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Portal:United Kingdom

The United Kingdom Portal

Flag of the 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 (UK) or 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 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 the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The current 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 and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool.

The United Kingdom consists of four constituent 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, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution. 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 political systems of many of its former colonies.

The United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's sixth-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 rating, 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 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. It has been a leading member state of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973. A referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of the turnout being in favour of leaving the EU, which is currently scheduled to take place on 31 October 2019. 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).

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Featured article

Foundations of the monastic buildings and the back of the museum

Norton Priory is an historic site in Norton, Runcorn, Cheshire, North West England, comprising the remains of an abbey complex dating from the 12th to 16th centuries, and an 18th-century country house. The remains are a scheduled ancient monument and have been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. They are considered to be the most important monastic remains in Cheshire. In 1966 the site was given in trust for the use of the general public. Excavation of the site began in 1971, and became the largest to be carried out by modern methods on any European monastic site. It revealed the foundations and lower parts of the walls of the monastery buildings and the abbey church. Important finds included: a Norman doorway; a finely carved arcade; a floor of mosaic tiles, the largest floor area of this type to be found in any modern excavation; the remains of the kiln where the tiles were fired; a bell pit used for casting the bell; and a large medieval statue of Saint Christopher. The site, including a museum, the excavated ruins, and the surrounding garden and woodland, was opened to the public in the 1970s. In 1984, a redesigned walled garden was also opened. Norton Priory is now a visitor attraction, and the museum trust organises a programme of events, exhibitions, educational courses, and outreach projects. (more...)

Featured biography

Queen Mary II of England, after a painting by William Wissing

Mary II reigned as Queen of England and Ireland from 13 February 1689 until her death, and as Queen of Scotland (technically as Mary II of Scotland) from 11 April 1689 until her death. Mary, a Protestant, came to the throne following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of her Roman Catholic father, James II. Mary reigned jointly with her husband and first cousin, William III, who became the sole ruler upon her death. Popular histories usually know the joint reign as that of "William and Mary". Mary, although a sovereign in her own right, did not wield actual power during most of her reign. She did, however, govern the realm when her husband was abroad fighting wars.

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales
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David Suchet
Photo credit: Phil Chambers

David Suchet OBE (born May 2, 1946) is an English actor best known for his television portrayal of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot in the television series Agatha Christie's Poirot.

In the news

Wikinews UK

21 October 2019 – New Zealand–United Kingdom relations
The Foreign Minister of New Zealand Winston Peters accuses the United Kingdom of "walking out" on Pacific aid to small island nations. The accusation surprised British officials. (RNZ)
19 October 2019 – Brexit
The British Parliament votes 322 to 306 to pass the so-called "Letwin amendment" to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which states it will not approve any withdrawal agreement unless all relevant formal legislation is passed. In effect any subsequent vote on a deal is not considered final, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be forced to ask for an extension. (Reuters) (CNN)
18 October 2019 –
UK clothing retailer Bonmarché collapses into administration. The chain employs 2,900 people and operates 318 stores. (iNews)
17 October 2019 – Brexit negotiations, Brexit
The United Kingdom and the European Union agree on a new Brexit withdrawal agreement deal following talks in Brussels. Current coalition partner the Democratic Unionist Party subsequently announces they will oppose the deal. (BBC)
16 October 2019 –
Around 337 people in a dozen countries are arrested for participating in a child pornography network that hosted up to 250,000 videos depicting child sexual abuse. Officials in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Korea called it one of the largest child pornography operations to date. (Reuters)
15 October 2019 –
Climate activists continue Extinction Rebellion protests at the transport ministry in central London after the Metropolitan Police Service yesterday banned Extinction Rebellion protests in London, United Kingdom. Following the ban, police cleared a protester camp occupying Trafalgar Square. Almost 1,500 arrests have been made since last week. (BBC) (Reuters)

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