Portal:United Kingdom

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Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom
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 country in Northwestern Europe, off the coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 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. 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), with an estimated population of nearly 67.6 million people in 2022.

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. 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. 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.

The UK is a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the ninth-largest by purchasing power parity. It is a recognised nuclear state, and is ranked fourth globally in military expenditure. 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. (Full article...)

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The SR Leader class was a class of experimental 0-6-6-0 articulated steam locomotive, produced to the design of the innovative engineer Oliver Bulleid. Intended as a replacement for the ageing fleet of M7 class, the Leader was an attempt to extend the life of steam traction on the Southern Railway by eliminating many of the operational drawbacks associated with existing steam locomotives. Design work began in 1946, and development continued after the nationalisation of the railways in 1948, under the auspices of British Railways. The Leader project was part of Bulleid's desire to modernise the steam locomotive based on experience gained with the Southern Railway's fleet of electric stock. The design incorporated many novel features, such as the use of thermic siphons, bogies, and cabs at either end of the locomotive, resulting in its unique appearance. Several of its innovations proved to be unsuccessful however, partly accounting for the project's cancellation in the early 1950s. Five Leader locomotives were begun, although only one was completed. Problems with the design, indifferent reports on performance, and political pressure surrounding spiralling development costs, led to all locomotives of the class being scrapped by 1951. (Full article...)

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Stanley Green, the Protein Man, in Oxford Street in 1977

Stanley Green (1915–1993) was a sandwich man who became a well-known figure in London, England, during the latter half of the 20th century. For 25 years Green patrolled Oxford Street, carrying a placard that advocated "Less Lust, By Less Protein: Meat Fish Bird; Egg Cheese; Peas Beans; Nuts. And Sitting"—the wording, and punctuation, changing somewhat over the years. Arguing that protein made people lustful and aggressive, his solution was "protein wisdom," a low-protein diet for "better, kinder, happier people." For a few pence, passers-by could buy his 14-page pamphlet, Eight Passion Proteins with Care, which reportedly sold 87,000 copies over 20 years. Green became one of London's much-loved eccentrics, though his campaign to suppress desire, as one commentator put it, was not invariably popular, leading to two arrests for obstruction and the need to wear green overalls to protect himself from spit. He nevertheless took great delight in his local fame. The Sunday Times interviewed him in 1985, and his "less passion, less protein" slogan was used by Red or Dead, the London fashion house. When he died in 1993 at the age of 78, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Times published his obituary, and his pamphlets, placards, and letters were passed to the Museum of London. (Full article...)

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20 May 2024 –
Judges grant Julian Assange permission to appeal his extradition order from the United Kingdom to the United States. (Reuters)
8 May 2024 – Elected British politicians who have changed party affiliation
British Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke defects to the opposition Labour Party, citing the Sunak government's failure to stop the English Channel migrant crisis. (Reuters)
3 May 2024 – Russian invasion of Ukraine
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron promises £3 billion of annual military aid to Ukraine for "as long as it takes." (Reuters)
2 May 2024 – 2024 United Kingdom local elections
The United Kingdom holds local elections, as well as a parliamentary by-election in the Blackpool South constituency. The Labour Party wins most councils. (BBC News)
1 May 2024 – Rwanda asylum plan
British authorities begin detaining migrants ahead of deportation flights to Rwanda. (Reuters)
Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris announces the deployment of 100 police officers to the border with Northern Ireland amid fears that thousands of migrants might flee the UK in order to avoid deportation to Rwanda. Ireland also declares the United Kingdom a "safe country" so that asylum seekers can be deported back to the UK. (The Telegraph) (BBC News)

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