Portal:United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom Portal

Flag of the United Kingdom
Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom
Map of the United Kingdom in the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country lying 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 and 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 its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 21st-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The sovereign state is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The 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 the conurbations centred on Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Liverpool.

The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Their capitals are London, Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff respectively. Apart from England, the countries have devolved administrations, each with varying powers. 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, and 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 almost a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal 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 "very high" Human Development Index, 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 United Kingdom remains a great power with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and 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 (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973; however, a referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of UK voters favouring leaving the European Union, and the country's exit is being negotiated. The United Kingdom is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Featured article

The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English narrating the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The annals were created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple manuscript copies were made and distributed to monasteries across England and were independently updated. In one case, the chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154. Nine manuscripts survive in whole or in part, though not all are of equal historical value, and none of them is the original version. The oldest seems to have been started towards the end of Alfred's reign, while the most recent was written at Peterborough Abbey after a fire at the monastery there in 1116. Much of the information given in the Chronicle is not recorded elsewhere. In addition, the manuscripts are important sources for the history of the English language; in particular, the later Peterborough text is one of the earliest examples of Middle English in existence. Seven of the nine surviving manuscripts and fragments now reside in the British Library. The remaining two are in the Bodleian Library and the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. (more...)

Featured biography

19th-century engraving of George Fox

George Fox was an English Dissenter and the founder of the Society of Friends. At Derby in 1650 Fox was imprisoned for blasphemy; a judge mocked Fox's exhortation to "tremble at the word of the Lord", calling him and his followers "Quakers" — now the common name of the Society of Friends. Living in a time of great social upheaval, he rebelled against the religious and political consensus by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. His journal is a text popular even among non-Quakers for its vivid account of his personal journey. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Broadway Tower
Photo credit: Newton2

Broadway Tower is a folly located near the village of Broadway, Worcestershire, at one of the highest points of the Cotswolds. Its base is 1,024 feet (312 metres) above sea level. On a clear day thirteen counties can be seen from the top of the tower. It was designed by James Wyatt to resemble a mock castle, and built for Lady Coventry in 1797.

In the news

Wikinews UK

15 October 2018 – Hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom
Fracking for shale gas begins in the United Kingdom for the first time since it was suspended in 2011 after being linked to a series of earthquakes. Cuadrilla Resources say they will spend at least three months fracking two horizontal wells in Lancashire. (BBC)
6 October 2018 – Foreign fighters in the Syrian and Iraqi Civil Wars
Jack Letts, a British Islamic State fighter held in Syria, faces deportion from Syria to Canada instead of the United Kingdom. (Al-Masdar News) (The Guardian)
2 October 2018 – Politics of the United Kingdom, Brexit
DUP leader Arlene Foster says that extra border checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain are the "one red line" for her party. (Bloomberg)
25 September 2018 – Brexit, Opposition to Brexit in the United Kingdom
The Labour Party plans to reject UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Chequers Agreement and is open to a new Brexit referendum. (Reuters) (AP News)
24 September 2018 – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
The foreign ministers of Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China and Iran agree to the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle, a financial facility in the European Union, to facilitate payments and continue trade with Iran after the US withdrawal from the Iran deal. (Associated Press)
20 September 2018 – Storm Bronagh
Bronagh, the second named storm of the 2018–19 European windstorm season, begins moving across Ireland and the United Kingdom. (ITV)

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