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England/United Kingdom facts and history in brief

England/United Kingdom
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Map of England

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comprises Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland, along with a number of overseas territories. Also known as simply the United Kingdom (UK), most of its territory is situated just off the north-western coast of mainland Europe, surrounded by the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean.

Royal motto: Dieu et mon droit (Latin: God and my right).

Official languages; English is the main language and official de facto. Welsh (in Wales), Scottish Gaelic (in Scotland), Irish (in Northern Ireland), Scots (in Scotland), Ulster Scots (in Northern Ireland), British Sign Language.
Capital; London
Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister; Tony Blair
Area; 244,101 kmē
Population; 58,789,194.
Establishment; Formed in 1801 as United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. (The Irish Free State left the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in December 1922.
The name of the United Kingdom was not changed to reflect this fact until 1927 when the current name, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was formally introduced.)
Currency; Pound Sterling
Time zone; UTC, Summer: +1 UTC
National anthem; God Save the Queen
Internet TLD; .UK (but ISO 3166-1 is GB)
Phone Calling Code; 44
International call prefix; 00

History England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century.
The union between England and Wales was enacted under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284.
In the 1707 Act of Union, the separate kingdoms of England and Scotland (though having shared the same monarch since 1603) agreed to permanent union as the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Through the 1801 Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
With the formation of 32 Irish counties into the Irish Free State, with six northern Irish counties remaining part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland, in 1922, the country was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927.

The United Kingdom, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science.
At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one quarter of the earth's surface.
The first half of the 20th century saw the UK's strength seriously depleted in two World Wars.
The second half witnessed the dismantling of the Empire and the UK rebuilding itself into a modern and prosperous European nation.
The UK is currently weighing the degree of its integration with continental Europe.
A member of the EU, it has chosen to defer its participation in Euro Zone owing to internal political considerations.
Constitutional reform is also a current issue in the UK.
The House of Lords has been subjected to ongoing reforms and National assemblies with varying degrees of power were created in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1999.
Further assemblies for the English regions are also under consideration.
The British republican movement is also gaining a higher degree of media attention, although general support for monarchy remains high.
The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (successor organization to the former Empire), the European Union and NATO.
It is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council and holds a veto power.
Politics In form the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with government, though carried out in the monarch's name, answerable to parliament and through it the electorate.
It is governed from its capital, London.
The UK's current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II who acceded to the throne in 1952 and was crowned in 1953. Today, her role is mainly ceremonial, with the country's real political power being delegated to the Prime Minister.
The United Kingdom is a very centralized state, with London's Westminster Parliament holding responsibility for most of the political affairs of the Kingdom.
In recent years however, each of the countries apart from England has been granted its own governmental body responsible in varying degree for some internal matters.

The United Kingdom is made up of the four countries England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are in turn made up of the following subdivisions:
Council Areas of Scotland Unitary Authorities of Wales Subdivisions of Northern Ireland.
England is divided into nine Government Office Regions - North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern, Greater London, South East, South West.
Each region is made up of Counties and/or Metropolitan Counties and/or unitary authorities, apart from London which consists of London boroughs.
There is growing support for the regions to be empowered via democratically elected assemblies - particularly in the northern regions and the West Midlands.
Scotland consists of 32 Council Areas.
Wales consists of 22 Unitary Authorities, styles as 11 County Boroughs, 9 Counties, and 2 Cities and Counties.
Northern Ireland is divided into 24 Districts, 2 Cities, and 6 Counties.
There are also a number of different dependencies belonging to the United Kingdom.
The Isle of Man and Channel Islands are not legally part of the United Kingdom; they are British crown dependencies, though the United Kingdom is responsible for their external affairs.

The monarchy of the United Kingdom is symbolically shared with 16 other sovereign countries that are known as Commonwealth Realms, although Britain has very little political influence over these independent nations.

Geography Most of England consists of rolling terrain, but the country is more mountainous in the north; the dividing line between terrain types is usually identified as the Tees-Exe line.
The main rivers are the Thames and the Severn; major cities include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol and Newcastle upon Tyne. Near Dover, the Channel Tunnel links the United Kingdom with France.
Wales is mostly mountainous, the highest peak being Snowdon, at 1,085 m above sea level.
North of the mainland is the island of Anglesey.
Main and capital city is Cardiff, located in the south of Wales.
Scotland's geography is varied, with lowlands in the south and east and highlands in the north and west, including Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain (1343 m).
There are many long and deep sea arms, firths, and lochs.
A multitude of islands west and north of Scotland are also included, notably the Hebrides, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands.
Main cities are Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
Northern Ireland, making up the northeastern part of Ireland, is mostly hilly.
Main cities are Belfast and Londonderry.

Economy The United Kingdom, a leading trading power and financial centre, has an essentially capitalist economy, one of the largest of Western Europe.
Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership by means of privatization programmes, and has contained the growth of the Welfare State.
Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labour force.
The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation.
Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account for by far the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance.
The Blair government has put off the question of participation in the Euro system, citing five economic tests that would need to be met before a referendum can take place.
Are business cycles and economic structures compatible with European interest rates on a permanent basis? If problems emerge, is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them? What impact would entry into the euro have on the UK's financial services industry?
Would joining the euro create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain?
Would joining the euro promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?

Demographics The primary language spoken is English.
Other languages include Welsh, Gaelic and various Scottish dialects of English.
Recent immigrants from elsewhere in the Commonwealth speak other languages, including Urdu.

Culture The United Kingdom has two of the world's most famous universities in its borders, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, and has brought forth great scientists and engineers such as Isaac Newton, James Watt, Charles Darwin, and Alexander Fleming.
Playwright William Shakespeare is arguably the most famous writer in the world; other well-known writers include the Bronte sisters, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J. R. R. Tolkien.
Composers William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, John Blow, Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar, Arthur Sullivan, William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett have made major contributions to British music, and are known internationally. Living composers include John Tavener, Harrison Birtwistle and Oliver Knussen.

Britain (England) has been described as a land without music, but it supports a number of major orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and its several music colleges have helped to teach many well known musicians.
Because of its location and other economic factors London is one of the most important cities for music in the world, and has several important concert halls and is also home to the Royal Opera House, one of the world's leading opera houses.
British traditional music has also been very influential abroad.

The UK has also produced the famous Rock and roll bands The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, Oasis, and Radiohead.
It has also pioneered in various forms of electronic dance music such as acid house, drum and bass and trip hop, which were in whole or part developed in the United Kingdom and have spawned various internationally known acts such as Underworld, Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers and Portishead.
The United Kingdom is one of three countries which have a profitable recorded music industry, based mostly on popular music, the others being the United States and Sweden.

Visual artists from the United Kingdom include such luminaries as John Constable, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, William Blake and J.M.W. Turner.
In the 20th century, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, and the pop artists Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake are of note.
More recently still, the so-called Young British Artists have gained some notoriety, particularly Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
The United Kingdom also has a vibrant tradition of theatre, and London has many theatres which put on plays and musicals, including the National Theatre.

Public & Bank Holidays 1 January; New Year's Day
2 January; (Scotland only)
Good Friday; (The Friday before Easter Sunday)
Easter Sunday; (First Sunday after the first full moon since the vernal equinox)
Easter Monday; (The day after Easter Sunday)
First Monday in May; May Day Bank Holiday
Last Monday in May; Spring Bank Holiday
Last Monday in August; Summer Bank Holiday
25 December; Christmas Day
26 December; Boxing Day (not Scotland)
17 March; St Patrick's Day (Northern Ireland only)
12 July; Battle of the Boyne - Orangemen's Day (Northern Ireland only)

External links

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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