United Kingdom

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
A flag composed of a red cross edged in white and superimposed on a red saltire, also edged in white, superimposed on a white saltire on a blue background
Anthem: "God Save the King"[a]
Coats of arms:

Used in relation to Scotland (right) and elsewhere (left)
Capital
and largest city
London
51°30′N 0°7′W / 51.500°N 0.117°W / 51.500; -0.117
National language
Regional and minority languages[b]
Ethnic groups
List
Religion
(2021/22)[c][7][8][6]
List
Demonym(s)
GovernmentUnitary[d] parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Charles III
Rishi Sunak
LegislatureParliament
House of Lords
House of Commons
Formation
1535 and 1542
24 March 1603
22 July 1706
1 May 1707
1 January 1801
6 December 1922
Area
• Total[e]
244,376 km2 (94,354 sq mi)[12] (78th)
• Land[f]
242,741 km2 (93,723 sq mi)[12]
Population
• 2022 estimate
Neutral increase 67,596,281[13] (22nd)
• 2021/22 census
66,940,559[c][14][15][16]
• Density
279/km2 (722.6/sq mi)[13] (51st)
GDP (PPP)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $4.029 trillion[17] (9th)
• Per capita
Increase $58,880[17] (27th)
GDP (nominal)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $3.495 trillion[17] (6th)
• Per capita
Increase $51,075[17] (21st)
Gini (2021)Positive decrease 35.4[18]
medium
HDI (2022)Increase 0.940[19]
very high (15th)
CurrencyPound sterling[g] (GBP)
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (BST[h])
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)[i]
Driving sideleft[j]
Calling code+44[k]
ISO 3166 codeGB
Internet TLD.uk[l]

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,[m] is a country in Northwestern Europe, off the coast of the continental mainland.[21][22] It comprises England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.[n][23] The UK includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and most of the smaller islands within the British Isles.[24] Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and the Irish Sea. The total area of the United Kingdom is 94,354 square miles (244,376 km2),[e][12] with an estimated population of nearly 67.6 million people in 2022.[13]

In 1707, the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland united under the Treaty of Union to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Acts of Union 1800 incorporated the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. Most of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922 as the Irish Free State, and the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 created the present name, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The UK became the first industrialised country and was the world's foremost power for the majority of the 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly during the "Pax Britannica" between 1815 and 1914.[25][26] At its height in the 1920s, the British Empire encompassed almost a quarter of the world's landmass and population, and was the largest empire in history. However, its involvement in the First World War and the Second World War damaged Britain's economic power and a global wave of decolonisation led to the independence of most British colonies.[27][28][29] British influence can be observed in the legal and political systems of many of its former colonies, and British culture remains globally influential, particularly in language, literature, music and sport. English is the world's most widely spoken language and the third-most spoken native language.[30]

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.[o][32] The UK has three distinct jurisdictions; England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.[33] Since 1998, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own devolved governments and legislatures while England is governed directly by the UK Government.[34] The UK's capital and largest city is London which is also surrounded by the largest urban area. Other major cities with the largest surrounding urban areas include Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Bristol. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland's national capital cities are Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively.

The UK is a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP). It is a recognised nuclear state, and is ranked fourth globally in military expenditure.[35][36] The UK has been a permanent member of the UN Security Council since its first session in 1946. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the OECD, NATO, the Five Eyes, AUKUS and the CPTPP.

