United KingdomFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia"UK" redirects here. For other uses, see UK (disambiguation).This article is about the sovereign state. For the Island, see Great Britain. For other uses,see United Kingdom (disambiguation). United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Flag Royal Coat of arms Anthem: "God Save the Queen"[nb 1] Location of United Kingdom (dark green) – in Europe (green & dark grey) – in the European Union (green) — [Legend] Capital London (and largest city) 51°30′N 0°7′W Official language(s) English Recognised Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Scotsand Ulster regional languages Scots, Welsh,Cornish[nb 2] Ethnic groups (2001 92.1% White See: UK ethnic groups 4.0% South Asian  list ) 2.0% Black 1.2% Mixed 0.4% Chinese 0.4% Other
Demonym British or Briton Government Unitary parliamentaryconstitutional monarchy- Monarch Queen Elizabeth II- Prime Minister David Cameron MP Legislature Parliament- Upper house House of Lords- Lower house House of Commons Formation- Acts of Union 1707 1 May 1707- Acts of Union 1800 1 January 1801- Anglo-Irish Treaty 12 April 1922 Area- Total 243,610 km2 (80th) 94,060 sq mi- Water (%) 1.34 Population- Mid-2010 estimate 62,262,000 (22nd)- 2001 census 58,789,194- Density 255.6/km2 (51st) 661.9/sq miGDP (PPP) 2012 estimate- Total $2,308.503 Billion- Per capita $36,605.022GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate- Total $2,452.689 Billion- Per capita $38,891.321Gini (2008–09) 41HDI (2011) 0.863 (very high) (28th) Currency Pound sterling (GBP) Time zone GMT (UTC+0)- Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1) Date formats dd/mm/yyyy (AD) Drives on the left[nb 3]
ISO 3166 code GB Internet TLD .uk[nb 4] Calling code 44 1 A second coat of arms is used in ScotlandThe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,[nb 5] commonly known as the UnitedKingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continentalEurope. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the islandof Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a landborder with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland.[nb 6] Apart from this land border theUK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy anda parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city ofLondon. It is a country inits own right and consists of four administrative divisions (or countries): England, NorthernIreland, Scotland and Wales. The latter three of these are devolved administrations, each withvarying powers, based in their capital cities Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff respectively.Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are the three Crowndependencies: Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. The United Kingdom has fourteenBritishOverseas Territories. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922,encompassed almost a quarter of the worlds land surface and was the largest empire in history.British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of itsformer territories.The UK is a developed country and has the worlds seventh-largest economy by nominal GDPand eighth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It was the worldsfirst industrialised country and the worlds foremost power during the 19th and early 20thcenturies. The UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural, military, scientific andpolitical influence. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranksfourth in the world.The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its firstsession in 1946. It has been a member of the European Union and its predecessor the EuropeanEconomic Community since 1973. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations,the Council of Europe, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization. Contents [hide]
1 Etymology and terminology2 History o 2.1 Before 1707 o 2.2 Since the Acts of Union of 17073 Geography o 3.1 Climate o 3.2 Administrative divisions o 3.3 Dependencies4 Politics o 4.1 Government o 4.2 Devolved administrations o 4.3 Law and criminal justice o 4.4 Foreign relations o 4.5 Military5 Economy o 5.1 Science and technology o 5.2 Transport o 5.3 Energy6 Demographics o 6.1 Ethnic groups o 6.2 Languages o 6.3 Religion o 6.4 Migration o 6.5 Education o 6.6 Healthcare7 Culture o 7.1 Literature o 7.2 Music o 7.3 Visual art o 7.4 Cinema o 7.5 Media o 7.6 Philosophy o 7.7 Sport o 7.8 Symbols
8 See also9 Notes10 References11 External linksEtymology and terminologySee also: Britain (placename), Terminology of Great Britain, and Terminology of the British IslesThe name "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" was introduced in 1927 bythe Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act. It reflected the reality that the de facto independence ofthe Irish Free State, created by the partitioning of Ireland in 1922, left Northern Ireland as the onlypart of the island of Ireland still within the UK. Prior to this, the Acts of Union 1800, that unitedthe Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801, had given the new state thename of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain before 1801 is occasionallyreferred to as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain". However, Section 1 of both of the1707 Acts of Union declare that England and Scotland are "United into One Kingdom by the Nameof Great Britain".[nb 7] The term united kingdom is found in informal use during the 18th centuryto describe the new state but only became official with the union with Ireland in 1801. Although the United Kingdom, as a sovereign state, is a country, England, Scotland, Wales and(more controversially) Northern Ireland are also referred to as countries, although they are notsovereign states and only Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved self-government. The British Prime Ministers website has used the phrase "countries within acountry" to describe the United Kingdom.With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive nameused "can be controversial, with the choice often revealing ones political preferences."  Otherterms used for Northern Ireland include "region" and "province".The United Kingdom is often referred to as Britain. British government sources frequently use theterm as a short form for the United Kingdom, whilst media style guides generally allow its use butpoint out that the longer term Great Britain refers only to the main island which includes England,Scotland and Wales. However, some foreign usage, particularly in the United States,uses Great Britain as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom. Also, the United KingdomsOlympic team competes under the name "Great Britain" or "Team GB". GB and GBR arethe standard country codes for the United Kingdom (see ISO 3166-2 and ISO 3166-1 alpha-3) andare consequently commonly used by international organisations to refer to the UnitedKingdom.In 2006, a new design of British passport entered into use. Its first page shows the long form nameof the state in English, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. In Welsh, the long form name of the state is"Teyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon" with "Teyrnas Unedig" being used as a short
form name on government websites. In Scottish Gaelic, the long form is "Rìoghachd Aonaichtena Breatainne Mòire is Èireann a Tuath" and the short form "Rìoghachd Aonaichte".The adjective British is commonly used to refer to matters relating to the United Kingdom. Theterm has no definite legal connotation, however, it is used in law to refer to UK citizenshipand matters to do with nationality. British people use a number of different terms to describetheir national identity and may identify themselves as being British; or as being English, Scottish,Welsh, Northern Irish, or Irish; or as being both.HistorySee also: History of the British IslesBefore 1707Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, was erected around 2500 BC.Main articles: History of England, History of Wales, History of Scotland, History of Ireland,and History of the formation of the United KingdomSettlement by anatomically modern humans of what was to become the United Kingdomoccurred in waves beginning by about 30,000 years ago. By the end of theregions prehistoricperiod, the population is thought to have belonged, in the main, to a culture termed Insular Celtic,comprising Brythonic Britain and Gaelic Ireland.The Roman conquest, beginning in 43 AD, andthe 400-year rule of southern Britain, was followed by an invasion by Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlers, reducing the Brythonic area mainly to what was to become Wales. Most ofthe region settled by the Anglo-Saxons became unified as the Kingdom of England in the 10thcentury. Meanwhile, Gaelic-speakers in north west Britain (with connections to the north-east ofIreland and traditionally supposed to have migrated from there in the 5th century) united withthe Picts to create the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century.
