About United Kingdom
|Official Name||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Short form/ Abbreviation||United Kingdom/ U.K.|
|Area||243,610 sq km|
|Population||63,395,574 (2013 estimate)|
|Currency||Great British Pound (GBP) also called British Pound or Pound Sterling or simply the Pound|
|National Income (Per Capita)||USD 37,500 (2012 estimate)|
|GDP||USD 2.375 trillion (2012 estimate)|
|Became the United Kingdom of Great Britain on||May 1, 1707|
|National Emblem/Coat of Arms||A Lion and a Unicorn bearing a shield representing England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The motto of the English royal family Dieu et mon droit (God and my right) appears at the base of the shield.|
|National Anthem||God Save the Queen|
|National Bird||European Robin|
|National Flower||Tudor Rose (Rosa)|
|Literacy||99 % (2003 estimate)|
|Time Zone||UTC +0 (WET)|
Top Ten UK Cities
|Top Ten UK Museums
- British Museum, London
- Tate Modern, London
- National Gallery, London
- Natural History Museum, London
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Science Museum, London
- National Portrait Gallery, London
- National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
- Tate Britain, London
- St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, Wales
|Top Ten UK Tourist Spots
- Tower of London
- Westminster Abbey, London
- Stonehenge, England
- Bath, England
- Liverpool, England
- Hadrian's Wall, England
- Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
- Welsh Castles, Wales
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- Lake District, England
- Cotswolds, England
|Top Ten UK Landmarks
- The Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London
- The Buckingham Palace, London
- Westminster Abbey, London
- Trafalgar Square, London
- St Paul's Cathedral, London
- The London Eye, London
- Stonehenge, England
- Chalk cliffs of Dover, England
- Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
- Loch Ness, Scotland
|Top Ten UK Dishes
- Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
- Roast Meats - Pork, Lamb or Chicken
- Bacon Sandwich
- Fish 'n' Chips
- Shepherd's Pie
- Toad in the Hole
- Lancashire Hotpot
- Cornish Pasties
- English Breakfast
- Black Pudding
|Top Ten UK Drinks
- English Tea
- Gin and Tonic
- Baileys Original Irish Cream
- Scotch Whisky
- Bitter (ale)
- Pimm's Cooler
|Top Ten UK Brands
- Kit Kat
|Top Ten UK Shopping Centers
- Selfridges, London
- Harrods, London
- Westfield, London
- Bullring, Birmingham
- Trafford Centre, Manchester
- Liverpool One, Liverpool
- Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow
- David's, Cardiff
- Bluewater, Kent
- Victoria Square, Belfast
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom (U.K.) is located in the continent of Europe. It is bound in the north and west by the North Atlantic Ocean, in the south by the English Channel and in the east by the North Sea. It is linked to France which is only 35 km across the English Channel by a tunnel under the sea and shares an international boundary with Ireland.
The geographic coordinates of the country are 54 degrees 00 minutes north and 2 degrees 00 minutes west. The northernmost point of the country is Out Stack on Shetland Island, while the southernmost point is Western Rocks on the Isles of Scilly and the easternmost point is Lowestoft Ness in Suffolk, while the westernmost point is Soay on the archipelago of St. Kilda. The entire mainland part of the country lies between the 49 degrees north and 59 degrees north latitude and 8 degrees west to 2 degrees east longitudes.
The prime meridian which is also called the Greenwich Meridian or the International Meridian passes through the U.K. The standard time zone in the country thus has no offset from the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The entire country follows one time zone in the winter, the WET-Western European Time (UTC +0).
However in summer the daylight saving time sets the clock forward by 1 hour and the time zone is then called BST - British Summer Time (UTC +1). This time zone is the same as WEST - Western European Summer Time (UTC +1). In the UK daylight saving time begins on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday in October each year. However this clock forwarding does not apply to the overseas or dependent territories of the UK.
The total area of the UK is 243,610 sq km of which the land area is 241,930 sq km while the remaining 1,680 sq km is covered by water.
The UK is an island nation made up of 1 large island and numerous small islands. The entire coastline is heavily indented. The main island is covered with rugged hills and low mountains especially in the west over most parts of north-west England, Wales and Scotland. However level to rolling plains are found in the east and south-east. Living up to its island status no location in the country is more than 125 km from tidal waters.
The highest point in the country is Ben Nevis which is 1,343 m high while the lowest point is The Fens which lies at -4 m.
