in the early years of stamp collecting, who balked at the prospect of laying out ever-larger sums to acquire the stamps of the world. This led to the formation of the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps in 1895 to blacklist these excessive stamps; the organization broke up after unsuccessful attempts at getting collectors at large to comply with their wishes. Today early commemoratives are still prized by collectors. Definitive stamp Airmail stamp Stamp collecting Postage stamp Commemoration of the American Civil War on postage stamps Territories of the United States on stamps