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Portal:United Kingdom

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 United Kingdom 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 16th 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).

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Featured article

Members of the Order wear ceremonial robes.

The Most Noble Order of the Garter is an English order of chivalry with a history stretching back to mediæval times; today it is Europe's oldest national order of knighthood in continuous existence and the pinnacle of the British honours system. Its membership is extremely limited, consisting of the Sovereign and not more than twenty-five full members. Male members are known as Knights Companion, whilst female members are known as Ladies Companion. The Sovereign alone grants membership of the Order; the Prime Minister does not tender binding advice as to appointments, as is done for most other orders. (more...)

Featured biography

John Wark in Aalesund in 2006

John Wark (born 1957) is a Scottish former footballer who spent most of his playing time with Ipswich Town. He won a record four Player of the Year awards before becoming one of the four inaugural members of the club's Hall of Fame. Wark had long spells at the club, at both the start and end of his career, and a third, brief interlude dividing his briefer periods at Liverpool and Middlesbrough. A versatile player, Wark played most of his professional games as a midfielder, although he sometimes played as a central defender and on occasion as a striker. Born in Glasgow, Wark represented Scotland in international football, winning 29 caps and scoring seven goals. This included selection for Scotland in the 1982 FIFA World Cup in which he made three appearances and scored twice. During his playing career, Wark appeared in the film Escape to Victory. Since retiring as a professional player in 1996, he has continued to work for Ipswich Town—since April 2009 in the corporate hospitality department. His autobiography was published in 2009. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales
England Northern
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Scotland Wales

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Shaftesbury Avenue
Photo by Chalmers Butterfield

Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus in 1949. Shaftesbury Avenue is a major street in London, named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, that runs in a north-easterly direction from Piccadilly Circus to New Oxford Street, crossing Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus.

In the news

Wikinews UK

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)
20 September 2018 – Brexit negotiations
At a European Union leaders' meeting in Salzburg, European Council President Donald Tusk says that he will push for an additional gathering in mid-November, allowing the United Kingdom's proposals to be "reworked and further negotiated". (AFP via Dawn)
16 September 2018 – British space programme
The first of a series of British satellites, known as NovaSAR, is launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India. The Surrey Satellite Technology satellite is designed to monitor suspicious shipping activity. (BBC)
13 September 2018 – Mass surveillance in the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights rules that the United Kingdom breached provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to mass surveillance practices exposed by American whistleblower Edward Snowden. (AP News)
5 September 2018 – Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Russia says that the United Kingdom declines to provide them with the suspects' fingerprints. (TASS)
30 August 2018 – Economy of the United Kingdom
Panasonic announces their intent to move their European headquarters from London to Amsterdam, citing concern over Brexit. (BBC)

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