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UNITED KINGDOM
 
   
   
 

United Kingdom Identity Card

 
Country name:
~ conventional long form:

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
~ conventional short form: United Kingdom
Area: 244,820 sq km
Coastline: 12,429 km
Highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m
Population: 59,553,800
Density: 243/km2
Population growth rate: 0.28%
Language: English (Welsh and Scottish)
Religions: Christian 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: London
GDP - per capita: $29,600
Inflation rate: 1.4%
Currency (code): British pound (GBP)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: GB
ISO CODE Alpha2: GB
ISO CODE Alpha3: GBR
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 826
Calling code: +44
Internet country code: .gb
Time Zone: + 0.0 H

 
 
 
 

An integral part of world history, United Kingdom has become synonymous with the mighty monarchy, pioneering innovations and trend setting developments, to list a few. While talking about colonisation, there is hardly any country existing in this globe that has not been dominated at least once by this much revered country. Located ideally on the northwestern part of the European continent, United Kingdom is basically a conglomeration of many eye catching islands. Officially, it is referred to as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in short United Kingdom. But the geographical and political identity of the country often comes under cloud due to misleading address of Great Britain, England or simply, Britain. However, practically the country jurisdiction includes two islands: Northern Ireland and Great Britain.


Thames in London

Britain, the largest island, comprises of the three distinct countries of Scotland, England and Wales. On the west of Wales lies Ireland, subdivided into Ireland in the south and Northern Ireland or Ulster in the north. The southern part of Ireland is an independent nation, out of the realms of United Kingdom. Apart from these four major constituents, the political perimeter of the country extends to a bunch of other islands. Smaller islands off the coast of Scotland include the Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands. Islands to the south are the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Isles, and the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey and Sark. The Isle of Man strategically located between Britain and Northern Ireland is a crown dependency having distinct government like the Channel Islands. Apart from being the capital of United Kingdom, London is also the largest city in the country.
United Kingdom has taken away the major share from the chapters of world history. Though weakened after the World Wars, this country still clings on to the traditional monarchical system and dominates certain sections of the globe. Right from the days of the Industrial Revolution, the country has contributed immensely with major breakthroughs in the field of science, art, culture and medicine. Today, United Kingdom boasts of being one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council apart from being a prestigious founder member of NATO as well as the Commonwealth.


The White Cliffs of Dover

Geography

United Kingdom, with its bagful of islands of different sizes, is a symbol of geographical diversity. Administratively, the country is divided into four regions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are encompassed by the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean from different sides. UK is separated from France at one of its southern tips by the narrow strait of English Channel. The terrain of England is mostly of lowlands while Scotland and Wales are mountainous.
The granite Cheviot Hills separates England from Scotland on the north. From these foothills, the Pennine Chain of uplands rolls down to south through the centre of England and ends up at its highest point in the Lake District in the northwest. At the western front of UK, along the border of Wales, the landscape is dotted with steep hills and valleys of Cambrian Mountains. The Cotswolds, a range of hills in Gloucestershire, extend into the surrounding areas. Ben Nevis at Scotland and Snowdon of Wales are respectively the highest and second highest peaks in the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is also abundant with hills and mountains and the terrain is basically rugged.
Other big rivers of UK like Humber, Tees, and Tyne, including Thames, flow down into the North Sea. In the western side, the Severn and Wye rivers find their way to the Bristol Channel. The river Mersey and Ribble are navigable and provide support and base for transportation. Kielder Forest in Northumberland, the New Forest in Hampshire and others in Wales and Scotland create the substantial 'green' support to the country. These forest areas are made up of indigenous trees like the oak, holly, hawthorn, pine and variety of wild life. But much of UK's wildlife and environment has suffered a huge dent due to human habitat expansion and pollution from industry.
United Kingdom is the fourth most populous country in Europe. The population largely consists of English decent with Scottish and smaller groups of Irish and Welsh descent making up nearly 15% of the total count. But in the last century UK witnessed a huge flood of immigrants from different parts of Asia and Africa. The communities of West Indies, India, Pakistan, Africa, and China settled in UK, account for 3% of the population. English is the main language of the country while a few speak Gaelic in Scotland. The Church of England, also called the Anglican Church, is the main religious establishment.


St. Michael's Mount

Climate

The climate of UK varies with its contrast in landscape. In general, it could be stated as moderate. In the northern frontiers the winters are cruel but it is balanced by the mild temperatures of the south because of the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. This combination makes United Kingdom one of the toppers in travellers list of most alluring places.


