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 U.K.) or, informally, Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the southwest, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The total area of the United Kingdom is 94,000 square miles (240,000 km2).

The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world's longest-serving current head of state. The United Kingdom's capital is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers. Other major cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.

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 union between the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, followed by 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. The UK's name was adopted in 1927 to reflect the change. 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 landmass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and political systems of many of its former colonies. The United Kingdom has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the ninth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It has a high-income economy and a very high human development index rating, ranking 15th 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 UK 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.

The United Kingdom is 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). It was a member of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC) from 1 January 1973 until withdrawing on 31 January 2020.

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An aeriel view of Little Thetford looking north-east

Little Thetford is a small village 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Ely in Cambridgeshire, England, about 76 miles (122 km) by road from London. The village is built on a boulder clay island surrounded by flat fenland countryside, typical of settlements in this part of the East of England. In 1007, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman named Ælfwaru granted her lands in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, including the "land at Thetford and the fisheries around those marshes", to the abbots of Ely Abbey; the village was still listed as a fishery in the Domesday Book, 79 years later. Little Thetford resisted the Parliamentary Inclosure Acts of William IV for seven years, which may have led to the strong Baptist following amongst the poor of the village. About half of Little Thetford was eventually enclosed under the Parliamentary Inclosure Thetford Act of Victoria. The Cambridge station to Ely station section of the Fen Line passes through the east of the village and the rail journey from Ely to London takes about 75 minutes. Occupying an area of 2 square miles (5 km2), and with a population of 693, Little Thetford is the smallest civil parish in the ward of Stretham; notable buildings in the village date from the 14th century. (more...)

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Cædmon is the earliest English poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon herdsman attached to the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey) during the abbacy of St. Hilda, it is said that he was originally ignorant of the art of song until he learned to compose one night in the course of a dream. He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational religious poet. Cædmon is one of twelve Anglo-Saxon poets identified in medieval sources, and one of only three for whom both roughly contemporary biographical information and examples of literary output have survived. His story is told to us in the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum by St. Bede. Cædmon's only known surviving work is Cædmon's Hymn, the nine-line alliterative vernacular praise poem in honour of God he supposedly learned to sing in his initial dream. The poem is one of the earliest attested examples of Old English and is, with the runic Ruthwell Cross and Franks Casket inscriptions, one of three candidates for the earliest attested example of Old English poetry. (More...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005
Photo credit: Andrew Dunn

Stonehenge is a Neolithic and Bronze Age monument located near Amesbury in the English county of Wiltshire. Constructed between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, it is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones, known as megaliths. Archaeoastronomers claim that Stonehenge represents an "ancient observatory," with significant alignments for the sunrise on the solstice and equinox days.

In the news

Wikinews UK

23 October 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
21 October 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
The number of confirmed cases in the United Kingdom surges to a new record high of 26,688, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 789,229. (Sky News)
19 October 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
16 October 2020 –
Moody's downgrades the United Kingdom's debt rating to Aa3 with a stable outlook. (The Wall Street Journal)
16 October 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

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