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The United Kingdom Portaledit
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country 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. It is a country in its own right and 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 a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. 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 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 Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.
The Scottish Parliament Building is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Edinburgh. Construction on the building commenced in June 1999 and the Members of the Scottish Parliament held their first debate in the new building on Tuesday, 7 September 2004. The formal opening by Queen Elizabeth II took place on 9 October 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died during the course of its construction. From the outset, the building and its construction have proven to be highly controversial. The choices of location, architect, design and construction company were all criticised by politicians, the media and the Scottish public. Scheduled to open in 2001, it did so in 2004, more than three years late with an estimated final cost of £414m, substantially higher than initial costings of between £10m and £40m. A major public inquiry into the handling of the construction, chaired by the former Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser, was established in 2003. The inquiry concluded in September 2004 and criticised the management of the whole project from the realisation of cost increases down to the way in which major design changes were implemented. Despite these criticisms and a mixed public reaction, the building was welcomed by architectural academics and critics. (more...)
Stereolab were an alternative music band formed in 1990 in London, England. The band originally comprised songwriting team Tim Gane (guitar/keyboards) and Lætitia Sadier (vocals/keyboards/guitar), both of whom remained at the helm across many lineup changes. Other long-time members include Andy Ramsay (drums) and Mary Hansen (backing vocals/keyboards/guitar). Called "one of the most fiercely independent and original groups of the Nineties", Stereolab were one of the first bands to be termed "post-rock". Their primary musical influence was 1970s krautrock, which they combined with lounge, 1960s pop, and experimental pop music. They were noted for their heavy use of vintage electronic keyboards, and their sound often overlays a repetitive "motorik" beat with female vocals sung in English or French. Stereolab often incorporated socio-political themes into their lyrics. Some critics say the group's lyrics carry a strong Marxist message, and Gane and Sadier admit to being influenced by the Surrealist and Situationist cultural and political movements. The band were released from their recording contract with Warner Bros. Records when Warner's imprint Elektra Records folded. (more...)
Image credit: Mintguy & Fredrik
A diagram of movement within a roundabout in a country where traffic drives on the left. A roundabout is a type of road junction, or traffic calming device, at which traffic streams circularly around a central island after first yielding to the circulating traffic. Unlike with traffic circles, vehicles on a roundabout have priority over the entering vehicle, parking is not allowed and pedestrians are usually prohibited from the central island.
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