The largely temperate climate of the U.K. has a maritime influence due to its being an island nation. The Gulf Stream which is a warm ocean current from the Atlantic Ocean helps to make winters relatively mild for the UK despite its latitude. The main influences on temperature in the country are latitude and altitude, with an increase in either of the two the mean temperature decreases. The warmest place in the UK is London with temperatures ranging from 5 degrees centigrade in January to 18 degrees centigrade in July; an annual mean of 11 degrees centigrade.
English weather and its unpredictability are known the world over. This comes from the fact that the weather in the UK is quite changeable and cloud and rain occurs frequently and throughout the year. However since the heaviest rainfall comes from frontal systems, autumn and winter are the wettest seasons. In summer the rainfall comes mostly from convective activity. The wettest places in the U.K. with an average rainfall of over 3,000 mm are in west Scotland, north-west England and north Wales.
In general terms 4 seasons can be distinguished in the U.K., they are Spring (March to May), Summer (June to August), Autumn (September to November) and Winter (December to February).
The rivers in the U.K. are not very long since the country is a relatively small island. Important east-flowing rivers which flow into the North Sea are the Thames, Great Ouse, Trent, Ouse, Tyne and Tweed. While the Severn and Wye rivers flow westwards into the Atlantic Ocean. Technically the longest river in the UK is the Severn while the deepest is the Thames which is navigable as far inland as London.
Among the largest lakes in the UK are the Windermere and Rutland Water in England; Llyn Trawsfynydd and Lake Vyrnwy in Wales; Loch Lomond and Loch Ness in Scotland and Lough Neagh and Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. Of these Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the U.K. and Loch Ness is famous for its sightings of the mythical creature 'Nessie'.
The total estimated population of UK for the year 2013 is about 63 million.
For the year 2013 the estimated birth rate is 12.26 births per 1,000 and the death rate is 9.33 deaths per 1,000 members of the population, while the infant mortality rate is 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The sex ratio is estimated to be 1.05 males for every female and the growth rate of the population is estimated at 0.55%.
The distribution of population in the UK is quite uneven with a majority of the population concentrated in England while the remaining three constituent parts - Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are relatively sparsely populated. In England too almost one-third of the population lives in the south-eastern part centered around London. The estimated population density for the country for the year 2013 is 258 persons per sq km.
The estimated figures for the year 2013 for age structure in the UK show that 17.3% of the population consists of children between 0-14 years, 12.8% of the population is in the early working age between 15-24 years, 41.1% of the population is in the prime working age between 25-54 years, 11.5% of the population is in the mature working age between 55-64 years and 17.3% of the population is in the elderly age of 65 years and over.
As per the 2010 census 80% of the total population in the UK is classified as urban while the remaining 20% is classified as rural population.
The main religion in the UK is Christianity, comprising of Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist sects, however the country also has Muslims, Hindus and those following other religions.
The official language of the UK is English. Other recognized regional languages of the country include Welsh, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Cornish.
The UK is home to 4 nationalities: the English, the Welsh, the Scottish and the Irish. While the ethnic groups living in the UK include Europeans, people of African and Caribbean origin, Indians, Pakistanis, and others.
Traditional food in the UK has been facing competition from recipes brought into the country from around the world to the extent that today it is said that curry is the most popular dish in England. Most of the traditional dishes in the UK are based on meat, fish, potatoes, butter and eggs.
An interesting fact about meal times in the UK is that the three meals of the day were traditionally called breakfast, which was eaten in the morning; dinner, which was the main meal in the afternoon; and tea, which was the evening meal. Today they are referred to as breakfast, lunch, and supper.
In the early 1960's the Beatles arrived on the UK music scene and since then Pop music has been an integral part of British culture. Given the multi-cultural composition of the UK today there are several other genres of music that are popular in the country. In alphabetical order they include Bhangra, BritPop, Garage, Glam Rock, Goth, Grunge, Hip Hop, Indie, Madchester, Mods, Northern Soul, Progressive Rock, Punk, Rockers, Ska, Soca, and Techno.
The UK is home to some of the biggest legends of the music world, including: Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Sir Elton John, and Led Zeppelin. Among the world renowned bands from the UK are the Beatles, Queen, The Rolling Stones, The Smiths, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The Who, Clash, Take That, and the Spice Girls.
