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 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 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 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 current 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.

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Abraham Thornton

Ashford v Thornton was an 1818 English legal case in the Court of King's Bench that upheld the right of the defendant, on a private appeal from an acquittal for murder, to trial by battle. In 1817, Abraham Thornton (pictured) was charged with the murder of Mary Ashford. Thornton met Ashford at a dance, and walked with her from the event. The next morning, Ashford was found drowned in a pit, with little outward signs of violence. Although public opinion was heavily against Thornton, the jury quickly acquitted him, and also found him not guilty of rape. Mary's brother, William Ashford, launched an appeal, and Thornton was rearrested. Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, a medieval usage which had never been repealed by Parliament. Ashford argued that the evidence against Thornton was overwhelming, and that he was thus ineligible to wager battle. The court decided that the evidence against Thornton was not overwhelming, and that trial by battle was a permissible option under law; thus Thornton was granted trial by battle. Ashford declined the offer of battle and Thornton was freed from custody. Appeals such as Ashford's were abolished by statute the following year, and with them the right to trial by battle. Thornton emigrated to the United States, where he died about 1860. (more...)

Featured biography

Elizabeth Needham as portrayed in William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress

Elizabeth Needham was an English procuress and brothel-keeper of 18th-century London, who has been identified as the bawd greeting Moll Hackabout in the first plate of William Hogarth's series of satirical etchings, A Harlot's Progress. Although Needham was notorious in London at the time, little is recorded of her life, and no genuine portraits of her survive. Her house was the most exclusive in London and her customers came from the highest strata of fashionable society, but she eventually fell foul of the moral reformers of the day and died as a result of the severe treatment she received after being sentenced to stand in the pillory. Nothing is known of her early life, but by the time she was middle-aged she was renowned in London as the keeper of a brothel in Park Place, St. James. Her house was regarded as superior to those of Covent Garden, even to that of the other notorious bawd of the time, Mother Wisebourne. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Another Place3 edit2.jpg
Photo credit: Chowells

Another Place is a piece of modern sculpture by Antony Gormley, currently erected on Crosby Beach, Liverpool until the end of 2006. It consists of 100 cast iron figures which face out to sea, spread over a 2 mile stretch of the beach. Each figure is 189 cm tall (nearly 6 feet 2½ inches) and weighs around 650 kg (over 1400 lb). In common with most of Gormley's work, the figures are cast from moulds of his own body.

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Wikinews UK

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)
2 July 2020 - Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Casual Dining Group, which owns the Bella Italia and Café Rouge United Kingdom restaurant chains, collapses into administration with 1,900 immediate job losses. (BBC)
2 July 2020 - Venezuelan presidential crisis
United Kingdom-Venezuela relations
In a case to decide who controls a $2 billion worth of gold from the Central Bank of Venezuela stored in the Bank of England, the High Court of Justice in London rules that the United Kingdom "unequivocally recognises Mr. Guaidó as President of Venezuela", refusing to give Nicolás Maduro access to the gold. (Reuters) (BBC)
1 July 2020 - Hong Kong-United Kingdom relations, 2019-20 Hong Kong protests
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says up to three million Hong Kong residents will be offered citizenship in the United Kingdom, following the passing of a controversial new national security law by China. Under the British government's plans, Hong Kongers will be able to settle in the UK for five years under political asylum, and after a further year will be able to apply for citizenship. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says there will be "no limits on numbers or quotas", due to the UK's "historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong". (BBC)

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