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The UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, commonly known as the UNITED KINGDOM (UK) or BRITAIN, is a sovereign country in western Europe. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland , the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
includes the island of Great Britain
Great Britain
, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland
Ireland
and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is the only part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland
Ireland
. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world . The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world and the 11th-largest in Europe
Europe
. It is also the 21st-most populous country , with an estimated 65.1 million inhabitants. Together, this makes it the fourth-most densely populated country in the European Union
European Union
(EU).

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary​ democracy . The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. The capital of the United Kingdom and its largest city is London
London
, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million, the fourth-largest in Europe
Europe
and second-largest in the European Union
European Union
. Other major urban areas in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
include the conurbations centred on Birmingham
Birmingham
, Leeds
Leeds
, Glasgow
Glasgow
, Liverpool
Liverpool
and Manchester
Manchester
. The United Kingdom consists of four countries — England
England
, Scotland
Scotland
, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
. The last three have devolved administrations, each with varying powers, based in their capitals, Edinburgh
Edinburgh
, Cardiff
Cardiff
and Belfast
Belfast
, respectively. The nearby Isle of Man
Isle of Man
, Bailiwick of Guernsey
Guernsey
and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the United Kingdom, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation.

The relationships among the countries of the UK have changed over time . Wales
Wales
was annexed by the Kingdom of England
England
under the Laws in Wales
Wales
Acts 1535 and 1542 . A treaty between England
England
and Scotland resulted in 1707 in a unified Kingdom of Great Britain
Great Britain
, which merged in 1801 with the Kingdom of Ireland
Ireland
to form the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland
Ireland
. Five-sixths of Ireland
Ireland
seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories . These are 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 legal systems of many of its former colonies .

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity . The UK is considered to have a high-income economy and is categorised as very high in the Human Development Index , ranking 16th 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 seventh in military expenditure in the world. The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
since its first session in 1946. It has been a leading member state of the EU and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973. However, on 23 June 2016, a national referendum on the UK\'s membership of the EU resulted in a decision to leave, and its exit from the EU is currently being negotiated . The UK is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
, the Council of Europe
Europe
, the G7 finance ministers , the G7 forum , the G20 , NATO
NATO
, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology and terminology

* 2 History

* 2.1 Before 1707 * 2.2 After the Acts of Union of 1707 * 2.3 Since 1945

* 3 Geography

* 3.1 Climate * 3.2 Administrative divisions

* 4 Dependencies

* 5 Politics

* 5.1 Government * 5.2 Devolved administrations * 5.3 Law and criminal justice * 5.4 Foreign relations * 5.5 Military

* 6 Economy

* 6.1 Overview * 6.2 Science and technology * 6.3 Transport * 6.4 Energy * 6.5 Water supply and sanitation

* 7 Demographics

* 7.1 Ethnic groups
Ethnic groups
* 7.2 Languages * 7.3 Religion * 7.4 Migration * 7.5 Education * 7.6 Healthcare

* 8 Culture
Culture

* 8.1 Literature * 8.2 Music * 8.3 Visual art * 8.4 Cinema * 8.5 Media * 8.6 Philosophy * 8.7 Sport * 8.8 Symbols

* 9 International rankings * 10 Historiography * 11 See also * 12 Notes * 13 References * 14 Further reading * 15 External links

ETYMOLOGY AND TERMINOLOGY

See also: Britain (place name) and Terminology of the British Isles

The 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England
England
and Scotland
Scotland
were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain
Great Britain
", though the new state is also referred to in the Acts as the "Kingdom of Great Britain", " United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain" and "United Kingdom". However, the term "United Kingdom" is only found in informal use during the 18th century and the country was only occasionally referred to as the " United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain"—its full official name, from 1707 to 1800, being merely "Great Britain", without a "long form". The Acts of Union 1800 united the Kingdom of Great Britain
Great Britain
and the Kingdom of Ireland
Ireland
in 1801, forming the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland
Ireland
. Following the partition of Ireland
Ireland
and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
as the only part of the island of Ireland
Ireland
within the United Kingdom, the name "United Kingdom of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Northern Ireland" was adopted.

Although the United Kingdom, as a sovereign state, is a country, England, Scotland, Wales
Wales
and, to a lesser degree, Northern Ireland, are also regarded as countries, though they are not sovereign states. Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
have devolved self-government. The British Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom. Some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom , also refer to Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
as "regions". Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is also referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences".

The term "Britain" is often used as synonym for the United Kingdom. The term "Great Britain", by contrast, refers conventionally to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
as a whole. GB and GBR are the standard country codes for the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(see ISO 3166-2 and ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 ) and are consequently used by international organisations to refer to the United Kingdom. Additionally, the United Kingdom\'s Olympic team competes under the name "Great Britain" or "Team GB".

The adjective "British" is commonly used to refer to matters relating to the United Kingdom. The term has no definite legal connotation, but is used in law to refer to United Kingdom
United Kingdom
citizenship and matters to do with nationality . People of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
use a number of different terms to describe their national identity and may identify themselves as being British ; or as being English , Scottish , Welsh , Northern Irish , or Irish ; or as being both.

In 2006, a new design of British passport was introduced. Its first page shows the long form name of the state in English, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
. In Welsh, the long form name of the state is "Teyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon", with "Teyrnas Unedig" being used as a short form name on government websites. However, it is usually abbreviated to "DU" for the mutated form "Y Deyrnas Unedig". In Scottish Gaelic, the long form is "Rìoghachd Aonaichte Bhreatainn is Èireann a Tuath" and the short form "Rìoghachd Aonaichte".

HISTORY

See also: History of the British Isles

BEFORE 1707

Main articles: History of England
England
, History of Wales
Wales
, History of Scotland
Scotland
, History of Ireland
Ireland
, and History of the formation of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Stonehenge
Stonehenge
, in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
, was erected around 2500 BC

Settlement by anatomically modern humans of what was to become the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
occurred in waves beginning by about 30,000 years ago . By the end of the region\'s prehistoric period , the population is thought to have belonged, in the main, to a culture termed Insular Celtic , comprising Brythonic Britain and Gaelic Ireland
Ireland
. The Roman conquest , beginning in 43 AD, and the 400-year rule of southern Britain , was followed by an invasion by Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlers, reducing the Brythonic area mainly to what was to become Wales
Wales
and the historic Kingdom of Strathclyde . Most of the region settled by the Anglo-Saxons became unified as the Kingdom of England in the 10th century. Meanwhile, Gaelic-speakers in north-west Britain (with connections to the north-east of Ireland
Ireland
and traditionally supposed to have migrated from there in the 5th century) united with the Picts to create the Kingdom of Scotland
Scotland
in the 9th century. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts the Battle of Hastings , 1066, and the events leading to it

In 1066, the Normans invaded England
England
from France
France
and after its conquest , seized large parts of Wales
Wales
, conquered much of Ireland
Ireland
and were invited to settle in Scotland
Scotland
, bringing to each country feudalism on the Northern French model and Norman-French culture. The Norman elites greatly influenced, but eventually assimilated with, each of the local cultures. Subsequent medieval English kings completed the conquest of Wales
Wales
and made an unsuccessful attempt to annex Scotland
Scotland
. Following the Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Arbroath
, Scotland maintained its independence, albeit in near-constant conflict with England
England
. The English monarchs, through inheritance of substantial territories in France
France
and claims to the French crown, were also heavily involved in conflicts in France, most notably the Hundred Years War , while the Kings of Scots were in an alliance with the French during this period.

The early modern period saw religious conflict resulting from the Reformation and the introduction of Protestant state churches in each country. Wales
Wales
was fully incorporated into the Kingdom of England
England
, and Ireland
Ireland
was constituted as a kingdom in personal union with the English crown. In what was to become Northern Ireland, the lands of the independent Catholic Gaelic nobility were confiscated and given to Protestant settlers from England
England
and Scotland.

In 1603, the kingdoms of England, Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland
Ireland
were united in a personal union when James VI, King of Scots , inherited the crowns of England
England
and Ireland
Ireland
and moved his court from Edinburgh
Edinburgh
to London; each country nevertheless remained a separate political entity and retained its separate political, legal, and religious institutions.

In the mid-17th century, all three kingdoms were involved in a series of connected wars (including the English Civil War ) which led to the temporary overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the short-lived unitary republic of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland
Ireland
. During the 17th and 18th centuries, British sailors were involved in acts of piracy (privateering ), attacking and stealing from ships off the coast of Europe
Europe
and the Caribbean. The State House in St. George\'s , Bermuda
Bermuda
. Settled in 1612, the town is the oldest continuously-inhabited English town in the New World.

Although the monarchy was restored , the Interregnum ensured (along with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the subsequent Bill of Rights 1689 , and the Claim of Right Act 1689
Claim of Right Act 1689
) that, unlike much of the rest of Europe, royal absolutism would not prevail, and a professed Catholic could never accede to the throne. The British constitution would develop on the basis of constitutional monarchy and the parliamentary system . With the founding of the Royal Society
Royal Society
in 1660, science was greatly encouraged. During this period, particularly in England, the development of naval power (and the interest in voyages of discovery ) led to the acquisition and settlement of overseas colonies , particularly in North America.

AFTER THE ACTS OF UNION OF 1707

Main article: History of the United Kingdom The Treaty of Union led to a single united kingdom encompassing all Great Britain
Great Britain

On 1 May 1707, the united Kingdom of Great Britain
Great Britain
came into being, the result of Acts of Union being passed by the parliaments of England and Scotland
Scotland
to ratify the 1706 Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
and so unite the two kingdoms.

In the 18th century, cabinet government developed under Robert Walpole , in practice the first prime minister (1721–1742). A series of Jacobite Uprisings sought to remove the Protestant House of Hanover from the British throne and restore the Catholic House of Stuart . The Jacobites were finally defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, after which the Scottish Highlanders were brutally suppressed. The British colonies in North America that broke away from Britain in the American War of Independence became the United States
United States
of America, recognised by Britain in 1783. British imperial ambition turned elsewhere, particularly to India
India
.

During the 18th century, Britain was involved in the Atlantic slave trade . British ships transported an estimated two million slaves from Africa to the West Indies before banning the trade in 1807, banning slavery in 1833, and taking a leading role in the movement to abolish slavery worldwide by pressing other nations to end their trade with a series of treaties, and then formed the world's oldest international human rights organisation, Anti-Slavery International , in London
London
in 1839. The term "United Kingdom" became official in 1801 when the parliaments of Britain and Ireland
Ireland
each passed an Act of Union , uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland
Ireland
. _ The Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
, 1815, marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the start of Pax Britannica _

In the early 19th century, the British-led Industrial Revolution began to transform the country. Gradually political power shifted away from the old Tory and Whig landowning classes towards the new industrialists. An alliance of merchants and industrialists with the Whigs would lead to a new party, the Liberals , with an ideology of free trade and _laissez-faire _. In 1832 Parliament passed the Great Reform Act , which began the transfer of political power from the aristocracy to the middle classes. In the countryside, enclosure of the land was driving small farmers out. Towns and cities began to swell with a new urban working class. Few ordinary workers had the vote, and they created their own organisations in the form of trade unions .

After the defeat of France
France
at the end of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), Great Britain
Great Britain
emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century (with London
London
the largest city in the world from about 1830). Unchallenged at sea , British dominance was later described as _ Pax Britannica _ ("British Peace"), a period of relative peace in Europe
Europe
and the world (1815–1914) during which the British Empire
British Empire
became the global hegemon and adopted the role of global policeman. By the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Britain was described as the "workshop of the world". The British Empire
British Empire
was expanded to include India
India
, large parts of Africa and many other territories throughout the world. Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, British dominance of much of world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many regions , such as Asia and Latin America. Domestically, political attitudes favoured free trade and laissez-faire policies and a gradual widening of the voting franchise. During the century, the population increased at a dramatic rate, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, causing significant social and economic stresses. To seek new markets and sources of raw materials, the Conservative Party under Disraeli launched a period of imperialist expansion in Egypt, South Africa, and elsewhere. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
New Zealand
became self-governing dominions. After the turn of the century, Britain's industrial dominance was challenged by the United States
United States
and Germany.

Social reform and home rule for Ireland
Ireland
were important domestic issues after 1900. The Labour Party emerged from an alliance of trade unions and small Socialist groups in 1900, and suffragettes campaigned for women's right to vote before 1914. Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme (more than 885,000 British soldiers died on the battlefields of World War I)

Britain fought alongside France, Russia
Russia
and (after 1917) the United States, against Germany
Germany
and its allies in the First World War (1914–1918). British armed forces were engaged across much of the British Empire
British Empire
and in several regions of Europe, particularly on the Western front . The high fatalities of trench warfare caused the loss of much of a generation of men, with lasting social effects in the nation and a great disruption in the social order.