  1. ^ "National Anthem". The Royal Family. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  2. ^ "List of declarations made with respect to treaty No. 148". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Welsh language on GOV.UK – Content design: planning, writing and managing content – Guidance". gov.uk. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.; "Welsh language scheme". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.; "Welsh language scheme". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Ethnic group". Office for National Statistics. 28 March 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  5. ^ "MS-B01 Ethnic group". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. 30 November 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  6. ^ a b "Ethnic group, national identity, language and religion". Scotland's Census. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  7. ^ "Religion (detailed)". Office for National Statistics. 5 April 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  8. ^ "MS-B21 Religion - full detail". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. 31 May 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  9. ^ Bradbury, Jonathan (2021). Constitutional Policy and Territorial Politics in the UK: Volume 1: Union and Devolution 1997–2012. Policy Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-1-5292-0588-6.
  10. ^ Leith, Murray Stewart (2012). Political Discourse and National Identity in Scotland. Edinburgh University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7486-8862-3.
  11. ^ Gagnon, Alain-G.; Tully, James (2001). Multinational Democracies. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-521-80473-8.; Bogdanor, Vernon (1998). "Devolution: the Constitutional Aspects". In Beatson, Jack (ed.). Constitutional Reform in the United Kingdom: Practice and Principles. Oxford: Hart Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-901362-84-8.
  12. ^ a b c "Standard Area Measurements for Administrative Areas (December 2023) in the UK". Open Geography Portal. Office for National Statistics. 31 May 2024. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  13. ^ a b c "Estimates of the population for the UK, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2024. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  14. ^ "Population and household estimates, England and Wales: Census 2021, unrounded data". Office for National Statistics. 2 November 2022. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  15. ^ "2021 Census". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  16. ^ "Quality Assurance report – Unrounded population estimates and ethnic group, national identity, language and religion topic data". Scotland's Census. 21 May 2024. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  17. ^ a b c d "World Economic Outlook Database". International Monetary Fund. 16 April 2024. Retrieved 16 April 2024.
  18. ^ "Income inequality". OECD Data. OECD. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  19. ^ "Human Development Report 2023/24" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. 13 March 2024. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  20. ^ "Formatting dates and times in data". gov.uk. HM Government. 9 August 2022. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  21. ^ "Toponymic guidelines for map and other editors, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". GOV.UK. 9 November 2023. 10.2 Definitions. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2024. usually shortened to United Kingdom ... The abbreviation is UK or U.K.
  22. ^ "United Kingdom". Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 February 2024. Archived from the original on 13 October 2023. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  23. ^ "A Beginners Guide to UK Geography (2023)". Open Geography Portal. Office for National Statistics. 24 August 2023. Archived from the original on 9 December 2023. Retrieved 9 December 2023.
  24. ^ "Definition of Great Britain in English". Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2014. Great Britain is the name for the island that comprises England, Scotland and Wales, although the term is also used loosely to refer to the United Kingdom.
  25. ^ Mathias, P. (2001). The First Industrial Nation: the Economic History of Britain, 1700–1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-26672-7.; Ferguson, Niall (2004). Empire: The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-02328-8.
  26. ^ McDougall, Walter A. (4 May 2023). "20th-century international relations". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 12 July 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  27. ^ Brown, Judith (1998). The Twentieth Century, The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume IV. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-924679-3. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2009. p. 319
  28. ^ Louis, Wm. Roger (2006). Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-347-6. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2009. p. 337
  29. ^ Abernethy, David (2000). The Dynamics of Global Dominance, European Overseas Empires 1415–1980. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-09314-8. Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2009. p. 146
  30. ^ "What are the top 200 most spoken languages?". Ethnologue. 2023. Archived from the original on 18 June 2023. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  31. ^ What is the UK Constitution?, The Constitution Unit of UCL, 9 August 2018, archived from the original on 7 November 2018, retrieved 6 February 2020
  32. ^ The British Monarchy, "What is constitutional monarchy?" Archived 4 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 July 2013; "United Kingdom" Archived 9 January 2021 at the Wayback Machine CIA The World Factbook. Retrieved 17 July 2013
  33. ^ Dewart, Megan (2019). The Scottish Legal System. UK: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-5265-0633-7. Archived from the original on 4 July 2023. Retrieved 4 July 2023. The laws and legal institutions of Scotland and of England and Wales were not merged by the Union of 1707. Thus, they remain separate 'law areas', with separate court systems (as does Northern Ireland), and it is necessary to distinguish Scots law and English law (and Northern Irish law).; "The justice system and the constitution". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. Archived from the original on 21 May 2023. Retrieved 13 June 2023. The United Kingdom has three separate legal systems; one each for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This reflects its historical origins and the fact that both Scotland and Ireland, and later Northern Ireland, retained their own legal systems and traditions under the Acts of Union 1707 and 1800.
  34. ^ "Devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland". United Kingdom Government. Archived from the original on 18 July 2013. 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...; "Country Overviews: United Kingdom". Transport Research Knowledge Centre. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  35. ^ "IISS Military Balance 2021". The Military Balance. 121 (1): 23–29. January 2021. doi:10.1080/04597222.2021.1868791. S2CID 232050862. Archived from the original on 1 October 2021. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  36. ^ da Silva, Diego Lopes; Tian, Nan; Béraud-Sudreau, Lucie; Marksteiner, Alexandra; Liang, Xiao (April 2022). Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2021 (fact sheet). SIPRI. doi:10.55163/DZJD8826. S2CID 248305949. Archived from the original on 25 April 2022. Retrieved 3 April 2023.


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