Gateshead Millennium Bridge of Newcastle

History

United Kingdom is the cradle of the great British Empire that spread its tentacles of royal authority over quarter half of the globe. Justifying the famous saying of ‘the sun of British Empire never sets’ it still continues to reign over some colonies in different parts of the world. It is believed that during the Ice Age, UK was part of the earth crust of European continent but the rising sea level separated it from the mainland through English Channel and the North Sea. Not much detail is available about the earliest inhabitants of United Kingdom, but the remains of Stonehenge and other examples of prehistoric culture confirm their presence. The first recorded invaders were the Celtic people. The Roman conquest began in A.D. 43 under Emperor Claudius and the country developed immensely during this period. By early fifth century barbarian incursions became frequent. UK suffered a spurt of invasion from Angles, Saxons, and Jutes of Scandinavia and other countries. But the Celtic tribes of Wales and Scotland remained untouched from these repeated circles of domination.
The end to these interventions came in 10th century when the country finally became united under the King Alfred of Wessex who drove out the Vikings. The country faced the Normandic invasion a few years later led by William, Duke of Normandy. Until now, Scotland and England have existed as separate entities. During the reign of Henry II the French connection strengthened and he invaded Ireland. The mission to Ireland continued with Edward I and eventually, he took over Wales and Scotland. Afterwards England recognised Scotland's independence in 1328.The following decades saw the beginning of the Hundred Years war between Britain and France and the spread of the fatal bubonic plague. Consequently, the population of UK reduced dramatically. The situation revived under Henry VIII who re-established England's economic stability and freed the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church and Papacy.


Stonehenge

After this, came the Elizabethan Age, when England's power and prestige increased enormously by defeating the Spanish Armada. This was also marked as the era of Shakespeare in history. But religious unrest continued and brought execution of Queen Mary and emergence of James I of England. The Act of Union in 1536 officially annexed Wales to the Kingdom of England. In 1620 a group of Protestants from UK sailed on the Mayflower to America and established the first successful British colony in North America. Queen Anne's reign was marked by victories over France at Blenheim, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet in the War of the Spanish Succession. The Act of Union meanwhile joined England and Scotland in 1707. Meanwhile the European wars between France and England spread to India and Canada, which also became colonies. The struggles with France broke out again in 1793 and during the Napoleonic Wars, which ended at Waterloo in 1815. It was Queen Victoria who introduced a democratic system of government with the Reform Bill of 1832. The Crimean War and war in South Africa against the Boers were fought in this time. It went to war against Germany in the World War I, emerged victor but was devastated. In 1922, after bitter fighting, Ireland broke into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, the latter becoming part of United Kingdom. After Second World War, the Empire changed to the Commonwealth, a grouping of independent nations rather than colonies. In 1951, Churchill again became prime minister as the head of a Conservative government. In 1953 Queen Elizabeth II was crowned and subsequently, the stringent monarchy gave way to a more freely functioning and powerful government system.


London Tower Bridge

Economy

United Kingdom has been the global pioneer in profitable foreign trade and industrialisation. The British Empire was not only symbol of strength and supremacy but also wealth and prosperity. The trading companies like Hudson's Bay and the East India Company first showed the world the route to trading posts in foreign shores that eventually became colonies. The Industrial Revolution around Manchester saw the light of the day with help from the domestic and foreign resources. UK bags the credit of gifting the world many inventions including locomotive, vaccination, television, and both the internal combustion and the jet engine. It is the leader in coal and iron mining and mercantile policies. The shipbuilding industry is also famous worldwide that have built such ships as the Cutty Sark, the Great Eastern and the Queen Elizabeth.
Except the few decades of setback suffered during the World Wars and the Great Depression, United Kingdom has managed to maintain the consistency in its ever-rising economic graph. The GDP/PPP of the country ranks at $1.782 trillion with a per capita of $29,600. The government took adequate measures to implement privatisation methods in large scale basis and created 3.5 million jobs in service-related industries. The service industries such as finance, media, leisure, transport and healthcare employ about seventy per cent of the work force and only around one per cent works in agriculture. The manufacturing industry employs around seventeen percent of the labour force. The Bank of England, the Bank of Scotland, the Stock Exchange and new company structures contributed in building UK as the 'workshop of the world'.
Despite being world's leading industrialised nation, the country leans heavily on agriculture, especially in parts of Scotland and Wales. Swansea, Cardiff, and Newport at South are the main ports. Fashion, music, historical places and royal background have collectively helped to solidify the tourism industry of United Kingdom. The country was one of the founding members of the European Union.


Liverpool View

Politics

The political system of United Kingdom is a peculiar combination of one of the longest surviving monarchy and a seemingly unwritten constitution. No matter how confusing it sounds, UK showed the world the way to organised democracy and practises the same till date with remarkable efficiency.
Following tradition, the hereditary monarch, who belongs to the Church of England, is the final authority in exercising executive powers and is considered the Head of State. But in case of day-to-day functioning of affairs, the prime minister and his set of cabinet ministers run the government on behalf of the monarch. The monarch usually asks the leader of the majority party to be the prime minister. The Royal powers have been limited to exercising ceremonial functions, though a formal permission from its part is required in each and every matter of the legislation.


Buckingham Palace

The constitution of United Kingdom is a centuries-old accumulation of statutes, judicial decisions, usage, and tradition. It is referred to any instance of dispute over issues, petitions or jurisdiction of power. The sovereignty of the country is guarded by the Parliament. It consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords who constitute the legislative. The Commons is made up of total 646 members who are elected from single-member constituencies in every five years. The cabinet of ministers headed by the prime minister are usually selected from the party that has acquired majority in the Commons. Some ministers also come from the House of Lords. Generally, the hereditary and life peers of the realm, high officials of the Church of England sit in the House of Lords. Comparatively, the commons are more powerful as most legislation originate and are passed here.

The Cathedral of Glasgow
The ruins of Whitby Abbey
 



 

 

 
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