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 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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The coastline of Tory Island

The Battle of Tory Island was a naval action of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought on 12 October 1798 between French and British squadrons off the northwest coast of Donegal in Ireland. The last action of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Battle of Tory Island ended the final attempt by the French Navy to land substantial numbers of soldiers in Ireland during the war. In May 1798 the Society of United Irishmen, led by Theobald Wolfe Tone, precipitated an uprising against British rule in Ireland. At the urging of the rebels a small French force under General Humbert was landed at Killala, but by early September both this expedition and the rebellion had been defeated. Unaware of the defeat, on 16 September the French despatched reinforcements. However, having missed one invasion force, the Royal Navy was on alert for another, and when the squadron carrying the reinforcements left Brest they were soon spotted. After a long chase, the French were brought to battle in a bay off Donegal close to Tory Island. During the action the outnumbered French attempted to escape, but were run down and defeated piecemeal, with the British capturing four ships and scattering the survivors. Over the next two weeks, British frigate patrols scoured the passage back to Brest, capturing three more ships. Of the ten ships in the original French squadron, only two frigates and a schooner reached safety. British losses in the campaign were minimal. The battle marked the last attempt by the French Navy to launch an invasion of any part of the British Isles. (more...)

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Hastings Ismay

Hastings Ismay (1887–1965) was a British soldier and diplomat, remembered primarily for his role as Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during World War II and his service as the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the 1950s. After serving with the Camel Corps during World War I, Ismay became an Assistant Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he became the Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence and began planning for the impending war. In May 1940, when Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he selected Ismay as his chief military assistant and staff officer. In that capacity, Ismay served as the principal link between Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He also accompanied Churchill to many of the Allied war conferences. After the war, Ismay remained in the British Armed Forces and helped reorganise the Ministry of Defence. When Churchill again became Prime Minister in 1951, he appointed Ismay Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Six months later, Ismay resigned to become the first Secretary General of NATO. He served as Secretary General from 1952 to 1957. After retiring from NATO, Ismay wrote his memoirs, The Memoirs of General Lord Ismay. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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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.

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