The Bayeux Tapestry depicts theBattle of Hastings and the events leading to it.In 1066, the Normans invaded England and after its conquest, seized large parts ofWales, conquered much of Ireland andsettled in Scotland bringing to each country feudalism onthe Northern French model and Norman-French culture. The Norman elites greatly influenced,but eventually assimilated with, each of the local cultures. Subsequent medieval Englishkingscompleted the conquest of Wales and made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to annexScotland. Thereafter, Scotland maintained its independence, albeit in near-constant conflict withEngland. The English monarchs, through inheritance of substantial territories in France and claimsto the French crown, were also heavily involved in conflicts in France, most notably the HundredYears War.The early modern period saw religious conflict resulting from the Reformation and the introductionof Protestant state churches in each country. Wales was fully incorporated into the Kingdom ofEngland, and Ireland was constituted as a kingdom in personal union with the Englishcrown. In what was to become Northern Ireland, the lands of the independent Catholic Gaelicnobility were confiscated and given to Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. In 1603,the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in a personal union when James VI,King of Scots, inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh toLondon; each country nevertheless remained a separate political entity and retained its separatepolitical institutions. In the mid-17th century, all three kingdoms were involved in a series ofconnected wars (including the English Civil War) which led to the temporary overthrow of themonarchy and the establishment of the short-lived unitary republic of the Commonwealth ofEngland, Scotland and Ireland. Although the monarchy was restored, it ensured (withtheGlorious Revolution of 1688) that, unlike much of the rest of Europe, royal absolutism would notprevail. The British constitution would develop on the basis of constitutional monarchy andthe parliamentary system. During this period, particularly in England, the development of navalpower (and the interest in voyages of discovery) led to the acquisition and settlement of overseascolonies, particularly in North America.Since the Acts of Union of 1707Main article: History of the United Kingdom
The Treaty of Union led to a single united kingdom encompassing all Great Britain.On 1 May 1707 a new kingdom of Great Britain was created by the political union of the kingdomsof England and Scotland in accordance with the Treaty of Union, negotiated the previous year andratified by the English and Scottish Parliaments passing Acts of Union.In the 18th century, the country played an important role in developing Western ideas ofthe parliamentary system and in making significant contributions to literature, the arts, andscience. The British-led Industrial Revolution transformed the country and fuelled thegrowing British Empire. During this time Britain, like other great powers, was involved in colonialexploitation, including the Atlantic slave trade, although with the passing of the Slave Trade Act of1807 the UK took a leading role in battling the trade in slaves. The colonies in North Americahad been the main focus of British colonial activity. With their loss in the American War ofIndependence, imperial ambition turned elsewhere, particularly to India.In 1800, while the wars with France still raged, the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland eachpassed an Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating theUnited Kingdom of Great Britainand Ireland, which came into being on 1 January 1801.The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of theNapoleonic Wars and the start of Pax Britannica.After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), the UKemerged as the principal naval and economic power of the 19th century (with London the largestcity in the world from about 1830)Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of globalpoliceman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica. It was also a period of rapideconomic, colonial, and industrial growth. Britain was described as the "workshop of theworld", and the British Empire grew to include India, large parts of Africa, and many other
territories. Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britains dominant positionin world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China,Argentina and Siam. Domestically, there was a shift to free trade and laissez-faire policiesand a very significant widening of the voting franchise. The country experienced a huge populationincrease during the century, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, causing significant social andeconomic stresses. By the end of the century, other states began to challenge Britains industrialdominance.Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme. More than 885,000 British soldiers died onthe battlefields of World War I.The UK, along with Russia, France and (after 1917) the US, was one of the major powersopposing the German Empire and its allies in World War I (1914–18). The UK armed forcesgrew to over five million people engaged across much of its empire and several regions ofEurope, and increasingly took a major role on the Western front. The nation suffered some twoand a half million casualties and finished the war with a huge national debt. After the war theUnited Kingdom received the League of Nations mandate over former Germanand Ottoman colonies, and the British Empire had expanded to its greatest extent, covering a fifthof the worlds land surface and a quarter of its population. The rise of Irish Nationalism anddisputes within Ireland over the terms of Irish Home Rule led eventually to the partition of theisland in 1921, and the Irish Free State became independent with Dominion status in 1922,while Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom. The Great Depression (1929–32)occurred when the UK had not recovered from the effects of the war, and led to hardship as wellas political and social unrest.The United Kingdom was one of the Allies of World War II and an original signatory tothe Declaration of the United Nations. Following the defeat of its European allies in the first year ofthe war, the United Kingdom continued the fight against Germany, notably in the Battle ofBritain and the Battle of the Atlantic. After the victory, the UK was one of the Big Three powers thatmet to plan the postwar world. The war left the country financially damaged. Marshall Aid andloans from both the United States and Canada helped the UK on the road to recovery.
Territories that were at one time part of theBritish Empire. Current British Overseas Territoriesare underlined inred.The Labour government in the immediate post-war years initiated a radical programme ofchanges, with a significant impact on British society in the following decades.  Domestically,major industries and public utilities were nationalised, a Welfare State was established, and acomprehensive publicly funded healthcare system, the National Health Service, was created. Inresponse to the rise of local nationalism, the Labour governments own ideological sympathies andBritains now diminished economic position, a policy of decolonisation was initiated, starting withthe granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947. Over the next three decades, mostterritories of the Empire gained independence and became sovereign members ofthe Commonwealth of Nations.Although the new postwar limits of Britains political role were illustrated by the Suez Crisis of1956, the UK nevertheless became one of the five permanent members of the United NationsSecurity Council and was the third country to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal (with its firstatomic bomb test in 1952). The international spread of the English language also ensured thecontinuing international influence of its literature and culture, while from the 1960s its popularculture also found influence abroad. As a result of a shortage of workers in the 1950s, the BritishGovernment encouraged immigration from Commonwealth countries, thereby transforming Britaininto a multi-ethnic society in the following decades. In 1973, the UK joined the EuropeanEconomic Community(EEC), and when the EEC became the European Union (EU) in 1992, it wasone of the 12 founding members. From the late 1960s Northern Ireland suffered communal andparamilitary violence (sometimes affecting other parts of the UK and also the Republic of Ireland)conventionally known as the Troubles. It is usually considered to have ended with the Belfast"Good Friday" Agreement of 1998.Following a period of widespread economic slowdown and industrial strife in the 1970s,the Conservative Government of the 1980s initiated a radical policy of deregulation, particularly ofthe financial sector, flexible labour markets, the sale of state-owned companies (privatisation), andthe withdrawal of subsidies to others. Aided, from 1984, by the inflow of substantial North Seaoil revenues, the UK experienced a period of significant economic growth. Around the end of the20th century there were major changes to the governance of the UK with the establishmentof devolved national administrations for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales following pre-
legislative referendums, and the statutory incorporation of the European Convention on HumanRights. Domestic controversy surrounded some of Britains overseas military deployments in the2000s (decade), particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.GeographyMain article: Geography of the United KingdomThe topography of the UKThe total area of the United Kingdom is approximately 243,610 square kilometres (94,060 sq mi).The country occupies the major part of the British Isles archipelago and includes the island ofGreat Britain, the north-eastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland and some smaller surroundingislands. It lies between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea with the south-east coastcoming within 35 kilometres (22 mi) of the coast of northern France, from which it is separated bythe English Channel. As of 199310% of the UK was forested, 46% used for pastures and 25%used for agriculture. The Royal Greenwich Observatory in London is the defining point ofthe Prime Meridian.The United Kingdom lies between latitudes 49° to 61° N, and longitudes 9° W to 2° E. NorthernIreland shares a 360-kilometre (224 mi) land boundary with the Republic of Ireland. Thecoastline of Great Britain is 17,820 kilometres (11,073 mi) long. It is connected to continentalEurope by the Channel Tunnel, which at 50 kilometres (31 mi) (38 kilometres (24 mi) underwater)is the longest underwater tunnel in the world.England accounts for just over half of the total area of the UK, covering 130,395 square kilometres(50,350 sq mi). Most of the country consists of lowland terrain,with mountainous terrainnorth-west of the Tees-Exe line; including the Cumbrian Mountains of the Lake District,the Pennines and limestone hills of the Peak District,Exmoor and Dartmoor. The main rivers andestuaries are the Thames, Severn and the Humber. Englands highest mountain is Scafell
Pike (978 metres (3,209 ft)) in the Lake District. Its principal rivers are the Severn, Thames,Humber, Tees, Tyne, Tweed, Avon, Exe and Mersey.Ben Nevis, in Scotland, is the highest point in the British IslesScotland accounts for just under a third of the total area of the UK, covering 78,772 squarekilometres (30,410 sq mi) and including nearly eight hundred islands, predominantly westand north of the mainland; notably the Hebrides, Orkney Islandsand Shetland Islands. Thetopography of Scotland is distinguished by the Highland Boundary Fault—a geological rockfracture—which traverses Scotland from Arran in the west to Stonehaven in the east. Thefaultline separates two distinctively different regions; namely the Highlands to the north and westand the lowlands to the south and east. The more rugged Highland region contains the majority ofScotlands mountainous land, including Ben Nevis which at 1,343 metres (4,406 ft) is the highestpoint in the British Isles. Lowland areas, especially the narrow waist of land between the Firth ofClyde and the Firth of Forth known as the Central Belt, are flatter and home to most of thepopulation including Glasgow, Scotlands largest city, and Edinburgh, its capital and politicalcentre.Wales accounts for less than a tenth of the total area of the UK, covering 20,779 square kilometres(8,020 sq mi). Wales is mostly mountainous, though South Wales is less mountainousthan North and mid Wales. The main population and industrial areas are in South Wales,consisting of the coastal cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, and the South Wales Valleys totheir north. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia and include Snowdon (Welsh: YrWyddfa) which, at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft), is the highest peak in Wales. The 14, or possibly 15,Welsh mountains over 3,000 feet (914 m) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s. Waleshas over 1,200 kilometres (746 miles) of coastline. There are several islands off the Welshmainland, the largest of which is Anglesey (Ynys Môn) in the northwest.Northern Ireland accounts for just 14,160 square kilometres (5,470 sq mi) and is mostly hilly. Itincludes Lough Neagh which, at 388 square kilometres (150 sq mi), is the largest lake in the BritishIsles by area. The highest peak in Northern Ireland is Slieve Donard in the MourneMountains at 852 metres (2,795 ft).Climate
Main article: Climate of the United KingdomThe United Kingdom has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round. Thetemperature varies with the seasons seldom dropping below −11 °C (12 °F) or rising above 35°C (95 °F). The prevailing wind is from the south-west and bears frequent spells of mild and wetweather from the Atlantic Ocean, although the eastern parts are mostly sheltered from thiswind—as the majority of the rain falls over the western regions the eastern parts are therefore thedriest. Atlantic currents, warmed by the Gulf Stream, bring mild winters; especially in the westwhere winters are wet and even more so over high ground. Summers are warmest in the south-east of England, being closest to the European mainland, and coolest in the north. Heavy snowfallcan occur in winter and early spring on high ground, and occasionally settles to great depth awayfrom the hills.Administrative divisionsMain article: Administrative geography of the United KingdomAdministrative units of the United KingdomEach country of the United Kingdom has its own system of administrative and geographicdemarcation, which often has origins that pre-date the formation of the United Kingdom itself.Consequently there is "no common stratum of administrative unit encompassing the UnitedKingdom". Until the 19th century there was little change to those arrangements, but there hassince been a constant evolution of role and function. Change did not occur in a uniform mannerand the devolution of power over local government to Scotland, Wales and Northern Irelandmeans that future changes are unlikely to be uniform either.
