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Portal:United Kingdom

The United Kingdom Portal

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in western Europe. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, the UK 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 UK 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 UK 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 UK 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 UK'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 UK 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 creation of the UK resulted from 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 to form 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 UK 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 16th in the world. It was the 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; however, a referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of UK voters favouring leaving the EU, and the country's exit is being negotiated. The UK 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

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Wakefield Cathedral for the Maundy money ceremony

Royal Maundy is a religious service in the Church of England held on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. At the service, the British Monarch or a royal official ceremoniously distributes small silver coins known as "Maundy money" as symbolic alms to elderly recipients. The name "Maundy" and the ceremony itself derive from an instruction, or mandatum, of Jesus at the Last Supper that his followers should love one another. In the Middle Ages, English monarchs washed the feet of beggars in imitation of Jesus, and presented gifts and money to the poor. Over time, additional money was substituted for the clothing and other items that had once been distributed; the custom of washing the feet did not survive the 18th century. Today, Queen Elizabeth II (pictured at the 2005 service) almost always attends, and the service is held in a different church (usually a cathedral) every year. Maundy money is struck in denominations of one penny, two pence, three pence, and four pence. In most years there are fewer than 2,000 complete sets; they are highly sought after by collectors. (more...)

Featured biography

Hannah de Rothschild

Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery was the daughter of Baron Mayer de Rothschild and his wife Juliana, née Cohen. On the death of her father in 1874 she became the richest woman in Britain. Her husband, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, was, during the final quarter of the nineteenth century, one of the most celebrated figures in Britain, an influential millionaire and politician, whose charm, wit, charisma and public popularity gave him such standing that he "almost eclipsed royalty". Her marriage into the aristocracy, while controversial at the time, gave her the social cachet in an anti-Semitic society that her vast fortune could not. She subsequently became a political hostess and philanthropist. Her charitable work was principally in the sphere of public health and causes associated with the welfare of working class Jewish women living in the poorer districts of London. Having firmly assisted and supported her husband on his path to political greatness, she suddenly died in 1890, aged 39, leaving him to achieve, bewildered and without her support, the political destiny which she had plotted alone. His premiership of the United Kingdom was shambolic, and lasted barely a year. (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.

In the news

Wikinews UK

12 July 2018 – International presidential visits made by Donald Trump, United Kingdom–United States relations
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in the UK for his presidential trip to the country amid widespread protests. (BBC)
9 July 2018 – Politics of the United Kingdom
Boris Johnson resigns as the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs amid disagreements with Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit negotiations. Johnson is the second member of May's cabinet to resign in two days. (BBC)
8 July 2018 – Politics of the United Kingdom
David Davis resigns as the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union amid disagreements with Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit negotiations. (BBC)
3 July 2018 – LGBT rights in the United Kingdom
Theresa May announces a ban on gay conversion therapy. (BBC)
3 July 2018 – Economy of the United Kingdom
The UK's Financial Reporting Council launches an investigation into financial services provider KPMG over its most recent audit of Convivality, the defunct owner of retail chain Bargain Booze. (ITV)
29 June 2018 – 2018 United Kingdom wildfires
As the Saddleworth Moor wildfire continues to burn for a sixth day, the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have requested for military assistance in fighting the fire to be extended for at least another three days. (HuffPost)

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