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 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. Other than England, the constituent countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers. Other major British cities include Birmingham, Glasgow, 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. The UK became the world's first industrialised country and was the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today the UK remains one of the great powers, with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific, technological and political influence internationally. It one of five recognised nuclear weapons state and is ranked sixth globally in military expenditure. 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

Sir Ernest Shackleton taken during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (Endurance expedition)

The Shackleton-Rowett Expedition was the last Antarctic expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton (pictured), and the final episode in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The venture, lasting from 1921 to 1922, financed by businessman John Quiller Rowett, is sometimes referred to as the Quest Expedition after its ship, a small converted Norwegian whaler. Before the expedition's work could properly begin, Shackleton died aboard ship, just after its arrival at the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. The major part of the subsequent foreshortened expedition was a three-month cruise to the eastern Antarctic, under the leadership of second-in-command Frank Wild. In these waters the shortcomings of Quest were soon in evidence: slow speed, heavy fuel consumption, a tendency to roll in heavy seas, and a steady leak. The ship was unable to proceed further than longitude 20°E, well short of its easterly target, and its engine's low power was insufficient for it to penetrate far into the Antarctic ice. Following several fruitless attempts to break southwards through the pack ice, Wild returned the ship to South Georgia, after a nostalgic visit to Elephant Island, where he and 21 others had been stranded during Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition six years earlier. Although not greatly regarded in the histories of polar exploration, the Quest voyage is of historical significance, standing at the very end of the Heroic Age and the beginning of the "Mechanical Age" that followed it. (Full article...)

Featured biography

A stained glass window showing the death of Penda of Mercia

Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, a kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda participated in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633; nine years later, he defeated and killed Edwin's eventual successor, Oswald, at the Battle of Maserfield. From this point he was probably the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon rulers of the time; he defeated the East Angles, drove the king of Wessex into exile for three years, and continued to wage war against the Bernicians of Northumbria. Thirteen years after Maserfield, he suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of the Winwaed in the course of a final campaign against the Bernicians and was killed. (Full article...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982



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In the news

Wikinews UK

9 April 2021 - Death and funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at home in Windsor Castle aged 99. He was the longest-serving Royal Consort of the United Kingdom. (The Independent)
9 April 2021 - Far-right terrorism in the United Kingdom
A 17-year-old boy appears in court to deny neo-Nazi terror offences. Prosecutors allege that he was planning an attack using 3D printed firearms. (The Independent)
8 April 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
8 April 2021 - Hong Kong-United Kingdom relations, Hong Kong protests
The United Kingdom's Home Office grants political asylum to Hong Kong opposition activist and protest leader Nathan Law. (Reuters)
7 April 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
Thailand reports its first locally transmitted cases of the Lineage B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. It found 24 cases in the Thong Lor cluster in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post)
7 April 2021 - Myanmar-United Kingdom relations
Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Kyaw Zwar Minn, is dismissed by a military attaché and locked out of the embassy in London. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemns the "bullying actions" but says the UK has accepted the change. (BBC)


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