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 (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located 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 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 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 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The UK 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 urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area.

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 (England does not have any devolved power). 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 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 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; however, a referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9 per cent 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

Bramall Hall from the west

Bramall Hall is a Tudor mansion in Bramhall, within the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, Greater Manchester, England. Dating to Saxon times, the manor of Bramall was first described in the Domesday Book in 1086. It was first held by the Masseys, then from the late 14th century by the Davenports, a wealthy family and a significant landowner in the north-west of England. The Davenports built the present house, and remained lords of the manor for about 500 years before selling the house to the Nevill family. It was subsequently purchased by John Henry Davies, and then acquired by the local council. Bramall Hall is owned by the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, who describe it as "the most prestigious and historically significant building in the Conservation Area". It is a timber-framed manor house surrounded by 70 acres (28 ha) of landscaped parkland featuring lakes, woodland, and gardens; its oak timber framing was originally infilled by wattle and daub. The oldest parts of the house date from the 14th century, with later additions from the 16th and 19th centuries. The house and grounds are open to the public, and the house functions as a museum where special events are held throughout the year. (more...)

Featured biography

Imaginary depiction of Cædwalla by Lambert Barnard

Cædwalla (659–689) was the King of Wessex from about 685 until 688, when he abdicated. His name is derived from the British Cadwallon. He was exiled as a youth, and during this time attacked the South Saxons, in what is now Sussex, killing their king, Æthelwealh, but he was unable to hold the territory and was driven out by Æthelwealh's ealdormen. In either 685 or 686 he became king of Wessex. He may have been involved in suppressing rival dynasties at this time, as an early source records that Wessex was ruled by underkings until Cædwalla. After his accession Cædwalla returned to Sussex and won the territory again, and also conquered the Isle of Wight, extinguishing the ruling dynasty there. He gained control of Surrey and the kingdom of Kent, and in 686 he installed his brother, Mul, as king of Kent. Mul was burned in a Kentish revolt a year later, and Cædwalla returned, possibly ruling Kent directly for a period. Cædwalla was wounded during the conquest of the Isle of Wight, and perhaps for this reason he abdicated in 688 to travel to Rome for baptism. He reached Rome in April of 689, and was baptised on the Saturday before Easter, dying ten days later on 20 April 689. He was succeeded by Ine. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath.
Photo credit: Diliff

Bath is a city in South West England most famous for its baths fed by three hot springs. It is situated 99 miles (159 km) west of Central London and 13 miles (21 km) south east of Bristol.

In the news

Wikinews UK

20 May 2019 –
The Swedish prosecutor files an arrest warrant against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation. Assange is serving a 50-week prison sentence in the United Kingdom for skipping bail. (Reuters)
16 May 2019 – Brexit negotiations in 2019, Premiership of Theresa May
UK Prime Minister Theresa May says that she will detail the timetable for her resignation after the Brexit vote in June. (FT), (The New York Times), (Time)
15 May 2019 –
The Jeremy Kyle Show, one of the United Kingdom's most watched reality television programmes, is cancelled by ITV Studios following the suicide of a male guest shortly after taking part in the programme. The show has long been criticised for its style, with many describing it as poverty porn. (BBC)
13 May 2019 – Iran–United Kingdom relations
An Iranian woman is sentenced to 10 years in prison for suspected spying for the United Kingdom. A judiciary spokesman alleged that she was recruited by the British Council's Iran desk. (Reuters)
13 May 2019 –
Prosecutors in Sweden reopen the rape allegation investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Swedish prosecutors mention their intent to seek extradition of Assange from the United Kingdom after he has served his 50-week prison sentence for skipping bail. (BBC) (The New York Times) (Associated Press)
8 May 2019 – Nuclear program of Iran
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sends letters to the P5+1 leaders of the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Germany, France and the European Union announcing the country's partial withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement. Furthermore, Iran announces that it will stop exporting uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program. (Miami Herald) (CBS News)

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