Art in the UK has been greatly impacted by European traditions and a classification of British art separate from the European styles is extremely difficult. Thus, the art movements of Europe which have also had an influence on British art are Medieval and Gothic Art, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classical, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Post-Modernism which is continuing till today.
However three British art movements which began in the UK are: the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848-1854), the Arts and Crafts Movement (1861-1914), and Pop Art (1955-1985).
Some of the most renowned British painters are: William Hogarth (1697-1764), Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), John Constable (1776-1837), J.W.M. Turner (1775-1851), John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), Samuel Palmer (1805-1881), Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), Richard Hamilton (1922-2011) and David Hockney (1937- ).
Some of oldest sculptures found in the UK are the massive stone crosses believed to have been carved between 500 and 1000 AD. Stone, marble, bronze, wood, ceramic and metal are among the mediums that have been commonly used for sculpting in the UK
Some of the finest British sculptors are Nicholas Stone (1586-1647), John Bushnell (1630-1701), Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), Joseph Wilton (1722-1803), Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823), John Bacon (1740-1799), John Flaxman (1755-1826),Sir Richard Westmacott (1775-1856), Matthew Cotes Wyatt (1777-1862), Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey (1781-1841), John Gibson (1790-1866), Samuel Joseph (1791-1850), Alfred Stevens (1817-1875), George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), Alexander Munro (1825-1871), Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), Henry Moore (1898-1986), Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), Sir Anthony Caro (1924- ), Antony Gormley (1950- ) and Anish Kapoor (1954- ).
Like other aspects of its culture British architecture has been influenced by the nation's long and diverse history. Broadly the architectural styles in the UK correspond to its historical periods and are classified as Pre-Roman, of which Stonehenge is the most famous example; Roman, of which the Hadrian's wall is an example; Anglo-Saxon, characterized by high and narrow structures; Norman, characterized by rounded arches; Gothic, which was influenced by France; Vernacular, which was constructed in wood; Tudor, in which the focus shifted from defense to entertainment structures; Stuart, which was influenced by the Palladian style of Italy; Georgian, which was influenced by the European Palladianism; Victorian, in which steel was introduced; 20th Century, characterized by non-symmetrical designs; Modernism, in which reinforced concrete frames were introduced; High-Tech, which was used for commercial buildings; Post Modern, which led the construction boom of the shopping malls and office complexes; and , which focuses on building sustainable structures.
Some of the well known British architects are Inigo Jones (1573-1652), Christopher Wren (1632-1723), Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736), Thomas Archer (1668-1743), Colen Campbell (1676-1729), William Kent (1685-1748), Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-1783), Robert Adam (1728-1792), James Wyatt (1746-1813), Humphrey Repton (1752-1818), Charles Barry (1795-1860), Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), A.W. Pugin (1812-1852), William Butterfield (1814-1900), G.E. Street (1824-1881), Sir Richard Rogers (1933- ), Sir Norman Foster (1935- ), Sir Terry Farrel (1938- ), Will Alsop (1947- ), Zaha Hadid (1950- ), Eric Parry (1952- ), David Chipperfield (1953- ) and Sunand Prasad (1962- ).
In the UK the eras in literature can be classified into Gothic, Medieval, Renaissance, Restoration, Romantic, Victorian, and the Modern period.
It is contended that some of the world's greatest writers and poets come from the UK This claim is difficult to refute with names like: Geoffrey Chaucer (1342/43-1400), William Shakespeare (1564-1616), John Milton (1608-1674), Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), Jane Austen (1775-1817), Lord Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), John Keats (1795-1821), Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855), Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1895), H.G. Wells (1866-1946), William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), E.M. Forster (1879-1970), Sir P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), George Orwell (1903-1950), Graham Greene (1904-1991) and Dylan Thomas (1914-1953).
And added to the list are the Nobel Prize winners in Literature from the UK: Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), John Galsworthy (1867-1933), T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Patrick White (1912-1990), Elias Canetti (1905-1994), Sir William Golding (1911-1993), Sir V.S. Naipaul (1932- ), Harold Pinter (1930-2008) and Doris Lessing (1919- ).
From the spangled silk gowns of the days of yore to the style of the swinging sixties and the Punk style, the fashion scene in the UK has seen it all. Some of the most famous fashion designers and brands from the UK are Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes, Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Burberry, Christopher Kane, Mary Quant, Matthew Williamson, Katharine Hamnett, Jonathan Saunders, and Paul Smith.
