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 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 shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, 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 southwest, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The total area of the United Kingdom is 94,000 square miles (240,000 km2).

The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The 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 is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million.

The United Kingdom consists of four 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. Other major cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.

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. The UK's name was adopted in 1927 to reflect the change. 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 landmass 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 has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the ninth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It has a high-income economy and 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.

The United Kingdom is a leading 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). It was a member of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), for 47 years, between 1 January 1973 and withdrawal on 31 January 2020.

Featured article

The paintings of Four Times of the Day

Four Times of the Day is a series of four paintings by William Hogarth from 1736, reproduced as a series of four engravings published in 1738. They are humorous depictions of life in the streets of London, the vagaries of fashion, and the interactions between the rich and poor of the capital. Unlike many of Hogarth's other series, such as A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress, Industry and Idleness and The Four Stages of Cruelty, it does not depict the story of an individual, but instead focuses on the society of the city. Hogarth intended the series to be humorous rather than instructional; the pictures do not offer a judgement on whether the rich or poor are more deserving of our sympathies: while the upper and middle classes tend to provide the focus for each scene there are fewer of the moral comparisons seen in some other of his works. The four pictures depict scenes of daily life in various locations in London as the day progresses. Morning shows a prudish spinster making her way to church in Covent Garden past the revellers of the night before; Noon shows two cultures on opposite sides of the street in St Giles; Evening depicts a dyer's family returning hot and bothered from a trip to Sadler's Wells; and Night shows a drunken Freemason staggering home from a night of celebration . (more...)

Featured biography

Bruno Maddox is a British literary novelist and journalist who is best known for his critically acclaimed novel My Little Blue Dress (2001) and for his satirical magazine essays. After graduating from Harvard University in 1992, Maddox began his career reviewing books for The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post Book World. In early 1996, he was appointed to an editorship at SPY magazine and within a few months he was promoted to editor-in-chief, a position he held until the magazine shut down in 1998. Maddox wrote My Little Blue Dress between 1999 and 2001. Since its publication, he has focused on writing satirical essays for magazines such as GEAR and Travel + Leisure; he also contributes a monthly humor column to Discover magazine called "Blinded by Science", drawing on his early exposure to science and technology. Maddox is likewise a contributing editor to the American edition of The Week magazine. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Sir Thomas More
Portrait: Hans Holbein the Younger

Oil-on-panel portrait of Sir Thomas More
by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527)
Thomas More was a lawyer and political figure in 16th century England, best remembered as Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor. St. Thomas More was an influential shaper of modern thought, introducing the term Utopia with his novel by the same name, and at the same time a devout Catholic, even embracing ascetical practices such as the use of a hair shirt. He became increasingly firm in his Catholic religious convictions and fell into disfavour with Henry VIII over his refusal to accept Henry as the head of the Church of England. This in turn lead to More's execution at the Tower of London in 1535. On the 400th anniversary of his execution, More was declared a Saint.

In the news

Wikinews UK

15 July 2020 – George Floyd protests in the United Kingdom
A statue of Black Lives Matter protester Jen Reid replaces the statue of Edward Colston. (CBS News)
14 July 2020 –
UK Digital Media minister Oliver Dowden announces to the House of Commons that the country's mobile providers will be barred from buying 5G equipment from Huawei starting December 31, and will be required to remove it from their networks by 2027. Lord John Browne resigned from his position as chairman of Huawei's UK branch shortly before the announcement. (BBC)
13 July 2020 –
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law says he is in the United Kingdom after fleeing persecution from a controversial security law implemented by the Hong Kong government. (BBC)
8 July 2020 –
One person is killed and four others injured when a 20-metre crane collapses at a building site where flats were being constructed in the Bow district of East London, United Kingdom. (Reuters)
4 July 2020 – Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
3 July 2020 – St Paul's Cathedral bomb plot
British Muslim convert Safiyya Shaikh is sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting to suicide bomb St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. (BBC)

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