After the war, Britain received the League of Nations mandate over a number of former German and Ottoman colonies. The British Empire reached its greatest extent, covering a fifth of the world's land surface and a quarter of its population. However, Britain had suffered 2.5 million casualties and finished the war with a huge national debt.

The rise of Irish nationalism , and disputes within Ireland
Ireland
over the terms of Irish Home Rule , led eventually to the partition of the island in 1921. The Irish Free State became independent with Dominion status in 1922. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
remained part of the United Kingdom. A wave of strikes in the mid-1920s culminated in the General Strike of 1926 . Britain had still not recovered from the effects of the war when the Great Depression (1929–1932) occurred. This led to considerable unemployment and hardship in the old industrial areas, as well as political and social unrest in the 1930s, with rising membership in communist and socialist parties. A coalition government was formed in 1931.

Britain entered the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany in 1939, after it had invaded Poland. Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
became prime minister and head of a coalition government in 1940. Despite the defeat of its European allies in the first year of the war, Britain and its Empire continued the fight alone against Germany. In 1940, the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
defeated the German Luftwaffe in a struggle for control of the skies in the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
. Urban areas suffered heavy bombing during the Blitz . There were also eventual hard-fought victories in the Battle of the Atlantic , the North Africa campaign and the Burma campaign . British forces played an important role in the Normandy landings of 1944, achieved with its United States
United States
ally.

SINCE 1945

Main articles: Political history of the United Kingdom (1945–present) and Social history of the United Kingdom (1945–present) Territories that were at one time part of the British Empire
British Empire
, while names of current British Overseas Territories are underlined in red

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, the UK was one of the Big Four powers (the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the US and China) who met to plan the post-war world; it was an original signatory to the Declaration of the United Nations . The UK became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
. However, the war left the UK severely weakened and depending financially on the Marshall Plan . In the immediate post-war years, the Labour government initiated a radical programme of reforms, which had a significant effect on British society in the following decades. Major industries and public utilities were nationalised , a welfare state was established, and a comprehensive, publicly funded healthcare system, the National Health Service , was created. The rise of nationalism in the colonies coincided with Britain's now much-diminished economic position, so that a policy of decolonisation was unavoidable. Independence was granted to India
India
and Pakistan
Pakistan
in 1947. Over the next three decades, most colonies of the British Empire gained their independence. Many became members of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
.

Although the UK was the third country to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal (with its first atomic bomb test in 1952), the new post-war limits of Britain's international role were illustrated by the Suez Crisis of 1956. The international spread of the English language ensured the continuing international influence of its literature and culture . As a result of a shortage of workers in the 1950s, the government encouraged immigration from Commonwealth countries . In the following decades, the UK became a more multi-ethnic society than before. Despite rising living standards in the late 1950s and 1960s, the UK's economic performance was not as successful as many of its competitors, such as West Germany and Japan
Japan
. Leaders of member states of the European Union
European Union
in 2007. The UK entered the European Economic Community in 1973. In a referendum held in 1975 , 67% of voters voted to remain in the EEC, but 52% voted to leave the EU in 2016.

In the decade-long process of European integration
European integration
, the UK was a founding member of the alliance called the Western European Union
European Union
, established with the London
London
and Paris
Paris
Conferences in 1954. In 1960 the UK was one of the seven founding members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but in 1973 it left to join the European Communities (EC). When the EC became the European Union
European Union
(EU) in 1992, the UK was one of the 12 founding members. The Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007, which forms the constitutional basis of the European Union since then.

From the late 1960s, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
suffered communal and paramilitary violence (sometimes affecting other parts of the UK) conventionally known as the Troubles . It is usually considered to have ended with the Belfast
Belfast
"Good Friday" Agreement of 1998.

Following a period of widespread economic slowdown and industrial strife in the 1970s, the Conservative government of the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
initiated a radical policy of monetarism , deregulation, particularly of the financial sector (for example, Big Bang in 1986) and labour markets, the sale of state-owned companies (privatisation ), and the withdrawal of subsidies to others. This resulted in high unemployment and social unrest, but ultimately also economic growth, particularly in the services sector. From 1984, the economy was helped by the inflow of substantial North Sea oil revenues.

Around the end of the 20th century there were major changes to the governance of the UK with the establishment of devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland. The statutory incorporation followed acceptance of the European Convention on Human Rights . The UK is still a key global player diplomatically and militarily. It plays leading roles in the EU, UN and NATO
NATO
. However, controversy surrounds some of Britain's overseas military deployments , particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq .

The 2008 global financial crisis severely affected the UK economy. The coalition government of 2010 introduced austerity measures intended to tackle the substantial public deficits which resulted. In 2014 the Scottish Government held a referendum on Scottish independence , with 55% of voters rejecting the independence proposal and opting to remain within the United Kingdom. In 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union
European Union
. The legal process of leaving the EU began on 29 March 2017, with the UK\'s invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, formally notifying the EU of the UK's intention to leave. The article stipulates that the negotiations to leave will last at least two years. The UK remains a full member of the EU during this time.

GEOGRAPHY

Main article: Geography of the United Kingdom The topography of the UK

The total area of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is approximately 243,610 square kilometres (94,060 sq mi). The country occupies the major part of the British Isles archipelago and includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland
Ireland
and some smaller surrounding islands. It lies between the North Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
and the North Sea with the south-east coast coming within 22 miles (35 km) of the coast of northern France, from which it is separated by the English Channel . In 1993 10% of the UK was forested, 46% used for pastures and 25% cultivated for agriculture. The Royal Greenwich Observatory in London
London
is the defining point of the Prime Meridian
Prime Meridian
.

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
lies between latitudes 49° to 61° N , and longitudes 9° W to 2° E . Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
shares a 224-mile (360 km) land boundary with the Republic of Ireland. The coastline of Great Britain
Great Britain
is 11,073 miles (17,820 km) long. It is connected to continental Europe
Europe
by the Channel Tunnel , which at 31 miles (50 km) (24 miles (38 km) underwater) is the longest underwater tunnel in the world.

England
England
accounts for just over half of the total area of the UK, covering 130,395 square kilometres (50,350 sq mi). Most of the country consists of lowland terrain, with mountainous terrain north-west of the Tees-Exe line ; including the Cumbrian Mountains of the Lake District, the Pennines , Exmoor
Exmoor
and Dartmoor . The main rivers and estuaries are the Thames , Severn and the Humber
Humber
. England's highest mountain is Scafell Pike (978 metres (3,209 ft)) in the Lake District
Lake District
. Its principal rivers are the Severn, Thames, Humber, Tees, Tyne, Tweed, Avon, Exe and Mersey. The Skiddaw massif , town of Keswick and Derwent Water in Lakeland Skye is one of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides
Inner Hebrides
and part of the Scottish Highlands

Scotland
Scotland
accounts for just under a third of the total area of the UK, covering 78,772 square kilometres (30,410 sq mi) and including nearly eight hundred islands , predominantly west and north of the mainland; notably the Hebrides
Hebrides
, Orkney
Orkney
Islands and Shetland
Shetland
Islands . Scotland is the most mountainous country in the UK and its topography is distinguished by the Highland Boundary Fault —a geological rock fracture —which traverses Scotland
Scotland
from Arran in the west to Stonehaven
Stonehaven
in the east. The fault separates two distinctively different regions; namely the Highlands to the north and west and the lowlands to the south and east. The more rugged Highland region contains the majority of Scotland's mountainous land, including Ben Nevis which at 1,343 metres (4,406 ft) is the highest point in the British Isles. Lowland areas—especially the narrow waist of land between the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth known as the Central Belt —are flatter and home to most of the population including Glasgow
Glasgow
, Scotland's largest city, and Edinburgh
Edinburgh
, its capital and political centre, although upland and mountainous terrain lies within the Southern Uplands .

Wales
Wales
accounts for less than a tenth of the total area of the UK, covering 20,779 square kilometres (8,020 sq mi). Wales
Wales
is mostly mountainous, though South Wales
Wales
is less mountainous than North and mid Wales
Wales
. The main population and industrial areas are in South Wales, consisting of the coastal cities of Cardiff
Cardiff
, Swansea
Swansea
and Newport , and the South Wales
Wales
Valleys to their north. The highest mountains in Wales
Wales
are in Snowdonia
Snowdonia
and include Snowdon
Snowdon
(Welsh : _Yr Wyddfa_) which, at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft), is the highest peak in Wales. The 14, or possibly 15, Welsh mountains over 3,000 feet (910 metres) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s . Wales
Wales
has over 2,704 kilometres (1,680 miles) of coastline. Several islands lie off the Welsh mainland, the largest of which is Anglesey
Anglesey
(_Ynys Môn_) in the north-west. Cliffs at Gough and Inaccessible Islands
Gough and Inaccessible Islands
, declared World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
by UNESCO
UNESCO
in 1995.

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
, separated from Great Britain
Great Britain
by the Irish Sea and North Channel , has an area of 14,160 square kilometres (5,470 sq mi) and is mostly hilly. It includes Lough Neagh which, at 388 square kilometres (150 sq mi), is the largest lake in the British Isles by area. The highest peak in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains at 852 metres (2,795 ft).

CLIMATE

Main article: Climate of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round. The temperature varies with the seasons seldom dropping below −11 °C (12 °F ) or rising above 35 °C (95 °F). The prevailing wind is from the south-west and bears frequent spells of mild and wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean, although the eastern parts are mostly sheltered from this wind since the majority of the rain falls over the western regions the eastern parts are therefore the driest. Atlantic currents, warmed by the Gulf Stream , bring mild winters; especially in the west where winters are wet and even more so over high ground. Summers are warmest in the south-east of England, being closest to the European mainland, and coolest in the north. Heavy snowfall can occur in winter and early spring on high ground, and occasionally settles to great depth away from the hills. England
England
Scotland
Scotland
Wales
Wales
Northern Ireland
Ireland
The four countries of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS

Main article: Administrative geography of the United Kingdom

There is no consistent system of administrative or geographic demarcation across the United Kingdom. Each country of the United Kingdom has its own arrangements, whose origins often pre-date the UK's formation. Until the 19th century there was little change to those arrangements, but there has since been a constant evolution of role and function, most significantly the devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland.

The organisation of local government in England
England
is complex, with the distribution of functions varying according to local arrangements. Legislation concerning local government in England
England
is the responsibility of the UK's parliament and the government, as England has no devolved legislature. The upper-tier subdivisions of England are the nine regions , now used primarily for statistical purposes. One region, Greater London
London
, has had a directly elected assembly and mayor since 2000 following popular support for the proposal in a referendum . It was intended that other regions would also be given their own elected regional assemblies , but a proposed assembly in the North East region was rejected by a referendum in 2004 . Below the regional tier, some parts of England
England
have county councils and district councils and others have unitary authorities ; while London
London
consists of 32 London
London
boroughs and the City of London
London
. Councillors are elected by the first-past-the-post system in single-member wards or by the multi-member plurality system in multi-member wards.

For local government purposes , Scotland
Scotland
is divided into 32 council areas , with wide variation in both size and population. The cities of Glasgow
Glasgow
, Edinburgh, Aberdeen
Aberdeen
and Dundee
Dundee
are separate council areas, as is the Highland Council which includes a third of Scotland's area but only just over 200,000 people. Local councils are made up of elected councillors, of whom there are 1,223; they are paid a part-time salary. Elections are conducted by single transferable vote in multi-member wards that elect either three or four councillors. Each council elects a Provost , or Convenor , to chair meetings of the council and to act as a figurehead for the area. Councillors are subject to a code of conduct enforced by the Standards Commission for Scotland
Scotland
. The representative association of Scotland's local authorities is the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

Local government in Wales
Wales
consists of 22 unitary authorities. These include the cities of Cardiff, Swansea
Swansea
and Newport which are unitary authorities in their own right. Elections are held every four years under the first-past-the-post system. The most recent elections were held in May 2012, except for the Isle of Anglesey
Anglesey
. The Welsh Local Government Association represents the interests of local authorities in Wales.

Local government in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
has since 1973 been organised into 26 district councils, each elected by single transferable vote. Their powers are limited to services such as collecting waste, controlling dogs and maintaining parks and cemeteries. On 13 March 2008 the executive agreed on proposals to create 11 new councils and replace the present system. The next local elections were postponed until 2016 to facilitate this.

DEPENDENCIES

Main articles: British Overseas Territories , Crown dependencies , and British Islands Montserrat : Soufrière Hills volcano

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has sovereignty over seventeen territories which do not form part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
itself: fourteen British Overseas Territories and three Crown dependencies.

The fourteen British Overseas Territories are: Anguilla
Anguilla
; Bermuda
Bermuda
; the British Antarctic Territory ; the British Indian Ocean Territory ; the British Virgin Islands ; the Cayman Islands ; the Falkland Islands ; Gibraltar
Gibraltar
; Montserrat ; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha ; the Turks and Caicos Islands ; the Pitcairn Islands ; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands ; and Akrotiri and Dhekelia on the island of Cyprus
Cyprus
. British claims in Antarctica are not universally recognised. Collectively Britain's overseas territories encompass an approximate land area of 1,727,570 square kilometres (667,018 sq mi) and a population of approximately 260,000 people.