The organisation of local government in England is complex, with the distribution of functionsvarying according to the local arrangements. Legislation concerning local government in Englandis decided by the UK parliament and the Government of the United Kingdom, as England does nothave a devolved parliament. The upper-tier subdivisions of England are the nine Governmentoffice regions or European Union government office regions. One region, Greater London, hashad a directly elected assembly and mayor since 2000 following popular support for the proposalin a referendum. It was intended that other regions would also be given their ownelected regional assemblies, but a proposed assembly in the North East region was rejected bya referendum in 2004 Below the region level England has either county councils and districtcouncils or unitary authorities and London which consists of 32 London boroughs. Councillors areelected by the first-past-the-post system in single-member wards or by the multi-member pluralitysystem in multi-member wards.Local government in Scotland is divided on a basis of 32 council areas, with wide variation in bothsize and population. The cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeenand Dundee are separate councilareas as is the Highland Council which includes a third of Scotlands area but just over200,000 people. The power invested in local authorities is administered by elected councillors, ofwhich there are currently 1,222 and are each paid a part-time salary. Elections are conductedby single transferable vote in multi-member wards that elect either three or four councillors. Eachcouncil elects a Provost, or Convenor, to chair meetings of the council and to act as a figureheadfor the area. Councillors are subject to a code of conduct enforced by the Standards Commissionfor Scotland. The representative association of Scotlands local authorities is the Convention ofScottish Local Authorities (COSLA).Local government in Wales consists of 22 unitary authorities. These include the citiesof Cardiff, Swansea and Newport which are unitary authorities in their own right. Elections areheld every four years under the first-past-the-post system. The most recent elections were heldin May 2008. The Welsh Local Government Association represents the interests of local authoritiesin Wales.Local government in Northern Ireland has, since 1973, been organised into 26 district councils,each elected by single transferable vote. Their powers are limited to services such as collectingwaste, controlling dogs, and maintaining parks and cemeteries. On 13 March 2008 theexecutive agreed on proposals to create 11 new councils and replace the present system.  Thenext local elections were postponed until 2011 to facilitate this.Dependencies
A view of the Caribbean Sea from theCayman Islands, one of the worlds foremost international financialcentres and tourist destinations.Main articles: British Overseas Territories and Crown DependenciesThe United Kingdom has sovereignty over seventeen territories which do not form part of theUnited Kingdom itself: fourteen British Overseas Territories and three Crown Dependencies.The fourteen British Overseas Territories are: Anguilla; Bermuda; the British Antarctic Territory;the British Indian Ocean Territory; the British Virgin Islands; theCayman Islands; the FalklandIslands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; the Turks andCaicos Islands; the Pitcairn Islands;South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; andthe Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus. British claims in Antarctica are not universallyrecognised.Collectively Britains overseas territories encompass an approximate land area of667,018 square miles (1,727,570 km2) and a population of approximately 260,000 people. Theyare the remnants of the British Empire and several have specifically voted to remain Britishterritories (Bermuda in 1995 and Gibraltar in 2002).The Crown Dependencies are British possessions of the Crown, as opposed to overseas territoriesof the UK. They comprise the Channel Island Bailiwicks ofJersey and Guernsey in the EnglishChannel and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Being independently administered jurisdictions theydo not form part of the United Kingdom or of the European Union, although the UK governmentmanages their foreign affairs and defence and the UK Parliament has the authority to legislate ontheir behalf. The power to pass legislation affecting the islands ultimately rests with their ownrespective legislative assemblies, with the assent of the Crown (Privy Council or, in the case of theIsle of Man, in certain circumstances the Lieutenant-Governor). Since 2005 each Crowndependency has had a Chief Minister as itshead of government.PoliticsMain articles: Politics of the United Kingdom, Monarchy of the United Kingdom, and Elections inthe United Kingdom
Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the otherCommonwealth realmsThe United Kingdom is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is thehead of state of the UK as well as of fifteen other independentCommonwealth countries. Themonarch has "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn".  TheUnited Kingdom has an uncodified constitution, as do only three other countries in the world.[nb8] The Constitution of the United Kingdom thus consists mostly of a collection of disparate writtensources, including statutes, judge-made case law and international treaties, togetherwith constitutional conventions. As there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes and"constitutional law" the UK Parliament can perform "constitutional reform" simply by passing Actsof Parliament and thus has the political power to change or abolish almost any written or unwrittenelement of the constitution. However, no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannotchange.GovernmentMain article: Government of the United KingdomThe UK has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has beenemulated around the world—a legacy of the British Empire. The parliament of the United Kingdomthat meets in the Palace of Westminster has two houses; an elected House of Commons and anappointed House of Lords. Any bill passed requires Royal Assent to become law.The position of prime minister, the UKs head of government, belongs to the member ofparliament who can obtain the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons, usually thecurrent leader of the largest political party in that chamber. The prime minister and cabinet areformally appointed by the monarch to form Her Majestys Government, though the prime ministerchooses the cabinet and, by convention, the Queen respects the prime ministers choices. 
The Palace of Westminster, seat of both houses of the Parliament of the United KingdomThe cabinet is traditionally drawn from members of the Prime Ministers party in both legislativehouses, and mostly from the House of Commons, to which they are responsible. Executive poweris exercised by the prime minister and cabinet, all of whom are sworn into thePrivy Council of theUnited Kingdom, and become Ministers of the Crown. The Rt. Hon. David Cameron, leader ofthe Conservative Party, has been Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for theCivil Service since 11 May 2010. For elections to the House of Commons, the UK is currentlydivided into 650 constituencies with each electing a single member of parliament by simpleplurality. General elections are called by the monarch when the prime minister so advises.The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 require that a new election must be called within five years ofthe previous general election.The UKs three major political parties are the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the LiberalDemocrats. During the 2010 general election these three parties won 622 out of 650 seatsavailable in the House of Commons: 621 seats at the general election and 1 more at thedelayed by-election in Thirsk and Malton. Most of the remaining seats were won by minorparties that only contest elections in one part of the UK: the Scottish National Party(Scotlandonly); Plaid Cymru (Wales only); and the Democratic Unionist Party, Social Democratic and LabourParty, Ulster Unionist Party, and Sinn Féin (Northern Ireland only, though Sinn Féin also contestselections in the Republic of Ireland). In accordance with party policy no elected Sinn Féin memberof parliament has ever attended the House of Commons to speak on behalf of their constituents –this is because members of parliament are required to take an oath of allegiance to the monarch.The current five Sinn Féin MPs have however, since 2002, made use of the offices and otherfacilities available at Westminster. For elections to the European Parliament the UK currentlyhas 72 MEPs, elected in 12 multi-member constituencies.Devolved administrationsMain articles: Devolution in the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government,and Welsh Government
The Scottish Parliament Building inHolyrood is the seat of the Scottish ParliamentScotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own government or executive, led by a FirstMinister (or, in the case of Northern Ireland, a diarchal First Minister and deputy First Minister), anda devolved unicameral legislature. England, the largest country of the United Kingdom, has nodevolved executive or legislature and is administered and legislated for directly by the UKgovernment and parliament on all issues. This situation has given rise to the so-called WestLothian question which concerns the fact that MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland canvote, sometimes decisively, on matters affecting England that are handled by devolvedlegislatures for their own constituencies.The Scottish Government and Parliament have wide-ranging powers over any matter that has notbeen specifically reserved to the UK parliament, includingeducation, healthcare, Scotslaw and local government. At the 2011 elections the SNP won re-election and achieved anoverall majority in the Scottish parliament, with its leader, Alex Salmond, as First Minister ofScotland. The Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales have more limitedpowers than those devolved to Scotland. The Assembly is able to legislate on devolved mattersthrough Acts of the Assembly, which require no prior consent from Westminster. The 2011elections resulted in a minority Labour administration led by Carwyn Jones. The NorthernIreland Executive and Assembly have powers closer to those already devolved to Scotland. TheExecutive is led by a diarchy representing unionist and nationalist members of the Assembly.Currently,Peter Robinson (Democratic Unionist Party) and Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) are FirstMinister and deputy First Minister respectively.The United Kingdom does not have a codified constitution and constitutional matters are notamong the powers devolved to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Under the doctrineof Parliamentary sovereignty, the UK Parliament could, in theory, therefore, abolish the ScottishParliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly. Indeed, in 1972, the UKParliament unilaterally prorogued the Parliament of Northern Ireland, setting a precedent relevantto contemporary devolved institutions. In practice, the circumstances in which the UK
Parliament would abolish devolution given the political constraints created by referendumdecisions are unclear. The political constraints placed upon the UK Parliaments power tointerfere with devolution in Northern Ireland are greater than in relation to Scotland and Wales,given that devolution in Northern Ireland rests upon an international agreement withthe Government of Ireland.Law and criminal justiceMain article: Law of the United KingdomThe Royal Courts of Justice of England and WalesThe United Kingdom does not have a single legal system, as Article 19 of the 1706 Treaty ofUnion provided for the continuation of Scotlands separate legal system. Today the UK hasthree distinct systems of law: English law, Northern Ireland law and Scots law. A new SupremeCourt of the United Kingdom came into being in October 2009 to replace the Appellate Committeeof the House of Lords. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, including the samemembers as the Supreme Court, is the highest court of appeal for several independentCommonwealth countries, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown Dependencies.Both English law, which applies in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland law are basedon common-law principles. The essence of common law is that, subject to statute, the law isdeveloped by judges in courts, applying statute, precedent and common sense to the facts beforethem to give explanatory judgements of the relevant legal principles, which are reported andbinding in future similar cases (stare decisis). The courts of England and Wales are headed bythe Senior Courts of England and Wales, consisting of the Court of Appeal, the High Court ofJustice (for civil cases) and the Crown Court (for criminal cases). The Supreme Court is thehighest court in the land for both criminal and civil appeal cases in England, Wales, and NorthernIreland and any decision it makes is binding on every other court in the same jurisdiction, oftenhaving a persuasive effect in other jurisdictions.
