Portal:United Kingdom
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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 in north-western Europe, 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 within the British Isles. 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 south-west, 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. 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, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.

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.

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. There are also 14 British Overseas Territories, the last 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 13th 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, technological 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...)

Featured article

The interior of the third and largest theatre to stand at Drury Lane, c. 1808

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a theatre in the Covent Garden district of London, facing Catherine Street and backing onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663. For its first two centuries, Drury Lane could "reasonably have claimed to be London's leading theatre" and thus one of the most important theatres in the English-speaking world. Through most of that time, it was one of a small handful of patent theatres that were granted monopoly rights to the production of "legitimate" drama in London. The first theatre on the location was built on behest of Thomas Killigrew in the early years of the English Restoration. The building that stands today opened in 1812. It has been home to actors as diverse as Shakespearean Edmund Kean, comedian Dan Leno, and musical composer and performer Ivor Novello. Today, the theatre is owned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and generally stages popular musical theatre. It is a Grade I listed building. (Full article...)

Featured biography

Portrait of Mary of Teck

Mary of Teck (1867-1953) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India as the consort of King-Emperor George V. At the age of 24 she was betrothed to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the heir to the British throne, but six weeks after the engagement was announced he unexpectedly died of pneumonia. The following year she became engaged to the new heir, Albert Victor's brother, George. As his queen consort from 1910, she supported her husband through World War I, his ill health, and major political changes arising from the aftermath of the war and the rise of socialism and nationalism. After George's death in 1936, her eldest son Edward became King-Emperor, but to her dismay he abdicated the same year in order to marry twice-divorced American socialite Mrs. Wallis Simpson. She supported her second son, Albert, who succeeded to the throne as George VI, until his death in 1952. She died the following year, at the beginning of the reign of her granddaughter, Elizabeth II. Queen Mary was known for setting the tone of the British Royal Family, as a model of regal formality and propriety, especially during state occasions. (Full article...)

Did you know ...

Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Wikinews UK

3 March 2021 - 2021 United Kingdom budget, Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers the 2021 Spring budget to the House of Commons, announcing the government's tax and spending plans for the year ahead, as well as further COVID-19 support measures, including extending the furlough until the end of September and increasing the minimum wage beginning in April. (BBC)
2 March 2021 - Anti-Irish sentiment
The Equality and Human Rights Commission says that it has investigated Britannia Hotels-owned holiday park operator Pontins after a whistleblower revealed that Pontins had a blacklist of common Irish surnames to prevent Roma and Irish Travellers from booking at its parks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that the discrimination is "completely unacceptable". (BBC)
2 March 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
Indonesia reports their first two cases of the Lineage B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. (Liputan6.com)
Tunisia reports their first case of the Lineage B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. (Reuters)
28 February 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom

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