They are the last remaining remnants of the British Empire
British Empire
and a 1999 UK government white paper stated that: " Overseas Territories are British for as long as they wish to remain British. Britain has willingly granted independence where it has been requested; and we will continue to do so where this is an option." Self-determination is also enshrined into the constitutions of several overseas territories and three have specifically voted to remain under British sovereignty ( Bermuda
Bermuda
in 1995 , Gibraltar
Gibraltar
in 2002 and the Falkland Islands in 2013 ).

The Crown dependencies are possessions of the Crown , as opposed to overseas territories of the UK. They comprise three independently administered jurisdictions: the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
of Jersey
Jersey
and Guernsey in the English Channel, and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
in the Irish Sea. By mutual agreement, the British Government manages the islands' foreign affairs and defence and the UK Parliament has the authority to legislate on their behalf. However, internationally, they are regarded as "territories for which the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is responsible". The power to pass legislation affecting the islands ultimately rests with their own respective legislative assemblies, with the assent of the Crown (Privy Council or, in the case of the Isle of Man, in certain circumstances the Lieutenant-Governor). Since 2005 each Crown dependency has had a Chief Minister as its head of government .

The British dependencies use a varied assortment of currencies. These include the British pound, US dollar, New Zealand
New Zealand
dollar, euro or their own currencies, which may be pegged to either . Locations of UK dependencies (crown dependencies alphabetised, overseas territories numbered):A Isle of Man
Isle of Man
; B Guernsey
Guernsey
; C Jersey
Jersey
; 1 United Kingdom; 2 Gibraltar
Gibraltar
; 3 Akrotiri and Dhekelia ; 4 Bermuda
Bermuda
; 5 Turks and Caicos Islands ; 6 British Virgin Islands ; 7 Anguilla
Anguilla
; 8 Cayman Islands ; 9 Montserrat ; 10 Pitcairn Islands ; 11 Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha ; 12 British Indian Ocean Territory ; 13 Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
; 14 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands ; (15) British Antarctic Territory

POLITICS

Main article: Politics of the United Kingdom Queen Elizabeth II , Monarch since 1952 Theresa May
Theresa May
, Prime Minister since 2016

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy . Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
is the monarch and head of state of the UK, as well as Queen of fifteen other independent Commonwealth countries . The monarch has "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn". The Constitution of the United Kingdom is uncodified and consists mostly of a collection of disparate written sources, including statutes , judge-made case law and international treaties, together with constitutional conventions . As there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes and "constitutional law", the UK Parliament can perform "constitutional reform" simply by passing Acts of Parliament , and thus has the political power to change or abolish almost any written or unwritten element of the constitution. However, no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change.

GOVERNMENT

Main article: Government of the United Kingdom

The UK has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has been emulated around the world: a legacy of the British Empire. The parliament of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
meets in the Palace of Westminster and has two houses: an elected House of Commons and an appointed House of Lords . All bills passed are given Royal Assent before becoming law.

The position of prime minister , the UK's head of government , belongs to the person most likely to command the confidence of the House of Commons; this individual is typically the leader of the political party or coalition of parties that holds the largest number of seats in that chamber. The prime minister chooses a cabinet and its members are formally appointed by the monarch to form Her Majesty\'s Government . By convention, the monarch respects the prime minister's decisions of government. The Palace of Westminster , seat of both houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The cabinet is traditionally drawn from members of the prime minister's party or coalition and mostly from the House of Commons but always from both legislative houses, the cabinet being responsible to both. Executive power is exercised by the prime minister and cabinet, all of whom are sworn into the Privy Council of the United Kingdom , and become Ministers of the Crown . The current Prime Minister is Theresa May
Theresa May
, who has been in office since 13 July 2016. May is also the leader of the Conservative Party . For elections to the House of Commons, the UK is divided into 650 constituencies , each electing a single member of parliament (MP) by simple plurality . General elections are called by the monarch when the prime minister so advises. Prior to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 , the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 required that a new election must be called no later than five years after the previous general election.

The Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats (formerly as the Liberal Party ) have, in modern times, been considered the UK's three major political parties , representing the British traditions of conservatism , socialism and liberalism , respectively. However, in the 2017 general election the Scottish National Party was the third-largest party by number of seats won, ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Most of the remaining seats were won by parties that contest elections only in one part of the UK: Plaid Cymru ( Wales
Wales
only); and the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin ( Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
only ). In accordance with party policy, no elected Sinn Féin members of parliament have ever attended the House of Commons to speak on behalf of their constituents because of the requirement to take an oath of allegiance to the monarch.

DEVOLVED ADMINISTRATIONS

Main articles: Devolution in the United Kingdom , Northern Ireland Executive , Scottish Government , and Welsh Government The Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood is the seat of the Scottish Parliament

Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
each have their own government or executive , led by a First Minister (or, in the case of Northern Ireland, a diarchal First Minister and deputy First Minister ), and a devolved unicameral legislature. England, the largest country of the United Kingdom, has no such devolved executive or legislature and is administered and legislated for directly by the UK's government and parliament on all issues. This situation has given rise to the so-called West Lothian question which concerns the fact that members of parliament from Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
can vote, sometimes decisively, on matters that only affect England. The McKay Commission reported on this matter in March 2013 recommending that laws affecting only England
England
should need support from a majority of English members of parliament.

The Scottish Government and Parliament have wide-ranging powers over any matter that has not been specifically reserved to the UK Parliament, including education , healthcare , Scots law and local government . At the 2011 elections the Scottish National Party won re-election and achieved an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, with its leader, Alex Salmond , as First Minister of Scotland
Scotland
. In 2012, the UK and Scottish governments signed the Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Agreement setting out the terms for a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, which was defeated 55.3% to 44.7%.

The Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales
Wales
have more limited powers than those devolved to Scotland. The Assembly is able to legislate on devolved matters through Acts of the Assembly , which require no prior consent from Westminster. The 2011 elections resulted in a minority Labour administration led by Carwyn Jones .

The Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Executive and Assembly have powers similar to those devolved to Scotland. The Executive is led by a diarchy representing unionist and nationalist members of the Assembly. Arlene Foster (Democratic Unionist Party) and Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) were First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively until 2017. Devolution
Devolution
to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is contingent on participation by the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
administration in the North-South Ministerial Council , where the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Executive cooperates and develops joint and shared policies with the Government of Ireland
Ireland
. The British and Irish governments co-operate on non-devolved matters affecting Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
through the British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference , which assumes the responsibilities of the Northern Ireland
Ireland
administration in the event of its non-operation.

The UK does not have a codified constitution and constitutional matters are not among the powers devolved to Scotland, Wales
Wales
or Northern Ireland. Under the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty , the UK Parliament could, in theory, therefore, abolish the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Assembly. Indeed, in 1972, the UK Parliament unilaterally prorogued the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
, setting a precedent relevant to contemporary devolved institutions. In practice, it would be politically difficult for the UK Parliament to abolish devolution to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, given the political entrenchment created by referendum decisions. The political constraints placed upon the UK Parliament's power to interfere with devolution in Northern Ireland are even greater than in relation to Scotland
Scotland
and Wales, given that devolution in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
rests upon an international agreement with the Government of Ireland
Ireland
.

LAW AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Main article: Law of the United Kingdom The Royal Courts of Justice of England
England
and Wales
Wales

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
does not have a single legal system, as Article 19 of the 1706 Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
provided for the continuation of Scotland's separate legal system. Today the UK has three distinct systems of law : English law , Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
law and Scots law . A new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom came into being in October 2009 to replace the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords . The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council , including the same members as the Supreme Court, is the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth countries, the British Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies .

Both English law, which applies in England
England
and Wales
Wales
, and Northern Ireland
Ireland
law are based on common-law principles. The essence of common law is that, subject to statute, the law is developed by judges in courts, applying statute, precedent and common sense to the facts before them to give explanatory judgements of the relevant legal principles, which are reported and binding in future similar cases (_stare decisis _). The courts of England
England
and Wales
Wales
are headed by the Senior Courts of England
England
and Wales
Wales
, consisting of the Court of Appeal , the High Court of Justice (for civil cases) and the Crown Court (for criminal cases). The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land for both criminal and civil appeal cases in England, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and any decision it makes is binding on every other court in the same jurisdiction, often having a persuasive effect in other jurisdictions. The High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
—the supreme criminal court of Scotland
Scotland

Scots law is a hybrid system based on both common-law and civil-law principles. The chief courts are the Court of Session , for civil cases, and the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
, for criminal cases. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom serves as the highest court of appeal for civil cases under Scots law. Sheriff courts deal with most civil and criminal cases including conducting criminal trials with a jury, known as sheriff solemn court, or with a sheriff and no jury, known as sheriff summary Court. The Scots legal system is unique in having three possible verdicts for a criminal trial: "guilty ", "not guilty " and "not proven ". Both "not guilty" and "not proven" result in an acquittal.

Crime in England
England
and Wales
Wales
increased in the period between 1981 and 1995, though since that peak there has been an overall fall of 66% in recorded crime from 1995 to 2015, according to crime statistics . The prison population of England
England
and Wales
Wales
has increased to 86,000, giving England
England
and Wales
Wales
the highest rate of incarceration in Western Europe at 148 per 100,000. Her Majesty\'s Prison Service , which reports to the Ministry of Justice , manages most of the prisons within England and Wales. The murder rate in England
England
and Wales
Wales
has stabilised in the first half of the 2010s with a murder rate around 1 per 100,000 which is half the peak in 2002 and similar to the rate in the 1980s. More sexual offences have been reported to the police since 2002. Crime in Scotland
Scotland
fell slightly in 2014/2015 to its lowest level in 39 years in with 59 killings for a murder rate of 1.1 per 100,000. Scotland's prisons are overcrowded but the prison population is shrinking.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Main article: Foreign relations of the United Kingdom

The UK is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
, a member of NATO
NATO
, the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
, the G7 finance ministers , the G7 forum (previously the _G8 forum_), the G20 , the OECD , the WTO , the Council of Europe
Europe
, the OSCE . It is also a member state of the European Union
European Union
in the process of withdrawal. The UK is said to have a " Special Relationship " with the United States and a close partnership with France—the " Entente cordiale "—and shares nuclear weapons technology with both countries. The UK is also closely linked with the Republic of Ireland; the two countries share a Common Travel Area and co-operate through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and the British-Irish Council . Britain's global presence and influence is further amplified through its trading relations, foreign investments, official development assistance and military engagements.

MILITARY

Main article: British Armed Forces Troopers of the Blues and Royals during the 2007 Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour
ceremony

The armed forces of the United Kingdom—officially, _Her Majesty\'s Armed Forces _—consist of three professional service branches: the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
and Royal Marines (forming the Naval Service ), the British Army and the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
. The forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence and controlled by the Defence Council , chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence . The Commander-in-Chief is the British monarch , Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
, to whom members of the forces swear an oath of allegiance. The Armed Forces are charged with protecting the UK and its overseas territories, promoting the UK's global security interests and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. They are active and regular participants in NATO
NATO
, including the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps , as well as the Five Power Defence Arrangements , RIMPAC
RIMPAC
and other worldwide coalition operations. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained in Ascension Island , Belize
Belize
, Brunei
Brunei
, Canada
Canada
, Cyprus
Cyprus
, Diego Garcia , the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
, Germany
Germany
, Gibraltar
Gibraltar
, Kenya
Kenya
, Qatar
Qatar
and Singapore
Singapore
.

The British armed forces played a key role in establishing the British Empire
British Empire
as the dominant world power in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout its unique history the British forces have seen action in a number of major wars, such as the Seven Years\' War , the Napoleonic Wars , the Crimean War , the First World War and the Second World War —as well as many colonial conflicts. By emerging victorious from such conflicts, Britain has often been able to decisively influence world events . Since the end of the British Empire, the UK has nonetheless remained a major military power. Following the end of the Cold War , defence policy has a stated assumption that "the most demanding operations" will be undertaken as part of a coalition. Setting aside the intervention in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
, recent UK military operations in Bosnia , Kosovo
Kosovo
, Afghanistan , Iraq and, most recently, Libya , have followed this approach. The last occasion on which the British military fought alone was the Falklands War of 1982.

According to various sources, including the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the International Institute for Strategic Studies , the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has the fourth- or fifth-highest military expenditure in the world. Total defence spending amounts to 2.0% of national GDP.

