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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 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 or before 31 January 2020. 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

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester, England. In 2007, the population of the Manchester local government district was estimated to be 458,100, whilst the surrounding Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester had an estimated population of 2,562,200. Forming part of the English Core Cities Group, often described as the second city of the UK, and the "Capital of the North", Manchester today is a centre of the arts, the media, higher education and commerce. In a poll of British business leaders published in 2006, Manchester was regarded as the best place in the UK to locate a business. Manchester was the host of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and among its other sporting connections are its two Premier League football teams, Manchester City and Manchester United. Historically, most of the city was a part of Lancashire, with areas south of the River Mersey being in Cheshire. Manchester was the world's first industrialised city and played a central role during the Industrial Revolution. Manchester City Centre is now on a tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mainly due to the network of canals and mills constructed during its 19th-century development. (more...)

Featured biography

Anne of Denmark, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

Anne of Denmark (1574–1619) was queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland as the wife of King James VI and I. The second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at the age of fourteen and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I. She demonstrated an independent streak and a willingness to use factional Scottish politics in her conflicts with James over the custody of Prince Henry and his treatment of her friend Beatrix Ruthven. Anne appears to have loved James at first, but the couple gradually drifted and eventually lived apart, though mutual respect and a degree of affection survived. In England, Anne shifted her energies from factional politics to patronage of the arts and constructed a magnificent court of her own, hosting one of the richest cultural salons in Europe. After 1612, she suffered sustained bouts of ill health and gradually withdrew from the centre of court life. Though she was reported to have died a Protestant, evidence suggests that she may have converted to Catholicism at some stage in her life. Historians have traditionally dismissed Anne as a lightweight queen, frivolous and self-indulgent. However, recent reappraisals acknowledge Anne's assertive independence and, in particular, her dynamic significance as a patron of the arts during the Jacobean age. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Tower Bridge as viewed from the south-west.
Photo credit: Diliff

Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge in London over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London and is sometimes mistakenly called London Bridge, which is the next bridge upstream. The bridge is owned and maintained by City Bridge Trust, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation.

In the news

Wikinews UK

12 November 2019 – 2019 United Kingdom general election
Nigel Farage announces that his Brexit Party will withdraw its candidates in the 317 seats that the ruling Conservative Party won in the last general election. The move is expected to increase the chances of a Conservative majority in parliament. (The Washington Times)
11 November 2019 –
James Le Mesurier, the British co-founder of the White Helmets, a volunteer civil defence organisation in Syria, is found dead near his home in Istanbul, Turkey. The cause of death is not known. (BBC News)
11 November 2019 – 2019 United Kingdom general election
Major parties put forward veterans' platforms for Remembrance Day, the first in a campaign season since the 1923 election, with the Conservatives proposing an amendment to the Human Rights Act so that it will no longer apply to The Troubles or other 20th-century actions and the Labour Party promising extra childcare for military families and a new railcard for veterans. This is the 100th anniversary of the two-minute silence and other Armistice Day commemorations worldwide. (BBC News)
4 November 2019 – 2019 Speaker of the British House of Commons election
Members of the UK House of Commons vote to elect a new Speaker of the House, replacing the retiring John Bercow. The Labour Party's Sir Lindsay Hoyle defeats Chris Bryant in the fourth and final ballot. (The Guardian)
2 November 2019 –
The United Kingdom imposes an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking", a technique for the recovery of oil or gas reserves. (Reuters)
29 October 2019 – 2019 United Kingdom general election
The House of Commons votes 438 to 20 to approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call to hold a general election on December 12. (Reuters)

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