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 is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, 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 United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

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 and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool.

The United Kingdom consists of four constituent 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, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution. 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. 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 land mass 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 is a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has 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. It has been a leading member state of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973. A referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of the turnout being in favour of leaving the EU, which is currently scheduled to take place on or before 31 January 2020. The United Kingdom is also 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).

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Scene from 1886 Savoy Theatre souvenir programme

H.M.S. Pinafore is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, England, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time. H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation. The story takes place aboard the titular ship, H.M.S. Pinafore. The captain's daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Drawing on several of his earlier "Bab Ballad" poems, Gilbert imbued this plot with mirth and silliness. The opera's humour focuses on love between members of different social classes and lampoons the British class system in general. Pinafore also pokes good-natured fun at patriotism, party politics, the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority and the Royal Navy. Pinafore's extraordinary popularity in Britain, America and elsewhere was followed by the similar success of a series of Gilbert and Sullivan works. Their works, later known as the Savoy operas, dominated the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade and continue to be performed today. (more...)

Featured biography

James II of England
James II became King of England, King of Scots, and King of Ireland on 6 February 1685. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Scotland, and Kingdom of Ireland. Some of his subjects distrusted his religious policies and alleged despotism, leading a group of them to depose him in the Revolution of 1688 (the "Glorious Revolution"). He was replaced not by his Roman Catholic son, James Francis Edward, but by his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, who became joint rulers in 1689. The belief that James—not William III or Mary II—was the legitimate ruler became known as Jacobitism. James did not himself attempt to return to the Throne, instead living the rest of his life under the protection of King Louis XIV of France. His son James Francis Edward Stuart and his grandson Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) attempted to restore the Jacobite line after James's death, but failed. (More...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Queenmaryformalportrait edit3.jpg

Mary of Teck (26 May 1867 - 24 March 1953) was the Queen Consort of George V. 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. She was the first Queen Consort to attend the coronation of her successors. Noted for superbly bejewelling herself for formal events, Queen Mary left a collection of jewels now considered priceless.

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Wikinews UK

12 November 2019 - 2019 United Kingdom general election
Nigel Farage announces that his Brexit Party will withdraw its candidates in the 317 seats that the ruling Conservative Party won in the last general election. The move is expected to increase the chances of a Conservative majority in parliament. (The Washington Times)
11 November 2019 -
James Le Mesurier, the British co-founder of the White Helmets, a volunteer civil defence organisation in Syria, is found dead near his home in Istanbul, Turkey. The cause of death is not known. (BBC)
11 November 2019 - 2019 United Kingdom general election
Major parties put forward veterans' platforms for Remembrance Day, the first in a campaign season since the 1923 election, with the Conservatives proposing an amendment to the Human Rights Act so that it will no longer apply to The Troubles or other 20th-century actions and the Labour Party promising extra childcare for military families and a new railcard for veterans. This is the 100th anniversary of the two-minute silence and other Armistice Day commemorations worldwide. (BBC) (Wikispore)
4 November 2019 - 2019 Speaker of the British House of Commons election
Members of the UK House of Commons vote to elect a new Speaker of the House, replacing the retiring John Bercow. The Labour Party's Sir Lindsay Hoyle defeats Chris Bryant in the fourth and final ballot. (The Guardian)
2 November 2019 -
The United Kingdom imposes an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking", a technique for the recovery of oil or gas reserves. (Reuters)
29 October 2019 - 2019 United Kingdom general election
The House of Commons votes 438 to 20 to approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call to hold a general election on December 12. (Reuters)

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