ECONOMY

Main article: Economy of the United Kingdom

OVERVIEW

The Bank of England
England
—the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based

The UK has a partially regulated market economy . Based on market exchange rates , the UK is today the fifth-largest economy in the world and the second-largest in Europe
Europe
after Germany. HM Treasury , led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer , is responsible for developing and executing the government's public finance policy and economic policy . The Bank of England
England
is the UK's central bank and is responsible for issuing notes and coins in the nation's currency, the pound sterling . Banks in Scotland
Scotland
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
retain the right to issue their own notes, subject to retaining enough Bank of England
England
notes in reserve to cover their issue. The pound sterling is the world's third-largest reserve currency (after the US dollar and the euro). Since 1997 the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee , headed by the Governor of the Bank of England
England
, has been responsible for setting interest rates at the level necessary to achieve the overall inflation target for the economy that is set by the Chancellor each year.

The UK service sector makes up around 73% of GDP. London
London
is one of the three "command centres" of the global economy (alongside New York City and Tokyo
Tokyo
), it is the world's largest financial centre alongside New York, and it has the largest city GDP in Europe. Edinburgh
Edinburgh
is also one of the largest financial centres in Europe. Tourism is very important to the British economy; with over 27 million tourists arriving in 2004, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world and London
London
has the most international visitors of any city in the world. The creative industries accounted for 7% GVA in 2005 and grew at an average of 6% per annum between 1997 and 2005.

The Industrial Revolution started in the UK with an initial concentration on the textile industry, followed by other heavy industries such as shipbuilding , coal mining and steelmaking . British merchants, shippers and bankers developed overwhelming advantage over those of other nations allowing the UK to dominate international trade in the 19th century. As other nations industrialised, coupled with economic decline after two world wars, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
began to lose its competitive advantage and heavy industry declined, by degrees, throughout the 20th century. Manufacturing remains a significant part of the economy but accounted for only 16.7% of national output in 2003. Jaguar cars, including the Jaguar XE as shown, are designed, developed and manufactured in the UK

The automotive industry is a significant part of the UK manufacturing sector and employs around 800,000 people, with a turnover in 2015 of some £70 billion, generating £34.6 billion of exports (11.8% of the UK's total export goods). In 2015, the UK produced around 1.6 million passenger vehicles and 94,500 commercial vehicles. The UK is a major centre for engine manufacturing and in 2015 around 2.4 million engines were produced in the country. The UK has a significant presence in motor racing and the UK motorsport industry employs around 41,000 people, comprises around 4,500 companies and has an annual turnover of around £6 billion.

The aerospace industry of the UK is the second- or third-largest national aerospace industry in the world depending upon the method of measurement and has an annual turnover of around £30 billion. In 2016, the global market opportunity for UK aerospace manufacturers over the next two decades was estimated to be £3.5 trillion. The wings for the Airbus A380
Airbus A380
and the A350 XWB
A350 XWB
are designed and manufactured at Airbus UK 's world-leading Broughton facility, whilst over a quarter of the value of the Boeing 787
Boeing 787
comes from UK manufacturers including Eaton (fuel subsystem pumps), Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (the landing gear) and Rolls-Royce (the engines). Other key names include GKN Aerospace
GKN Aerospace
—an expert in metallic and composite aerostructures that's involved in almost every civil and military fixed and rotary wing aircraft in production and development today. Engines and wings for the Airbus A380 are manufactured in the UK

BAE Systems
BAE Systems
plays a critical role in some of the world's biggest defence aerospace projects. The company makes large sections of the Typhoon Eurofighter at its sub-assembly plant in Samlesbury and assembles the aircraft for the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
at its Warton Plant, near Preston. It is also a principal subcontractor on the F35 Joint Strike Fighter—the world's largest single defence project—for which it designs and manufactures a range of components including the aft fuselage, vertical and horizontal tail and wing tips and fuel system. As well as this it manufactures the Hawk , the world's most successful jet training aircraft. Airbus UK also manufactures the wings for the A400 m military transporter. Rolls-Royce , is the world's second-largest aero-engine manufacturer. Its engines power more than 30 types of commercial aircraft and it has more than 30,000 engines in service in the civil and defence sectors. Rolls-Royce is forecast to have more than 50% of the widebody market share by 2016, ahead of General Electric . Agusta Westland designs and manufactures complete helicopters in the UK.

The UK space industry was worth £9.1bn in 2011 and employed 29,000 people. It is growing at a rate of 7.5% annually, according to its umbrella organisation, the UK Space Agency . Government strategy is for the space industry to be a £40bn business for the UK by 2030, capturing a 10% share of the $250bn world market for commercial space technology. On 16 July 2013, the British Government pledged £60 m to the Skylon project: this investment will provide support at a "crucial stage" to allow a full-scale prototype of the SABRE engine to be built. On 2 November 2015, BAE Systems
BAE Systems
announced they have bought a 20% stake in Reaction Engines ltd . The working partnership will draw on BAE Systems' extensive aerospace technology development and project management expertise and will provide Reaction Engines with access to critical industrial, technical and capital resources to help progress the development of the SABRE engine.

The pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the UK economy and the country has the third-highest share of global pharmaceutical Rmax-width:463px"> The City of London
London
is one of the world's largest financial centres The Canary Wharf is one of the two main financial centres of the UK along with the City of London
London

In the final quarter of 2008, as a result of the Great Recession , the UK economy officially entered recession for the first time since 1991. Unemployment increased from 5.2% in May 2008 to 7.6% in May 2009 and by January 2012 the unemployment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds had risen from 11.9% to 22.5%, the highest since current records began in 1992, although it had fallen to 14.2% by November 2015. Total UK government debt rose quickly from 44.4% of GDP in 2007 to 82.9% of GDP in 2011, then increased more slowly to 87.5% of GDP in 2015. Following the likes of the United States, France
France
and many major economies, in February 2013, the UK lost its top AAA credit rating for the first time since 1978 with Moodys and Fitch credit agency while, unlike the other major economies retained their triple A rating with the largest agency Standard "> Charles Darwin (1809–1882), whose theory of evolution by natural selection is the foundation of modern biological sciences

England
England
and Scotland
Scotland
were leading centres of the Scientific Revolution from the 17th century and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
led the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century, and has continued to produce scientists and engineers credited with important advances. Major theorists from the 17th and 18th centuries include Isaac Newton , whose laws of motion and illumination of gravity have been seen as a keystone of modern science; from the 19th century Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
, whose theory of evolution by natural selection was fundamental to the development of modern biology, and James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell
, who formulated classical electromagnetic theory ; and more recently Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
, who has advanced major theories in the fields of cosmology , quantum gravity and the investigation of black holes .

Major scientific discoveries from the 18th century include hydrogen by Henry Cavendish ; from the 20th century penicillin by Alexander Fleming , and the structure of DNA
DNA
, by Francis Crick and others. Famous British engineers and inventors of the Industrial Revolution include James Watt
James Watt
, George Stephenson , Richard Arkwright , Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
. Other major engineering projects and applications by people from the UK include the steam locomotive , developed by Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick
and Andrew Vivian ; from the 19th century the electric motor by Michael Faraday , the incandescent light bulb by Joseph Swan , and the first practical telephone, patented by Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell
; and in the 20th century the world's first working television system by John Logie Baird and others, the jet engine by Frank Whittle , the basis of the modern computer by Alan Turing , and the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee .

Scientific research and development remains important in British universities, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation with industry. Between 2004 and 2008 the UK produced 7% of the world's scientific research papers and had an 8% share of scientific citations, the third and second highest in the world (after the United States
United States
and China, respectively). Scientific journals produced in the UK include _Nature _, the _British Medical Journal _ and _ The Lancet _.

TRANSPORT

Main article: Transport in the United Kingdom Heathrow Terminal 5 building . London
London
Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports by international passenger traffic worldwide

A radial road network totals 29,145 miles (46,904 km) of main roads, 2,173 miles (3,497 km) of motorways and 213,750 miles (344,000 km) of paved roads. The M25 , encircling London, is the largest and busiest bypass in the world. In 2009 there were a total of 34 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain. London
London
St Pancras International is the UK's 13th busiest railway terminus. The station is one of London's main domestic and international transport hubs providing both commuter rail and high speed rail services across the UK and to Paris
Paris
, Lille
Lille
and Brussels
Brussels

The UK has a railway network of 10,072 miles (16,209 km) in Great Britain and 189 miles (304 km) in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
. Railways in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
are operated by NI Railways , a subsidiary of state-owned Translink . In Great Britain, the British Rail network was privatised between 1994 and 1997, which was followed by a rapid rise in passenger numbers following years of decline, although the factors behind this are disputed . Network Rail owns and manages most of the fixed assets (tracks, signals etc.). About 20 privately owned Train Operating Companies operate passenger trains, which carried 1.68 billion passengers in 2015. There are also some 1,000 freight trains in daily operation. The British Government is to spend £30 billion on a new high-speed railway line, HS2
HS2
, to be operational by 2026. Crossrail
Crossrail
, under construction in London, is Europe's largest construction project with a £15 billion projected cost.

In the year from October 2009 to September 2010 UK airports handled a total of 211.4 million passengers. In that period the three largest airports were London
London
Heathrow Airport (65.6 million passengers), Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport
(31.5 million passengers) and London
London
Stansted Airport (18.9 million passengers). London
London
Heathrow Airport, located 15 miles (24 km) west of the capital, has the most international passenger traffic of any airport in the world and is the hub for the UK flag carrier British Airways , as well as Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic
.

ENERGY

Main article: Energy in the United Kingdom An oil platform in the North Sea

In 2006, the UK was the world's ninth-largest consumer of energy and the 15th-largest producer. The UK is home to a number of large energy companies, including two of the six oil and gas "supermajors "—BP and Royal Dutch Shell —and BG Group . In 2011, 40% of the UK's electricity was produced by gas, 30% by coal, 19% by nuclear power and 4.2% by wind, hydro, biofuels and wastes.

In 2013, the UK produced 914 thousand barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil and consumed 1,507 thousand bbl/d. Production is now in decline and the UK has been a net importer of oil since 2005. In 2010 the UK had around 3.1 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves , the largest of any EU member state. In 2009, 66.5% of the UK's oil supply was imported.

In 2009, the UK was the 13th-largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest producer in the EU. Production is now in decline and the UK has been a net importer of natural gas since 2004. In 2009, half of British gas was supplied from imports as domestic reserves are depleted.

Coal production played a key role in the UK economy in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the mid-1970s, 130 million tonnes of coal was being produced annually, not falling below 100 million tonnes until the early 1980s. During the 1980s and 1990s the industry was scaled back considerably. In 2011, the UK produced 18.3 million tonnes of coal. In 2005 it had proven recoverable coal reserves of 171 million tons. The UK Coal Authority has stated there is a potential to produce between 7 billion tonnes and 16 billion tonnes of coal through underground coal gasification (UCG) or 'fracking\' , and that, based on current UK coal consumption, such reserves could last between 200 and 400 years. However, environmental and social concerns have been raised over chemicals getting into the water table and minor earthquakes damaging homes.

In the late 1990s, nuclear power plants contributed around 25% of total annual electricity generation in the UK, but this has gradually declined as old plants have been shut down and ageing-related problems affect plant availability. In 2012, the UK had 16 reactors normally generating about 19% of its electricity. All but one of the reactors will be retired by 2023. Unlike Germany
Germany
and Japan, the UK intends to build a new generation of nuclear plants from about 2018.

The total of all renewable electricity sources provided for 14.9% of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
in 2013, reaching 53.7 TWh of electricity generated. The UK is one of the best sites in Europe
Europe
for wind energy , and wind power production is its fastest growing supply, in 2014 it generated 9.3% of the UK's total electricity.

WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION

Main article: Water supply and sanitation in the United Kingdom

Access to improved water supply and sanitation in the UK is universal. It is estimated that 96.7% of households are connected to the sewer network. According to the Environment Agency, total water abstraction for public water supply in the UK was 16,406 megalitres per day in 2007. In England
England
and Wales
Wales
the economic regulator of water companies is the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat). The Environment Agency is responsible for environmental regulation, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate for regulating drinking water quality. The economic water industry regulator in Scotland
Scotland
is the Water Industry Commission for Scotland
Scotland
and the environmental regulator is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Scottish Environment Protection Agency
. Drinking water standards and wastewater discharge standards in the UK, as in other countries of the European Union
European Union
, are determined by the EU (see Water supply and sanitation in the European Union
European Union
).

In England
England
and Wales
Wales
water and sewerage services are provided by 10 private regional water and sewerage companies and 13 mostly smaller private "water only" companies. In Scotland
Scotland
water and sewerage services are provided by a single public company, Scottish Water . In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
water and sewerage services are also provided by a single public entity, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Water .