While some well-known fashion boutiques for women in the UK are: A La Mode, Bernard, Celestine Eleven, Feathers, Genevieve, Mechant Archive, Mooi, Rewind Vintage Affairs, The Gathering Goddess, and Twentyone St. Johns Wood, all in London; Changing Room, in Tunbridge Wells; and Please Don't Tell, in Belfast. Two boutiques which cater only to men are Shefton Men in London and Zoo in Ilford.
Some of the famous boutiques for both men and women's fashion are: the Box Boutique, Browns, B Store, Diverse, Hostem, House of Liza, Labour of Love, Larizia, Layers, Old Curiosity Shop, Press, Primitive London Ltd, Start, The Library, The Old Shoreditch Station, Ursa Loves all in London; Autograp in Birmingham; Pollyanna in Barnsley; Seasons in Sheffield; Giulio in Cambridge, and The Editeur in Chester.
Due to the influence of its history and the rich tradition of literature, cinema in the UK has favored some genres over others. Broadly the British films can be classified into Action, Adventure, Drama, Animation, Biopic, Documentary, Fantasy, Romance, Comedy (including romantic comedy), Family, Crime, Horror, Science, Thriller and Musical.
One of the iconic characters of British cinema is the fictional MI6 spy agent James Bond code named '007'.
Some famous film actors from the UK are: Sir Lawrence Olivier, Anthony Jeremy Brett, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Roger Moore, Dame Judy Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Irons, Micheal Caine, Emma Thomson, Kate Winslet, Emma Watson, Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Hugh Grant, Daniel Radcliffe and Benedict Cumberbatch. Sir Sean Connery is a well-known Scottish actor. Two well-known Welsh actors are Sir Anthony Hopkins and Katherine Zeta-Jones.
Some famous British film directors are: Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Richard Attenborough, David Lean, Ridley Scott, Danny Boyle, Mike Leigh, and Ken Russell.
Sports popular in the UK are football, rugby, cricket, tennis, squash, golf, horse racing, motor sports, ice hockey, basketball, darts, boxing, athletics, and chess.
Some of the UK's best-known sporting icons are: Sir David Beckham and Sir Bobby Charlton (football), Sir Stephen Redgrave (rowing), Lester Piggott (horse racing), Ian Botham (cricket), Sir Sebastian Coe and Paula Radcliffe (middle-distance and long-distance running), Lennox Lewis (boxing), Daley Thomson (decathlon), Mo Farrah (middle-distance running), Nick Faldo (golf), Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean (ice-skating), and Fred Perry and Andy Murray (tennis).
10 Britons who are considered most influential by the British public are: Sir Winston Churchill, a politician, soldier, artist and former Prime Minister; Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an extraordinary Victorian engineer; Diana, Princess of Wales; Charles Darwin, a naturalist; William Shakespeare, a playwright and poet; Sir Isaac Newton, a mathematician and scientist; Queen Elizabeth I who reigned over England from 1558-1603; John Lennon, a musician and composer; Horatio Nelson, a British naval hero; and Oliver Cromwell, a military, political, and religious figure.
The fiscal year in the UK is from 6 April to 5 April (of the next year).
As per the year 2012 estimates agriculture contributed 0.7 %, industry contributed 21% and the services sector contributed 78.3% to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
As per the year 2006 data 1.4% of the labor force in the UK was engaged in agriculture; 18.2% in industry and 80.4% in services.
Agricultural products of the country include: cereals, oilseed, potatoes and vegetables; cattle, sheep, and poultry and fish.
Industries in the UK include: shipbuilding, manufacturing of aircraft, electronics and communications equipment, railroad equipment, electric power equipment, motor vehicles and parts, automation equipment, machine tools, petroleum, coal mining, chemicals, metals, consumer goods industries, food processing, paper and paper products, clothing, textiles, and others.
Natural resources found in the UK are: coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, tin, limestone, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, potash, silica sand, slate, and arable land.
Total exports for UK were USD 474.6 billion in the year 2012. The country mostly exports manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, food, beverages, and tobacco. Its main export partners are United States of America (U.S.A), Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, and Netherlands.
Total imports into the UK were USD 642.6 billion in the year 2012. The country mostly imports manufactured goods, machinery, fuels and foodstuffs. Its main import partners are Germany, Netherlands, China, USA, France, and Belgium.
With its four constituent parts the UK is a rich mixture of customs, cultures and traditions. The country also has over 25 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) classified cultural and natural World Heritage Sites as well as seven Heritage Cities.
