|The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|National anthem||God Save the Queen|
|Capital||London (de facto)|
|Official language||English (de facto)|
|Government type||Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy|
|Monarch||Queen Elizabeth II|
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Accession to EU||1st January 1973|
|Area||244820 km² (79th) |
(1.34 % water)
|Population||61.8 million |
(2009 estimate) 58,789,194
|Population density||246/km² (48th)|
|GDP (PPP)||Total:$2,230 billion (7th) |
Per capita:$36,523 (18th)
|GDP (nominal)||Total:$2,674 billion (6th) |
Per capita:$43,785 (20th)
|HDI||0.947 (high) (21st) (2008)|
|Currency||Pound sterling (GBP)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0) |
|Country codes||Internet TLD : .uk |
Calling code : +44
Independence for what is now the Republic of Ireland in 1922 provided the major solution the 'Irish Question'. Northern Ireland (and the short-lived Southern Ireland) were the first regions of the UK to have any form of devolved administration. Southern Ireland became a Dominion known as the Irish Free State in 1922 and Northern Ireland's devolved government was suspended in 1972, when its Prime Minister resigned. Competing demands for a united Ireland or continued union with the UK have brought civil strife and political instability most notably since 1969 when then Prime Minister Harold Wilson sent troops to Northern Ireland as peacekeepers, embroiling them in the so-called "Troubles" for the next thirty years. There has been a gradual decrease in violence since the late 1980s, though the situation remains tense, with the hard line parties, such as Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists, now holding the most parliamentary seats (see Demography and politics of Northern Ireland) in the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly had been suspended since October 2002 due to a lack of cross-community support, but was fully restored on 8th May, 2007.
Though 'nationalist' (as opposed to 'unionist') tendencies have shifted over time in Scotland and Wales, with the Scottish National Party founded in 1934 and Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) in 1925, a serious political crisis threatening the integrity of the UK as a state has not occurred since the 1970s. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and government alongside that of the UK. However, this increased autonomy and devolution of executive and legislative powers has not contributed to a reduction in support for independence from the UK.
There is currently little appetite for a devolved English parliament, although senior Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have voiced concerns in regard to the West Lothian Question. Proposals for English regional government have stalled, following a poorly received proposals for devolved government for the North East of England, hitherto considered the region most in favour of the idea. The proposal were rejected by referenda in the regions. England is therefore governed according to the balance of parties across the whole of the UK.
Signs of small-scale resurgence in Celtic, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Cornish culture, as well as 'regional' politics and development, have contributed to forces pulling against the unity of the state, there is little sign of any imminent 'crisis' (at the last General Election in 2005, both the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru saw their percentage of the overall vote drop, though the SNP gained two more seats and are the largest party in the Scottish Parliament as well as the government there). Nevertheless some in Scotland would like independence although most English do not..
The UK is divided into four parts, commonly referred to as the home nations or constituent countries. Each nation is further subdivided for the purposes of local government. The Queen appoints a Lord-Lieutenant as her personal representative in lieutenancy areas across the UK; this is little more than a ceremonial role. The following table highlights the arrangements for local government, lieutenancy areas and cities across the home nations of the UK:
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties
|Northern Irish Cities|
Historically, the four nations were divided into counties as areas for local government administration. Although these are still used to some extent for this purpose and as geographical areas, they are no longer the sole basis for local government administration.
In recent years, England has for some purposes been divided into nine intermediate-level Government Office Regions. Each region is made up of counties and unitary authorities, apart from London, which consists of London boroughs. Although at one point it was intended that each or some of these regions would be given its own elected regional assembly, the plan's future is uncertain, as of 2004, after the North East region rejected its proposed assembly in a referendum.
The Crown has sovereignty over the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, known collectively as the crown dependencies. These are lands historically owned by the British monarch, but are not part of the United Kingdom itself. They are also not in the European Union. However, the Parliament of the United Kingdom has the authority to legislate for the dependencies, and the British government manages their foreign affairs and defence.
The UK also has fourteen overseas territories around the world, the last remaining territories of the British Empire. The overseas territories are also not considered part of the UK, but in some cases the local populations have British citizenship and the right of abode in the UK.
- The Euro is accepted in many payphones and some larger shops.
- See BBC news: 'Historic return for NI Assembly. Retrieved 8th May, 2007.
- Jones, George (2006-01-17). Baker seeks end to West Lothian question. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 2006-05-16.
- No English parliament - Falconer. BBC (2006-03-10). Retrieved on 2006-05-16.
- Celtic League Homepage The Celtic League, Accessed May 20 2006
- YOUGOV/SNP Survey results (Template:PDFlink) 7. Yougov (2006-04-03). Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
- Lessware, Jonathan (2006-07-16). English do not want to split Union, poll shows. Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
- 2011 census
- 2011 census