DEMOGRAPHICS

Main article: Demography of the United Kingdom Map of population density in the UK as at the 2011 census

A census is taken simultaneously in all parts of the UK every ten years. The Office for National Statistics is responsible for collecting data for England
England
and Wales, the General Register Office for Scotland
Scotland
and the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Statistics and Research Agency each being responsible for censuses in their respective countries. In the 2011 census the total population of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
was 63,181,775. It is the third-largest in the European Union, the fifth-largest in the Commonwealth and the 22nd-largest in the world. In mid-2014 and mid-2015 net long-term international migration contributed more to population growth. In mid-2012 and mid-2013 natural change contributed the most to population growth. Between 2001 and 2011 the population increased by an average annual rate of approximately 0.7%. This compares to 0.3% per year in the period 1991 to 2001 and 0.2% in the decade 1981 to 1991. The 2011 census also confirmed that the proportion of the population aged 0–14 has nearly halved (31% in 1911 compared to 18 in 2011) and the proportion of older people aged 65 and over has more than tripled (from 5 to 16%). It has been estimated that the number of people aged 100 or over will rise steeply to reach over 626,000 by 2080.

England's population in 2011 was found to be 53 million. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with 420 people resident per square kilometre in mid-2015. with a particular concentration in London
London
and the south-east. The 2011 census put Scotland's population at 5.3 million, Wales
Wales
at 3.06 million and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
at 1.81 million. In percentage terms England
England
has had the fastest growing population of any country of the UK in the period from 2001 to 2011, with an increase of 7.9%.

In 2012 the average total fertility rate (TFR) across the UK was 1.92 children per woman. While a rising birth rate is contributing to current population growth, it remains considerably below the 'baby boom' peak of 2.95 children per woman in 1964, below the replacement rate of 2.1, but higher than the 2001 record low of 1.63. In 2012, Scotland
Scotland
had the lowest TFR at only 1.67, followed by Wales
Wales
at 1.88, England
England
at 1.94, and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
at 2.03. In 2011, 47.3% of births in the UK were to unmarried women. The Office for National Statistics published an "Experimental Official Statistics" bulletin in 2015 showing that, out of the UK population aged 16 and over, 1.7% identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (2.0% of males and 1.5% of females). 4.5% of respondents responded with "other", "I don't know", or did not respond.

* v * t * e

Largest urban areas of the United Kingdom ( England
England
and Wales: 2011 census built-up area; Scotland: 2012 estimates urban area; Northern Ireland: 2001 census urban area)

RANK URBAN AREA POP. PRINCIPAL SETTLEMENT RANK URBAN AREA POP. PRINCIPAL SETTLEMENT

Greater London
London
Urban Area

Greater Manchester Urban Area 1 GREATER LONDON URBAN AREA 9,787,426 London
London
11 BRISTOL URBAN AREA 617,280 Bristol
Bristol

West Midlands Urban Area

West Yorkshire Urban Area

2 GREATER MANCHESTER URBAN AREA 2,553,379 Manchester
Manchester
12 LEICESTER URBAN AREA 508,916 Leicester
Leicester

3 WEST MIDLANDS URBAN AREA 2,440,986 Birmingham
Birmingham
13 EDINBURGH URBAN AREA 488,610 Edinburgh
Edinburgh

4 WEST YORKSHIRE URBAN AREA 1,777,934 Leeds
Leeds
14 BELFAST URBAN AREA 483,418 Belfast
Belfast

5 GREATER GLASGOW 1,199,629 Glasgow
Glasgow
15 BRIGHTON AND HOVE BUILT-UP AREA 474,485 Brighton
Brighton

6 LIVERPOOL URBAN AREA 864,122 Liverpool
Liverpool
16 SOUTH EAST DORSET CONURBATION 466,266 Bournemouth
Bournemouth

7 SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 855,569 Southampton
Southampton
17 CARDIFF URBAN AREA 390,214 Cardiff
Cardiff

8 TYNESIDE 774,891 Newcastle 18 TEESSIDE 376,633 Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough

9 NOTTINGHAM URBAN AREA 729,977 Nottingham
Nottingham
19 THE POTTERIES URBAN AREA 372,775 Stoke-on-Trent

10 SHEFFIELD URBAN AREA 685,368 Sheffield
Sheffield
20 COVENTRY AND BEDWORTH URBAN AREA 359,262 Coventry
Coventry

ETHNIC GROUPS

Main article: Ethnic groups
Ethnic groups
in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Map showing the percentage of the population who are not white according to the 2011 census.

Historically, indigenous British people were thought to be descended from the various ethnic groups that settled there before the 11th century: the Celts
Celts
, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Norse and the Normans . Welsh people could be the oldest ethnic group in the UK. A 2006 genetic study shows that more than 50% of England's gene pool contains Germanic Y chromosomes. Another 2005 genetic analysis indicates that "about 75% of the traceable ancestors of the modern British population had arrived in the British isles by about 6,200 years ago, at the start of the British Neolithic or Stone Age", and that the British broadly share a common ancestry with the Basque people .

The UK has a history of small-scale non-white immigration, with Liverpool
Liverpool
having the oldest Black population in the country dating back to at least the 1730s during the period of the African slave trade. During this period it is estimated the Afro-Caribbean population of Great Britain
Great Britain
was 10,000 which later declined due to the abolition of slavery . The UK also has the oldest Chinese community in Europe, dating to the arrival of Chinese seamen in the 19th century. In 1950 there were probably fewer than 20,000 non-white residents in Britain, almost all born overseas.

Since 1948 substantial immigration from Africa, the Caribbean
Caribbean
and South Asia
South Asia
has been a legacy of ties forged by the British Empire
British Empire
. Migration from new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe since 2004 has resulted in growth in these population groups, although some of this migration has been temporary. Since the 1990s, there has been substantial diversification of the immigrant population, with migrants to the UK coming from a much wider range of countries than previous waves, which tended to involve larger numbers of migrants coming from a relatively small number of countries.

Academics have argued that the ethnicity categories employed in British national statistics, which were first introduced in the 1991 census , involve confusion between the concepts of ethnicity and race . In 2011 , 87.2% of the UK population identified themselves as white, meaning 12.8% of the UK population identify themselves as of one of number of ethnic minority groups. In the 2001 census, this figure was 7.9% of the UK population.

Because of differences in the wording of the census forms used in England
England
and Wales, Scotland
Scotland
and Northern Ireland, data on the Other White group is not available for the UK as a whole, but in England
England
and Wales
Wales
this was the fastest growing group between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, increasing by 1.1 million (1.8 percentage points). Amongst groups for which comparable data is available for all parts of the UK level, there was considerable growth in the size of the Other Asian category, which increased from 0.4 to 1.4% of the population between 2001 and 2011. There was also considerable growth in the Mixed category. In 2001, people in this category accounted for 1.2% of the UK population; by 2011, the proportion was 2%.

Ethnic diversity varies significantly across the UK. 30.4% of London's population and 37.4% of Leicester
Leicester
's was estimated to be non-white in 2005 , whereas less than 5% of the populations of North East England
England
, Wales
Wales
and the South West were from ethnic minorities, according to the 2001 census. In 2016 , 31.4% of primary and 27.9% of secondary pupils at state schools in England
England
were members of an ethnic minority.

ETHNIC GROUP POPULATION (ABSOLUTE) POPULATION (%)

2001 2011 2011

White 54,153,898 55,010,359 087.1 %

White: Gypsy / Traveller / Irish Traveller — 63,193 000.1 %

Asian / Asian British Indian 1,053,411 1,451,862 002.3 %

Pakistani 747,285 1,174,983 001.9 %

Bangladeshi 283,063 451,529 000.7 %

Chinese 247,403 433,150 000.7 %

other Asian 247,664 861,815 001.4 %

Black / African / Caribbean
Caribbean
/ Black British 1,148,738 1,904,684 003.0 %

mixed / multiple ethnic groups 677,117 1,250,229 002.0 %

other ethnic group 230,615 580,374 000.9 %

TOTAL 58,789,194 63,182,178 100.0 %

LANGUAGES

Main article: Languages of the United Kingdom The English-speaking world . Countries in dark blue have a majority of native speakers; countries where English is an official but not a majority language are shaded in light blue. English is one of the official languages of the European Union
European Union
and the United Nations
United Nations
.

The UK's _de facto _ official language is English. It is estimated that 95% of the UK's population are monolingual English speakers. 5.5% of the population are estimated to speak languages brought to the UK as a result of relatively recent immigration. South Asian languages, including Punjabi , Urdu
Urdu
, Hindi
Hindi
, Bengali , Tamil and Gujarati , are the largest grouping and are spoken by 2.7% of the UK population. According to the 2011 census, Polish has become the second-largest language spoken in England
England
and has 546,000 speakers.

Four Celtic languages are spoken in the UK: Welsh , Irish , Scottish Gaelic and Cornish . All are recognised as regional or minority languages, subject to specific measures of protection and promotion under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities . In the 2001 Census over a fifth (21%) of the population of Wales
Wales
said they could speak Welsh, an increase from the 1991 Census (18%). In addition it is estimated that about 200,000 Welsh speakers live in England. In the same census in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
167,487 people (10.4%) stated that they had "some knowledge of Irish" (see Irish language in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
), almost exclusively in the nationalist (mainly Catholic) population. Over 92,000 people in Scotland
Scotland
(just under 2% of the population) had some Gaelic language ability, including 72% of those living in the Outer Hebrides
Hebrides
. The number of schoolchildren being taught through Welsh, Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
and Irish is increasing. Among emigrant-descended populations some Scottish Gaelic is still spoken in Canada
Canada
(principally Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
and Cape Breton Island ), and Welsh in Patagonia
Patagonia
, Argentina.

Scots , a language descended from early northern Middle English , has limited recognition alongside its regional variant, Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland, without specific commitments to protection and promotion.

It is compulsory for pupils to study a second language up to the age of 14 in England, and up to age 16 in Scotland. French and German are the two most commonly taught second languages in England
England
and Scotland. All pupils in Wales
Wales
are taught Welsh as a second language up to age 16, or are taught in Welsh .

RELIGION

Main article: Religion in the United Kingdom Westminster Abbey is used for the coronation of British monarchs

Forms of Christianity have dominated religious life in what is now the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
for over 1400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century, while immigration and demographic change have contributed to the growth of other faiths, most notably Islam. This has led some commentators to variously describe the UK as a multi-faith, secularised , or post-Christian society.

In the 2001 census 71.6% of all respondents indicated that they were Christians, with the next largest faiths being Islam
Islam
(2.8%), Hinduism (1.0%), Sikhism (0.6%), Judaism
Judaism
(0.5%), Buddhism
Buddhism
(0.3%) and all other religions (0.3%). 15% of respondents stated that they had no religion , with a further 7% not stating a religious preference. A Tearfund survey in 2007 showed only one in ten Britons actually attend church weekly. Between the 2001 and 2011 census there was a decrease in the amount of people who identified as Christian by 12%, whilst the percentage of those reporting no religious affiliation doubled. This contrasted with growth in the other main religious group categories, with the number of Muslims increasing by the most substantial margin to a total of about 5%. The Muslim population has increased from 1.6 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2011, making it the second-largest religious group in the United Kingdom.

In a 2015 survey conducted by BSA (British Social Attitudes) on religious affiliation; 49% of respondents indicated 'no religion\' , while 42% indicated they were Christians
Christians
, followed by 8% who affiliated with other religions (e.g. Islam
Islam
, Hinduism , Judaism
Judaism
, etc.). Among Christians, adherents to the Church of England constituted 17%, Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
– 8%, other Christians (including Presbyterians
Presbyterians
, Methodists , other Protestants
Protestants
, as well as Eastern Orthodox ) – 17%. Amid other religions, Islam
Islam
accounted for 5%.

The Church of England
England
is the established church in England. It retains a representation in the UK Parliament and the British monarch is its Supreme Governor . In Scotland
Scotland
, the Church of Scotland
Scotland
is recognised as the national church . It is not subject to state control , and the British monarch is an ordinary member, required to swear an oath to "maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian
Presbyterian
Church Government " upon his or her accession. The Church in Wales
Wales
was disestablished in 1920 and, as the Church of Ireland
Ireland
was disestablished in 1870 before the partition of Ireland
Ireland
, there is no established church in Northern Ireland. Although there are no UK-wide data in the 2001 census on adherence to individual Christian denominations, it has been estimated that 62% of Christians are Anglican, 13.5% Catholic , 6% Presbyterian
Presbyterian
, 3.4% Methodist
Methodist
with small numbers of other Protestant denominations such as Open Brethren , and Orthodox churches.