The UK is thus a treasure trove for any traveler and some of the most visited places in the country are London, Oxford, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Canterbury, Chester, Durham, York, Windsor, Manchester, Cambridge, Brighton, Liverpool, St. Ives, Wells, Newcastle, Stonehenge and the English Lake District in England; Cardiff and St. David's in Wales, the land of castles; Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Scottish highlands in Scotland and the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland.
Transport and Communication
With about 394,428 km of roads, the UK has the sixteenth-largest road network in the world. The country has a system of trunk roads which are maintained by the highway authority and non-trunk roads which are maintained by the local authorities. Based on their grading the roads are classified into three categories: motorways, A-roads and B-roads. The entire country is divided into nine zones according to which the roads are numbered e.g. the M1, the A511 and the B5203).
The UK is ranked seventeenth in the world with its 16,454 km of railway tracks. As per the 2012 data the main railway stations in the country are: Paddington Station, Waterloo Station,
London Bridge Station, King's Cross Station, Liverpool Street Station, Victoria Station, Euston Station, and Charing Cross Station in London; Glasgow Central Station in Glasgow; Birmingham New Street in Birmingham and Leeds City Station in Leeds.
With 462 airports as per the year 2012 data, the UK is ranked at number 19 in the world. Of these 24 are commercial international airports and based on the volume of passengers the major ones are London Heathrow, London; London Gatwick, London; Manchester, Manchester; London Stansted, London; London Luton, Luton, Bedfordshire; Edinburgh, Edinburgh; Birmingham International, Birmingham; Glasgow International, Glasgow; Bristol International, Bristol and Liverpool John Lennon, Liverpool.
As an island nation the UK has about 12,429 km of coastline and over 3,200 km of waterways however only about 620 km of the waterways in the country are used for commercial activities. Some of the country's well known ports are Dover, Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool, London, Southampton and Teesport in England; Milford Haven in Wales and Forth Ports in Scotland.
The UK has several oil terminals; the main among them are the Fawley Marine terminal and Liverpool Bay terminal in England and Braefoot Bay terminal, Finnart oil terminal and Hound Point terminal in Scotland.
As per current data for the year 2013, the UK has about 25 operating satellites. Of these 15 are commercial satellites, 2 are government satellites and 8 are military satellites.
Telephone/ Mobile network
The international country code for the UK is 44. There were 33.23 million telephone main lines in use and 81.612 million mobile cellular connections in the country as per the year 2011 and 2012 data.
The internet country code for the UK is '.uk' and as per the latest 2013 data, 43.6 million adults used the internet in the country.
In the UK there is no specific criterion to define a city and even today city status is granted by the British monarch. Therefore many cities included in the official list of 66 are no bigger than what the rest of the world would call a town or village, for example St. David's in Wales with a population of just 2,000 is the smallest city in the UK.
However, going by global standards some of the largest cities in the UK are: London, Birmingham, Manchester, West Yorkshire, Bristol, Liverpool/ Merseyside, Leicester, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.
Interestingly, not classified as cities in the UK are Reading, Berkshire; Dudley, West Midlands; Northampton, East Midlands; Luton, Bedfordshire; Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire; Bournemouth, Dorset; Southend-on-Sea, Essex; Swindon, Wiltshire; Huddersfield, West Yorkshire; Poole, Dorset and Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire; although anywhere else in the world they would be considered cities.
Despite its relatively small size the UK is home to a number of different habitats which include coastal habitats like sand dunes and salt marshes; lowland grassland and lowland heathland habitats; freshwater and lowland habitats like rivers, lakes, fens and raised bogs; upland habitats like blanket bog and limestone pavements and woodland habitats like mixed deciduous, native pinewood and wood pastures. These habitats in turn are home to thousands of species of flora and fauna.
Iconic flora of the U.K are oak, elm, ash, beech, pine and birch trees; while the iconic fauna are fox, deer, hare, hedgehog, rabbit, weasel, stoat, shrew, rat and mice. Larger animals like wolf, bear, boar, and reindeer have become extinct from the country. Among the declining bird species the pheasant, partridge and red grouse are protected as game birds even today.
