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United Kingdom Travel Guide:

        Facts on the United Kingdom

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   History   Geography    People    Economy    Communications    Transportation  
 

Map of United Kingdom and its major cities

Map of the United Kingdom and its major cities

  

 

 

 

 

History   Top of Page  
  As the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 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 and the Irish republic withdraw from the union. 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 Europe. A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside the Economic and Monetary Union for the time being. Constitutional reform is also a significant issue in the UK. The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established in 1999, but the latter is suspended due to wrangling over the peace process.    

 

 

 

 

 

Geography   Top of Page
Location 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    
Geographic Coordinates 54 00 N, 2 00 W  
Area Total: 244,820 sq km
Water: 3,230 sq km
Note: includes Rockall and Shetland Islands
Land: 241,590 sq km
 
Area - Comparative Slightly smaller than Oregon    
Land Boundaries Total: 360 km
Border countries: Ireland 360 km
 
Coastline 12,429 km  
Climate Temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast  
Terrain Mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast  
Elevation Extremes Lowest point: The Fens -4 m
Highest point: Ben Nevis 1,343 m
 
Natural Resources Coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land  
Geography Note Lies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and now linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters  
Natural hazards Winter windstorms; floods  
People   Top of Page  

  

Population 60,776,238 (July 2007 est.)  
Age Structure 0-14 years: 17.2% (male 5,349,053/female 5,095,837)
15-64 years: 67% (male 20,605,031/female 20,104,313)
65 years and over: 15.8% (male 4,123,464/female 5,498,540) (2007 est.) 
 
Nationality Noun: Briton(s), British (collective plural)
Adjective: British
 
Ethnic Groups white (of which English 83.6%, Scottish 8.6%, Welsh 4.9%, Northern Irish 2.9%) 92.1%, black 2%, Indian 1.8%, Pakistani 1.3%, mixed 1.2%, other 1.6% (2001 census)  
Religions Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1% (2001 census)  
Language English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)  
Literacy Definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
total population: 99% (2000 est.) 
 
Government   Top of Page  

 

 

Country Name Conventional long form: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Conventional short form: United Kingdom
abbreviation: UK
 
Government Type Constitutional monarchy  
Capital London  
Administrative Divisions England

Buroughs  Barnsley, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bracknell, ForestBrighton and HoveBury, Calderdale, Darlington, Doncaster, Dudley, Gateshead, Halton, Hartlepool, Kirklees, Knowsley, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, North Tyneside ,Oldham,Poole, Reading, Redcar and Cleveland, Rochdale, Rotherham, Sandwell, Sefton, Slough, Solihull, Southend-on-Sea, South Tyneside, St. Helens, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Swindon, Tameside, Thurrock, Torbay, Trafford, Walsall, Warrington, Wigan, Wirral, Wolverhampton,York

Counties:  Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Worcestershire

London Boroughs:Barking andDagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham,Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth

Cities and Boroughs: Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Salford, Sheffield, Sunderland, Wakefield, Westminster

Distiricts: Bath and North East Somerset, East Riding of Yorkshire, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Rutland, South Gloucestershire, Telford and Wrekin, West Berkshire, Wokingham

Cities: City of Bristol, Derby, City of Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, City of London, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth,Southampton,Stoke-on-Trent

Royal Buroughs: Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Windsor and Maidenhead

Northern Ireland

Districts: Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Down,Dungannon, Fermanagh, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry andourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh, Strabane

Cities:  Belfast, Derry

Counties: Country Antrim, County Armagh, County Down, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone

Scotland

Council Areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, The Scottish Borders, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire,South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, Eilean Siar (Western Isles)

Wales

County Buroughs: Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Conwy, Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen, Wrexham

Counties: Isle of Angsley, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Powys, The Vale of Glamorgan

Cities and Counties: Cardiff, Swansea

 
Independence England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century; the union between England and Wales, begun in 1284 with the Statute of Rhuddlan, was not formalized until 1536 with an Act of Union; in another Act of Union in 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanently join as Great Britain; the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was implemented in 1801, with the adoption of the name the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition of Ireland; six northern Irish counties remained part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland and the current name of the country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was adopted in 1927  
Flag Description Blue field with the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which is superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland); properly known as the Union Flag, but commonly called the Union Jack; the design and colors (especially the Blue Ensign) have been the basis for a number of other flags including other Commonwealth countries and their constituent states or provinces, as well as British overseas territories  
Economy   Top of Page
Overview The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of the quintet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades, the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. GDP growth slipped in 2001-03 as the global downturn, the high value of the pound, and the bursting of the "new economy" bubble hurt manufacturing and exports. Output recovered in 2004, to 3.2% growth, but fell in 2005, to 1.7%. Despite slower growth, the economy is one of the strongest in Europe; inflation, interest rates, and unemployment remain low. The relatively good economic performance has complicated the BLAIR government's efforts to make a case for Britain to join the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Critics point out that the economy is doing well outside of EMU, and public opinion polls show a majority of Britons are opposed to the euro. Meantime, the government has been speeding up the improvement of education, transport, and health services, at a cost in higher taxes and a widening public deficit.  
Currency British pound  
Currency Code GBP  
Communications   Top of Page
Telephone System General assessment: technologically advanced domestic and international system  
Internet Country Code .uk  
Transportation   Top of Page
Railways total: 16,567 km
broad gauge: 303 km 1.600-m gauge (in Northern Ireland)
standard gauge: 16,264 km 1.435-m gauge (5,361 km electrified) (2006)
 
Roadways total: 388,008 km
paved: 388,008 km (includes 3,520 km of expressways) (2005)
 
Waterways 3,200 km (620 km used for commerce) (2003)  
Ports and Terminals Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dover, Falmouth, Felixstowe, Glasgow, Grangemouth, Hull, Leith, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Peterhead, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Scapa Flow, Southampton, Sullom Voe, Teesport, Tyne  
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