MIGRATION

Main article: Modern immigration to the United Kingdom See also: Foreign-born population of the United Kingdom Estimated foreign-born population by country of birth from April 2007 to March 2008

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has experienced successive waves of migration. The Great Famine in Ireland, then part of the United Kingdom, resulted in perhaps a million people migrating to Great Britain. Throughout the 19th century a small population of German immigrants built up, numbering 28,644 in England
England
and Wales
Wales
in 1861. London
London
held around half of this population, and other small communities existed in Manchester, Bradford and elsewhere. The German immigrant community was the largest group until 1891, when it became second only to Russian Jews. England has had small Jewish communities for many centuries, subject to occasional expulsions, but British Jews numbered fewer than 10,000 at the start of the 19th century. After 1881 Russian Jews suffered bitter persecutions, and, out of some 2,000,000 who left Russia
Russia
by 1914, around 120,000 settled permanently in Britain, overtaking the Germans to be the largest ethnic minority from outside the British Isles. The population increasing to 370,000 in 1938. Unable to return to Poland
Poland
at the end of World War II, over 120,000 Polish veterans remained in the UK permanently. After World War II, there was significant immigration from the colonies and newly independent former colonies, partly as a legacy of empire and partly driven by labour shortages. Many of these migrants came from the Caribbean
Caribbean
and the Indian subcontinent . In 1841, 0.25% of the population of England
England
and Wales
Wales
was born in a foreign country. In 1901, 1.5% of the population was foreign born. By 1931, this figure had risen to 2.6%, and by 1951 it was 4.4%.

In 2014 the net increase was 318,000: immigration was 641,000, up from 526,000 in 2013, while the number of people emigrating (for more than 12 months) was 323,000. One of the more recent trends in migration has been the arrival of workers from the new EU member states in Eastern Europe, known as the A8 countries . In 2010, there were 7.0 million foreign-born residents in the UK, corresponding to 11.3% of the total population. Of these, 4.76 million (7.7%) were born outside the EU and 2.24 million (3.6%) were born in another EU Member State. The proportion of foreign-born people in the UK remains slightly below that of many other European countries. However, immigration is now contributing to a rising population with arrivals and UK-born children of migrants accounting for about half of the population increase between 1991 and 2001. Analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that a net total of 2.3 million migrants moved to the UK in the 15 years from 1991 to 2006. In 2008 it was predicted that migration would add 7 million to the UK population by 2031, though these figures are disputed. The ONS reported that net migration rose from 2009 to 2010 by 21% to 239,000.

In 2013, approximately 208,000 foreign citizens were naturalised as British citizens, the highest number since records began in 1962. This figure fell to around 125,800 in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013, the average number of people granted British citizenship per year was 195,800. The main countries of previous nationality of those naturalised in 2014 were India
India
, Pakistan
Pakistan
, the Philippines
Philippines
, Nigeria , Bangladesh
Bangladesh
, Nepal
Nepal
, China
China
, South Africa
South Africa
, Poland
Poland
and Somalia
Somalia
. The total number of grants of settlement, which confers permanent residence in the UK without granting British citizenship, was approximately 154,700 in 2013, compared to 241,200 in 2010 and 129,800 in 2012.

Over a quarter (27.0%) of live births in 2014 were to mothers born outside the UK, according to official statistics released in 2015.

YEAR FOREIGN BORN POPULATION OF ENGLAND AND WALES TOTAL POPULATION IRISH BORN POPULATION PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL POPULATION THAT WAS BORN ABROAD

1851 100,000 17,900,000 520,000 0.6

1861 150,000 20,100,000 600,000 0.7

1871 200,00 22,700,000 565,000 0.9

1881 275,000 26,000,000 560,000 1.1

1891 350,000 29,000,000 460,000 1.2

1901 475,000 32,500,000 425,000 1.5

1911 900,000 32,500,000 375,000 2.5

1921 750,000 37,900,000 365,000 2

1931 1,080,000 40,000,000 380,000 2.7

1951 1,875,000 43,700,000 470,000 4.3

1961 2,290,000 46,000,000 645,000 5.0

1971 3,100,000 48,700,000 585,000 6.4

1981 3,220,000 48,500,000 580,000 6.6

1991 3,625,000 49,900,000 570,000 7.3

2001 4,600,000 52,500,000 475,000 8.8

2011 7,500,000 56,000,000 400,000 13.4

Citizens of the European Union, including those of the UK, have the right to live and work in any EU member state. The UK applied temporary restrictions to citizens of Romania
Romania
and Bulgaria, which joined the EU in January 2007. Research conducted by the Migration Policy Institute for the Equality and Human Rights Commission
Equality and Human Rights Commission
suggests that, between May 2004 and September 2009, 1.5 million workers migrated from the new EU member states to the UK, two-thirds of them Polish, but that many subsequently returned home, resulting in a net increase in the number of nationals of the new member states in the UK of some 700,000 over that period. The late-2000s recession in the UK reduced the economic incentive for Poles to migrate to the UK, the migration becoming temporary and circular. In 2009, for the first time since enlargement, more nationals of the eight central and eastern European states that had joined the EU in 2004 left the UK than arrived. In 2011, citizens of the new EU member states made up 13% of the immigrants entering the country. Estimated number of British citizens living overseas by country in 2006

The British Government has introduced a points-based immigration system for immigration from outside the European Economic Area to replace former schemes, including the Scottish Government's Fresh Talent Initiative . In June 2010 the government introduced a temporary limit of 24,000 on immigration from outside the EU, aiming to discourage applications before a permanent cap was imposed in April 2011.

Emigration was an important feature of British society in the 19th century. Between 1815 and 1930 around 11.4 million people emigrated from Britain and 7.3 million from Ireland. Estimates show that by the end of the 20th century some 300 million people of British and Irish descent were permanently settled around the globe. Today, at least 5.5 million UK-born people live abroad, mainly in Australia, Spain, the United States
United States
and Canada.

EDUCATION

Main article: Education in the United Kingdom See also: Education in England
England
, Education in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
, Education in Scotland
Scotland
, and Education in Wales
Wales
Christ Church, Oxford is part of the University of Oxford , which traces its foundations back to c. 1096

Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter, with each country having a separate education system. About 38 percent of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
population has a university or college degree , which is the highest percentage in Europe
Europe
, and among the highest percentages in the world.

Whilst education in England
England
is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education , the day-to-day administration and funding of state schools is the responsibility of local authorities . Universally free of charge state education was introduced piecemeal between 1870 and 1944. Education is now mandatory from ages five to sixteen, and in England
England
youngsters must stay in education or training until they are 18. In 2011, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in England
England
and Wales
Wales
10th in the world for maths and 9th for science. The majority of children are educated in state-sector schools, a small proportion of which select on the grounds of academic ability. Two of the top ten performing schools in terms of GCSE results in 2006 were state-run grammar schools . In 2010, over half of places at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge were taken by students from state schools, while the proportion of children in England
England
attending private schools is around 7% which rises to 18% of those over 16. England
England
has the two oldest universities in English-speaking world, Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (jointly known as " Oxbridge
Oxbridge
") with history of over eight centuries. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
trails only the United States
United States
in terms of representation on lists of top 100 universities. King\'s College (right) and Clare College (left) , both part of the University of Cambridge , which was founded in 1209

Education in Scotland
Scotland
is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning , with day-to-day administration and funding of state schools the responsibility of Local Authorities. Two non-departmental public bodies have key roles in Scottish education. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of qualifications other than degrees which are delivered at secondary schools, post-secondary colleges of further education and other centres. The Learning and Teaching Scotland
Scotland
provides advice, resources and staff development to education professionals. Scotland first legislated for compulsory education in 1496. The proportion of children in Scotland
Scotland
attending private schools is just over 4%, and it has been rising slowly in recent years. Scottish students who attend Scottish universities pay neither tuition fees nor graduate endowment charges, as fees were abolished in 2001 and the graduate endowment scheme was abolished in 2008.

The Welsh Government has responsibility for education in Wales
Wales
. A significant number of Welsh students are taught either wholly or largely in the Welsh language ; lessons in Welsh are compulsory for all until the age of 16. There are plans to increase the provision of Welsh-medium schools as part of the policy of creating a fully bilingual Wales.

Education in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is the responsibility of the Minister of Education and the Minister for Employment and Learning , although responsibility at a local level is administered by five education and library boards covering different geographical areas. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations "> The Royal Aberdeen
Aberdeen
Children\'s Hospital , an NHS Scotland
Scotland
specialist children\'s hospital

Healthcare in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter and each country has its own system of private and publicly funded health care , together with alternative , holistic and complementary treatments. Public healthcare is provided to all UK permanent residents and is mostly free at the point of need, being paid for from general taxation. The World Health Organization , in 2000, ranked the provision of healthcare in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
as fifteenth best in Europe
Europe
and eighteenth in the world.

Regulatory bodies are organised on a UK-wide basis such as the General Medical Council , the Nursing and Midwifery Council and non-governmental-based, such as the Royal Colleges . However, political and operational responsibility for healthcare lies with four national executives ; healthcare in England
England
is the responsibility of the British Government; healthcare in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Executive ; healthcare in Scotland
Scotland
is the responsibility of the Scottish Government ; and healthcare in Wales
Wales
is the responsibility of the Welsh Government . Each National Health Service has different policies and priorities, resulting in contrasts.

Since 1979 expenditure on healthcare has been increased significantly to bring it closer to the European Union
European Union
average. The UK spends around 8.4% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, which is 0.5 percentage points below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average and about one percentage point below the average of the European Union.

CULTURE

Main article: Culture of the United Kingdom

The culture of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has been influenced by many factors including: the nation's island status; its history as a western liberal democracy and a major power; as well as being a political union of four countries with each preserving elements of distinctive traditions, customs and symbolism. As a result of the British Empire
British Empire
, British influence can be observed in the language , culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies including Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa
South Africa
and the United States. The substantial cultural influence of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has led it to be described as a "cultural superpower".

LITERATURE

Main article: British literature The Chandos portrait , believed to depict William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

'British literature' refers to literature associated with the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
and the Channel Islands. Most British literature is in the English language. In 2005, some 206,000 books were published in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and in 2006 it was the largest publisher of books in the world.

The English playwright and poet William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of all time, and his contemporaries Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
and Ben Jonson have also been held in continuous high esteem. More recently the playwrights Alan Ayckbourn , Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter
, Michael Frayn , Tom Stoppard and David Edgar have combined elements of surrealism, realism and radicalism.

Notable pre-modern and early-modern English writers include Geoffrey Chaucer (14th century), Thomas Malory (15th century), Sir Thomas More (16th century), John Bunyan (17th century) and John Milton (17th century). In the 18th century Daniel Defoe (author of _Robinson Crusoe _) and Samuel Richardson were pioneers of the modern novel . In the 19th century there followed further innovation by Jane Austen , the gothic novelist Mary Shelley , the children's writer Lewis Carroll , the Brontë sisters , the social campaigner Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
, the naturalist Thomas Hardy , the realist George Eliot
George Eliot
, the visionary poet William Blake
William Blake
and romantic poet William Wordsworth . 20th century English writers include the science-fiction novelist H. G. Wells ; the writers of children's classics Rudyard Kipling , A. A. Milne (the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh ), Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
and Enid Blyton ; the controversial D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
; the modernist Virginia Woolf ; the satirist Evelyn Waugh ; the prophetic novelist George Orwell ; the popular novelists W. Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene ; the crime writer Agatha Christie (the best-selling novelist of all time); Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond
James Bond
); the poets T.S. Eliot , Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes ; the fantasy writers J. R. R. Tolkien , C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling ; the graphic novelists Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman . A photograph of Victorian era novelist Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens

Scotland\'s contributions include the detective writer Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
), romantic literature by Sir Walter Scott , the children's writer J. M. Barrie , the epic adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson and the celebrated poet Robert Burns . More recently the modernist and nationalist Hugh MacDiarmid and Neil M. Gunn contributed to the Scottish Renaissance . A more grim outlook is found in Ian Rankin 's stories and the psychological horror-comedy of Iain Banks . Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, was UNESCO's first worldwide City of Literature .

Britain's oldest known poem, _ Y Gododdin _, was composed in _Yr Hen Ogledd _ (_The Old North_), most likely in the late 6th century. It was written in Cumbric or Old Welsh and contains the earliest known reference to King Arthur
King Arthur
. From around the seventh century, the connection between Wales
Wales
and the Old North was lost, and the focus of Welsh-language culture shifted to Wales, where Arthurian legend was further developed by Geoffrey of Monmouth . Wales's most celebrated medieval poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym (_fl._1320–1370), composed poetry on themes including nature, religion and especially love. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest European poets of his age. Until the late 19th century the majority of Welsh literature
Welsh literature
was in Welsh and much of the prose was religious in character. Daniel Owen is credited as the first Welsh-language novelist, publishing _Rhys Lewis _ in 1885. The best-known of the Anglo-Welsh poets are both Thomases. Dylan Thomas became famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the mid-20th century. He is remembered for his poetry—his "Do not go gentle into that good night ; Rage, rage against the dying of the light" is one of the most quoted couplets of English language verse—and for his "play for voices", _ Under Milk Wood _. The influential Church in Wales "poet-priest" and Welsh nationalist R. S. Thomas was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. Leading Welsh novelists of the twentieth century include Richard Llewellyn and Kate Roberts .