Of the 15 National Parks in the UK, 10 are in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland. Numerous visitors visit the National Parks in England every year. The popular national parks are: the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, the North York Moors, the South Downs, Dartmoor, Northumberland, the Broads, the New Forest, the Peak District, and Exmoor. The Brecon Beacons, the Pembrokeshire Coast, and Snowdonia are the National Parks in Wales. The two National Parks in Scotland are the Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
It is said that the island which we know as the UK today came into existence only around 6,500 BC when it was separated from the rest of Europe by the formation of the English Channel.
In the Roman Britain period, from 43 to 1065 AD, Roman rule covered much of England and Wales.
In the Anglo-Norman period and the Middle Ages, from 1066 to 1347, Duke William of Normandy known as William the Conqueror defeated King Harold of England and ruled over England and Scotland. In 1215 the Magna Carta (a royal charter of political rights) was signed and is considered to be the foundation of the parliamentary system of government.
In the Late Medieval period, from 1348 to 1484, the bubonic plague also called the Black Death spread through England, Wales, and Scotland and killed almost one-third of the entire population.
In the period of the Tudors from 1485 to 1713, Henry Tudor also known as Henry VIII defeated Richard III and assumed sovereignty of England, and in 1534 he became the head of the Church of England after separating the English Church from Rome. In 1588 the colonization of territories by Britain began with the Virginia colonies. In 1603 Queen Elizabeth I, also known as the Virgin Queen, died without leaving a successor, and then the son of Mary, Queen of Scots who was King James VI of Scotland, succeeded as James I, King of England - the first King of Great Britain.
In the period of the Georgians, from 1714 to 1836, during the reign of King George I a role similar to that of the present day prime minister was assumed by Sir Robert Walpole. In 1801 by an act of the Union, Ireland was brought into the UK and the country became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
In the Victorian period from 1837 to 1900, Queen Victoria, the longest-reigning British monarch introduced a number of constitutional changes. The People's Charter was based on these changes and though it was rejected many times in the parliament, eventually 5 out of the original 6 demands in the Charter became a firm part of the Constitution of Britain. This was also the period of the Industrial Revolution which led to the domination of Britain over a large part of the world.
The early 20th Century from 1901 to 1945 saw the start and end of the two world wars which took their toll on the economy of the UK In 1936 Edward VIII abdicated as king in order to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, as the Church of England would not permit him to marry a divorcee. His younger brother came to the throne as King George VI.
The Post World War II period started in 1946 and continues into the 21st century. In 1952 Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne after the death of her father King George VI. The economy was nationalized when the Labour government came to power after World War II. When the Conservative government was in power during the years of Margaret Thatcher the national industries were privatized. These were also the years in which Britain let go of most of its colonies and dismantled the 'empire', which at its peak had covered nearly one-fourth of the world.
The Great Britain part of the UK includes England, Wales, and Scotland while the Northern Ireland part includes one-sixth of the island of Ireland. The capital of England is London; the capital of Wales is Cardiff; the capital of Scotland is Edinburg, and the capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
Administratively each of the four constituent parts of the UK are further divided into counties, boroughs, metropolitan districts, unitary authorities, district council areas and council areas.
The dependent areas of the UK include the Akrotiri and Dhekelia which are overseas territories of the UK on Cyprus; Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands are overseas territories of the UK; Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are Crown Dependencies; British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an internal self-governing overseas territory of the UK; Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands are overseas territories of the UK also claimed by Argentina; and Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the UK also claimed by Spain.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy and a Commonwealth realm. The constitution is unwritten and consists partly of statutes and partly common law and practice.
Everyone over 18 years of age is eligible to vote. The leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually becomes the prime minister following legislative elections; however the monarchy is hereditary. Since May 11, 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron has been the head of the government, while Queen Elizabeth II has been the monarch and head of state since February 6, 1952 and her Heir Apparent is Prince Charles.
The main branches of the UK military are the Army, Royal Navy including the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force. The estimated expenditure on defense for the year 2013 is was 2.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Human Development Index (HDI)
As per the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UK is ranked twenty-sixth in the world with an HDI of 0.875 in 2012.
The life expectancy at birth in the UK is 80.3 years. Estimated expenditure on health care for the year 2013 is 7.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Any person above the age of 15 who has completed 5 or more years of schooling is considered literate in the UK. The literacy rate in the country is 99% (2003 estimate). The estimated expenditure on education for the year 2013 is 5.5% of the GDP.
Per Capita National Income
Gross National Income per capita in purchasing power parity terms was USD 37,500 as estimated for the year 2012.