United Kingdom is an island country in northwestern Europe. More than 70
countries are larger in size, and the United Kingdom has only about 1 per cent
of the world's people. It has few natural resources.
Yet for hundreds of years, the United Kingdom has been one of the world's most
important countries. The British started the Industrial Revolution. They founded
the largest empire in history. They have produced some of the world's greatest
scientists, explorers, artists, and political leaders.
The United Kingdom is really four countries united under one government. These
countries are England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The nation's official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland. Most people call the country the United Kingdom, the UK, Great Britain,
or simply Britain. London is the capital and largest city.
A Short Background
Great Britain, 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-fourth
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.
As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member
of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign
policy; it currently is weighing the degree of its integration with continental
A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside of the European Monetary Union
for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK.
Regional assemblies with varying degrees of power opened in Scotland, Wales, and
Northern Ireland in 1999.
||Western Europe, islands
including the northern one-sixth of
the island of Ireland between the North
Atlantic Ocean and
the North Sea, northwest of France
||54 00 N, 2 00 W
||60,094,648 (July 2003 est.)
British (collective plural)
||English 81.5%, Scottish 9.6%,
Irish 2.4%, Welsh 1.9%,
Ulster 1.8%, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and
||Anglican and Roman Catholic 40 million, Muslim 1.5 million,
Presbyterian 800,000, Methodist 760,000, Sikh 500,000,
Hindu 500,000, Jewish 350,000
||English, Welsh (about 26% of
the population of Wales),
Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)
||British pound (GBP)
||1 EURO to United Kingdom Pound: 0,675
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