Portal:United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom Portaledit
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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 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 fifth-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 European Union, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.

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Moffat, Gillies and Bathurst

Joking Apart is a BBC television sitcom written by Steven Moffat about the rise and fall of a relationship. It juxtaposes a couple, Mark (Robert Bathurst) and Becky (Fiona Gillies), who meet and fall in love before getting separated and finally divorced. The twelve episodes, broadcast between 1993 and 1995, were directed by Bob Spiers and produced by Andre Ptaszynski for independent production company Pola Jones. The show is semi-autobiographical; it was inspired by the then-recent separation of Moffat and his first wife. Some of the episodes in the first series followed a non-linear parallel structure, contrasting the rise of the relationship with the fall. Other episodes were ensemble farces, predominantly including the couple's friends Robert (Paul Raffield) and Tracy (Tracie Bennett). Paul-Mark Elliott also appeared as Trevor, Becky's lover. Scheduling problems meant that the show attracted low viewing figures. However, it scored highly on the Appreciation Index and accrued a loyal fanbase. One fan acquired the home video rights from the BBC and released both series on his own DVD label. (more...)

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Depiction of Ælle from John Speed's 1611 "Saxon Heptarchy".

Ælle is recorded in early sources as the first king of the South Saxons, reigning in what is now Sussex, England from 477 to perhaps as late as 514. The information about him is so limited that it cannot be said with certainty that Ælle even existed. Ælle and three of his sons are reported to have landed near what is now Selsey Bill—the exact location is under the sea, and is probably what is now a sandbank known as the Owers—and fought with the British. A victory in 491 at what is now Pevensey is reported to have ended with the Saxons slaughtering their opponents to the last man. Although the details of these traditions cannot be verified, evidence from the place names of Sussex does make it clear that it was an area with extensive and early settlement by the Saxons, supporting the idea that this was one of their early conquests. Ælle was the first king recorded by the eighth century chronicler Bede to have held "imperium", or overlordship, over other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the late ninth century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (around four hundred years after his time) Ælle is recorded as being the first bretwalda, or "Britain-ruler", though there is no evidence that this was a contemporary title. Ælle's death is not recorded, and it is not known who succeeded him as king of the South Saxons. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Arlington Row, Bibury
Photo credit: Saffron Blaze

Bibury is a village in Gloucestershire, England. The Cotswold stone cottages of Arlington Row, pictured, were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store and converted into weaver cottages in the 17th century. William Morris, a leading light of the Arts and Crafts Movement, called Bibury "the most beautiful village in England".

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