The United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland,
usually shortened to the United
Kingdom or UK, is a sovereign
state in northwest Europe. It is
made up of four countries.
Formerly, these were the two
kingdoms of England and
Scotland, the principality of
Wales (all three on the island of
Great Britain), and the province
of Northern Ireland (on the
island of Ireland).
About 60 million people live in the UK.
Most people in the UK speak English.
There are several other recognized
regional languages, other than English.
They are Welsh in Wales, Cornish in
Cornwall, Scottish (Gaelic) and Scots
in Scotland and Irish in Northern Ireland.
The national anthem is called God Save
Wales was taken over by England in the 13th century.
In 1707, the Scottish and English Parliaments agreed
the Treaty of Union, which joined the two countries into
one country called The Kingdom of Great Britain.
By the year 1800, England had already had much
influence over Ireland for over 600 years. In that year laws
were passed in Great Britain and Ireland to merge the two
states. The new country was called the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland.
In 1922 much of Ireland became independent as the Irish
Free State (now called the Republic of Ireland) from the
United Kingdom. However, six northern counties of Ireland
continued to be part of the United Kingdom. The country
was renamed The United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Germany bombed Britain in World War II.
Winston Churchill was the famous Prime
Minister then. He was a Conservative. The
Prime Minister is the real leader of Britain.
Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the United
Kingdom from 1997 to 2007. The Conservative
party ruled for 18 years before his Labour party
won elections. The current Prime Minister is
Queen Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952.
The capital city of the United Kingdom is London, a large city on the River
Thames in south-eastern England. Other large cities in the UK are
Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds,
Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Southampton, Leicester,
Coventry, Bradford and Nottingham.
The UK is north-west off the coast of mainland Europe.
Around the UK are the North Sea, the English Channel
and the Atlantic Ocean.
The UK is also in charge of a few smaller places
around the world, most of them are islands, which
are known as overseas territories.
The weather of the United Kingdom is warm summers, cool winters and lots of rain
throughout the year.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy. The people of
the United Kingdom vote for a Member of Parliament
to speak for them and to help make laws for them. Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the queen of the UK and
is the head of state,but she does not choose what the
United Kingdom should do about things like education,
healthcare or other choices.
The person who chooses for the people in the United
Kingdom is the Prime Minister, who is in charge of the
Government. Today, the Prime Minister is Gordon Brown,
who is the leader of the Labour party.
The UK is a developed country with the sixth
largest economy in the world. It was a major world
power during the 19th and early 20th century.
The UK retains strong economic, cultural, military
and political influence and is a nuclear power.
It is a member state of the European Union.
The UK holds a permanent seat on the United
Nations Security Council, and is a member of the
G8, NATO, World Trade Organization and the
Commonwealth of Nations.
William Shakespeare is perhaps the most famous
English playwright. He wrote plays in the late 16th
century including Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.
In the 19th century, Jane Austen and Charles
Dickens were popular novelists.
Twentieth century writers include the science fiction
novelist H. G. Wells and J. R. R. Tolkien. The William Shakespeare
children's fantasy Harry Potter series is written by J.
Arthur Conan Doyle from Scotland wrote the
Sherlock Holmes detective novels. He was from
Arthur Conan Doyle
The poet Dylan Thomas has brought Welsh culture
to international attention.
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have separate systems of
education. They have in common that education is required from ages five to
sixteen. Most children attend state schools but a small proportion of children
attend private schools.
Road traffic in the United Kingdom drives on the left hand side of the road (unlike
Europe and the Americas).
The United Kingdom has the oldest railway network in the world.
The network is part privatised, with privately owned train operating companies
providing service along particular lines or regions, whilst the tracks, signals and
stations are owned by a Government controlled company called Network Rail.
Most domestic air travel in the United Kingdom is between London and the major
cities in Scotland and the North of England.
London-Heathrow is the nation’s largest airport and one of the most important
airports in the world. Other major airports include London-Gatwick, Birmingham,
Manchester and Glasgow.
An extensive system of ferry networks operate between the Scottish islands, and
major ferry routes operate between England and France (via the English Channel),
Scotland-Northern Ireland (via the Irish Sea) and England/Wales-Republic of Ireland
Simple English Wikipedia (abridged and adapted)