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 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 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.

Featured article

John Vanbrugh, author of The Relapse

The Relapse is a Restoration comedy from 1696 by John Vanbrugh, a sequel to Colley Cibber's notorious tear-jerker Love's Last Shift, or, Virtue Rewarded. In Cibber's Love's Last Shift, a free-living Restoration rake is brought to repentance and reform by the ruses of his wife, while in The Relapse, the rake succumbs again to temptation and has a new love affair. His virtuous wife is also subjected to a determined seduction attempt, and resists with difficulty. Vanbrugh planned The Relapse around particular actors at Drury Lane, writing their stage habits, public reputations, and personal relationships into the text. One such actor was Colley Cibber himself, who played the luxuriant fop Lord Foppington in both Love's Last Shift and The Relapse. However, Vanbrugh's artistic plans were threatened by a cut-throat struggle between London's two theatre companies, each of which was "seducing" actors from the other. The Relapse came close to not being produced at all, but the successful performance that was eventually achieved in November 1696 vindicated Vanbrugh's intentions, as well as saving the company from bankruptcy. (more...)

Featured biography

Princess Beatrice

Princess Beatrice (1857–1944) was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As Beatrice's elder sisters married and left their royal mother, Victoria came to rely on the company of her youngest daughter. Beatrice, who was brought up to stay with her mother always, soon resigned herself to her fate. Victoria was set against her youngest daughter marrying and refused to discuss the possibility. Nevertheless, many suitors were put forward, including Napoleon Eugene, Prince Imperial, the son of the exiled Emperor Napoleon III of France, and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, the widower of Beatrice's older sister Alice. Although she was attracted to the Prince Imperial, and there was talk of a possible marriage, he was killed in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879. Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. After a year of persuasion, Victoria agreed to the marriage, which took place at Whippingham on the Isle of Wight, on 23 July 1885. Victoria consented on condition that Beatrice and Henry make their home with her and that Beatrice continue her duties as the Queen's unofficial secretary. Ten years into their marriage, on 20 January 1896, Prince Henry died of malaria while fighting in the Anglo-Asante War. Beatrice remained at her mother's side until Victoria died. (more...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

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Dunrobin Castle -Sutherland -Scotland-26May2008 (2).jpg
Photo credit: David Iliff

Dunrobin Castle is a stately home in Sutherland, in the Highland area of Scotland. It is the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland. It is located 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Golspie on the Dornoch Firth close to the A9 road. Dunrobin's origins lie in the Middle Ages, but most of the present building is the work of Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Palace of Westminster in London, who greatly extended the building in 1845.

In the news

Wikinews UK

11 August 2020 - Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 recession
Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
The Office for National Statistics reports the worst job losses in the United Kingdom since the financial crisis of 2007-2008. (BBC)
9 August 2020 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom reports 1,062 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. It is the first time that the country has recorded more than 1,000 new cases since late June. (ITV)
7 August 2020 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in France, COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
France reports 2,288 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. It is the biggest daily spike since the end of May and the first time in months that the number of cases has surpassed 2,000, prompting fears that the United Kingdom will add the country onto its quarantine list. (Sky News) (The New York Times)

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