Portal:United Kingdom

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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 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.

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An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump is a 1768 oil-on-canvas painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, part of a series of candlelit scenes that Wright painted during the 1760s. The Air Pump departed from previous painting conventions by depicting a scientific subject in the reverential manner formerly reserved for scenes of historical and religious significance. Wright was intimately involved in depicting the Industrial Revolution and the scientific advances of the Enlightenment, but while his paintings were recognized as something out of the ordinary by his contemporaries, his provincial status and choice of subjects meant the style was never widely imitated. The picture has been owned by the National Gallery since 1863 and is still regarded as a masterpiece of British art. The painting depicts a natural philosopher, a forerunner of the modern scientist, recreating one of Robert Boyle's air pump experiments, in which a bird is deprived of oxygen, before a varied group of onlookers. The group exhibit different reactions, but for most scientific curiosity overcomes concern for the bird. The central figure looks out of the picture as if inviting the viewer's participation in the outcome. (more...)

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David I of Scotland

David I (1083–1153) was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians and later King of the Scots. The youngest son of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada and Margaret, David spent most of his childhood in Scotland, but was exiled to England in 1093. At some point, perhaps after 1100, he became a hanger-on at the court of King Henry I and experienced long exposure to Norman and Anglo-French culture. When David's brother Alexander I of Scotland died in 1124, David chose, with the backing of Henry I, to take the Kingdom of Scotland (Alba) for himself. He was forced to engage in warfare against his rival and nephew, Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair. Subduing the latter took David ten years, and involved the destruction of Óengus, Mormaer of Moray. David's victory allowed him to expand his control over more distant regions theoretically part of his Kingdom. After the death of his former patron Henry I, David supported the claims of Henry's daughter and his own niece, the former Empress-consort, Matilda, to the throne of England; in the process, he came into conflict with King Stephen and was able to expand his power in northern England, despite his defeat at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. The term "Davidian Revolution" is used by many scholars to summarise the changes which took place in the Kingdom of Scotland during his reign. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral at dusk (reduced grain), corrected perspective.jpg
Photo credit: Chowells

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (usually shortened to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, England. Designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd and consecrated in 1967, it replaced the Pro-Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Copperas Hill. The cathedral stands on the site previously occupied by the Liverpool Workhouse, on Hope Street. Facing it at the opposite end of Hope Street is the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool, the city's Anglican cathedral.

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