The High Court of Justiciary – the supreme criminal court ofScotland.Scots law is a hybrid system based on both common-law and civil-law principles. The chief courtsare the Court of Session, for civil cases, and the High Court of Justiciary, for criminalcases. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom serves as the highest court of appeal for civilcases under Scots law. Sheriff courts deal with most civil and criminal cases includingconducting criminal trials with a jury, known as sheriff solemn court, or with a sheriff and no jury,known as sheriff summary Court. The Scots legal system is unique in having threepossible verdicts for a criminal trial: "guilty", "not guilty" and "not proven". Both "not guilty" and "notproven" result in an acquittal with no possibility of retrial.Crime in England and Wales increased in the period between 1981 and 1995, though since thatpeak there has been an overall fall of 48% in crime from 1995 to 2007/08,according to crimestatistics. The prison population of England and Wales has almost doubled over the same period,to over 80,000, giving England and Wales the highest rate of incarceration in Western Europe at147 per 100,000. Her Majestys Prison Service, which reports to the Ministry of Justice,manages most of the prisons within England and Wales. Crime in Scotland fell to its lowestrecorded level for 32 years in 2009/10, falling by ten percent. At the same time Scotlandsprison population, at over 8,000, is at record levels and well above designcapacity. The Scottish Prison Service, which reports to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice,manages Scotlands prisons. In 2006 a report by the Surveillance Studies Network found that theUK had the highest level of mass surveillance among industrialised western nations.Foreign relationsMain article: Foreign relations of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,David Cameron, and the President of the United States, BarackObama, during the2010 G-20 Toronto summit.The United Kingdom is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member ofthe Commonwealth of Nations,G7, G8, G20, NATO, the OECD, the WTO, the Council of Europe,the OSCE, and is a member state of the European Union. The UK has a "Special Relationship"with the United States and a close partnership with France – the "Entente cordiale" – andshares nuclear weapons technology with both countries. The UK is also closely allied with theRepublic of Ireland; the two countries share a Common Travel Area and many Irish citizens servein the British Army. The UK also shares a close alliance with Portugal, which dates back tothe Treaty of Windsor in 1386 and is the oldest alliance in the world still in force. Other closeallies include other European Union and NATO members, Commonwealth nations, and Japan.Britains global presence and influence is further amplified through its trading relations, foreigninvestments, official development assistance and armed forces.Military
The Type 45 destroyer, theChallenger 2 and the EurofighterMain article: British Armed ForcesHer Majestys Armed Forces also known as the British Armed Forces and sometimes asthe Armed Forces of the Crown are the armed forces of the United Kingdom. They encompassthree professional service branches, the Naval Service (including theRoyal Navy, RoyalMarines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary), the British Army, and the Royal Air Force. The forces are allmanaged by the Ministry of Defence and controlled by the Defence Council, chaired bythe Secretary of State for Defence. The Commander-in-Chief of Her Majestys Armed Forces isthe British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance.Historically, the British Armed Forces had played a key role in establishing the British Empire asthe dominant world power. Having seen action in a number of major wars involving other worldpowers, such as the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, World WarI and World War II - repeatedly emerging victorious allowed Britain to influence world events withits policies and emerge as the worlds leading military and economic power. Since the end of theBritish Empire, the United Kingdom has nonetheless remained a great power and the BritishArmed Forces are among the largest and most technologically sophisticated armed forces in theworld. Recent defence policy has a stated assumption that "the most demanding operations" willbe undertaken as part of a coalition. Setting aside the intervention in Sierra Leone, UK militaryoperations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and, most recently, Libya, have followed thisapproach. The last war in which the British military fought alone was theFalklands War of 1982, inwhich they were victorious.The Armed Forces are charged with protecting the UK and its overseas territories, promoting theUKs global security interests and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. They are activeand regular participants in NATO, including the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, as well as the FivePower Defence Arrangements, RIMPAC and other worldwide coalition operations. Overseasgarrisons and facilities are maintained in Ascension Island, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, DiegoGarcia, the Falkland Islands,Germany, Gibraltar, Kenya and Qatar.According to various sources, including the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute andthe Ministry of Defence, the United Kingdom has the fourth-highest military expenditure in theworld. Total defence spending currently accounts for around 2.3% – 2.6% of total national GDP.The Royal Navy is a prominent blue-water navy, currently one of only three world wide, withthe French Navy and the United States Navy being the other two. As well as being responsiblefor delivering the UKs Nuclear Deterrent via the UK Trident programme and four Vanguard classsubmarines, the Royal Navy operates a large operational fleet of ships, including an aircraftcarrier, a helicopter carrier, landing platform docks, nuclear fleet submarines, guided missile
destroyers, frigates, mine-countermeasure vessels and patrol vessels. In the near future twonew aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will enter service in theRoyal Navy. The United Kingdom Special Forces, such as theSpecial Air Service and Special BoatService, provide troops trained for quick, mobile, military responses in counter-terrorism, land,maritime and amphibious operations, often where secrecy or covert tactics are required.EconomyMain article: Economy of the United KingdomThe Bank of England – the central bank of the United KingdomThe UK has a partially regulated market economy. Based on market exchange rates the UK istoday the sixth-largest economy in the world and the third-largest in Europe after Germany andFrance, having fallen behind France for the first time in over a decade in 2008. HM Treasury,led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is responsible for developing and executing the Britishgovernments public finance policy and economic policy. The Bank of England is the UKs centralbank and is responsible for issuing the nations currency, the pound sterling. Banks in Scotlandand Northern Ireland retain the right to issue their own notes, subject to retaining enough Bank ofEngland notes in reserve to cover their issue. Pound sterling is the worlds third-largest reservecurrency (after the U.S. Dollar and the Euro). Since 1997 the Bank of Englands MonetaryPolicy Committee, headed by the Governor of the Bank of England, has been responsible forsetting interest rates at the level necessary to achieve the overall inflation target for the economythat is set by the Chancellor each year.The City of London is one of the worlds largest financial centres alongside New York City.
The UK service sector makes up around 73% of GDP. London is one of the three "commandcentres" of the global economy (alongside New York City and Tokyo), is the worlds largestfinancial centre alongside New York, and has the largest city GDP inEurope. Edinburgh is also one of the largest financial centres in Europe. Tourism is veryimportant to the British economy and, with over 27 million tourists arriving in 2004, the UnitedKingdom is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world and London has the mostinternational visitors of any city in the world. The creative industries accounted for 7% GVA in2005 and grew at an average of 6% per annum between 1997 and 2005.The Industrial Revolution started in the UK with an initial concentration on the textile industry,followed by other heavy industries such as shipbuilding, coal mining, and Steelmaking. Theempire created an overseas market for British products, allowing the UK to dominate internationaltrade in the 19th century. As other nations industrialised, coupled with economic decline after twoworld wars, the United Kingdom began to lose its competitive advantage and heavy industrydeclined, by degrees, throughout the 20th century. Manufacturing remains a significant part of theeconomy but accounted for only 16.7% of national output in 2003.The Airbus A380 has wings and engines manufactured in the UK.The automotive industry is a significant part of the UK manufacturing sector and employs over800,000 people, with a turnover of some £52 billion, generating £26.6 billion ofexports. The aerospace industry of the UK is the second- or third-largest national aerospaceindustry depending upon the method of measurement and has an annual turnover of around £20billion. The pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the UK economy and thecountry has the third highest share of global pharmaceutical R&D expenditures (after the UnitedStates and Japan).In the final quarter of 2008 the UK economy officially entered recession for the first time since1991. Unemployment increased from 5.2% in May 2008 to 7.6% in May 2009 and by January2012 the unemployment rate among 18 to 24-year-olds had risen from 11.9% to 22.5%, thehighest since current records began in 1992. Total UK government debt rose from 44.4% ofGDP in 2007 to 82.9% of GDP in 2011.
