Portal:United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. 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, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The total area of the United Kingdom is 242,495 square kilometres (93,628 sq mi), with an estimated 2020 population of more than 67 million people.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with a metropolitan area population of over 14 million. Other major cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland 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 United Kingdom has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the eighth-largest by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index rating, ranking 18th in the world. It also performs well in international rankings of education, healthcare, life expectancy and human development. 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 retains considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific, technological and political influence internationally. It is a recognised nuclear state and is ranked fourth 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, AUKUS, 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...)

Featured article

Illustration from William Harrison Ainsworth's novel The Lancashire Witches

The Samlesbury witches were three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury—Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley, and Ellen Bierley—accused by a 14-year-old girl, Grace Sowerbutts, of practising witchcraft. Their trial at Lancaster Assizes in England on 19 August 1612 was one in a series of witch trials held over two days, among the most famous in English history. They were unusual for England at that time in two respects: Thomas Potts, the clerk to the court, published the proceedings in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster; the number of the accused found guilty and hanged was unusually high, ten at Lancaster and another at York. However, all three Samlesbury witches were acquitted. The charges against the women included child murder and cannibalism. In contrast, the others tried at the same assizes, who included the Pendle witches, were accused of maleficium—causing harm by witchcraft. The case against the three women collapsed "spectacularly" when Grace Sowerbutts was exposed by the trial judge to be "the perjuring tool of a Catholic priest". Many historians, notably Hugh Trevor-Roper, have suggested that the witch trials of the 16th and 17th century were a consequence of the religious struggles of the period, with both Catholic and Protestant Churches determined to stamp out what they regarded as heresy. (Full article...)

Featured biography

Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England (1537–1553) became King of England and Ireland on 28 January 1547 and was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first Protestant ruler. During Edward’s reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council, because he never reached maturity. The Council was led from 1547 to 1549 by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and from 1550 to 1553 by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, who in 1551 became 1st Duke of Northumberland. Edward's reign was marked by economic problems, military withdrawal from Scotland and Boulogne-sur-Mer, and social unrest that in 1549 erupted into riot and rebellion. It also saw the transformation of the Anglican Church into a recognisably Protestant body. Henry VIII had severed the link between the Church of England and Rome, and during Edward's reign, Protestantism was established for the first time in England, with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the mass, and the imposition of compulsory services in English. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer has proved lasting. (Full article...)

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26 September 2022 – September 2022 United Kingdom mini-budget
The pound sterling falls to its record lowest level against the U.S. dollar. (BBC News)
19 September 2022 – Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II
The state funeral of Elizabeth II is held in London, United Kingdom. (BBC News)
10 September 2022 – Proclamation of accession of Charles III
Charles Philip Arthur George is proclaimed King of the United Kingdom as Charles III by the Accession Council at St James's Palace. (BBC News)
8 September 2022 – Death of Elizabeth II, Operation London Bridge
Buckingham Palace announces that Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She is succeeded as monarch by her son Charles III. (BBC News)
6 September 2022 – 2022 Conservative Party leadership election
Liz Truss succeeds Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. (Sky News)
5 September 2022 – 2022 Conservative Party leadership election
Liz Truss is elected Leader of the Conservative Party and will succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 6 September. (BBC News)

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