Authors of other nationalities, particularly from Commonwealth countries, the Republic of Ireland
Ireland
and the United States, have lived and worked in the UK. Significant examples through the centuries include Jonathan Swift , Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
, Bram Stoker , George Bernard Shaw , Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad
, T.S. Eliot , Ezra Pound and more recently British authors born abroad such as Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro
and Sir Salman Rushdie .

MUSIC

Main article: Music of the United Kingdom See also: Rock music in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The Beatles
The Beatles
are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in popular music, selling over a billion records

Various styles of music are popular in the UK from the indigenous folk music of England
England
, Wales
Wales
, Scotland
Scotland
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
to heavy metal . Notable composers of classical music from the United Kingdom and the countries that preceded it include William Byrd , Henry Purcell , Sir Edward Elgar , Gustav Holst , Sir Arthur Sullivan (most famous for working with the librettist Sir W. S. Gilbert ), Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten , pioneer of modern British opera. Sir Harrison Birtwistle is one of the foremost living composers. The UK is also home to world-renowned symphonic orchestras and choruses such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Chorus . Notable conductors include Sir Simon Rattle , Sir John Barbirolli
John Barbirolli
and Sir Malcolm Sargent . Some of the notable film score composers include John Barry , Clint Mansell , Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield
, John Powell , Craig Armstrong , David Arnold , John Murphy , Monty Norman and Harry Gregson-Williams
Harry Gregson-Williams
. George Frideric Handel became a naturalised British citizen and wrote the British coronation anthem, while some of his best works, such as _Messiah _, were written in the English language. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a prolific composer of musical theatre . His works have dominated London's West End since the late 20th century and have also been a commercial success worldwide.

The Beatles
The Beatles
have international sales of over one billion units and are the biggest-selling and most influential band in the history of popular music. Other prominent British contributors to have influenced popular music over the last 50 years include; The Rolling Stones , Pink Floyd , Queen , Led Zeppelin , the Bee Gees , and Elton John , all of whom have worldwide record sales of 200 million or more. The Brit Awards are the BPI\'s annual music awards, and some of the British recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Music award include; The Who
The Who
, David Bowie , Eric Clapton , Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
and The Police . More recent UK music acts that have had international success include Coldplay
Coldplay
, Radiohead
Radiohead
, Oasis , Spice Girls , Robbie Williams , Amy Winehouse and Adele .

A number of UK cities are known for their music. Acts from Liverpool have had 54 UK chart number one hit singles, more per capita than any other city worldwide. Glasgow
Glasgow
's contribution to music was recognised in 2008 when it was named a UNESCO
UNESCO
City of Music, one of only three cities in the world to have this honour.

VISUAL ART

Main article: Art of the United Kingdom J. M. W. Turner self-portrait, oil on canvas, c. 1799

The history of British visual art forms part of western art history . Major British artists include: the Romantics William Blake
William Blake
, John Constable , Samuel Palmer
Samuel Palmer
and J.M.W. Turner ; the portrait painters Sir Joshua Reynolds
Joshua Reynolds
and Lucian Freud ; the landscape artists Thomas Gainsborough and L. S. Lowry ; the pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement William Morris
William Morris
; the figurative painter Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
; the Pop artists Peter Blake , Richard Hamilton and David Hockney ; the collaborative duo Gilbert and George ; the abstract artist Howard Hodgkin ; and the sculptors Antony Gormley , Anish Kapoor and Henry Moore . During the late 1980s and 1990s the Saatchi Gallery in London helped to bring to public attention a group of multi-genre artists who would become known as the " Young British Artists ": Damien Hirst , Chris Ofili , Rachel Whiteread
Rachel Whiteread
, Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin
, Mark Wallinger , Steve McQueen , Sam Taylor-Wood and the Chapman Brothers are among the better-known members of this loosely affiliated movement.

The Royal Academy in London
London
is a key organisation for the promotion of the visual arts in the United Kingdom. Major schools of art in the UK include: the six-school University of the Arts London
London
, which includes the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Chelsea College of Art and Design ; Goldsmiths, University of London
London
; the Slade School of Fine Art (part of University College London
London
); the Glasgow
Glasgow
School of Art ; the Royal College
Royal College
of Art ; and The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (part of the University of Oxford). The Courtauld Institute of Art is a leading centre for the teaching of the history of art . Important art galleries in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
include the National Gallery , National Portrait
Portrait
Gallery , Tate Britain
Tate Britain
and Tate Modern
Tate Modern
(the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.7 million visitors per year).

CINEMA

Main article: Cinema of the United Kingdom Alfred Hitchcock has been ranked as one of the greatest and most influential British filmmakers of all time

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has had a considerable influence on the history of the cinema. The British directors Alfred Hitchcock , whose film _Vertigo _ is considered by some critics as the best film of all time , and David Lean are among the most critically acclaimed of all-time. Other important directors including Charlie Chaplin , Michael Powell , Carol Reed Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott . Many British actors have achieved international fame and critical success, including: Julie Andrews , Richard Burton , Michael Caine , Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery , Vivien Leigh , David Niven , Laurence Olivier , Peter Sellers , Kate Winslet , Anthony Hopkins , and Daniel Day-Lewis . Some of the most commercially successful films of all time have been produced in the United Kingdom, including two of the highest-grossing film franchises (_Harry Potter _ and _James Bond _). Ealing Studios has a claim to being the oldest continuously working film studio in the world.

Despite a history of important and successful productions, the industry has often been characterised by a debate about its identity and the level of American and European influence. British producers are active in international co-productions and British actors, directors and crew feature regularly in American films. Many successful Hollywood films have been based on British people, stories or events, including _Titanic _, _The Lord of the Rings _, _Pirates of the Caribbean
Caribbean
_.

In 2009, British films grossed around $2 billion worldwide and achieved a market share of around 7% globally and 17% in the United Kingdom. UK box-office takings totalled £944 million in 2009, with around 173 million admissions. The British Film Institute has produced a poll ranking of what it considers to be the 100 greatest British films of all time, the BFI Top 100 British films . The annual British Academy Film Awards are hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts .

MEDIA

Main article: Media of the United Kingdom Broadcasting House
Broadcasting House
in London, headquarters of the BBC
BBC
, the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world

The BBC
BBC
, founded in 1922, is the UK's publicly funded radio, television and Internet broadcasting corporation, and is the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world. It operates numerous television and radio stations in the UK and abroad and its domestic services are funded by the television licence . Other major players in the UK media include ITV plc , which operates 11 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network , and News Corporation , which owns a number of national newspapers through News International such as the most popular tabloid _The Sun _ and the longest-established daily "broadsheet " _ The Times _, as well as holding a large stake in satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting . London
London
dominates the media sector in the UK: national newspapers and television and radio are largely based there, although Manchester
Manchester
is also a significant national media centre. Edinburgh
Edinburgh
and Glasgow, and Cardiff, are important centres of newspaper and broadcasting production in Scotland
Scotland
and Wales
Wales
respectively. The UK publishing sector, including books, directories and databases, journals, magazines and business media, newspapers and news agencies, has a combined turnover of around £20 billion and employs around 167,000 people.

In 2009, it was estimated that individuals viewed a mean of 3.75 hours of television per day and 2.81 hours of radio. In that year the main BBC
BBC
public service broadcasting channels accounted for an estimated 28.4% of all television viewing; the three main independent channels accounted for 29.5% and the increasingly important other satellite and digital channels for the remaining 42.1%. Sales of newspapers have fallen since the 1970s and in 2010 41% of people reported reading a daily national newspaper. In 2010, 82.5% of the UK population were Internet users, the highest proportion amongst the 20 countries with the largest total number of users in that year.

PHILOSOPHY

Main article: British philosophy

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is famous for the tradition of 'British Empiricism', a branch of the philosophy of knowledge that states that only knowledge verified by experience is valid, and 'Scottish Philosophy', sometimes referred to as the 'Scottish School of Common Sense '. The most famous philosophers of British Empiricism are John Locke , George Berkeley and David Hume
David Hume
; while Dugald Stewart , Thomas Reid
Thomas Reid
and William Hamilton were major exponents of the Scottish "common sense" school. Two Britons are also notable for a theory of moral philosophy utilitarianism , first used by Jeremy Bentham and later by John Stuart Mill in his short work _ Utilitarianism _. Other eminent philosophers from the UK and the unions and countries that preceded it include Duns Scotus , John Lilburne , Mary Wollstonecraft , Sir Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
, Adam Smith , Thomas Hobbes , William of Ockham
William of Ockham
, Bertrand Russell and A.J. "Freddie" Ayer . Foreign-born philosophers who settled in the UK include Isaiah Berlin , Karl Marx
Karl Marx
, Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein .

SPORT

Main article: Sport in the United Kingdom Wembley Stadium , London, home of the England
England
national football team , is one of the most expensive stadia ever built

Major sports, including association football , tennis , rugby union , rugby league , golf , boxing , netball , rowing and cricket , originated or were substantially developed in the UK and the states that preceded it. With the rules and codes of many modern sports invented and codified in late 19th century Victorian Britain , in 2012, the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge , stated; "This great, sports-loving country is widely recognized as the birthplace of modern sport. It was here that the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play were first codified into clear rules and regulations. It was here that sport was included as an educational tool in the school curriculum".

In most international competitions, separate teams represent England, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and the Republic of Ireland usually field a single team representing all of Ireland, with notable exceptions being association football and the Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
. In sporting contexts, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish / Northern Irish teams are often referred to collectively as the Home Nations . There are some sports in which a single team represents the whole of United Kingdom, including the Olympics, where the UK is represented by the Great Britain
Great Britain
team . The 1908 , 1948 and 2012 Summer Olympics were held in London, making it the first city to host the games three times. Britain has participated in every modern Olympic Games to date and is third in the medal count .

A 2003 poll found that football is the most popular sport in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
. England
England
is recognised by FIFA
FIFA
as the birthplace of club football, and The Football Association is the oldest of its kind, with the rules of football first drafted in 1863 by Ebenezer Cobb Morley . Each of the Home Nations has its own football association, national team and league system . The English top division, the Premier League
Premier League
, is the most watched football league in the world. The first-ever international football match was contested by England and Scotland
Scotland
on 30 November 1872. England, Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
compete as separate countries in international competitions. A Great Britain
Great Britain
Olympic football team was assembled for the first time to compete in the London
London
2012 Olympic Games . However, the Scottish , Welsh and Northern Irish football associations declined to participate, fearing that it would undermine their independent status—a fear confirmed by FIFA. The Millennium Stadium of Cardiff
Cardiff
opened for the 1999 Rugby World Cup

In 2003, rugby union was ranked the second most popular sport in the UK. The sport was created in Rugby School , Warwickshire, and the first rugby international took place on 27 March 1871 between England and Scotland
Scotland
. England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France
France
and Italy compete in the Six Nations Championship ; the premier international tournament in the northern hemisphere. Sport governing bodies in England
England
, Scotland
Scotland
, Wales
Wales
and Ireland
Ireland
organise and regulate the game separately. If any of the British teams or the Irish team beat the other three in a tournament, then it is awarded the Triple Crown .

Cricket
Cricket
was invented in England, and its laws were established by Marylebone Cricket
Cricket
Club in 1788. The England
England
cricket team , controlled by the England
England
and Wales
Wales
Cricket
Cricket
Board , is the only national team in the UK with Test status . Team members are drawn from the main county sides, and include both English and Welsh players. Cricket
Cricket
is distinct from football and rugby where Wales
Wales
and England field separate national teams, although Wales
Wales
had fielded its own team in the past. Irish and Scottish players have played for England because neither Scotland
Scotland
nor Ireland
Ireland
have Test status and have only recently started to play in One Day Internationals . Scotland, England
England
(and Wales), and Ireland
Ireland
(including Northern Ireland) have competed at the Cricket
Cricket
World Cup , with England
England
reaching the finals on three occasions. There is a professional league championship in which clubs representing 17 English counties and 1 Welsh county compete. Wimbledon , the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament, is held in Wimbledon, London
London
every June and July

The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the 1860s, before spreading around the world. The world's oldest tennis tournament, the Wimbledon championships
Wimbledon championships
, first occurred in 1877, and today the event takes place over two weeks in late June and early July.

Thoroughbred racing , which originated under Charles II of England
England
as the "sport of kings", is popular throughout the UK with world-famous races including the Grand National , the Epsom Derby , Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival (including the Cheltenham Gold Cup ). The UK has proved successful in the international sporting arena in rowing .

The UK is closely associated with motorsport . Many teams and drivers in Formula One
Formula One
(F1) are based in the UK, and the country has won more drivers\' and constructors\' titles than any other. The UK hosted the first F1 Grand Prix in 1950 at Silverstone , the current location of the British Grand Prix
British Grand Prix
held each year in July. The UK hosts legs of the Grand Prix motorcycle racing , World Rally Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship . The premier national auto racing event is the British Touring Car Championship . Motorcycle road racing has a long tradition with races such as the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
TT and the North West 200 . St Andrews , Scotland, the home of golf. The standard 18 hole golf course was created at St Andrews in 1764.