The poverty line in the UK is commonly defined as being 60% of the median household income.[nb9] In 2007–2008 13.5 million people, or 22% of the population, lived below this line. This is a higherlevel of relative poverty than all but four other EU members. In the same year 4.0 millionchildren, 31% of the total, lived in households below the poverty line after housing costs weretaken into account. This is a decrease of 400,000 children since 1998–1999. The UK imports40% of its food supplies.Science and technologyMain article: Science and technology in the United KingdomCharles Darwin (1809–82), whose theory of evolution by natural selection is the foundation of modernbiological sciencesEngland and Scotland were leading centres of the Scientific Revolution from the 17thcentury and the United Kingdom led the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century, and hascontinued to produce scientists and engineers credited with important advances. Majortheorists from the 17th and 18th centuries include Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion andillumination of gravity have been seen as a keystone of modern science, from the 19thcentury Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution by natural selection was fundamental to thedevelopment of modern biology, and James Clerk Maxwell, who formulatedclassical electromagnetic theory, and more recently Stephen Hawking, who has advanced majortheories in the fields of cosmology, quantum gravity and the investigation of black holes. Majorscientific discoveries from the 18th century include hydrogen by Henry Cavendish, from the20th century penicillin by Alexander Fleming, and the structure of DNA, by Francis Crick andothers. Major engineering projects and applications by people from the UK in the 18th centuryinclude the steam locomotive, developed by Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian, from the19th century the electric motor by Michael Faraday, the incandescent light bulb by JosephSwan, and the first practical telephone, patented byAlexander Graham Bell, and in the 20thcentury the worlds first working television system by John Logie Baird and others, the jetengine by Frank Whittle, the basis of the modern computer by Alan Turing, and the World Wide
Web by Tim Berners-Lee. Scientific research and development remains important in Britishuniversities, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation withindustry. Between 2004 and 2008 the UK produced 7% of the worlds scientific research papersand had an 8% share of scientific citations, the third and second highest in the world (after theUnited States and China, and the United States, respectively).Scientific journals produced inthe UK include Nature, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet.TransportMain article: Transport in the United KingdomHeathrow Terminal 5 building. London Heathrow Airport has the most international passenger traffic of anyairport in the world.A radial road network totals 29,145 miles (46,904 km) of main roads, 2,173 miles (3,497 km) ofmotorways and 213,750 miles (344,000 km) of paved roads. In 2009 there were a total of34 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain. The National Rail network of 10,072 route miles(16,116 km) in Great Britain and 189 route miles (303 route km) in Northern Ireland carries over18,000 passenger and 1,000 freight trains daily. Plans are now being considered to build newhigh-speed railway lines by 2025.In the year from October 2009 to September 2010 UK airports handled a total of 211.4 millionpassengers. In that period the three largest airports were London Heathrow Airport (65.6 millionpassengers), Gatwick Airport (31.5 million passengers) and London Stansted Airport (18.9 millionpassengers). London Heathrow Airport, located 15 miles (24 km) west of the capital, has themost international passenger traffic of any airport in the world and is the hub for the UK flagcarrier British Airways, as well as BMI and Virgin Atlantic.EnergyMain article: Energy in the United Kingdom
An oil platform in the North SeaIn 2006 the UK was the worlds ninth-largest consumer of energy and the 15th largestproducer. In 2007 the UK had a total energy output of 9.5 quadrillion Btus, of which thecomposition was oil (38%), natural gas (36%), coal (13%), nuclear (11%) andother renewables (2%). In 2009 the UK produced 1.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil andconsumed 1.7 million bbl/d. Production is now in decline and the UK has been a net importer ofoil since 2005. As of 2010 the UK has around 3.1 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves,the largest of any EU member state.In 2009 the UK was the 13th largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest producerin the EU. Production is now in decline and the UK has been a net importer of natural gas since2004. In 2009 the UK produced 19.7 million tons of coal and consumed 60.2 million tons. In2005 it had proven recoverable coal reserves of 171 million tons. It has been estimated thatidentified onshore areas have the potential to produce between 7 billion tonnes and 16 billiontonnes of coal through underground coal gasification (UCG). Based on current UK coalconsumption, these volumes represent reserves that could last the UK between 200 and 400years. The UK is home to a number of large energy companies, including two of the six oil andgas "supermajors" – BP and Royal Dutch Shell – and BG Group.DemographicsMain article: Demography of the United KingdomA census is taken simultaneously in all parts of the UK every ten years. The Office for NationalStatistics is responsible for collecting data for England and Wales, the General Register Office forScotlandand the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency each being responsible forcensuses in their respective countries. In the 2001 census the total population of the UnitedKingdom was 58,789,194, the third largest in the European Union, the fifth largest in theCommonwealth and the twenty-first largest in the world. By mid-2010 this was estimated to havegrown to 62,262,000. 2010 was the third successive year in which natural change contributedmore to population growth than net long-term international migration. Between 2001 and 2010the population increased by an average annual rate of 0.6 per cent. This compares to 0.3 per centper year in the period 1991 to 2001 and 0.2 per cent in the decade 1981 to 1991. The mid-2007population estimates revealed that, for the first time, the UK was home to more people ofpensionable age than children under the age of 16. It has been estimated that the number ofpeople aged 100 or over will rise steeply to reach over 626,000 by 2080.Englands population in mid-2010 was estimated to be 52.23 million. It is one of the mostdensely populated countries in the world, with 383 people resident per square kilometre in mid-2003, with a particular concentration in London and the south-east. The mid-2010 estimates
put Scotlands population at 5.22 million, Wales at 3.01 million and Northern Ireland at1.80 million, with much lower population densities than England. Compared to Englands 383inhabitants per square kilometre (990 /sq mi), the corresponding figures were142 /km2 (370 /sq mi) for Wales, 125 /km2 (320 /sq mi) for Northern Ireland and65 /km2 (170 /sq mi) for Scotland in mid-2003. In percentage terms Northern Ireland has hadthe fastest growing population of any country of the UK in each of the four years to mid-2008.In 2009 the average total fertility rate (TFR) across the UK was 1.94 children per woman. Whilea rising birth rate is contributing to current population growth, it remains considerably below thebaby boom peak of 2.95 children per woman in 1964, below the replacement rate of 2.1, buthigher than the 2001 record low of 1.63. In 2010, Scotland had the lowest TFR at only 1.75,followed by Wales at 1.98, England at 2.00, and Northern Ireland at 2.06. view talk edit view talk edit Largest urban areas of the United Kin 2001 Census Rank Urban area Pop. Principal settlement Rank 1 Greater London Urban Area 8,278,251 London 11 Bristol U 2 West Midlands Urban Area 2,284,093 Birmingham 12 Brighton 3 Greater Manchester Urban Area 2,240,230 Manchester 13 Portsmo 4 West Yorkshire Urban Area 1,499,465 Leeds 14 Leicester 5 Greater Glasgow 1,199,629 Glasgow 15 Edinbur Greater London Urban Area 6 Tyneside 879,996 Newcastle 16 South Ea 7 Liverpool Urban Area 816,216 Liverpool 17 Reading 8 Nottingham Urban Area 666,358 Nottingham 18 Teesside 9 Sheffield Urban Area 640,720 Sheffield 19 The Pott 10 Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area 579,554 Belfast 20 Coventry West Midlands Urban Area
Ethnic groupsMain article: Ethnic groups in the United Kingdom Ethnic group Population % of total* White British 50,366,497 85.67% White (other) 3,096,169 5.27% Indian 1,053,411 1.8% Pakistani 977,285 1.6% White Irish 691,232 1.2% Mixed race 677,117 1.2% Black Caribbean 565,876 1.0% Black African 485,277 0.8% Bangladeshi 283,063 0.5% Other Asian (non-Chinese) 247,644 0.4% Chinese 247,403 0.4% Other 230,615 0.4% Black (others) 97,585 0.2% * Percentage of total UK population, according to the 2001 Census
Historically, indigenous British people were thought to be descended from the various ethnicgroups that settled there before the 11th century: the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Norse andthe Normans. Welsh people could be the oldest ethnic group in the UK. Recent genetic studieshave shown that more than 50 percent of Englands gene pool contains Germanic Ychromosomes, though other recent genetic analysis indicates that "about 75 per cent of thetraceable ancestors of the modern British population had arrived in the British isles by about 6,200years ago, at the start of the British Neolithic or Stone Age", and that the British broadly share acommon ancestry with the Basque people.The UK has a history of small-scale non-white immigration, with Liverpool having the oldest Blackpopulation in the country dating back to at least the 1730s, and the oldest Chinese communityin Europe, dating to the arrival of Chinese seamen in the 19th century. In 1950 there wereprobably fewer than 20,000 non-white residents in Britain, almost all born overseas.Since 1945 substantial immigration from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia has been a legacyof ties forged by the British Empire. Migration from new EU member states in Central and EasternEurope since 2004 has resulted in growth in these population groups but, as of 2008, the trend isreversing and many of these migrants are returning home, leaving the size of these groupsunknown. As of 2001, 92.1% of the population identified themselves as White, leaving7.9% of the UK population identifying themselves as mixed race or of an ethnic minority.Ethnic diversity varies significantly across the UK. 30.4% of Londons population  and 37.4%of Leicesters was estimated to be non-white as of June 2005, whereas less than 5% of thepopulations ofNorth East England, Wales and the South West were from ethnic minoritiesaccording to the 2001 census. As of 2011, 26.5% of primary and 22.2% of secondary pupilsat state schools in England are members of an ethnic minority.In 2009,, official estimates have shown that the non-white British population of England andWales has increased by 38% from 6.6 million in 2001 to 9.1 million in 2009. The fastest growinggroup is the mixed-race population that doubled from 672,000 in 2001 to 986,600 in 2009. Also inthe same period, a decrease of 36,000 white British people was recorded.LanguagesMain article: Languages of the United Kingdom
