Portal:United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom Portal

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Map of the United Kingdom in the British Isles.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in north-western Europe, off the north-­western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The total area of the United Kingdom is 93,628 square miles (242,500 km2).

The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 1952. The capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Other than England, the constituent countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers.

The United Kingdom has evolved from a series of annexations, unions and separations of constituent countries over several hundred years. The Treaty of Union between the Kingdom of England (which included Wales, annexed in 1542) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707 formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. Its union in 1801 with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Most of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which formally adopted that name in 1927.

The nearby Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown Dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. There are also 14 British Overseas Territories, the last remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's landmass and a third of the world's population, and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture and the legal and political systems of many of its former colonies.

The United Kingdom has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the tenth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It has a high-income economy and a very high human development index rating, ranking 13th in the world. The UK became the world's first industrialised country and was the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today the UK remains one of the world's great powers, with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific, technological and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear state and is ranked sixth globally in military expenditure. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.

The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the United Nations, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It was a member state of the European Communities (EC) and its successor, the European Union (EU), from its accession in 1973 until its withdrawal in 2020 following a referendum held in 2016. (Full article...)

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Medieval plowing with oxen

Carucage was a medieval English land tax introduced by King Richard I in 1194, based on the size of the estate owned by the taxpayer. It was a replacement for the danegeld, last imposed in 1162, which had become difficult to collect because of an increasing number of exemptions. Carucage was levied just six times: by Richard in 1194 and 1198; John, his brother and successor, in 1200; and John's son, Henry III, in 1217, 1220, and 1224, after which it was replaced by taxes on income and personal property. The taxable value of an estate was initially assessed from the Domesday Survey, but other methods were later employed, such as valuations based on the sworn testimony of neighbours or on the number of plough-teams the taxpayer used. Carucage never raised as much as other taxes, but nevertheless helped to fund several projects dear to the kings' hearts. It paid the ransom for Richard's release in 1194, after he was taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria; it covered the tax John had to pay Philip II of France in 1200 on land he inherited in that country; and it helped to finance Henry III's military campaigns in England and on the European continent. Carucage was an attempt to secure new sources of revenue to supplement and increase royal income in a time when new demands were being made on royal finances. (Full article...)

Featured biography

Walter de Coventre was a 14th-century Scottish ecclesiastic. There is no direct evidence of his birthdate, his family, or his family's origin, although he may have come from the region around Abernethy, Scotland, where a family with the name de Coventre is known to have lived. Walter appeared in the records for the first time in the 1330s, as a student at the University of Paris. From there he went on to the University of Orléans, initially as a student before becoming a lecturer there. He studied the arts, civil law and canon law, and was awarded many university degrees, including two doctorates. His studies were paid for, at least partially, by his benefices in Scotland. Despite holding perhaps more than five at one stage, he did not return to Scotland until the late 1350s. Following his return to Scotland, Walter soon became involved, as Dean of Aberdeen Cathedral, in high-level ecclesiastical affairs with the Scottish church and political affairs with the Earl of Mar. Sometime before June 1361, the cathedral chapter of Dunblane elected him Bishop of Dunblane. He went to France to secure confirmation from the Pope at Avignon, who authorised his consecration. Walter was bishop for 10 years after returning home to Scotland. Records of his episcopate are thin, but there are enough to allow a modest reconstruction of his activities: he presided over legal disputes, issued a dispensation for an important irregular marriage, attended parliaments, and acted as an envoy of the Scottish crown in England. He died in either 1371 or 1372. (Full article...)

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Salvage of the Mary Rose in October 1982

In the news

Wikinews UK

26 September 2021 – 2021 Formula One World Championship
British racing driver Lewis Hamilton becomes the first driver to win 100 races in Formula One after winning the 2021 Russian Grand Prix for Mercedes. (AFP via Philippine Daily Inquirer)
25 September 2021 –
Panic buying of fuel is reported at petrol stations in the United Kingdom amidst a shortage of lorry drivers. A fuel purchase limit of £30 per customer is introduced at many locations due to "unprecedented" demand. (The Guardian)
23 September 2021 – France–United States relations
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it will take "time and actions" in order to restore confidence and good relations between France and the United States after France condemned the security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced last week. (Reuters)
22 September 2021 – France–United States relations
French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden agree to meet in Europe soon to repair the strained relations following the security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. France also agrees to send back its ambassador to the United States. (Al Jazeera)
20 September 2021 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
COVID-19 pandemic in England, COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom


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