Golf
Golf
is the sixth most popular sport, by participation, in the UK. Although The Royal and Ancient Golf
Golf
Club of St Andrews in Scotland
Scotland
is the sport's home course, the world's oldest golf course is actually Musselburgh Links' Old Golf
Golf
Course. In 1764, the standard 18-hole golf course was created at St Andrews when members modified the course from 22 to 18 holes. The oldest golf tournament in the world, and the first major championship in golf, The Open Championship , is played annually on the weekend of the third Friday in July.

Rugby league
Rugby league
originated in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1895 and is generally played in Northern England
England
. A single 'Great Britain Lions' team had competed in the Rugby League World Cup and Test match games, but this changed in 2008 when England
England
, Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland competed as separate nations. Great Britain
Great Britain
is still retained as the full national team. Super League is the highest level of professional rugby league in the UK and Europe. It consists of 11 teams from Northern England, 1 from London, 1 from Wales
Wales
and 1 from France.

The \'Queensberry rules\' , the code of general rules in boxing , was named after John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry in 1867, that formed the basis of modern boxing. Snooker
Snooker
is another of the UK's popular sporting exports, with the world championships held annually in Sheffield
Sheffield
. In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Gaelic football and hurling are popular team sports, both in terms of participation and spectating, and Irish expatriates in the UK and the US also play them. Shinty (or _camanachd_) is popular in the Scottish Highlands . Highland games are held in spring and summer in Scotland, celebrating Scottish and celtic culture and heritage, especially that of the Scottish Highlands.

SYMBOLS

Main article: Symbols of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Statue of Britannia
Britannia
in Plymouth
Plymouth
. Britannia is a national personification of the UK.

The flag of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is the Union Flag
Union Flag
(also referred to as the Union Jack). It was created in 1606 by the superimposition of the Flag of England
England
on the Flag of Scotland
Scotland
and updated in 1801 with the addition of Saint Patrick\'s Flag . Wales
Wales
is not represented in the Union Flag, as Wales
Wales
had been conquered and annexed to England
England
prior to the formation of the United Kingdom. The possibility of redesigning the Union Flag
Union Flag
to include representation of Wales
Wales
has not been completely ruled out. The national anthem of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is "God Save the King ", with "King" replaced with "Queen" in the lyrics whenever the monarch is a woman.

Britannia
Britannia
is a national personification of the United Kingdom, originating from Roman Britain
Roman Britain
. Britannia
Britannia
is symbolised as a young woman with brown or golden hair, wearing a Corinthian helmet and white robes. She holds Poseidon
Poseidon
's three-pronged trident and a shield, bearing the Union Flag. Sometimes she is depicted as riding on the back of a lion. Since the height of the British Empire
British Empire
in the late 19th century, Britannia
Britannia
has often been associated with British maritime dominance, as in the patriotic song " Rule, Britannia! ". Up until 2008, the lion symbol was depicted behind Britannia
Britannia
on the British fifty pence coin and on the back of the British ten pence coin . It is also used as a symbol on the non-ceremonial flag of the British Army.

A second, less used, personification of the nation is the character John Bull . The bulldog is sometimes used as a symbol of the United Kingdom and has been associated with Winston Churchill's defiance of Nazi Germany.

INTERNATIONAL RANKINGS

The following are international rankings of the United Kingdom, including those measuring life quality, health care quality, stability, press freedom and income.

INDEX RANK COUNTRIES REVIEWED

Human Development Index
Human Development Index
2015 14 187

Inequality adjusted Human Development Index
Human Development Index
2015 13 150

OECD Better Life Index 2016 16 38

Legatum Prosperity Index 2015 10 142

Index of Public Integrity 2016 6 105

Democracy Index 2016 16 167

Freedom House
Freedom House
ranking of political rights 2016 8 195

Freedom House
Freedom House
ranking of civil liberties 2016

195

Save the Children State of the World\'s Mothers report 2015 24 179

Total health expenditure per capita 2015 17 188

Fragile States Index (Reverse ranking) 2016 17 178

Gallup gross median household income 2013 19 131

Median equivalent adult income 2009–2014 19 35

International Property Rights Index 2015 13 129

Euro health consumer index 2015 14 (England) 16 (Scotland) 35

Press Freedom Index 2016 38 180

Global Gender Gap Report 2015 20 144

World Happiness Report 2016 23 157

Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 10 175

Networked Readiness Index 2014 9 144

Household final consumption expenditure per capita 2014 12 163

Ease of doing business index 2017 7 185

Global Peace Index
Global Peace Index
2016 47 163

Globalization Index 2015

207

Logistics Performance Index 2014 4 160

Index of Economic Freedom 2016 10 167

Merchant Navy 10 39

HISTORIOGRAPHY

Main articles: historiography of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and historiography of the British Empire
British Empire

SEE ALSO

* United Kingdom
United Kingdom
portal * England
England
portal * Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
portal * Scotland
Scotland
portal * Wales
Wales
portal * British Overseas Territories portal * Commonwealth realms portal

* Outline of the United Kingdom

* Outline of England
England
* Outline of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
* Outline of Scotland
Scotland
* Outline of Wales
Wales

* Index of United Kingdom-related articles * List of venues in the United Kingdom

_ United Kingdom
United Kingdom
_ – book

NOTES

* ^ An alternative variant of the Royal coat of arms is used in Scotland: . * ^ There is no authorised version of the national anthem as the words are a matter of tradition; only the first verse is usually sung. No law was passed making "God Save the Queen" the official anthem. In the English tradition, such laws are not necessary; proclamation and usage are sufficient to make it the national anthem. "God Save the Queen" also serves as the Royal anthem for certain Commonwealth realms . The words _Queen, she, her_, used at present (in the reign of Elizabeth II), are replaced by _King, he, him_ when the monarch is male. * ^ Under the Council of Europe
Europe
's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages , Scots, Ulster Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish Gaelic and Irish are officially recognised as regional or minority languages by the British Government for the purposes of the Charter. See also Languages of the United Kingdom . * ^ European Union
European Union
since 1993. * ^ Some of the devolved countries, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories issue their own sterling banknotes or currencies, or use another nation's currency. See List of British currencies for more information * ^ This excludes some of the UK's dependencies. See Time in the United Kingdom#British territories * ^ Excludes most overseas territories * ^ The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union
European Union
member states. Other TLDs are used regionally * ^ Although Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state, two of its Overseas Territories also share land borders with other sovereign countries. Gibraltar
Gibraltar
shares a border with Spain
Spain
, while the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia share borders with the Republic of Cyprus
Cyprus
, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Cyprus
and the UN buffer zone separating the two Cypriot polities. * ^ In the referendum of 23 June 2016 , a majority voted for the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
to withdraw from the European Union, but the process and date for Brexit have yet to be determined. * ^ The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 6 December 1921 to resolve the Irish War of Independence . When it took effect one year later, it established the Irish Free State as a separate dominion within the Commonwealth . The UK's current name was adopted to reflect the change. * ^ Compare to section 1 of both of the 1800 Acts of Union which reads: the _Kingdoms of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland
Ireland
shall...be united into one Kingdom, by the Name of "The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland"_ * ^ /juːˈnaɪtɪd ˈkɪŋdəm əv ɡreɪt ˈbrɪtən ənd ˈnɔːðən ˈaɪələnd/ ( listen ) * ^ /ˈbrɪtən/ ( listen ) * ^ Since the early twentieth century the prime minister has held the office of First Lord of the Treasury , and in recent decades has also held the office of Minister for the Civil Service . * ^ Sinn Féin, an Irish republican party, also contests elections in the Republic of Ireland. * ^ In 2007–2008, this was calculated to be £115 per week for single adults with no dependent children; £199 per week for couples with no dependent children; £195 per week for single adults with two dependent children under 14; and £279 per week for couples with two dependent children under 14. * ^ The 2011 Census recorded Gypsies/Travellers as a separate ethnic group for the first time. * ^ In the 2011 Census, for the purpose of harmonising results to make them comparable across the UK, the ONS includes individuals in Scotland
Scotland
who classified themselves in the "African" category (29,638 people), which in the Scottish version of the census is separate from " Caribbean
Caribbean
or Black" (6,540 people), in this "Black or Black British" category. The ONS note that "the African categories used in Scotland could potentially capture White/Asian/Other African in addition to Black identities". * ^ Berkeley is in fact Irish but was called a 'British empiricist' due to the territory of what is now known as the Republic of Ireland being in the UK at the time

REFERENCES

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Europe
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Great Britain
in English". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 October 2014. Great Britain
Great Britain
is the name for the island that comprises England, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales, although the term is also used loosely to refer to the United Kingdom. * ^ "United Kingdom". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 14 April 2016. * ^ "UK Perspectives 2016: The UK in a European context". Office for National Statistics . 26 May 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016. * ^ The British Monarchy, _What is constitutional monarchy?_. Retrieved 17 July 2013 * ^ CIA, _The World Factbook_. Retrieved 17 July 2013 * ^ The 30 Largest Urban Agglomerations Ranked by Population Size at Each Point in Time, 1950-2030, World Urbanization Prospects, the 2014 revision, Population Division of the United Nations
United Nations
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Devolution
of powers to Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland". United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Government. Retrieved 17 April 2013. In a similar way to how the government is formed from members from the two Houses of Parliament, members of the devolved legislatures nominate ministers from among themselves to comprise executives, known as the devolved administrations... * ^ "Fall in UK university students". _ BBC
BBC
News_. 29 January 2009. * ^ "Country Overviews: United Kingdom". Transport Research Knowledge Centre. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010.

* ^ "Key facts about the United Kingdom". Directgov . Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2015.

The full title of this country is 'the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. Great Britain
Great Britain
is made up of England, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(UK) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland. 'Britain' is used informally, usually meaning the United Kingdom. The Channel Islands
Channel Islands
and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
are not part of the UK. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Supporting the Overseas Territories". Foreign and Commonwealth Office . Retrieved 9 March 2015. * ^ Mathias, P. (2001). _The First Industrial Nation: the Economic History of Britain, 1700–1914_. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26672-6 . * ^ Ferguson, Niall (2004). _Empire: The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power_. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02328-2 . * ^ T. V. Paul; James J. Wirtz; Michel Fortmann (2005). "Great+power" _Balance of Power_. State University of New York Press, 2005. pp. 59, 282. ISBN 0791464016 . _Accordingly, the great powers after the Cold War are Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States_ p.59 * ^ McCourt, David (28 May 2014). _Britain and World Power Since 1945: Constructing a Nation\'s Role in International Politics_. United States of America: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472072218 . * ^ _A_ _B_ "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2016" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute . Retrieved 26 April 2017. * ^ "Treaty of Union, 1706". Scots History Online. Retrieved 23 August 2011. * ^ Barnett, Hilaire; Jago, Robert (2011). _Constitutional & Administrative Law_ (8th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-415-56301-7 . * ^ See Article One of the Act of Union 1707. * ^ "After the political union of England
England
and Scotland
Scotland
in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", _The American Pageant, Volume 1_, Cengage Learning (2012) * ^ "From 1707 until 1801 _Great Britain_ was the official designation of the kingdoms of England
England
and Scotland". _The Standard Reference Work: For the Home, School and Library, Volume 3_, Harold Melvin Stanford (1921) * ^ "In 1707, on the union with Scotland, 'Great Britain' became the official name of the British Kingdom, and so continued until the union with Ireland
Ireland
in 1801". _ United States
United States
Congressional serial set, Issue 10; Issue 3265_ (1895) * ^ Gascoigne, Bamber . "History of Great Britain
Great Britain
(from 1707)". History World. Retrieved 18 July 2011. * ^ Cottrell, P. (2008). _The Irish Civil War 1922–23_. p. 85. ISBN 1-84603-270-9 . * ^ S. Dunn; H. Dawson (2000), _An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and the Living Language of Conflict_, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, One specific problem—in both general and particular senses—is to know what to call Northern Ireland
Ireland
itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state—although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change. * ^ "Changes in the list of subdivision names and code elements" (PDF). _ISO 3166-2_. International Organization for Standardization. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2012. * ^ Population Trends, Issues 75–82, p.38, 1994, UK Office of Population Censuses and Surveys * ^ Life in the United Kingdom: a journey to citizenship, p. 7, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
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FURTHER READING

* Hitchens, Peter (2000). _The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana_. Second ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Encounter Books. xi, 332 pp. ISBN 1-893554-18-X . * Lambert, Richard S. (1964). _The Great Heritage: A History of Britain for Canadians_. House of Grant, 1964 (and earlier editions and printings).

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