The English-speaking world. Countries in dark blue have a majority of native speakers; countries whereEnglish is an official but not a majority language are shaded in light blue. English is one of the officiallanguages of the European Union. and the United NationsThe UKs de facto official language is English (British English), a West Germaniclanguage descended from Old English which features a large number of borrowings from OldNorse, Norman French, Greek and Latin. The English language has spread across the world,initially because of the British Empire from the 17th to the mid-20th century, and subsequently dueto the dominance of the United States, and has become the main international language ofbusiness as well as the most widely taught second language.There are four Celtic languages in use in the UK: Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish. Thefirst three are recognised as regional or minority languages subject to specific measures ofprotection and promotion under relevant European law, while Cornish is recognised but notspecifically protected. In the 2001 Census over a fifth (21%) of the population of Wales said theycould speak Welsh, an increase from the 1991 Census (18%). In addition it is estimated thatabout 200,000 Welsh speakers live in England. In the same census in Northern Ireland 167,487people (10.4%) stated that they had "some knowledge of Irish" (seeIrish language in NorthernIreland), almost exclusively in the nationalist (mainly Catholic) population. Over 92,000 people inScotland (just under 2% of the population) had some Gaelic language ability, including 72% ofthose living in the Outer Hebrides. The number of schoolchildren being taught through Welsh,Scottish Gaelic and Irish is increasing. Among emigrant-descended populations some ScottishGaelic is still spoken in Canada (principally Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island), and WelshinPatagonia, Argentina.Scots, a language descended from early northern Middle English, haslimited recognition alongside its regional variant, Ulster Scotsin Northern Ireland, without specificcommitments to protection and promotion.It is compulsory for pupils to study a second language up to the age of 14 in England,  and up toage 16 in Scotland. French and German are the two most commonly taught second languages in
England and Scotland. In Wales, all pupils up to age 16 are taught Welsh as a second language,or taught in Welsh.ReligionMain article: Religion in the United KingdomWestminster Abbey is used for the coronation of British monarchsForms of Christianity have dominated religious life in what is now the United Kingdom for over1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys,regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,  whileimmigration and demographic change have contributed to the growth of other faiths, most notablyIslam. This has led some commentators to variously describe the UK as a multi-faith, secularised, or post-Christiansociety.In the 2001 census 71.6% of all respondents indicated that they were Christians, with the nextlargest faiths (by number of adherents) being Islam (2.8%), Hinduism (1.0%),Sikhism (0.6%),Judaism (0.5%), Buddhism (0.3%) and all other religions (0.3%). 15% of respondents statedthat they had no religion, with a further 7% not stating a religious preference. A Tearfund surveyin 2007 showed only one in ten Britons actually attend church weekly.The (Anglican) Church of England is the established church in England. It retainsa representation in the UK Parliament and the British monarch is its SupremeGovernor. In Scotland the Presbyterian Church of Scotland is recognised as the nationalchurch. It is not subject to state control, and the British monarch is an ordinary member, requiredto swear an oath to "maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian ChurchGovernment" upon his or her accession. The (Anglican) Church in Wales was disestablishedin 1920 and, as the (Anglican) Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1870 before the partition ofIreland, there is no established church in Northern Ireland. Although there are no UK-wide datain the 2001 census on adherence to individual Christian denominations, Ceri Peach has estimated
that 62% of Christians are Anglican, 13.5% Roman Catholic, 6% Presbyterian,3.4% Methodist with small numbers of other Protestant denominations or Orthodoxchurches.MigrationMain article: Immigration to the United Kingdom since 1922See also: Foreign-born population of the United KingdomEstimated foreign-born population by country of birth, April 2007 – March 2008The United Kingdom has experienced successive waves of migration. The Great Famine in Irelandresulted in a large population migrating to others parts of the United Kingdom. Over120,000 Polish veterans settled in Britain after World War II, unable to return home. In the 20thcentury there was significant immigration from the colonies and newly independent formercolonies, driven largely by post-World War II labour shortages. Many of these migrants came fromthe Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent.In 2010, there were 7.0 million foreign-born residents in the UK, corresponding to 11.3% of thetotal population. Of these, 4.76 million (7.7%) were born outside the EU and 2.24 million (3.6%)were born in another EU Member State. The proportion of foreign-born people in the UKremains slightly below that of many other European countries, although immigration is nowcontributing to a rising population, with arrivals and UK-born children of migrants accounting forabout half of the population increase between 1991 and 2001. Analysis of Office for NationalStatistics (ONS) data shows that a net total of 2.3 million migrants moved to the UK in the 15 yearsfrom 1991 to 2006. In 2008 it was predicted that migration would add 7 million to the UKpopulation by 2031, though these figures are disputed. The ONS reported that net migrationrose from 2009 to 2010 by 21 percent to 239,000. In 2011 the net increase was 251,000:immigration was 589,000, while the number of people emigrating (for more than 12 months) was338,000.195,046 foreign nationals became British citizens in 2010, compared to 54,902 in1999. A record 241,192 people were granted permanent settlement rights in 2010, of whom51 per cent were from Asia and 27 per cent from Africa. 25.1 per cent of babies born in Englandand Wales in 2010 were born to mothers born outside the UK, according to official statisticsreleased in 2011.
Estimated number of British citizens living overseas by country, 2006At least 5.5 million British-born people are living abroad, the top four destinations beingAustralia, Spain, the United States and Canada. Emigration was an important feature ofBritish society in the 19th century. Between 1815 and 1930 around 11.4 million people emigratedfrom Britain and 7.3 million from Ireland. Estimates show that by the end of the 20th century some300 million people of British and Irish descent were permanently settled around the globe. Citizens of the European Union, including those of the UK, have the right to live and work in anymember state. The UK applied temporary restrictions to citizens of Romania and Bulgaria whichjoined the EU in January 2007. Research conducted by the Migration Policy Institute fortheEquality and Human Rights Commission suggests that, between May 2004 and September2009, 1.5 million workers migrated from the new EU member states to the UK, two-thirds of themPolish, but that many subsequently returned home, resulting in a net increase in the number ofnationals of the new member states in the UK of some 700,000 over that period. The late-2000s recession in the UK reduced the economic incentive forPoles to migrate to the UK, withthe migration becoming temporary and circular. In 2009, for the first time since enlargement,more nationals of the eight central and eastern European states that had joined the EU in 2004 leftthe UK than arrived. In 2011, citizens of the new EU member states made up 13% of theimmigrants entering the country.The UK government has introduced a points-based immigration system for immigration fromoutside the European Economic Area to replace former schemes, including the ScottishGovernments Fresh Talent Initiative. In June 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalitiongovernment introduced a temporary limit of 24,000 on immigration from outside the EU, aiming todiscourage applications before a permanent cap was imposed in April 2011. The cap hascaused tension within the coalition: business secretary Vince Cable has argued that it is harmingBritish businesses.EducationMain article: Education in the United KingdomSee also: Education in England, Education in Northern Ireland, Education inScotland, and Education in Wales
Kings College, part of the University of Cambridge, which was founded in 1209Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter, with each country having a separateeducation system.Education in England is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education, though the day-to-day administration and funding of state schools is the responsibility of localauthorities. Universally free of charge state education was introduced piecemeal between 1870and 1944, with education becoming compulsory for all 5 to 14 year-olds in 1921. Educationis now mandatory from ages five to sixteen (15 if born in late July or August). The majority ofchildren are educated in state-sector schools, only a small proportion of which select on thegrounds of academic ability. State schools which are allowed to select pupils according tointelligence and academic ability can achieve comparable results to the most selective privateschools: out of the top ten performing schools in terms of GCSE results in 2006 two were state-run grammar schools. Despite a fall in actual numbers the proportion of children in Englandattending private schools has risen to over 7%. Over half of students at the leading universitiesof Cambridge and Oxford had attended state schools. The universities of England include someof the top universities in the world; the University of Cambridge, University College London,the University of Oxford and Imperial College London are all ranked in the global top 10 in the2010 QS World University Rankings, with Cambridge ranked first. Trends in InternationalMathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated pupils in England 7th in the world for maths and6th for science. The results put Englands pupils ahead of other European countries, includingGermany and theScandinavian countries.Queens University Belfast, built in 1849
Education in Scotland is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and LifelongLearning, with day-to-day administration and funding of state schools the responsibility of LocalAuthorities. Two non-departmental public bodies have key roles in Scottish education: the ScottishQualifications Authority is responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment andcertification of qualifications other than degrees which are delivered at secondary schools, post-secondarycolleges of further education and other centres; and Learning and TeachingScotland provides advice, resources and staff development to the education community topromote curriculum development and create a culture of innovation, ambition andexcellence. Scotland first legislated for compulsory education in 1496. The proportion ofchildren in Scotland attending private schools is just over 4%, although it has been rising slowly inrecent years. Scottish students who attend Scottish universities pay neither tuition fees norgraduate endowment charges, as fees were abolished in 2001 and the graduate endowmentscheme was abolished in 2008.Education in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Minister of Education and the Minister forEmployment and Learning, although responsibility at a local level is administered by five educationand library boards covering different geographical areas. The Council for the Curriculum,Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) is the body responsible for advising the government on whatshould be taught in Northern Irelands schools, monitoring standards and awardingqualifications. TheWelsh Government has responsibility for education in Wales. A significantnumber of Welsh students are taught either wholly or largely in the Welsh language; lessons inWelsh are compulsory for all until the age of 16. There are plans to increase the provision ofWelsh-medium schools as part of the policy of creating a fully bilingual Wales.HealthcareMain article: Healthcare in the United KingdomThe Royal Aberdeen Childrens Hospital, an NHS Scotland specialist childrens hospitalHealthcare in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter and each country has its own system ofprivate and publicly funded health care, together with alternative, holistic and complementarytreatments. Public healthcare is provided to all UK permanent residents and is free at the point ofneed, being paid for from general taxation. The World Health Organization, in 2000, ranked the
