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 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 union between the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, followed by 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 fifth-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 15th 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 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) from 1 January 1973 until withdrawing on 31 January 2020. (Full article...)

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Gray's Inn Square

Gray's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road, the Inn is both a professional body and a place of living and office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called "Pension", made up of the Masters of the Bench (or "Benchers"), and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The Inn is known for its gardens, or Walks, which have existed since at least 1597. Gray's Inn does not claim a specific foundation date; there is a tradition that none of the Inns of Court claims to be any older than the others. Law clerks and their apprentices have been established on the present site since at least 1370, with records dating from 1391. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Inn grew steadily, reaching its pinnacle during the reign of Elizabeth I. The outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642 during the reign of Charles I disrupted the systems of legal education and governance at the Inns of Court, shutting down all calls to the Bar and new admissions, and Gray's Inn never fully recovered. Fortunes continued to decline after the English Restoration, which saw the end of the traditional method of legal education. Although now more prosperous, Gray's Inn is still the smallest of the Inns of Court. (Full article...)

Featured biography

George VI of the United Kingdom

George VI was the King of the United Kingdom and each of the British Dominions from 11 December 1936 until his death on 6 February 1952. He was the last Emperor of India (until 1947) and the last King of Ireland (until 1949). As the second son of his father, King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne, and he spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Edward. After the death of his father in 1936, his brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII. Less than a year later, Edward VIII unexpectedly abdicated in order to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. By reason of this unforeseen abdication, unique in British history, George VI ascended the throne. In the first 24 hours of the accession, the Irish parliament passed the External Relations Act, which essentially removed the power of the monarch in Ireland. Within three years of his accession, the British Empire was at war with Nazi Germany, within four years with Italy and within five years with the Empire of Japan. With the independence of India and Pakistan, and the foundation of the Republic of Ireland, his later reign saw the acceleration of the break-up of the Empire, and foreshadowed its eventual transformation from Empire to Commonwealth. (Full article...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Albert Memorial
Photo credit: Diliff

The Albert Memorial, a monument to Prince Albert found in Kensington Gardens, London, as seen from the south side. Directly to the north of the Royal Albert Hall. It was commissioned by Queen Victoria and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style. Opened in 1872, the memorial is 176 feet (54 m) tall, took over ten years to complete, and cost £120,000.

In the news

Wikinews UK

24 November 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, Travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces that the government will cut quarantine for people who arrived to England from overseas to five days if they pay for a COVID-19 test beginning December 15. Testing from private firm will cost between £65 to £120.(BBC)
23 November 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces that gyms, bars, and non-essential shops across England will be allowed to reopen when the lockdown ends on December 2. The three-tiered regional measures will return at the same time, but with tighter rules. (BBC)
19 November 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
17 November 2020 –
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel engine cars by 2030, as part of a government plan to reach a net zero emissions climate target in the United Kingdom by 2050. The sale of hybrid vehicles will also be banned by 2035. (Reuters)

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