provision of healthcare in the United Kingdom as fifteenth best in Europe and eighteenth in theworld.Regulatory bodies are organised on a UK-wide basis such as the General Medical Council,the Nursing and Midwifery Council and non-governmental-based, such as the Royal Colleges.However, political and operational responsibility for healthcare lies with fournational executives; healthcare in England is the responsibility of the UK Government; healthcarein Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive; healthcare in Scotland isthe responsibility of the Scottish Government; and healthcare in Wales is the responsibility ofthe Welsh Assembly Government. Each National Health Service has different policies andpriorities, resulting in contrasts.Since 1979 expenditure on healthcare has been increased significantly to bring it closer to theEuropean Union average. The UK spends around 8.4 per cent of its gross domestic product onhealthcare, which is 0.5 percentage points below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation andDevelopment average and about one percentage point below the average of the EuropeanUnion.CultureMain article: Culture of the United KingdomThe culture of the United Kingdom has been influenced by many factors including: the nationsisland status; its history as a western liberal democracy and a major power; as well as beinga political union of four countries with each preserving elements of distinctive traditions, customsand symbolism. As a result of the British Empire, British influence can be observed inthe language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies; including Australia,Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. The substantial culturalinfluence of the United Kingdom has led it to be described as a "cultural superpower."LiteratureMain article: British literature
The Chandos portrait, believed to depict William ShakespeareBritish literature refers to literature associated with the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and theChannel Islands. Most British literature is in the English language. In 2005, some 206,000 bookswere published in the United Kingdom and in 2006 it was the largest publisher of books in theworld.The English playwright and poet William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest dramatistof all time, and his contemporaries Christopher Marlowe andBen Jonson have also beenheld in continuous high esteem. More recently the playwrights Alan Ayckbourn, HaroldPinter, Michael Frayn, Tom Stoppard and David Edgarhave combined elements of surrealism,realism and radicalism.Notable pre-modern and early-modern English writers include Geoffrey Chaucer (14thcentury), Thomas Malory (15th century), Sir Thomas More (16th century), and John Milton (17thcentury). In the 18th century Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe) and SamuelRichardson were pioneers of the modern novel. In the 19th century there followed furtherinnovation by Jane Austen, the gothic novelist Mary Shelley, childrens writer Lewis Carroll,the Brontë sisters, the social campaigner Charles Dickens, thenaturalist Thomas Hardy,the realist George Eliot, the visionary poet William Blake and romantic poet William Wordsworth.20th century English writers include: science-fiction novelist H. G. Wells; the writers of childrensclassics Rudyard Kipling, A. A. Milne (the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh), Roald Dahl and EnidBlyton; the controversial D. H. Lawrence; modernist Virginia Woolf; the satirist Evelyn Waugh; theprophetic novelist George Orwell; the popular novelists W. Somerset Maugham and GrahamGreene; the crime writer Agatha Christie (the best-selling novelist of all time); Ian Fleming (thecreator of James Bond); the poets T. S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes; andthe fantasy writers J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling.A photograph of Victorian eranovelist Charles DickensScotlands contributions include the detective writer Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of SherlockHolmes), romantic literature by Sir Walter Scott, childrens writer J. M. Barrie, the epic adventures
of Robert Louis Stevenson and the celebrated poet Robert Burns. More recently the modernist andnationalist Hugh MacDiarmid and Neil M. Gunn contributed to the Scottish Renaissance. A moregrim outlook is found in Ian Rankins stories and the psychological horror-comedy of Iain Banks.Scotlands capital, Edinburgh, was UNESCOs first worldwide City of Literature.Britains oldest known poem, Y Gododdin, was composed in Yr Hen Ogledd (The Old North), mostlikely in the late 6th century. It was written in Cumbric or Old Welsh and contains the earliestknown reference to King Arthur. From around the seventh century, the connection betweenWales and the Old North was lost, and the focus of Welsh-language culture shifted to Wales,where Arthurian legend was further developed by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Waless mostcelebrated medieval poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym (fl 1320–1370), composed poetry on themesincluding nature, religion and especially love. He is widely regarded as one of the greatestEuropean poets of his age. Until the late 19th century the majority of Welsh literature was inWelsh and much of the prose was religious in character. Daniel Owen is credited as the firstWelsh-language novelist, publishing Rhys Lewis in 1885. The best-known of the Anglo-Welshpoets are both Thomases. Dylan Thomas became famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the mid-20th century. He is remembered for his poetry – his "Do not go gentle into that good night; Rage,rage against the dying of the light." is one of the most quoted couplets of English language verse –and for his play for voices, Under Milk Wood. Influential Church in Wales poet-priest and Welshnationalist, R. S. Thomas, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. Leading Welshnovelists of the twentieth century include Richard Llewellyn and Kate Roberts.Authors of other nationalities, particularly from Commonwealth countries, the Republic of Irelandand the United States, have lived and worked in the UK. Significant examples through thecenturies include Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, JosephConrad, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and more recently British authors born abroad such as KazuoIshiguroand Sir Salman Rushdie.MusicMain article: Music of the United KingdomSee also: British rock
The Beatles are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in thehistory of music,selling over a billion records internationally.Various styles of music are popular in the UK from the indigenous folkmusic of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to heavy metal. Notable composers ofclassical music from the United Kingdom and the countries that preceded it include WilliamByrd, Henry Purcell, Sir Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Sir Arthur Sullivan (most famous for workingwith librettist Sir W.S. Gilbert), Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, pioneer of modernBritish opera. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is one of the foremost living composers and current Masterof the Queens Music. The UK is also home to world-renowned symphonic orchestras andchoruses such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Chorus. Notableconductors include Sir Simon Rattle, John Barbirolli and Sir Malcolm Sargent. Some of thenotable film score composers include John Barry, Clint Mansell, Mike Oldfield, John Powell, CraigArmstrong, David Arnold, John Murphy, Monty Norman and Harry Gregson-Williams.GeorgeFrideric Handel, although born German, was a naturalised British citizen and some of his bestworks, such as Messiah, were written in the English language. Andrew Lloyd Webber hasachieved enormous worldwide commercial success and is a prolific composer of musical theatre,works which have dominated Londons West End for a number of years and have travelled toBroadway in New York.The Beatles have international sales of over one billion units and are the biggest-selling and mostinfluential band in the history of popular music. Other prominent British contributors tohave influenced popular music over the last 50 years include; The Rolling Stones, LedZeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Bee Gees, andElton John, all of whom have world wide recordsales of 200 million or more. The Brit Awards are the BPIs annual musicawards, and some of the British recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Music awardinclude; The Who, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and The Police. More recent UKmusic acts that have had international success include Coldplay, Radiohead, Oasis, Muse, SpiceGirls, Amy Winehouse and Adele.A number of UK cities are known for their music. Acts from Liverpool have had more UK chartnumber one hit singles per capita (54) than any other city worldwide.Glasgows contribution tomusic was recognised in 2008 when it was named a UNESCO City of Music, one of only threecities in the world to have this honour.Visual artMain article: Art of the United Kingdom
J. M. W. Turner self-portrait, oil on canvas, c. 1799The history of British visual art forms part of western art history. Major British artists include:the Romantics William Blake, John Constable, Samuel Palmer and J.M.W. Turner;the portrait painters Sir Joshua Reynolds and Lucian Freud; the landscape artists ThomasGainsborough and L. S. Lowry; the pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement William Morris; thefigurative painter Francis Bacon; the Pop artists Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and DavidHockney; the collaborative duo Gilbert and George; the abstract artistHoward Hodgkin; andthe sculptors Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Henry Moore. During the late 1980s and 1990sthe Saatchi Gallery in London helped to bring to public attention a group of multi-genre artists whowould become known as the "Young British Artists": Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, RachelWhiteread, Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger,Steve McQueen, Sam Taylor-Wood and the ChapmanBrothers are among the better-known members of this loosely affiliated movement.The Royal Academy in London is a key organisation for the promotion of the visual arts in theUnited Kingdom. Major schools of art in the UK include: the six-school University of the ArtsLondon, which includes the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Chelsea Collegeof Art and Design; Goldsmiths, University of London; the Slade School of Fine Art (partof University College London); the Glasgow School of Art; the Royal College of Art; and TheRuskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (part of the University of Oxford). The Courtauld Institute ofArt is a leading centre for the teaching of the history of art. Important art galleries in the UnitedKingdom include the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern (themost-visited modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.7 million visitors per year).CinemaMain article: Cinema of the United Kingdom
Alfred HitchcockThe United Kingdom has had a considerable influence on the history of the cinema. The Britishdirectors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean are among the most critically acclaimed of all-time, with other important directors including Charlie Chaplin, Michael Powell, CarolReed and Ridley Scott. Many British actors have achieved international fame andcritical success, including: Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Michael Caine, Charlie Chaplin, SeanConnery, Vivien Leigh, David Niven,Laurence Olivier, Peter Sellers and KateWinslet. Some of the most commercially successful films of all timehave been produced in the United Kingdom, including the two highest-grossing filmfranchises (Harry Potter and James Bond). Ealing Studios has a claim to being the oldestcontinuously working film studio in the world.Despite a history of important and successful productions, the industry has often beencharacterised by a debate about its identity and the level of American and European influence.Many British films are co-productions with American producers, often using both British andAmerican actors, and British actors feature regularly in Hollywood films. Many successfulHollywood films have been based on British people, stories or events, including Titanic, The Lordof the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the English Cycle of Disney animated films whichinclude, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Robin Hood.In 2009 British films grossed around $2 billion worldwide and achieved a market share of around7% globally and 17% in the United Kingdom. UK box-office takings totalled £944 million in2009, with around 173 million admissions. The British Film Institute has produced a poll rankingof what it considers to be the 100 greatest British films of all time, the BFI Top 100 Britishfilms. The annual British Academy Film Awards, hosted by the British Academy of Film andTelevision Arts, are the British equivalent of the Oscars.MediaMain article: Media of the United Kingdom
Broadcasting House, London, headquarters of the BBCThe BBC, founded in 1922, is the UKs publicly funded radio, television and Internet broadcastingcorporation, and is the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world. It operates numerous televisionand radio stations in the UK and abroad and its domestic services are funded by the televisionlicence. Other major players in the UK media include ITV plc, which operates 11 of the 15regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, and News Corporation, whichowns a number of national newspapers through News International such as the mostpopular tabloid The Sun and the longest-established daily "broadsheet" The Times, as well asholding a large stake in satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting. London dominates themedia sector in the UK: national newspapers and television and radio are largely based there,although Manchester is also a significant national media centre. Edinburgh and Glasgow, andCardiff, are important centres of newspaper and broadcasting production in Scotland and Walesrespectively. The UK publishing sector, including books, directories and databases, journals,magazines and business media, newspapers and news agencies, has a combined turnover ofaround £20 billion and employs around 167,000 people.In 2009 it was estimated that individuals viewed a mean of 3.75 hours of television per day and2.81 hours of radio. In that year the main BBC public service broadcastingchannels accounted foran estimated 28.4% of all television viewing; the three main independent channels accounted for29.5% and the increasingly important other satellite and digital channels for the remaining42.1%. Sales of newspapers have fallen since the 1970s and in 2009 42% of people reportedreading a daily national newspaper. In 2010 82.5% of the UK population were Internet users,the highest proportion amongst the 20 countries with the largest total number of users in thatyear.PhilosophyMain article: British philosophy
The United Kingdom is famous for the tradition of British Empiricism, a branch of the philosophyof knowledge that states that only knowledge verified by experience is valid, and ScottishPhilosophy, sometimes referred to as the Scottish School of Common Sense. The mostfamous philosophers of British Empiricism are John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume;while Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid and William Hamilton were major exponents of the Scottish"common sense" school. Two Britons are also notable for a theory of moralphilosophy utilitarianism, first used by Jeremy Bentham and later by John Stuart Mill in his shortwork Utilitarianism. Other eminent philosophers from the UK and the unions and countriesthat preceded it include Duns Scotus, John Lilburne, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sir FrancisBacon, Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes, William of Ockham, Bertrand Russell and A.J. "Freddie"Ayer. Foreign-born philosophers who settled in the UK include Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx, KarlPopper andLudwig Wittgenstein.SportMain article: Sport in the United KingdomWembley Stadium, London: one of the most expensive stadia ever built Major sports, including association football, rugby league, rugby union, rowing, boxing,badminton, cricket, tennis, darts and golf, originated or were substantially developed in the UnitedKingdom and the states that preceded it. A 2003 poll found that football is the most popular sportin the United Kingdom. In most international competitions, separate teams represent England,Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland usually field a single teamrepresenting all of Ireland, with notable exceptions including at the Commonwealth Games andassociation football. In sporting contexts, these teams can be referred to collectively as the HomeNations. However there are occasions where a single sports team represents the United Kingdom,including at the Olympics where the UK is represented by the Great Britain team. London was thesite of the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games, and in 2012 became the first city to play host for a thirdtime.Each of the Home Nations has its own football association, national team and league system,though a few clubs play outside their countrys respective systems for a variety of historical andlogistical reasons. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete as separate countriesin international competition and, as a consequence, Great Britain previously did not compete as a
team in football events at the Olympic Games. The Great Britain Olympic football team wasassembled to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games by The Football Association.The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations declined to participate, fearing that itwould undermine their independent status – a fear confirmed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, opened for the 1999 Rugby World CupCricket was invented in England. The England cricket team, controlled by the England and WalesCricket Board, is the only national team in the UK with Test status. Team members are drawnfrom the main county sides, and include both English and Welsh players. Cricket is distinct fromfootball and rugby where Wales and England field separate national teams, although Wales hadfielded its own team in the past. Irish and Scottish players have played for England becauseneitherScotland nor Ireland have Test status and have only recently started to play in One DayInternationals. Scotland, England (and Wales), and Ireland (including Northern Ireland) havecompeted at the Cricket World Cup, with England reaching the finals on three occasions. There isa professional league championship in which clubs representing 17 English counties and 1 Welshcounty compete. Rugby league is a popular sport in some areas of the UK. It originates inHuddersfield and is generally played in Northern England. A single Great Britain Lions teamhad competed in the Rugby League World Cup and Test match games, but this changed in 2008when England, Scotland and Ireland competed as separate nations. Great Britain is still beingretained as the full national team for Ashes tours against Australia, New Zealand andFrance. Super League is the highest level of professional rugby league in the UK and Europe. Itconsists of 11 teams from Northern England, 1 from London, 1 from Wales and 1 from France.The Six Nations Championship, played between the Home Nations, as well as Italy and France, isthe premier international rugby union tournament in the northern hemisphere. Sport governingbodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland organise and regulate the game separately. Eachnation has a top-ranked international team. Any of the Home Nations to beat the other three inthat tournament is awarded the Triple Crown.
The Wimbledon Championships, a Grand Slam tennis tournament, is held inWimbledon, London every Juneor JulyThe game of lawn tennis first originated in the city of Birmingham between 1859 and 1865. TheChampionships, Wimbledon are international tennis events held inWimbledon in south Londonevery summer and are regarded as the most prestigious event of the global tenniscalendar. Snooker is one of the UKs popular sporting exports, with the world championships heldannually in Sheffield. In Northern Ireland Gaelic football and hurling are popular team sports,both in terms of participation and spectating, and Irish expatriates throughout the UK and the USalso play them. Shinty (or camanachd) is popular in the Scottish Highlands.Thoroughbred racing, which originated under Charles II of England as the "sport of kings", ispopular throughout the UK with world-famous races including the Grand National, the EpsomDerby, Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival (including the Cheltenham GoldCup). The UK has proved successful in the international sporting arena in rowing. Golf is the sixthmost popular sport, by participation, in the UK. Although The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of StAndrews in Scotland is the sports home course, the worlds oldest golf course is actuallyMusselburgh Links Old Golf Course.The UK is closely associated with motorsport. Many teams and drivers in Formula One (F1) arebased in the UK, and drivers from Britain have won more world titles than any other country. TheUK hosted the very first F1 Grand Prix in 1950 at Silverstone, the current location of the BritishGrand Prix held each year in July. The country also hosts legs of the World RallyChampionship and has its own touring car racing championship, the British Touring CarChampionship (BTCC).SymbolsMain article: Symbols of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
The Statue of Britannia inPlymouth. Britannia is a national personification of the UK.The flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Flag (also referred to as the Union Jack). It was firstcreated in 1606 by the superimposition of the Flag of England on the Flag of Scotland and updatedin 1801 with the addition of Saint Patricks Flag. Wales is not represented in the Union Flag asWales had been conquered and annexed to England prior to the formation of the United Kingdom;the possibility of redesigning the Union Flag to include representation of Wales has not beencompletely ruled out. Thenational anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the King", with"King" replaced with "Queen" in the lyrics whenever the monarch is a woman.Britannia is a national personification of the United Kingdom, originating from RomanBritain. Britannia is symbolised as a young woman with brown or golden hair wearinga Corinthian helmet and white robes. She holds Poseidons three-pronged trident and a shield,bearing the Union Flag. Sometimes she is depicted as riding on the back of a lion. At and since theheight of the British Empire, Britannia has often been associated with maritime dominance, as inthe patriotic song "Rule, Britannia!". Up until 2008, thelion symbol is depicted behind Britannia onthe British fifty pence coin and on the back of the British ten pence coin. It is also used as a symbolon the non-ceremonial flag of the British Army. The bulldog is sometimes used as a symbol of theUnited Kingdom and has been associated with Winston Churchills defiance of Nazi Germany.See also United Kingdom portal Book: United Kingdom Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print. Outline of the United Kingdom